Food & Drink

Albariño thrives on the SLO Coast

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The cool San Luis Obispo Coastal region with 35 wineries, all within five miles of the Pacific Ocean, have what vintners call the perfect growing conditions for the Albariño grape. Pronounced “ahl-bah-REEN-yo”, the grapes are grown in the cool damp Rias-Baixas Region in northwestern Spain. In Portugal, the grape is known as Alvarinho and goes into the best of Portugal’s light, fizzy Vinho Verde. Albariño has floral aromas, a medium creamy body, a touch of minerality and flavors of green apples, peaches, apricots, citrus zest and lime. It is called the “Wine of the Sea” because of its close proximity to the ocean and compatibility with seafood. Its new home now is on the SLO Coast with similar marine-like conditions.

The SLO Coast has approximately 20 percent of California’s total Albariño acreage. More than 25 brands from this region and others will be available as the 2018 vintage is released. Leading the way is Tangent Winery, owned by the Niven family. Their Tangent Albariño earned one of only three gold medals awarded at the 2016 Bacchus International Wine Competition in Madrid, Spain. It was the only wine produced outside of the Rias-Baixas region to win this prestigious award.

By itself, the wine is a great aperitif. It’s terrific with seafood of all kinds, especially Iberian favorites like sardines, shrimp, oysters, mussels and grilled octopus. It also pairs well with all kinds of tapas and paella. Other SLO Coast wineries producing Albariño include Autry Cellars, Croma Vera Wines, Filipponi Ranch Cellars, Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards, Niner Wine Estates, Peloton Cellars, Sinor-LaVallee Wine Company, Stephen Ross Wine Cellars and Verdad Wines. The SLO Coastal region, well known for producing excellent Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, can now add another star, Albariño, to their list. Cheers!

Two Great Deals

There are way too many Red Blends and many can’t even make it to the “Show” (i.e. your supermarket shelf). I tracked down five interesting Red Blends from various wine regions at the local Grocery Outlet, each $4.95. I called in the unofficial tasting team and the winner was a tie between the 2016 Wagon Train Red from Yolo County and the 2014 Turnpress Deep Dark Red Wine from Paso Robles. Both are perfect house reds for only $5. That is a deal.

Deal 2 is the River Road Wine Tasting Pass in Monterey County for just $55. It’s valid for one year from the date of purchase and includes six wineries in the beautiful Santa Lucia Highlands AVA and two in the Chalone AVA. The pass has a value of $150. Go to wwwRiverRoadWineTrail.com for more information and tickets. And one more Cheers!

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