The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2016

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80  /  the tasting panel  /  august 2016 Bodegas La Val, produced from grapes grown on two estates where sandy and granite soils help make wine of great minerality, is a good representation of the style coming from Condado do Tea. Aged sur lie to help build body into the wine, the La Val is a wine well suited to the sea's richer bounty. "The creamy, sur lie–aged Albariños are one of my favorite pairings for uni [sea urchin]," says Washington D.C.–based Jordi Paronella, Think Food Group's Sommelier at Jaleo, owned by Spanish superstar Chef José Andrés. "Both sides of the pairing are so rich, they are the perfect complement to one another." Another Condado do Tea standout is Pazo San Mauro, which lies sandwiched between the Miño and Tea rivers. Founded in 1591, Pazo San Mauro is one of the region's old- est wineries and makes wines of great depth and character. "To me it says 'home' and is a perfect compliment to a first round of tapas," says General Manager Iago de la Fuente, a Rías Baixas native now in charge of the wine program at Mundaka Restaurant in beautiful Carmel-by-the-sea South of San Francisco. "That said, I also love it with Chef Brandon Miller's unique aged beef steak tartare." Further up the Galician coast is the sub-region of Val do Salnés. Considered the birthplace of Albariño as we know it, this is the original and oldest winemaking region of Rías Baixas. It is also the wettest and coolest of the sub-regions, with average temperatures reaching only 55°F. Also known for the highest concentration of wineries in the DO, Val do Salnés has many standouts. One, Condes de Albarei, founded in 1988, has long been considered a benchmark for the region. The first Spanish white wine to win gold at the prestigious Challenge International du Vin in Bordeaux (1991), the Condes de Albarei is a wine at home on either the wine list or by- the-glass programs due to its clean flavor profile of citrus, orange blossom and bright minerality. Another classic Val do Salnés is the Palacio de Fefiñanes. One of oldest and best-known of the classic style of Albariño (great acidity, lots of citrus, wonderful minerality), the Fefiñanes is often compared to the whites of Germany and Chablis (another indication of the varietal's possible ancestry). Wine Director Rachel Merriam of New York City's Casa Mono, the Mario Batali /Joe Bastianich Spanish tapas bar on Irving Place, finds she can pair Albariño with almost any dish on Chef Andy Nusser's menu. "Dishes like the classic razor clam a la plancha are always a great match for Albariño," says Merriam, "but I also find its Chablis-like qualities go extremely well with dishes one would not normally think of as being a fit for its style, like our creamy eggs with sea urchin, lime, ancient anchovy oil and walnuts." Two others are Santiago Roma and Gran Vinum's Nessa. With dominant notes of tart citrus and a beautiful golden hue, the Santiago Roma is a racy, slightly saline Albariño that shows how different these wines can be. The Nessa may be its counterpart. Filled with tropi- cal nuances of pineapple and melon, it's the Albariño of choice for Portland Maine's Eventide Oyster Company, where Wine Director Brian Lewelling loves turning new people on to the varietal's diversity. So, is there an overall style? Good question, tough answer. Casa Mono's Merriam sums Albariño up this way: " Some Albariño can be full of tropical fruit like mango and pineapple, while others can be akin to sucking on a salted lemon." Eventide's Lewelling just says: "Albariño is a wine that people should be drinking more of." PHOTO: DOUG YOUNG Wine Director of Casa Mono Rachel Merriam. New York City. PHOTO: DOUG YOUNG Creamy eggs with sea urchin, walnuts, lime, and anchovy oil. Razor clams a la plancha with salsa verde in the background, both paired with Palacio de Fefiñanes "1583" Albariño de Fefiñanes at Casa Mono, New York City.

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