The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2010

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Page 88 of 96

Wine BRIEFS WHETHER YOU’RE RUNNING, WALKING OR SIMPLY FOLLOWING YOUR NOSE, YOU’LL HAVE TO KEEP MOVING IF YOU WANT TO KEEP UP WITH San Francisco’s Albariño Crawl O n a misty night in April, a group of San Francisco’s vinerati put several of Rías Baixas’s best-selling ’08 Albariños to a field test, with stops at three restaurants for tapas and the native dishes of Spain—immersion at the table being one of the quickest ways to discover the nature of any variety. Albariño thrives in the humid, maritime climate of Galicia in northwestern Spain, and its unusually thick skins hold the secret to its often lush, tropi- cal aromas. Most often bottled as a single varietal wine but never viewed as a shrinking violet, Albariño’s floral, melon, peach and tropical fruit aromas are balanced by crisp, palate-cleansing acidity that makes it a friend to all manner of fish dishes. Our first encounter led us to Anchor & Hope, in San Francisco’s SOMA district, where oysters on the half shell, cones of crisp fries and a luscious poached-egg-and-asparagus salad found ideal partners in the Paco & Lola and Rosalia di Castro Albariños—wines that express two basic styles for the grape: one grown on sand for a softer, rounder style, and one on granite to emphasize bright acidity and minerality. No better place for further research than our second stop: La Mar, Third and final stop of the night, Albariño and classic dishes at B44 Catalan Bistro. the waterfront Peruvian cebicheria, where underlying minerality in the Condes de Alberei and Cambiata Albariños mirrored earthy ingredients like Peruvian corn and yams, with the riper, fleshier style of Laxas standing up well to the habanero-infused ceviches. Hosted by the vivacious Katrin Naelapaa, Director of Wines of Spain, and Cornerstone’s savvy Chandni Patel, the Albariño Crawl wound down with a final stop at B44, a Catalan bistro tucked away on Belden Place. Traditional dishes like boquerones (cured white anchovies) with shaved Idiazabal cheese and a warm salad of octopus, potatoes and pimentón oil revealed the white pepper and tart green apple in the bright Martín Códax Albariño, while com- plex paellas and fideulas (crispy noodle paellas) resonated to the Santiago Ruiz, an uncommon Albariño blended with 15% Loureiro, 10% Treixadura and 5% each of Caiño Blanco and Godello. —Deborah Parker Wong 88 / the tasting panel / july 2010 PHOTOS: DEBORAH PARKER WONG

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