Sunday, July 1, 2012

Albariño from Kongsgaard

Albariño is definitely not one of the most well known green varieties in California. There are not even 20 hectares planted in total of it, and very few varietal wines are made. Therefore most consumers don’t know what to expect from it, unless they are familiar with the fine whites of Galicia in the northwestern corner of Spain, where this grapes originates from.
   It’s a bit reminiscent of Riesling, elegant och floral with s lovely fruit and high acidity, but normally the wines don’t keep that well and should therefore be consumed within 3-8 years from vintage.

John Kongsgaard is a well-known winemaker, famous for his great chardonnays, especially the powerful but yet complex The Judge, from a quite cool vineyard in the Coombsville appellation of southeast Napa Valley. This wine, the new Albariño, made for the first time in 2011, is a completely different wine. But it is a lovely wine.
   Sadly, only three barrels (65 cases) were made and the wine would probably only be sold to customers on the mailing list, or to a few restaurants. But it is well worth looking for!

2011 Napa Valley Albariño / 89 p
The grapes for this wine comes from in Hudson Vineyard of Napa Carneros, planted in a 0.30 hectare small parcel on the upper slopes, where the soil is poor and of volcanic origin. They are harvested early at low Brix, with a pH of just 3.10, which according to John Kongsgaard is the lowest pH he has ever worked with in his life.
   Fermentation took place in three old and neutral oak barrels with the natural yeast, and in order to keep the maximum freshness, there was no malolactic fermentation.
   This is really a very good effort, one of the very best I’ve ever came across of this variety in California. Only Michael Havens made as good Albariño wine as this, but that was many years ago. It’s totally pure, fresh and elegant with a lovely nose of white peaches, sweet lemon, lemon peel and white flowers, and on the palate is light and elegant, still with some density to make it linger for a while, and it’s absolutely dry and fresh with just a dash of lively minerality in the finish. It’s actually quite similar to the original wines from Rias Baixas in Spain. Serve is slightly chilled, at around 10 degrees Celsius, as an aperitif or with sushi, fresh seafood or elegant fish dishes.
Drink it 2012-2015.

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