AG Pick: Nora da Neve Albarino 2005

I think I have found my favorite Albariño.  Of the Albariños I’ve tasted recently, the Nora da Neve stood out as being on another level.  One reason for its delicious taste?  Oak.

Haven’t tried an oaked Albariño before?  That’s not surprising.  Hardly any winemakers in Spain use oak with Albariño for fear it will dominate and overpower the delicate flavors of the grape.  This Albariño may be the exception — or perhaps the start of a new and tasty trend.

Nora da NeveThis white wine comes from the Bodegas Noras winery in Rías Baixas in the far northwest corner of Spain.  This region is well known for its Albariño and has been growing this varietal since the 12th century.

Bodegas Noras’ goal is to show Albariño at its most expressive.  Although Albariño is an Atlantic varietal, it loves the sun.  The grape can only reach its full potential when harvested fully ripe, which is achieved by careful vineyard and vine management, leaf control and selection of grapes.

The Nora da Neve Albariño was fermented and aged for seven months in French oak barrels.  This gives the wine concentrated and ripe fruit flavors and the lush, buttery mouthfeel of an expensive Sonoma Chardonnay.

This wine is rich and complex, which are two words I don’t usually use to describe an Albariño.  Aromas of citrus, pear and white flowers introduce flavors of orange, white peach, vanilla and a hint of minerality.  The bright and refreshing palate culminates in a supple and smooth finish that will make you crave another sip.  Medium-bodied with good acidity, this atypical Albariño is very well-balanced.

Enjoy this wine now with seafood, salads or light pasta dishes.

A bottle of the 2005 Nora da Neve Albariño costs around $23.