Fish, Cheap Sunglasses and Albariño

Fellow Wine Lovers,

We seem to have arrived at this week’s missive with indecent haste. We’ve managed to avoid most of the monsoon falling on our heads, stayed up too late watching amazing triathlon performances by both men and women that featured crazy boat manoeuvres, silly rainfall and final kilometre punctures.

Our roving correspondent who is wearing the Cheap Sunglasses and checking the lay of the land in Devon, reports that there is still ice cream available, and considerable uncertainty on the cream and jam positioning on scones.

We have also heard that Groove Armada were great at Alexandra Palace last weekend, Latitude was fabulous, particularly Wolf Alice and The Vaccines. Smaller festival Standon Calling was drenched in glitter before being deluged in rain and called off on Sunday. It seems if you didn’t leave early a boat may have been required. There is much talk about an outstanding performance by Hot Chip including a guest spot by Jarvis Cocker.

Normally at this stage of The Weekly Wine we might take the opportunity to poke a bit of fun at the political folks who spend all of our taxes. A quick glance around the press this week and we thought we might just pass it up. It feels like we’re standing over a barrel of fish with a gun. I mean, it’s not for us to mock the £2 million that Westminster Council spent installing a scaffolding remake of the mound from Close Encounters of the Third Kind at Marble Arch. Or the fact that they plan to charge you £8 to climb it and see the traffic from a higher vantage point!

I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide, but surely that’s not our Prime Minister and Home Secretary declaring that crime is illegal and that they’ll open some of those courts that they closed to help deal with it. Chain gangs are coming back too apparently! If we’re not careful someone will suggest building railways!

The Olympics have been cracking on in Tokyo, Team GB seem to be doing alright, just missing out in the rowing is a bit of a blow, but Charlotte Dujardin got a bronze in the dancing horses to make her Britain’s most decorated female Olympian. I’m hoping she doesn’t hold on to that accolade for long as Laura Kenny goes into action in the velodrome next week with three events that would be nice to win. The gold medal in the BMX for Bethany Shriever after she had to crowd fund her trip to Tokyo absolutely captures the true spirit of the Olympics for me.

Not poking fun at politics has Got Me Under Pressure so I think we’ll just have to talk about wine this week. As luck would have it Sunday is #albarinoday. We seem to have a ready-made subject.

Albariño is of course Spain’s most fashionable white grape variety and is very much at home in that damp north western corner of Spain just above the Portuguese border. One look at us and you’ll appreciate we know nothing about fashion, but we do have an idea of where the grapes are grown.

Galicia is home to the wine region Rías Baixas (REE-ass BYE-shuss since you ask) where 95% of the grapes planted are Albariño. Some of the keen cyclists amongst you may have noticed that the Vuelta a España is often in this part of the world and that it’s actually pretty hilly and green. It gets plenty of rainfall, is probably the wettest part of Spain in fact. As a result of this the vines are all grown on pergola type arrangements where the wind can blow through and keep the grapes and vines healthy. If ever you were thinking of a holiday that may involve grape picking we’d head here. It’s much less back breaking to harvest from these trellises and you’ll spend much less time at the osteopath on your return!

Anyway, we appear to be getting a bit off message here.  We’ll talk first about Follas Novas Albariño 2020 (£14.49) a delicious example from Val do Salnés, one of the five distinct sub-regions of Rías Baixas. This is the oldest of the sub-zones, the coolest and wettest yet also the birth place of Albariño sometime before the 12th century. The vines for this wine are between 20 and 40 years old and vinified in a state of the art winery completed in 2005. Fabulously clean and crisp with citrus and floral notes on the nose, tangy stone fruit on the palate and a lovely mineral laden finish. But why not come and have a taste and decide for yourself!

We also have Noelia Bebelia Albariño (£21.49) a very recent addition to the range; someone very quickly christened it “the posh Albariño”. This one hails from Soutomaior the smallest of the sub regions, south of Pontevedra in the hills at the head of Ría de Vigo. Noelia and husband Simon have a less is more approach in both vineyard and winery. Grapes are hand sorted so only the best bunches make it into the wine, most practices in the vineyard are done by hand too. The winemaking is gentle and mostly involves patience. The result is an Albariño with an uncommon intensity, a real weight and elegance to the classic stonefruit notes with a taught focused freshness to the finish. Posh indeed!

So pick up some fish or shellfish from the farmers market tomorrow morning, maybe some Padron Peppers even, we’ve got the drinking sorted!

That’ll be enough from us this week.

RIP Dusty Hill, a Sharp Dressed Man.

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