Carboniste Sparkling Albariño 2017
Albariño is such a fashionable grape now that it's hard to imagine that for much of the twentieth century it was overlooked in its homeland in north-west Spain. At the end of the 1970s, it began to be replanted and its high acidity and aromatics quickly made it popular around the world. It's most famous in the Rías Baixas DO in Galicia on the Atlantic coast, and it's also grown across the Portuguese border in the Vinho Verde region (where it's called Alvarinho).
In California, it's also becoming increasingly popular. There's a little bit grown in the southern, cooler part of Napa Valley, but some of the best versions come from around Lodi in Central Valley and the Sierra Foothills, warm regions in which Albariño is able to retain its naturally high acidity.
In Spain and Portugal, there's a growing trend for sparkling Albariño. I've only tried one version, made by Soalheiro, probably the best Alvarinho producer in Vinho Verde - fresh, acidic, easy-drinking bubbles. Because Albariño is an aromatic variety, it needs to be made in a different way from champagne. Instead, it's all about preserving the fruity, floral aromas of the grape without letting the lees get in the way.
That's the method that a new project called Carboniste have followed. The grapes come from near Lodi, and the wine has received just 3 months lees ageing. That gives the wine some texture, structure, and a little grip. What makes this wine so fun, though, is just how fresh it is. From the 2017 vintage, this is a very youthful wine, with lots of fruity aromas of apples, pears, and peaches and flowers like honeysuckle and jasmine. As far as I know, this is the first sparkling Albariño made in California and it's one I imagine I'll be drinking quite a bit of once summer comes around. Fantastic label too.
Grape Variety: Albariño
Ageing: 3 months
Food pairing: octopus; calimares; oysters