First things first – repeat after me: “ree-as by-shuss”
Got it? Now pair it with every encounter in print with the words Rias Baixas and feel confident next time you want to order a pleasing Albariño but don’t want to look foolish. Either that, or wait until a certain amount of alcohol has been imbibed, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how easy the pronunciation becomes – but you’ll also be cheating yourself out of the pleasure of a number of fine wines that deserve to be enjoyed early in the evening.
Albariño is all about peaches. Peaches are fantastic, but for every person who enjoys them at their very firmest or plumps for the white fleshed varieties, there’s another who waits until the point where lifting the fruit from the bowl requires great delicacy to prevent the furry sugar ball from squishing into a stringy, sticky nectar-plasm. I’m more the former than the latter (which may in part be explained by my household nickname of Smash Birdo, owing to my propensity to break, destroy or injure other things or myself), and it is at this end of the peach spectrum where I would place the Liñar de Vides Albariño (2010). I purchased this from Weavers Wines in Nottingham for £12.05, but it is available through a number of other retailers online. Coto Redondo, the bodega responsible for this wine, is a relatively new operation located near the Spain-Portugal border, and is notable for its cooperative genesis and its firmly local roots.
The first smell of this wine elicited an audible sigh and a fond memory of sitting at a cafe in Valencia sipping on a white blossom tinged Macabeo. The nose on this Albariño is far more fruit driven but definitely more complex than just a punch of peach. The depth of the straw colour adds to the anticipation of something interesting coming to the palate, while the relatively light body in the glass reassures that the sweetness will not be too great. On the palate, there is plenty of peach, joined by lemony hints and then coming into a kitchen garden that’s quite hard to place – not quite herby, grassy, verdant or floral – but if you can put aside placing it and just enjoy it, it’s a thoroughly pleasant note. Finally, another mystery note that one of my friends thought was nut-based, but I felt was almost schist or flint. Debating these puzzling features did not detract from the fact that all those involved felt this was a real quality wine and one that lost none of its charm on repeated tastings, as so many wines can.
Although I enjoyed this wine at the correct point in the evening, I neglected to try and take a photo until the end of the night. Somehow, the photo has ended up as fuzzy as I was at the time. Technology moves at an unbelievable pace.