Celebrating Albariño Days with 2 Delicious Wines & 1 That Has Gone Bad

Hi everyone, and Happy #WineWednesday! To celebrate Albariño days (August 1-5, 2018), I wanted to open 3 with you. As you’ll see from the video, unexpected things can happen when I don’t taste the wine before recording. Cheers!

The wines mentioned in the video are:

  • 2017 El Terrano Albariño — $14 (I had trouble nailing down information on this wine, but I believe that it’s a collaboration between Valkyrie Selections, Bodegas Más Que Vinos, and Whole Foods.) I gave this wine 3.5 corks.
  • 2017 Martin Codax Albariño — $15
  • 2017 La Val Albariño — $18 I gave this wine 4.5 corks

First question of the day: Have you had Albariño before? If so what did you think of it?

Bonus Question of the Day: Have you opened a bottle of wine that was bad? How do you handle it? Do you take it back to the store or do you just dump it and open a new bottle?

Albariño Day at Beuchert’s Saloon

May 9th was AlbariñoDay, and as I had 6 bottles of Albariño begging to be opened, I figured it was the perfect opportunity for me to host my inaugural wine tasting at the new job.  The problem was that I wasn’t familiar with the wines, so setting up a more formal tasting like the World Tour of Wine I did a few years ago for my old office wasn’t possible.  Yet, I wanted the event to have more structure to it than my just opening up 6 bottles of wine everyone digging in.  So, I reached out to Beuchert’s Saloon near Eastern Market in DC to see if food and wine pairings could be arranged, and WOW did they help me arrange an amazing Albariño Day tasting!

A couple of my coworkers and I arrived at Beuchert’s a little early to make sure there was enough time to chill the wine before we started the tasting.  Of course we all ordered a drink while we waiting, since the cocktail menu was very inviting and we had time to kill.  I had a Beuchert’s 75—gin, lemon, seasonal herbal syrup, and Prosecco—because I wanted to start with something light to help keep my palate fresh.  This has easily become my new favorite cocktail and is something I highly recommended.  My two male coworkers started with The Beltway Boy—rye, amaro, aperol, peychauds bitters, and absinth—and it was a huge hit.

I worked with Nathan, one of the three proprietors of Beuchert’s Saloon, to set up the event.  He, in turn, put together an amazing selection from the menu to pair with the 6 wines we were drinking.  Plus, as Beuchert’s had just switched from their winter wine list to the summer one, we were able to add an unexpected 7th Albariño to the tasting.   On a side not, for wine lovers in DC, while Beuchert’s may not be a typical “wine restaurant,” but Nathan knows his wine, they have a great by the glass and bottle list that is reasonably priced, and the wine list changes seasonably to match the seasonal food changes on the menu. It is a great food and wine experience and should definitely be added to your restaurants-to-eat-at list if you’re local.

Once the last of my coworkers arrived, all 10 of us were seated in the dining room.  The space itself isn’t that big, so we probably took up about 1/3 of the seating area, but that meant the atmosphere for our tasting stayed intimate even as the rest of restaurant and bar filled up.  After that, the tasting was underway.

As for the wines themselves, everyone agreed they were all very drinkable wines, and there was a lot of surprise about the price points because they were all very affordable.   And, while they were all worth drinking again in the future, when it came to the 2011 Don Olegario , the 2011 Bodegas La Cana, and the 2011 Serra da Estrela Albariño, everyone agreed that those three wines were somewhere in the top 3 for the night.  Admittedly, there was some disagreement on which was the actual favorite, it was a fun disagreement to have. That isn’t to say the other wines were bad, because they certainly weren’t, it was just that those three were particularly good.

Wine-1
2011 Don Olegario Albariño (winery)

SRP: $18
Pale greenish-yellow
Apples, pears, with hints of honey, parsley, and flowers
Surprisingly long finish
Does a nice job finding the balance between what I expect from an Albariño and offering something different
4 Corks

2011 Bodegas La Cana Albariño (winery)
At Beuchert’s $10 (glass)/$30 (bottle)
SRP: $19
Pale straw yellow
Honey, yellow pineapple, apricots, wet stone with hints of lemon custard
Nice long finish, bright acidity, very food friendly
4 Corks

2011 Serra da Estrela Albariño (winery)
SRP: $15
Very pale straw yellow
Apples, apricots, limes and white pineapple with hints of honeysuckle and
Much of what I expect and love in an Albariño
4 Corks

2011 Terra de Asorei (winery)
SRP: $15
Pale lemon yellow
Yellow grapefruit, apricots, nectarines, and hints of bay leaf and lemon
Very nice balance and acidity, but surprisingly short finish that left me wanting more
3.5 Corks

2011 Laxas Albariño (winery)
Pale straw yellow
Apples, apricots, and hints of lemon and wet stone
3.5 Corks

2011 Pazo San Mauro Albariño
SRP: $20
Straw yellow
Limes, white peaches, and honeysuckle with hints of ginger
3 Corks

2011 Zios de Lusco Albariño
SRP: $13
Limes, fresh cut grass, honeysuckle, bananas, and wet stone
Something bitter, almost like parsley dipped in salt water on the finish
3 Corks

Charcuterie and Albariño at Beuchert's

Charcuterie and Albariño at Beuchert’s

The wonderful thing about an event like this, though, is that it wasn’t just about the wines.  It was also about the company and the food.  In this case, not only was I introducing my coworkers to new wines, we were all trying out a new restaurant…  and Beuchert’s didn’t let us down!  Nathan tasted each wine before serving it to make sure it wasn’t spoiled.  Then, as he and one of the servers poured the wine, he introduced each course and wine pairing with information about what to look for in each wine and why the various dishes would go well with it.  He never rushed us.  In fact, he was very good about letting us linger a little longer of the wines we particularly enjoyed.  At the same time, he kept us moving through the tasting so that we could go back and have a full glass of the wines we liked best at the end of the evening.

We started off with the Serra da Estrela Albariño and Beuchart’s “Boards,” which was a selection of charcuterie and pickled vegetables, grilled country pate with baby greens and sun gold jam, and cheeses.  The pickled vegetables are grown on their family farm and pickled in house.  Everything on the board was delicious, and several people at the table who said they were not pate fans were particularly surprised by how much they enjoyed the one we tasted and how well it went with the wine.

Salads and Pazo San Mauro Albariño at Beuchert's

Salads and Pazo San Mauro Albariño at Beuchert’s

After the Board, we opened the Pazo San Mauro Albariño, and that was paired with a number of vegetable dishes.  Unfortunately, I didn’t write down the details on each dish, but as I mentioned, the vegetables are sourced from the farm.  As you can see from the picture, it was a nice assortment.  Some of the dishes were warm, while others were not, so it was also a good variety, and the vegetables were all good matches for the lighter minerality of the Albariño.

After we finished with the vegetables, Nathan brought out several of Beuchert’s salads to split.  Just as the vegetables made for good pairings, so did the salads, and I find salads particularly difficult to pair with wine.  The wines were flavorful enough to compliment the dishes, but light enough that they didn’t overpower the flavors.

Salads and Don Olegario Albariño at Beuchert's

Salads and Don Olegario Albariño at Beuchert’s

We had the Mixed Baby Greens with blue cheese, crisp potato, and a soy sherry vinaigrette; the Butter Head Lettuce with goat cream, pickled radish relish, Benton’s ham, and a sherry vinaigrette; the Asparagus Salad with green goddess dressing, pickled eggs, brown butter sourdough croutons, and Ewe’s dream cheese; and Steamed Littleneck Clams with cape beans, saison salami, and spring garlic.  All of it was delicious, but the Butter Head Lettuce salad and the Clams were my particular favorites.  Because of the meat added to both dishes, there was a slight saltiness that just made the Albariño sing when the two were paired together,

For the main course, the table split three of Beuchert’s dishes.  Nathan suggested pairing the Albariños not only with their fish dishes, both of which were very nice, but also with the strip teak.  It was an unusual pairing, but the pairing actually worked out very nicely.  It was a good way to keep the meal lighter, which will be particularly nice to remember as the DC weather gets hotter.

All in all, Albariño Day 2013 was a huge success.  My coworkers were introduced to a new varietal, as almost none of them had tasted an Albariño before, and we all tried a new restaurant that has quickly become a favorite of my office.  A special thanks to Nathan from Beuchert’s Saloon for really pulling together my vision for me and making it such a wonderful evening!

Question of the Day: Have you ever had an Albariño?  Do you a favorite?

A Look Back at Albariño Day

*** I received this wine as a sample. ***

Albariño DayMay 9th was Albariño Day, so I when I left for work in the morning, I made sure to ask Chef Hubby to plan a seafood dinner to go with my wine for the night.  He teased me about not living in a restaurant, but thankfully, he’s used to my quirky food requests.  He emailed me to say that he hoped grilled sesame teriyaki tuna steak and roasted asparagus would go with the wine I had planned, and while I didn’t know for sure, it sounded good to me.

As soon as I arrived home, Hubby started on dinner, while I pulled out my two bottles of Albariño and my computer.  The wines I had—a 2011 Condes de Albarei and a 2010 Torre la Moreira—were both 100% Albarino and from Rias Baixas, which is in Northwest Spain near the Atlantic Ocean.

2010 Torre la Moreira Albariño

2010 Torre la Moreira Albariño

The 2010 Torre la Moreira (winery) was a light greenish-yellow.  On the nose, there were apricots, granny smith apples, and Asian pears with the slightest hint of white flowers and honeysuckle.  In the mouth, there were granny smith apples, Asian pears, and hints of thyme and salinity.  The wine had a light body with a bright acidity.  There was a touch of sweetness followed by an almost bitter minerality on the finish that gave the wine a fresh character that I love in Rias Baixas wines while offering something unique.

Is this worth a glass after work?  Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.   At an SRP of $13, this wine is not just really good, it’s really good with a wonderful quality/price ratio.  And, by pairing this wine with the grilled sesame teriyaki tuna steak and roasted asparagus, I took a slightly above average wine and dinner and made both out of this world.

Overall: 4.5 Corks

2011 Condes de Albarei Albariño

2011 Condes de Albarei Albariño

The 2011 Condes de Albarei (winery) was a light greenish yellow.  On the nose, there were pears and flowers.  In the mouth, there was salt, followed by limes and tart granny smith apples.  The wine had a light body, bright acidity, and a lot of minerality.

Is this worth a glass after work? At an SRP of $13, this wine was good, but the salinity was a little much and left me feeling like I had licked a salt block.  Because of that, this wine was not a good pairing with the tuna steak and asparagus.  In fact, I think this is a wine that might go well with cheese or really lightly flavored white fish, but otherwise is probably a wine best enjoyed on its own.

Overall: 3 Corks

In talking to some casual wine drinker friends, Albariño seems to be one of those wines people see in the store, but are often too unfamiliar with to give a try.  I had never tasted an Albariño before taking my wine classes, but they quickly became a summer favorite for me because they offer something a little different from the more common white options like a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.  In fact, the salinity of Rias Baixas wines is what draws me to them because it reminds of the ocean, vacation, and summer.  To be fair to these two wines, trying the Condes de Albarei at the same time as the Torre la Moreira probably just emphasized the differences between a wine that I loved and one that was just average for me.  That said, they were both wonderful ways to celebrate Albariño Day.  And, if you haven’t tried an Albariño, what are you waiting for?  The hot weather is here (or at least it is in DC), so give one a try!

Question of the Day:  Have you ever tried Albariño?  Was it a Spanish wine or from somewhere else?  What did you think of it?

Received as a sample.

Top 5 Memorial Day BBQ Wines

The Memorial Day holiday weekend is always the start of cookout season in the A Glass After Work household.  This year, while we’re not hosting our own BBQ, we are heading out to several, so Hubby asked me what wines I was planning on bringing.  Admittedly, I didn’t have a list put together, but his asking seemed like the perfect opportunity to go through some old posts.  Here are 5 crowd pleasers that go nicely with hot dogs and hamburgers without breaking the bank.

Reds

2005 Lolonis Zinfandel

The 2005 Lolonis Zinfandel (winery, snooth) is made with organically grown Zinfandel grapes and the winery uses ladybugs for pest control.  If you’re headed to a cookout, you can’t go wrong with a California Zinfandel, as the wines tend to be big, bold, and beautiful with high alcohol content.  The Lolonis is no exception. I gave the wine 4.5 corks and, while it was given to me as a gift, I’ve found it for $18.

2008 Big House Red

The 2008 Big House Red 3-liter Octavin Home Wine Bar (winery, snooth) is a blend of 13 different red grapes.  The wine is a solid, oaked red, so if you see it in a regular sized bottle, don’t hesitate to grab one. I’ve brought the Octavin Big House Red to several parties, and while people are sometimes hesitant to try a boxed wine, once they have a glass, they always come back for more.  I’ve never left a party where the box wasn’t empty.  I gave the wine 3 corks, and while I received it for a sample, the suggested retail price is $20 for 3 liters (which works out to be $5/bottle).

Whites

2008 Gnarly Head Pinot Grigio

The 2008 Gnarly Head Pinot Grigio (winery, snooth) is the epitome of a great BBQ wine.  It is bright, fruity, and refreshing.  It is inexpensive.  It is very food friendly.  And, it has a winery name and label that could be a fun conversation starter.   I gave the wine 4.5 corks and purchased it for $9.

 

2007 Martin Codax Albariño

The 2007 Martin Codax Albariño (vineyard, snooth) is a very aromatic wine that has a nice blend of limes and flowers, with a hint of honey.  The wine is crisp and refreshing without being too acidic, which makes it easy to drink.  It would pair particularly well with both regular and pasta salads.  I gave this wine 3 corks and purchased it for $13.

Rosé

2009 Montes Cherub Rosé of Syrah

The 2009 Montes Cherub Rosé of Syrah (winery, snooth) was made from 100% Syrah grapes and is a perfect wine for a Memorial Day BBQ. Don’t be fooled into think that because this wine is a Rosé that it’s sweet.  This wine is what I expect from a good Rosé—nice flavor, good acidity, and a light-to-medium body that was refreshing and flirty. I gave this wine 3.5 corks and while I received this wine as a sample, the suggested retail price is $17.

***While I know it’s not quite Memorial Day, as we are about to enter into the holiday weekend,
I would like to take a moment to remember the amazing men and women who lost their lives while defending America
and send my thoughts to their families.***

 

Rías Baixas After Lunch

After lunch on Day 1 of The Wine Academy of Spain’s course at Jaleo in the Crystal City, our instructor, Jesus Bernard dove head first into the Rías Baixas region of Spain. The area is known for its seafood-friendly white wines, particularly those made from the Albariño grape. The wines are often very fragrant and fruity, particularly on the nose, with a touch of salinity in the mouth. Jesus mentioned that the 2008 was a particularly good year for Rías Baixas but if you can’t find a 2008, you should still do well with a bottle from 2007.


Tasting #2 on Day 1
Rías Baixas



2.5 Corks

2007 Vionta Albariño (winery, snooth)
$17
100% Albariño
Light-to-medium gold with a touch of bubbles
Caramel, baked pineapple, mango, and white blossoms on the nose
More mineral, less fruit with strong salty flavors in the mouth
Soft, medium body
Missing the refreshing aspects of a great Albariño


4 Corks

2008 Burgans Albariño from Bodegas Martin Codax (winery, snooth)
$15
100% Albariño

Medium lemon color with a watery rim
Peach, nectarine, mandarin orange, pineapple, mango, eucalyptus, basil, and white blossoms on the nose
Lime, lemon, white blossoms, and minerals with a hint of salt in the mouth
Lime-like acidity, light body

2007 Santiago Ruiz (winery, snooth)
$19
70% Albariño
, 20% Loueiro, 10% Treixadura
Pale gold
Pineapple, nectarine, white flowers, something herbaceous, and a touch of almond on the nose
Very briny and minerally in the mouth, like licking a wet stone
Also flavors of flowers, nectarines, apricots, and lime
Nice body and complexity, plus a long finish

4.5 Corks

2007 Fillaboa (snooth)
$19
Medium gold color with a lot of little bubbles
Apricots, nectarines, peaches, granny smith apples, and a touch of honey on the nose
Stone fruits with a lot of salinity and minerality in the mouth
Lime-like acid, with a long finish that has a touch of pleasant bitterness on the end