AMV Albariño: Making a Splash in Virginia Wine
February 2023 - A widely planted variety in the vineyards of Northern Portugal and Northwest Spain, the wines of Albariño have a reputation for pronounced floral and fruit character, refreshingly bright acidity, and a broad, mouth filling texture. However, one cannot simply plant this vine anywhere and expect top quality and balance in the finished wine. When selecting new varieties for a particular vineyard, many considerations must be made.
The Rias Baixas region of Spain is the viticultural capital of Albariño. There the grape is known to have been planted for well over three hundred years—allowing the variety several centuries to adjust to a humid, maritime climate that sees over 60” of rainfall per year. The result is a hardy vine, able to thrive with limited sunshine and resistant to the pressures of mold and mildew. Characteristics such as thick skins and loose clusters of small berries offer natural protection from many of the challenges found in wet climates.
Here in Virginia’s Piedmont region, we record an average of 45” of rain per year. This figure can rise or fall as much as a foot in any particular year, offering quite a bit of unpredictability in the vineyard. Not to mention that our changing climate seems to be increasing the levels of humidity and precipitation in our region. As such, the reason for interest in a variety such as Albariño becomes quite clear. Not only is it well suited to our variable and humid climate, but it is also capable of yielding delicious, top quality wines.
For proof of this, look no further than the 2023 Virginia Governor’s Cup Competition, which awarded a Gold Medal to the 2021 Afton Mountain Vineyards Albariño.
This wine is proudly 100% estate grown. Planted in the alluvial soils of our vineyards at the base of Afton Mountain, our Albariño is thriving in this classic Virginia Piedmont climate. After careful fruit selection by hand harvesting, a short period of skin contact allows for the enhancement of the wine’s aromas and phenolic character. Next, these grapes are gently pressed and then undergo a cool fermentation in stainless steel tanks, preserving the bright fresh fruit and floral character of this variety. We prevent any malolactic conversion as well, really allowing the natural aromas, flavors, and texture of the Albariño to stay front and center. If we have any regrets about this wine, it is that only 200 cases were produced, meaning that each bottle is worth special attention.