An Albariño study: four top wines

I tried these four excellent examples of Albariño with Ben Llewelyn of Carte Blanche, who is their importer.

Saras Albariño 2018 Vin de la Terra de Barbanza e Iria, Spain
Jose Crusat is the dude behind this wine. This is from an area cooler than Cambados, and the grapes are hand-picked and naturally fermented. Saras is the blend of all his vineyards planted in ‘Altares’ (open sided pergola terraces) on decompossed granitic soil. It is fermented in two large stainless steel tanks and aged on the fine lees until Jose feels it is ready to bottle. No malolactic fermentation. This is quite mineral and taut with good precision and a slight saltiness. Very mineral and expressive with good precision, and a salty quality on the finish. 93/100

Fulco O Equilibrio Albariño 2019 Rías Baixas, Spain
From a 0.5 hetare plot of red slate soil (Xisto) above Sanxenxo called A Xiestera, with vines planted in the 1950s in pergola. Direct pressed and then fermented in demi muid (500 litres), then aged for 9 months on the fine lees with no MLF. Barrel fermented without battonage. Very detailed and fine with spicy pear and white peach fruit. Lovely tension: so fine and expressive. Very textural. 93/100

Fulco a Pedreira Albariño 2019 Rías Baixas, Spain
From 80 year old vines planted in granitic soils in Cambados, facing southwest. This is mostly from a single plot 1 km from the sea, with a couple of other local vineyards also included. Mostly stainless steel ferment, aged on lees a bit, then bottled early. Very concentrated, fine and supple with lovely saline, textured pear and apricot fruit with a touch of grapefruit. This has a rounded mouthfeel. Serious Albariño with a lovely texture. 94/100

Finca a Xesteira La Fuga NV Spain
This is actually from the 2019 vintage, and it’s a single demi-muid (500 litres) of Albariño from Saxnexo, made by Jose Antonio García. He’s in Bierzo, so this has to be labelled Spanish wine. There’s a stony, slightly woody edge to the fruit which is very fine with amazing texture. Some pear and peach richness with a savoury, mineral dimension offsetting the fruit. This has great tension: delicate but concentrated. 94/100

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