Saturday, April 28, 2012

Serpent Ridge Vineyard Albariño (2010)

Albariño is the quintessential grape of the Rias Biaxas DO in Galicia, Spain. However, it has firmly taken root in the United States. The first Albariño grapes were planted in Virginia; and plantings quickly spread to California, Oregon and Maryland.  In the "Free State," at least two vineyards -- Black Ankle Vineyards and Serpent Ridge Vineyards -- grow Albariño grapes.   Both my beautiful Angel, Clare, and I have made multiple visits to both vineyards.  And, at Serpent Ridge, we had the opportunity to taste their Albariño wine.

Before I get to the wine, a little background.  Serpent Ridge Vineyard opened in 2009, with two acres of vineyards in rural Carroll County, Maryland.  If I recall correctly, Serpent Ridge's Albariño vines are still too young to produce grapes for wine making.  Consequently, the wine maker purchases grapes from other growers at this time.  The plan is that, once their own vines are ready, Serpent Ridge will produce an Albariño wine from those grapes.  With the Albariño grapes, the winemaker ages them in stainless steel or new oak barrels.  When the wine is ready for bottling, Serpent Ridge does something that no other vineyard does ... they "cork" the bottles with a "zork."  The zork is an Australian invention; an alternative to corks and even screw caps.  The greatest feature of the zork is that it can be reused, making it very environmentally friendly.   

Serpent Ridge says that its Albariño is "very true to the original Spanish style with notes of apricots, peaches, green apples, and pears." I have reviewed a couple of Albariños in the past, the Pazo Serantellos Albariño and the Gran Vinum Albariño Nessa.   And, I have to say that the winemaker is right.  The Albariño pours a golden color, reminiscent of apple juice.  The color was slightly darker than the Pazo Serantellos and Gran Vinum.  The apple juice color of the wine foreshadows both the aroma and taste of the wine.  Much like the other Albariño wines that I have reviewed, the Serpent Ridge Albariño features green apples first and foremost both in the aroma and the taste.  Green apples are not the only element to the fruity aroma of this wine.  there are also apricots and a little peach, just as the winemaker suggests.  When it comes to the taste, the green apple is the star, shining from the light, fruity body of the wine.  The wine has a dry finish, which is to be expected from a fruity, crisp wine. 

The winemaker suggests that this wine pairs well with seafood, particularly shellfish and white fish.  This pairing makes sense, given that the Rias Biaxas DO is in Galicia, a region in Spain known for its amazing seafood.  In his book, Wine & Food: A New Look at Flavor, Joshua Wesson suggests pairing an Albariño wine with Sauteed Sole with Fennel and Lemon Compote. I paired this wine with an appetizer of Angels on Horseback and Devils on Horseback, which were oysters wrapped in bacon.  The apple flavors work well with the oysters (as apple always does) and the lightness helped to offset the bacon.

We purchased this wine straight from the winemaker at its tasting room in Carroll County.  A bottle sells for about $23.00.


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