Albarino Wine Comes To America

Albariño finds a home on California's Central Coast

If we know Albariño at all, most of us know it as a Spanish wine.

But there's a less-known spate of bottles with American provenance. The Albariño grape has become a recent darling of winemakers in California's Central Coast–to lively and food-friendly ends.

This is no clone project, though. In Spain, Albariño is mostly grown in the cool, northwestern region of Galicia, where it produces light, minerally wines. But in the warmer Central Coast of California, Albariño becomes more medium-bodied and tropical flavored while keeping its expected vibrancy. Plus, these domestic wines are perfect with refrigerator foods such as salads and ceviches. 

Look for the zesty 2010 Bonny Doon Vineyard Albariño ($15 for 750 ml; click here to buy) from star winemaker Randall Grahm. It matches well with the minerality of oysters on the half shell. 

The ripe 2011 Longoria Albariño ($23 for 750 ml), made by Spanish-variety specialist Rick Longoria, comes from a single vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley and was practically designed for butter-drenched lobster rolls.

Also try the 2011 Acha Blanca ($23 for 750 ml; click here to buy) from idiosyncratic Napa winemaker Mark Herold. He sources grapes from grower Markus Bokisch, who's made a name for himself by growing a bunch of Spanish varietals in Lodi, a warm region due east of San Francisco.