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My winemaking philosophy which I developed early on in my career is based on the concept that wine is a natural food. As such, the ultimate enjoyment of wine is as a graceful and harmonious accompaniment to a meal, whether it be simple or sublime.

While most of my wines are enjoyable by themselves, it is with food that they really shine, and reveal all of their nuances and textures. To me the best wines have the ability to bring out the best in the food they are paired with and conversely the food brings out the best in the wines.

2004 Albariño
Clover Creek Vineyard - Santa Ynez Valley

2004 Albariño

Technical Details

Composition:
100 % Albariño

Vineyard Sources:
Clover Creak Vineyard

Production: 48 cases
Alcohol by volume: 12.5%

I am very excited about releasing this inaugural bottling of the extremely rare Spanish varietal, Albarino.

The grape is grown predominantly in the province of Galicia, located in the northwest corner of Spain, just north of Portugal. The most well known wine region is called the Rias Baixas. This region is close to the Atlantic coast and much like the Santa Ynez Valley, its day time temperatures during the growing season are cooled off by the ocean breezes. The wines are aromatic, light to medium bodied with bracing acidity. They are the perfect accompaniment to the local cuisine which revolves around seafood.

In 2000, our good and esteemed friends, Michael and Carolyn Balaban, asked if I would want to have any grapes planted on a property they had just purchased adjacent to their Clover Creek horse ranch in Santa Ynez. After some thought, I came up with my shopping list of varietals, one of which was Albarino. We secured the bud wood from a small planting that my old friend, Bob Lindquist, owner of Qupe Winery, had recently grafted in his vineyard in Los Olivos. Credit must be given to our mutual friend, Bryan Babcock who first planted the vines at his vineyard in Lompoc, and gave cuttings to Bob. After four years of making wine from his vines, Bryan felt the Albarino was not suited to the cooler climate of Lompoc and he pulled out all of his vines.

Under the supervision of vineyard consultant, John Krska, one and a half acres of Albarino were planted in 2001. (There are probably less than ten known acres of Albarino planted in California at this time.) The vines, however, struggled and about 30% of the plants did not survive the first year. There was no fruit to speak of in the third year, and in 2004, we harvested just under ¾ ton from the 1.5 acres, which produced about 130 gallons of wine. My vision for this wine was for it to have lower alcohol and higher acidity than most white wines in California. To achieve that, I chose to have the grapes harvested at a relatively low sugar content of 22.3 Brix, with a pH of 3.02.

The juice was collected from the press and settled for 24 hours, then transferred to two stainless steel drums for fermentation. After the juice fermented to dryness, the wine was racked and transferred back to stainless steel drums. The wine was fined in March and bottle in April.

The wine has a rich, medium golden color, which I was surprised to see since it had not seen any oak aging, which can impart a golden color to white wine. The aromas are a wonderful and exotic mix of floral scents, mixed with a nuttiness. A basic analogy I like to use is that Albarino smells like a cross between Pinot Grigio and Viognier.

On the palate, the wine is rich, creamy, with a hint of nuttiness to the flavors of pear and peaches. Perhaps the most striking feature is the high acidity of the wine. This is what I had intended, but I have been impressed with how balanced the wine seems, despite having very high acidity.

The wine will pair well with sea bass, shellfish and oysters. I estimate that this wine will reach its’ peak of development within the next year or two years. This would be a fun wine to serve to any of your wine “expert” friends, and have them guess as to the varietal and country of origin!

Rick Longoria, Winemaker

 

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