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Monday, 22 December 2014

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WINE connoisseur PAUL QUINN, from Barrow, is a member of the Association of Wine Educators and a judge at two of the most prominent wine competitions in the UK. This week he looks at wines to compliment Spanish food

SICK of the same grapes – too many chardonnays or cabernets?

Why not try something a little bit different? How about matching some good food with grapes that are not drunk as your everyday wine?

What about trying albarino?

This is a thick, green-skinned white wine grape; a medium to full bodied varietal which, at its best, has crisp acidity, dry and vibrant with a complex texture. It’s also highly aromatic (usually a nose of orange blossom) with white peach, melon and apricot characteristics on the palate, and sometimes a hint of sparkle as well.

Albarino is primarily grown in the section of Galicia in north western Spain called Rias Baixas (meaning lower rivers).

In this northerly part of Spain, which has the country’s highest rainfall, the cool climate allows the wines to exhibit freshness, fruit and good acidity.

Many tasters have compared albarino to a combination of sauvignon blanc and a very dry riesling. It is no surprise that this acidic white is the equal of almost any other when it accompanies fresh seafood and fish.

Lots of people say that this grape is an ideal match for paella.

Another great grape to try is viura, also known as macabeo outside the Rioja region of Spain. Most people will have tried this grape in cava.

The viura is very good with tapas (green olives with Manchego cheese and chilli and mini Spanish tortilla).

It also buds late – which makes it less likely to be harmed by frost – and is dry with medium acidity, along with notes of delicate wildflowers and bitter almonds. Viura is best consumed young.

Fillaboa Albariño 2010, Rias Baixas, Spain

A light, golden body with a lemon rim. Pure fruit with white peach, apricot and pineapple dominate the nose. Dry with crisp acidity. Very refreshing with a long, zippy citrus, apple and apricot finish. Ideal with paella.

Cune Barrel Fermented Blanco 2009 , Rioja, Spain

A marvellously rich and creamy vanilla dominates the nose with elegant peachiness.

On tasting, this wine has balanced acidity, with immediate citrus character on the palate.

A soft-fruit style white Rioja that is full of elegance and charm, this it benefits from fermentation in cask, which smooths out the palate.

The persistent finish comes from integrated mild toasty oak.

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