|Grapegrower & Winemaker||Wine & Viticulture Journal||Wine Industry Directory||
||Daily Wine News||
Albarino – potentially Australia’s great white hope
Name: Richard Smart
By Richard Smart
Climate and varieties
I want to introduce a few points of philosophy in this first column. As students of viticulture and wine, we are familiar with the strong temperature by variety interaction which dominates the global wine industry. My first task when looking at a new variety is to understand the climates, in particular the temperature conditions, from where it comes, and to look for similar places around the globe.
This can be a useful technique but it is not foolproof.
This is because for many of the varieties we will discuss in this column, there has been limited planting outside the region of origin. Albarino is one such example, since we are provided with a few clues from some adventurous vignerons.
We need to recognise that there can be a fundamental difference between grapevine varieties in their ability to adapt to different temperature conditions.
When discussing this, I always think of the two French varieties which are neighbours by geographical origin.
On one hand we have the Pinot Noir of Burgundy. This is a variety which seems to be extremely fastidious, and will only make commercially acceptable wine in a limited number of locations around the world. I am not even sure of a common characteristic of those locations. Having studied the temperature regimes of well-known Pinot Noir-producing regions around the globe, the only point I find is a similarity of the temperature during the late ripening period. I am not sure if this is coincidence or important, but it seems to be the factor that most of these regions have in common.
Contrast Pinot Noir with Chardonnay from the nearby region of Chablis in France. While Pinot Noir is fastidious, Chardonnay is not. It may make the best wine in Chablis, in cooler climates, but it is certainly capable of producing commercially acceptable wines over a wide range of climates. Chardonnay is adaptable, whereas Pinot Noir is not.
To return to homoclime searching we can remember the lessons of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It can be useful to study the climate of regions where varieties do well, but it is not guaranteed to give a unique answer. As I will discuss, Albarino seems to be one such variety that can perhaps be successfully grown in a range of climates, from cool to hot.
Albarino is a white variety from Northern Spain (Galicia) and Portugal. The
Portuguese name is Alvarinho, as grown in the Vinho Verde region, which I formally prefer, and the Spanish Albarino. In this article I will use the Spanish
name, as this is the wine name used in the Australian wine trade.
This part of Iberia is wet and cool, and the variety has a well known tolerance for wet weather near harvest. Albarino makes a delicate but scented wine, similar to Riesling, but with a richer aroma and fuller palate. I recall being told that Albarino may be related to Germany's Riesling from an introduction long ago.
I am told by some Spanish friends that Albarino is Spain's best white variety. It is certainly witnessing a resurgence of popularity there, and the wines are highly admired. Interestingly, news of Albarino has made it to the UK wine market, and there is a cult following for the variety.
The New World has been very slow to catch onto this variety, and I know of only a few producers in Australia and now California. Tamar Ridge Estate in Tasmania is my principal client, and at my prompting it produced its first Albarino this year. The wine is stunning.
Originating from the cool north of Spain, I imagined that this variety would be best suited to cooler regions elsewhere. Based on our Tasmanian experience, that is likely true. I imagined that Albarino would be another variety which might not do well in hot climates.
Recent evidence causes me to rethink this hypothesis. I have a client west of Barcelona in a hot region, so hot that they have the earliest harvest of Chardonnay in all of Europe; and they produce a nice Albarino.
So I was not totally surprised when I came across another good quality Albarino also grown in a hot climate, this time from Renmark in Australia's Riverland, a climate as hot as the mid-Central Valley of California.
This excites me, as Albarino appears to be a variety capable of maintaining its varietal characteristics over a broad climate range. Further, the name is easy to say, and quite easy to spell, so that it could become the darling of wine writers. So we may have here another variety which could really catch on around the world.
My tip for one of the most promising white varieties of the next two decades is Albarino. I know from my climate studies that of all the wine countries in the world, Australia has most in common with the temperature conditions of Spain and Portugal. In a way, it is probably a shame that we have had the previous emphasis on French varieties. I am sure a writer in a column to follow will talk about other important Spanish varieties, in particular Tempranillo.
I suggest readers source a bottle of Albarino and try it, and see if it might be useful complement to the Australasian white wines. I think it could be.
The next time I contribute to this column I will tell you the story of the Hungarian white grape variety with a name that is every marketer's dream.
This article can be found in the September/October 2007 Wine Industry Journal. To subscribe visit winetitles.com.au/wij/subscribe.asp
Other feature articles
- Natalie Fryar, Winemaker, Jansz Tasmania
- Angelo Puglisi, Ballandean Estate, Queensland
- Dave Cleary, West Cape Howe Wines, WA
- Kim Chalmers, Chalmers Nurseries, NSW
- Tiffany Nugan, Nugan Estate, NSW
- Doug Bowen, Bowen Estate, SA
- Drew Brent-White, Windance Estate, WA
- Ian Hollick, Hollick Wines, SA
- Andrew Nugent, Bird in Hand Winery, SA
- Jim Chatto, Pepper Tree Wines, NSW
- Tony Keys, The Key Files
- Forum in pursuit of Pinot excellence
- Andrew Naylor, Pernod Ricard, NZ
- Samantha Scarratt, Fishtail Vineyards, New Zealand
- Adam Hooper and Elena Golakova, La Curio, SA
- Kathleen Quealy, T’Gallant/Balnarring Vineyard/Quealy Wine, VIC
- Richard Smart, Tamar Ridge Wines, TAS
- Terry Lee
- Ben Glover, Wither Hills, NZ
- David Fonseca Guimaraens, Fonseca and Taylor’s Port, Portugal
- Sam Temme, Lloyd Brothers, SA
- Peter May
- Colin Kay, Kay Brothers Amery, SA
- Mark Deegenaars, Sirromet Wines, QLD
- Peter Dry, University of Adelaide, SA
- Simon Thistlewood, Bimbadgen Estate, NSW
- David Lehmann, Barossa Valley, SA
- Mark Lloyd, Coriole Vineyards, McLaren Vale, SA
- Tom Harvey, Chalk Hill, SA
- Albarino – potentially Australia’s great white hope
- Ian Hendy, Tahbilk, VIC
- Oak trials instigated to create the right balance
- Jason Conti, Paul Conti Wines, WA
- Swan Valley goes organic in its approach to wine production
- 100-year-old vines saved from destruction
- Paul Boulden, Margaret River, WA
- Pinot trophy wine a close call
- Grenache finds its place in the spotlight
- Ashley Ratcliff, Yalumba Wine Company, SA
- Lessons from a fiery day in February
- Prolific Penfolds takes a double triumph
- Great win for Tatachilla Shiraz
- Ian Long, Yarraman Estate, NSW
- Capercaillie looks to future
- Tolley leaves AWBC in good shape
- Julian Parrot, Mandala Wines, NSW
- Yarra Valley’s Sticks grows up
- Rebuilding Bianchet Winery
- Kalleskes take organic grapegrowing to heart
- Vineyards benefit from WWOOF program
- Organic producer in touch with the earth
- BackVintage adopts integrated IT solution
- Lark Hill achieves full biodynamic certification
- Joseph Gilbert of Pewsey Vale – early maker of the classic Australian blend
- Sam Statham, Rosnay Wines, NSW
- Young achiever to study in USA
- Evolving Durif at Morris Wines
- Diane Miller, The Vintage Wineworx, WA
- NZ’s star producer guided by the cosmos
- On the rise: Pinot Gris secures its place
- Killeen wins Winetitles’ scholarship
- Rebecca Wilson, Tamar Valley, TAS
- Liz Riley, Vitibit, Hunter Valley
- The Gilberts of Pewsey Vale: the next generation
- Mark Cairns, Riverside Wines, Hawke’s Bay
- Craigow wins Tasmanian Vineyard of the Year
- Cornwall’s Camel Valley sets Sparkling pace in the UK
- Fred Peacock, Bream Creek Vineyard, Tasmania
- Arneis a winner, no matter how you say it
- WA’s Vanya Cullen named ‘woman of the year’
- McWilliams Mount Pleasant Estate award-winning cellar door
- Planning eases heatwave burden for Mount Horrocks
- Supplier of the Year proves customer service goes a long way
- Meet Ken Murchison
- The journey of Tempranillo to Australia
- Successful events have wineries bursting into song
- Jim Barry Wines winemaker chooses biodynamic option
- Meet Belinda Gould
- Hard grind is paying off for Sangiovese
- Biodynamic viticulture benefits Nazaraay Estate Winery
- Monitoring the key to reducing water use
- Consistently improving the quality and reputation of Australian Cabernet
- Making sure vines are true to type
- Lessons from the drought
- A story of Cuban cigars and a good nose
- A Murray Valley winery has released one of Australia’s first 100% carbon-neutral wines
- John Casella: The brains behind the brand
- Quality Tasmanian Pinot Noir stems from varying degrees of stalk removal
- Young leader forecasts positive future for Australian viticulture businesses
- China’s light shines on Aussie export radar
- Driving the blue bus of industry exposure
- Noble wine proves sweet for Australian wine industry
- Solar energy schemes lack uniformity in Australia
- Solutions for the wine industry’s fiddlier labelling jobs
- Carbon neutrality: The new black
- An understanding of excellence: James Irvine and his life in wine
- Can Australia overcome a harsh reality in the US
- Cape Mentelle treats itself to first place
- Aussies export their expert advice to China
- Bruce Tyrell: the Don Quixote of Semillon
- Why the past could help unlock grape’s future
- Brazil opportunities beckon
- Cool wine regions to benefit from research on new pathogen
- Wineries embrace sensory analysis
- Author reveals first steps to marketing magic
- China - emerging market or competitor?
- Young Vine Decline is studied closely in NSW
- Is the Shiraz berry the biggest loser?
- Small players the big winners for tomorrow’s vineyard
- Save money and wine by choosing the right bentonite
- Significant variations in an Iconic Coonawarra vineyard lead to radical solutions
- Sustainable pest control – now and in a changing climate
- Is there value in adding tannin to wine?
- How do country of origin, closure type and label style affect purchase decisions?
- City sellers
- Selective science – from the vineyard to the winery
- Change agenda includes new thinking
- WineCloud provides future direction for winemakers
- The iron(III) tartrate photochemistry of wine: impacts of bottle colour and weight
- How important are wine medals and how much can we rely on those who assign them?
- Big rewards in fine detail
- Italian inspiration for novel Nero d’Avola making
- Oak deserves its fine environmental credentials
- Machinery maintenance is key to vintage success
- Wine: does vine age really matter?
- SA wineries make a positive and lasting impression
- Magazine pages bring history to life for Rutherglen grower
- Coles tells small wineries to ‘work with us’
- Distinguished vineyard sites are essential for quality fruit production says Petaluma
- From vine to bottle: sustainability a core value for Barossa winery
- Adapt and innovate in a challenging wine business world
- Verduzzo - a 'crazy' white
- Australia’s grapevine germplasm collections under threat
- Expo offers suppliers a chance to shine
- Wineries celebrate end of vintage
- Artisan by name and nature
- Barossa symposium delivers tips for Shiraz vineyard management
- Research to reveal best irrigation practice in dry winters
- Lake’s Folly proves its credentials over 50 years
- New research sheds light on flavour additives in wine
- It’s a three-ringed circus
- Trying to paint the world red
- Where do little winemakers come from?
- A chip off the old block
- The rise and rise of Gatt Wines
- Bizot and Croser – a marriage made in the vineyard
- Wine’s wild man rides into town
- Jeff Bond – a licence to thrill
- The Visionary – who’s laughing now
- Chilling out in Australian wine’s own Ice Age
- Quarter of our wines face Chinese ban
- Four-year research project investigates early influence of oxygen
- Australian winemakers’ views towards oak barrel alternatives matures
- Ready…set…tweet! How you can bank your social media benefits
- Wine show season: It seems not all wine shows would earn a gold medal
- January 2015 Grapegrower & Winemaker magazine out now
- Smart & Sustainable: Jana Shepherd
- Lazy bones: Jo Perry’s ironic nickname
- Can’t sit still: Bleasdale’s energiser bunny
- Meet New Zealand’s best young viti
- Suzie Muntz
- Clare Burder: Ideas are nothing without action
- Steve Baraglia: A tale of two valleys
- The terror of terroir - By Tony Keys