halibut & clam paellaGalicia, the northwestern province of Spain is well known for the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage route which finishes there, at the shrine and cathedral of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela.  And, the Albariño grape which is indigenous to Galicia, is well known for its incredible white wines which pair wonderfully with shellfish and finfish. Galicia’s abundant rainfall, green landscapes, and impeccably fresh seafood have much in common with the Pacific Northwest.  Eric Asimov, wine writer for the New York Times recently published “Is Albariño the Next Great White Wine?  It Depends.”  (Full disclosure – you may need a subscription to read the article).  But fear not, out of the six top producers described, we carry four of them.  We‘ll be pouring samples of three of these Albariños on Friday, August 25 from 2-5:30 p.m.   Stop in for tastes and pick up some excellent pairing ingredients to enjoy this weekend!

Clams & chorizoIn Spain, traditional food pairings with Albariños include Clams steamed with white wine, Scallops baked with breadcrumbs, and Tuna Empanada (see recipe below).  Another fantastic tapas dish is Food & Wine magazine’s  Pulpo a la Gallego.  If you aren’t ready to cook fresh octopus, pick up tinned octopus at Paris-Madrid Grocery, along with Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil and smoked paprika. Then the preparation is a snap:  Simply boil some sliced potatoes, assemble the dish and serve!   We’ve also got a tremendous array of seafood: rillettes in a jar, and tinned French, Spanish and Portuguese sardines, tuna, anchovies, mackerel, mussels, bereberechos and more.

ALBARIÑO SAMPLING NOTES: We’ll be pouring tastes of the following three wines on Friday; quoted comments are from the Eric Asimov article.

Do Ferreiro Albariño 2021, Rias Baixas ($31.00)   “Gerardo Méndez started Do Ferreiro with his father, Francisco, in 1988, the year the appellation was formed. His family had long made wine at their home, like many small farmers. “When the wine was made at home, it was meant to age,” he said. “As Rías Baixas began, the companies said they needed a wine that could go on the market right away.” Mr. Méndez, who now works with his son, Manuel, and daughter, Encarna, saw no reason to change styles. His basic albariño is delicious and can age for a decade or more. But the real treat is the Do Ferreiro Cepas Vellas, made from old vines around the Méndez home.” (We receive a few bottles of Cepas Vellas once per year; reply to this email if you’d like to be notified when it comes in).

Pazo Senorans AlbarinoPazo Señorans Albariño 2021, Rias Baixas ($25.99)    “A benchmark producer making top-notch albariños, and an exception to the story of small producers. It’s an old estate, with a manor house and a large production facility. Marisol Buena runs the winery with her daughter Vicky Mareque Buena and the winemaker, Ana Quintela Suárez. Their first vintage also coincided with the beginning of the appellation, and they haven’t changed their style.  “People thought we were crazy,” Ms. Mareque said. “They thought albariño should be young and fruity. My mother and Ana said, ‘If they don’t buy it, we’ll drink it ourselves.”

Leirana AlbarinoLeirana Albariño 2021, Rias Baixas ($29.99):  “Another exceptional albariño producer includes Rodrigo Méndez, a nephew of Gerardo Mendez of Do Ferreiro.  Rodrigo is an experimental, self-critical farmer who makes terrific albariños under the Leirana label. “Old bodegas are an object lesson,” Mr. Méndez said. “They did nothing to the wine, and look how well it survives. That’s why we are trying to preserve these traditions. The more you touch the wine, the weaker it gets.”   Finca Genoveva, Leirana’s old-vine, single-vineyard Albariño is made with grapes from an ancient vineyard whose owner can no longer farm it. So, Mr. Méndez took over the farming. The 2022 Finca Genoveva was a delight, super-mineral, focused, and saline.  Finca Genoveva can be special-ordered upon availability.

Zarate AlbarinoZarate Albariños are “Wonderful albariños, especially single-vineyard El Palomar”.  We’ve got two Zarate Albariños in stock but they won’t be open for tasting: Zarate Albariño 2022, Rias Baixas ($25.99) and Zarate Balado Albariño 2021, Rias Baixas ($47.00).  Balado is made from a 2-hectare walled, ungrafted vineyard planted in 1950, with thin soil over granite. Very crisp with salty minerality – it will require some bottle age to reveal its full potential.

“The idea of making long-lived albariños is not new. Two estates, Do Ferreiro and Pazo de Señorans, have produced wonderful, multidimensional albariños since the 1990s.” Occasionally we have an opportunity to pre-order these old-vine, limited production Albariños including Do Ferreiro Cepas Vellas, Leirana Finca Genoveva and Zarate El Palomar.  Reply to this e-mail if you’d like to be notified when future lots are available.  

Galician EmpanadaSpanish-style Tuna Empanada (serves 4 as a main course; 8 as an appetizer)
A pie crust filled with tuna deliciousness is simple and fast to make if using a ready-made Pillsbury pie crust.  Or make your own crust if you have the time and patience.

Two tins of tuna packed in olive oil (drain off most of oil)  Albo or Matiz brand Bonito del Norte recommended
1 jar Spanish Table lemon-stuffed olives, sliced in half
1 Jar Spanish red pepper strips, P. Listo brand is best
1/2 – 1 jar Matiz sofrito or Fredesvinto Tomate Frito, quantity to taste
4 chopped hard-boiled eggs
2 pie crusts

Mix tuna, olives, chopped eggs and roasted pepper strips together and spread over one pie crust
Top with sofrito sauce
Cover with second pie crust and crimp edge to seal
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in 400 degree convection oven until crust is golden brown
Serve immediately

Don’t want to cook?  Stop in at MariPili Galician tapas bar on Capital Hill, or visit The Harvest Vine for an incredible selection of Albariño wines to enjoy with Basque-style pintxos.