Grape Varieties A-B Albarino (Alvarinho)

Albarino (Alvarinho) Wine

Albari?o (Alvarinho) is a green-skinned grape variety native to Galicia on the north Atlantic coast of Spain. It is best known as being the key grape variety in the Rias Baixas DO, where it makes crisp but often well-textured white wines with peach, citrus and mineral characters that pair perfectly with the local seafood.

The variety is often made into a lightly sparkling Vinho Verde wine in Portugal, which is commonly labeled varietally to distinguish it from the usual Louriero-based Vinho Verde blend. Here, the variety is known as Alvarinho.

Albarino (Alvarinho) Grapes

The variety is high in acidity, and can be produced as a light white wine or in a fuller style, with oak or lees aging adding to the texture and richness. A marine characteristic from the nearby Atlantic ocean is often discernible, sometimes manifesting itself as a slight salinity, which makes Albarino a perfect food wine. 

Albarino is native to the area in the northwestern corner of the Iberian peninsula, but it is not clear on which side of the border – as it is planted widely on each side. In Spain, Albarino constitutes more than 90 percent of the grapes planted in the Rias Baixas area, where the complex mesoclimates within this DO signify the many different sub-regions and variations between vintages and vineyards.

In Portugal, Alvarinho Vinho Verde wines are sometimes bottled with a certain amount of carbon dioxide, resulting in wines that have a light, sparkling sensation in the mouth. They were the first Portuguese wines to be widely labeled and recognized by their varietal name, and the growth in their popularity has supported a boom in availability and price. These wines are usually intended for early consumption.

The high quality of Albari?o, its ability to cope with maritime macroclimates, and an increased interest in Spanish grape varieties, has seen the variety begin to find a home in various other parts of the world. It is planted in some of California's cooler areas, including slopes on the sea-facing side of the Coastal Mountains in San Luis Opispo County, where over 50 acres of the state's 20 of 120 hectares (50 of 300 acres) are found. 

Other Californian sites include the Carneros, Santa Ynez Valley and Napa County AVAs. A few wineries in Oregon and Washington also have plantings.

Climate change allows UK growers to start move away from weather-resistant hybrids to noble varieties. Albari?o, at home on the Atlantic coast, is showing some early promise, and may get a decent share of any future plantings not devoted to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for sparkling wine.

Albari?o also has a foothold in a number of New Zealand wine regions, in particular in Marlborough, Gisborne and Nelson. However few if any wineries produce it in great volume at this stage. As of 2020 there were less than 40 hectares (100 acres) in total with few blocks of more than a single hectare.

Rather notoriously, DNA studies stated that just about all of the Albari?o in Australia was found by DNA studies to be Savagnin and from 2012 had to be labelled as such. The error had stemmed from a mix up in 1989 when Spanish authorities supplied the wrong variety as propagating material to CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

Such mixups are not uncommon with varieties like this one which have a tendency to mutate and adapt to its environment. This makes it hard to identify correctly in northwest Spain and may have been partly behind the problem. It also led some growers in Australia to question the decision to rename their vines as Savagnin.

Growers of Albari?o around the world note different morphology within the same vineyards. Some berries can have one seed while others have one.

Albarin – also an aromatic white wine variety grown in the northwest of Spain – has been widely assumed to be the same as Albari?o. DNA profiling carried out in 2010 showed these to be distinct. Alvarinho Lilás of Madeira is also distinct variety.

Previously, it was thought by some  that Albari?o was a clone of Riesling, mutated over the centuries from cuttings brought to Iberia by French monks in the 12th century. Some Alsace and dry German Rieslings do have similar stone fruit aromas, but records of Riesling as a variety only date back to the 15th century.

Synonyms include: Alvarinho, Cainho Branco.

Food matches for Albarino include:

  • Percebes (goose barnacles)
  • Paella with lobster and chorizo
  • Green-lipped mussels grilled with parsley butter
Production by region Expand/collapse

Most Popular Albarino (Alvarinho) Wine

Based on search frequency, updated monthly
Wine Name
Region
Popularity
Score
Avg Price
Paco & Lola Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain Rias Baixas 4,623rd 89 $17
Pazo de Senorans Seleccion de Anada Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain Rias Baixas 5,357th 91 $46
Bodegas Terras Gauda O Rosal, Rias Baixas, Spain Rias Baixas 5,765th 90 $18
Martin Codax Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain Rias Baixas 5,979th 87 $14
Quinta de Soalheiro Alvarinho, Vinho Verde, Portugal Vinho Verde 6,059th 90 $17
Raul Perez 'Sketch' Blanco, Rias Baixas, Spain Rias Baixas 6,918th 92 $57
Mar de Frades Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain Rias Baixas 7,485th 89 $17
Pazo de Senorans Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain Rias Baixas 8,522nd 90 $19
Sal da Terra Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain Rias Baixas 8,872nd $36
Faustino Rivero Ulecia Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain Rias Baixas 8,938th 87 $12
Bodegas del Palacio de Fefinanes 'Albarino de Fefinanes', Rias Baixas, Spain Rias Baixas 8,938th 90 $19
Adega de Moncao 'Muralhas de Moncao', Vinho Verde, Portugal Vinho Verde 10,766th 87 $8
Bodegas Albamar 'Albamar' Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain Rias Baixas 11,723rd 90 $21
Bodegas Forjas del Salnes 'Leirana' Genoveva Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain Rias Baixas 12,384th 92 $40
Bodegas Zarate 'El Palomar' Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain Rias Baixas 12,440th 92 $35
Torres Pazo das Bruxas Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain Rias Baixas 12,723rd 88 $17
Bodegas Gerardo Mendez Albarino Do Ferreiro, Rias Baixas, Spain Rias Baixas 13,401st 91 $22
Bodegas Forjas del Salnes Leirana Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain Rias Baixas 13,478th 91 $25
Bodegas Zarate 'Zarate' Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain Rias Baixas 13,724th 90 $21
Nanclares y Prieto 'Dandelion' Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain Rias Baixas 13,804th 90 $22
Lagar de Cervera, Rias Baixas, Spain Rias Baixas 13,898th 89 $17
Bodega Garzon Reserva Albarino, Maldonado, Uruguay Maldonado 14,137th 89 $19
Santiago Ruiz O Rosal, Rias Baixas, Spain Rias Baixas 14,137th 88 $17
Bodegas Terras Gauda Abadia de San Campio Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain Rias Baixas 14,391st 89 $18
Bodegas Gerardo Mendez Do Ferreiro Cepas Vellas, Rias Baixas, Spain Rias Baixas 15,227th 92 $33
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To see how Wine-Searcher uses average pricing and professional wine critic scores on this page, please see Average Wine Prices and Wine Scores. To find out about popularity, please see Wine Ranks.
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