Spanish grape Albariño has a bright future in California, according to Spanish-born, Sonoma-based Marimar Torres of the Torres wine dynasty.
Speaking at a wine dinner at Automat in London last night, Torres told the drinks business: “Albariño has fantastic potential in the Russian River Valley.
“Our vineyard is in the Green Valley, the coolest region of the Russian River Valley ten miles from the Pacific, and Albariño seems to be thriving there.
“Californian Albariño is not as acidic as Albariños from Galicia. Those from the Russian River Valley are wonderfully aromatic, rounded and mineral,” she said.
Torres has been experimenting with the aromatic Galician variety since 2004 and is keen to capitalise on the current global thirst for Albariño.
Marimar Estate Albariño 2011
“I brought over Albariño and Tempranillo cuttings from Spain in 2004 and planted them in my Sonoma Coast vineyard, but they didn’t ripen fully as it was too cold, even for this cool climate grape,” she said.
“I had to start from scratch by grafting the budwood onto American rootstocks in my organic Don Miguel vineyard, where we’ve had a lot of success with it,” she added.
Just 236 cases have been made of the 2011 vintage, which is on the market at US$32 a bottle, with 50% of the wine going through malolactic fermentation.
Having seen good results, Torres is planting more Albariño and will soon visit Galicia to improve her understanding of how the grape performs in its heartland.
“The beauty of Albariño is its freshness, with notes of peach and lime and a backbone of minerality, it’s exactly what the consumer wants right now,” she told db.
She is also experimenting with Spain’s flagship red grape, Tempranillo.
“I’ve got 400 Tempranillo vines in the Don Miguel vineyard and have had to expand outside the vineyard in order to plant more,” she said.
Torres is looking to create her first 100% Tempranillo this year.
For the past two years, she’s been making a blend of 50% Tempranillo and 50% Syrah, and believes the grapes work incredibly well side-by-side.
“The Syrah gives structure and body and the Tempranillo lovely fruit and complexity,” she said.
She is looking forward to tasting the results of the 2012 vintage in California, which she dubbed: “the best in a very, very long time.”
“Everything went right in 2012, from the dry spring to the sunny September – it was a dream vintage,” she said.