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Albariño / Alvarinho
Grape (Vitis)
Bunch of Alvarinho /Albariño grapes
Color of berry skinBlanc
SpeciesVitis vinifera
Also calledAlvarinho and other synonyms
OriginGalicia and Portugal
Notable regionsMinho, Portugal; Galicia, Spain
Notable winesVinho Verde (Vinho Alvarinho), Rías Baixas
VIVC number15689
Albariño grapes on a slope near the river Sil in Ourense, Spain

Albariño (Galician pronunciation: [alβaˈɾiɲʊ]) or Alvarinho (Portuguese pronunciation: [alvɐˈɾiɲu]) is a variety of white wine grape grown in Galicia (northwest Spain) and in Northwest Portugal (Monção and Melgaço) where it is also used to make varietal white wines.[1] Albariño is the name for the grape in Galician. In Portugal it is known as Alvarinho, and sometimes as Cainho Branco.

It was presumably brought to Iberia by Cluny monks in the twelfth century but recent studies point to Albariño/Alvarinho being native to Galicia/Portugal.[2] Both the Galician "Albariño" and the Portuguese "Alvarinho", derive from albo<albus, meaning "white, whitish".[3] It has locally been thought to be a Riesling clone originating from the Alsace region of France, although earliest known records of Riesling as a grape variety date from the 15th, rather than the 12th, century[citation needed]. It is also theorized that the grape is a close relative of the French grape Petit Manseng.[4]

It should not be confused with the Alvarinho Lilás[5] grape of Madeira.

Major regions[edit]

Spain produces Albariño to a significant degree in the Rías Baixas DO, especially in the town of Cambados, Condado do Tea and in Barbanza e Iria.[6] In Portugal it is common in the Vinho Verde region, but it is only authorized to be grown in Monção and Melgaço.[7] In other locations such as Ribeiro, Lima, Braga or Valdeorras it is often mixed with other grapes such as Loureiro, Godelho, Cainho or Borraçal, Arinto or Treixadura to produce blended wines. Such blends were common throughout Galicia too until about 1985; when the Rías Baixas DO was established on an experimental basis in 1986, Albariño began to emerge as a variety, both locally and internationally.[8] Its recent emergence as a variety led the wines to be "crafted for the palates of Europe, America and beyond and for wine drinkers who wanted clean flavors and rich, ripe fruit" and led to wines completely different from those produced across the river in Portugal.[8]

Albariño is now produced in several California regions including the Santa Ynez Valley, Clarksburg, Napa, Edna Valley and Los Carneros AVAs.[9] Albariño is also produced in Oregon, first by Abacela Winery[10] in the Umpqua Valley AVA,[11] and in Washington state.[12]

Albariño is also grown in Uruguay and is produced as a varietal by Bodegas Garzon.

In recent years Albariño attracted the attention of Australian winemakers, several of whom are now producing varietal wines. However, it has recently been discovered that grape growers and wine makers in Australia have been supplying and selling wrongly labelled Albarino for over a decade. They thought they were pouring money into the market for the Spanish grape, but a French expert visiting Australia raised questions in 2008. DNA testing confirmed that the grapes are in fact French Savagnin, and almost all wine in Australia labelled as Albarino is Savagnin.[13]

Albariño wine from Galicia.

Wine characteristics[edit]

The grape is noted for its distinctive botanical aroma with a citrous undertone, very similar to that of Viognier, Gewurztraminer, and Petit Manseng, suggesting apricot and peach. The wine produced is unusually light, and generally high in acidity with alcohol levels of 11.5–12.5%.[6] Its thick skins and large number of pips can cause residual bitterness.


A Spanish Albarino.

For hundreds of years, Alvarinho/Albariño vines could be found growing around the trunks of poplar trees and in bushes along the outside margins of fields — a practice which some growers still use in Portugal's Vinho Verde region. In the middle of the century, however, growers made big investments and became professional grape growers.[14] In Vinho Verde, the vines are typically trained on high pergolas, which encourages over-cropping, often leading to grapes that are unable to exceed more than 8.5% potential alcohol.[15] When grown in a vineyard, the vines need to be wire trained with large canopies to accommodate the 30 to 40 buds per vine that is typical. The grape responds well to the heat and humidity though the high yields and bunching of clusters usually keep the grapes within the margins of ripeness.[6]


Albariño is also known under the synonyms Albarina, Alvarin Blanco, Alvarinha, Alvarinho, Azal Blanco, Galego and Galeguinho.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "denominação de origem alvarinho". 31 July 2020.
  2. ^ "Así se descubriu a orixe galega do albariño". 21 July 2020.
  3. ^ Gran Diccionario Xerais da Lingua and Diccionario Galego de Ir Indo[permanent dead link] for Galician; Dicionário Houaiss da Língua Portuguesa and Dicionário Estraviz de Sotelo Branco for Portuguese
  4. ^ Oz Clarke Encyclopedia of Grapes pg 167 Harcourt Books 2001 ISBN 0-15-100714-4
  5. ^ "A identidade das castas de videira portuguesas" (PDF).
  6. ^ a b c Oz Clarke Encyclopedia of Grapes pg 36 Harcourt Books 2001 ISBN 0-15-100714-4
  7. ^ "Instituto da Vinha e do Vinho" (PDF).
  8. ^ a b Split Personality Archived 2004-06-04 at the Wayback Machine, a December 2002 Wine Spectator article (registration required to read archived article)
  9. ^ "Albarino". Archived from the original on 2008-10-10.
  10. ^ "Abacela". www.abacela.com. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Umpqua Valley Winegrowers - The Umpqua Valley". www.umpquavalleywineries.org. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Getting to Know Oregon and Washington Albariño". jamesonfink.com. 16 July 2014. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  13. ^ White, Leslie (April 15, 2009). "White wine fiasco". The Weekly Times. Archived from the original on 2012-11-18. Retrieved 2010-05-11.
  14. ^ Garrido, João; Mota, Teresa.Manual Técnico, Comissão de Viticultura dos Vinhos Verdes, 2004
  15. ^ Clarke, Oz (2008). Grapes and Wines. Pavilion Books. p. 36. ISBN 978-1-862058354.
  16. ^ Alvharinho Archived 2012-03-24 at the Wayback Machine, Vitis International Variety Catalogue, accessed 2010-11-23