Albarino is a Spanish grape that produces white wine that doesn’t really taste like sauvignon blanc, though it has some sauvignon blanc-like qualities. This has left it in wine drinker limbo, since quality albarino usually costs a couple of dollars than sauvignon blanc. Its cause hasn’t been helped by some Spanish wineries, which market albarino as a Spanish sauvignon blanc.
This is too bad, because well-made albarino is worth the extra couple of dollars a bottle. The Montecillo ($13, sample), made by the always reliable Maria Martinez, has everything albarino is supposed to have: some citrus, but not an overpowering amount; a long, clean, stony finish; and a more full, richer mouth feel that is completely different from that of sauvignon blanc. The wine geek term for albarino’s flavor is lychees, which is best described as something between a pear and a grape.
And did I mention low alcohol? Or that it has a screwcap?
Having said all that, albariono is, like sauvignon blanc, a seafood wine. Think boiled shrimp or steamed mussels or even something more exotic. The Spanish like to drink it with barnacles, called percebes, that are prepared in more or less the same way as mussels.