WINE REVIEW: 2016 Fillaboa, Selección Finca Monte Alto, Rias Baixas, Spain ($26)
by Andrew Chalk
I am so glad I tried this wine with a chicken tikka masala that I made. The chicken tikka masala was ho hum, but this wine is a stunner. It did all the things that the textbooks say a good wine should do to food. Its acid backbone elevated the wine above the creamy sauce. Its citrus fruit flavors (mainly lemon) stood out adding a new dimension to the meal. Its herbaceousness on the palate provided an earthiness to complement the meat. The nose displays those lemon notes and also a surprisingly ripe apple component.
Typically for Rias Baixas it is 100% Albarino, a grape that is surging in popularity. This example comes from a single vineyard named Monte Alto and production is tiny (833 cases). The vineyard is close to the vital Miño river and is composed of sandy loam with lots of pebbles, a scenario that likely accounts for good drainage, a vital attribute in viticulture.
The winery reports that 2016 was a difficult year. There was heavy rain in the Spring and drought in the Summer. By the time harvest came around (on 14th September) matters had corrected somewhat but the resulting wine had higher alcohol levels and lower acidity than usual. That said, I enjoyed the fruit-acid balance with food.
Winemaking was typical for Rias Baixas. Fermented and aged in stainless steel for 12 months.
This wine comes highly recommended and may start you on a voyage of discovery of Albarino. It is a good example of the type.