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Rías Baixas is a region of the Atlantic Ocean with estuarine inlets, called rías in Spanish, that flow almost 20 miles inland. Val do Salnés on Spain's west coast is said to be the birthplace of Albariño. Traditionally, families had individual plots of the grape planted on pergolas. The grapes were hand-picked and aged on the lees in large foudres made of chestnut wood.
Jorge Ordóñez is credited with bringing Albariño to the United States in 1991 as he was the first to export it. He founded Bodegas La Caña in 2008, after years promoting and launching the Albariño variety in the United States. Named for the straw-like cañas (reeds or canes) that border the inlets along the granite coast of Galicia, Ordóñez's aim is to produce traditional, authentic, and quailty Albariño, in an artisan style.
This single varietal wine is 100% Albariño. The grapes for the wine came from vines that were planted between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s; they were dry-farmed and hand-harvested before being aged ina mixture of stainless steel and neutral oak barrels.
The wine pours a bright straw color with hints of gold. On the nose, there were notes of apple blossom and wet granite. But, on the palate, this Albariño has that traditional lean of citrus fruits. The brightness of this wine lingers but finishes with an elegant creaminess. It made me think of risotto...and the season made me think of asparagus though a delicate seafood risotto would have worked just as well.
- 1 organic leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced (approximately 1 cup)
- 2 cups organic asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
- 3 or 4 stalks of asparagus whole
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- splash of olive oil (I used the smoked olive oil from The Quail & Olive)
- 3 cups arborio rice (I used the brand from The Quail & Olive)
- 8 cups liquid (I used a mixture of vegetable stock and chicken stock from The Quail & Olive)
- 1 Tablespoon fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used a mixture of parsley and thyme)
- 4 ounces mascarpone cream
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- freshly ground salt, to taste
- Also needed: parmigiano reggiano for serving
Melt butter in olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Stir in the leeks and cook until leeks are translucent and beginning to caramelize. Stir in the arborio rice and toast for 5 to 6 minutes. Add in the asparagus pieces. Then ladle by ladle, add in the stock until it's absorbed. Keep stirring. Repeat until the rice is cooked. If you need more liquid, just add more; if you don't use all of the stock, that's okay, too.