Albariño has made a happy home here in New Zealand and is now found throughout the country’s wine regions, with more concentrated plantings developing in Gisborne, Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay. The total producing area is increasing year on year, and the total tonnes of Albariño produced in the latest vintage was an increase of 135% since 2018.
A sure sign that the Spanish varietal is making a name for itself in New Zealand, is Yealands Estate Single Vineyard Albariño 2023 Champion Other White Varieties trophy win at the National Wine Awards of Aotearoa, which recognise, identify and celebrate excellence in New Zealand wine.
Natalie Christensen, Yealands Chief Winemaker, was at the awards celebration in Auckland to collect the trophy and said of the win, “Our Albariño is a bit like our favourite child! It’s been a passion project of mine from vine planting to bottling, and we’re chuffed to win a trophy as it's a much-loved varietal within our winemaking team. It's great to create our own expression of the traditional Spanish style, and to see it being recognised in competitions. Albariño's popularity is growing with consumers and growers alike, which shows how well suited it is to the climate here."
Prior to joining Yealands, Natalie was at La Cana in Rias Baixas, Spain, making Albariño for the Jorge Ordonez Group , working at coastal vineyards that looked out over the Atlantic. "Our Seaview Vineyard has that same coastal aspect, which gives this wine the hallmark characters that Albariño is famous for and that salty minerality."
It's Yealands second year making Albariño, and the winemaking team have had more fun with the 2023 vintage, fermenting 10% in oak barrels and using malolactic fermentation to soften some of the natural acidity in the varietal. The nose is bright and lifted with fresh apricot, orange blossom and lime aromas. The palate is lively with bright acidity and lingering minerality.
The National Wine Awards of Aotearoa judges, including Chair Jane Cooper and International Judge Sarah Crowe, said of the Albariño, "Lifted florals, white peach and citrus, this wine reflects the first home of Albariño in Spain. Vibrant and fleshy with a beautiful acid line - beautiful drinking."
Alongside the Trophy winning Albariño, Yealands picked up four Gold medals, four Silver medals and four Bronze medals at The National Wine Awards of Aotearoa 2023. Continuing their stellar achievements, two Gold medals, six Silver medals and five Bronze medals were also collected at the Marlborough Wine Show 2023.