An interesting article in vinepair.com spoke about Albariño’s ageing potential, an often overlooked aspect of this popular wine. In fact, the author argues that, with “careful decision making in the winery, this grape can make wines capable of evolving over 5, 10, and even 15 years.”
Broadly speaking, Albariño wines are usually sold young, which highlights their main characteristics: they are very aromatic with a strong fruity flavor and considerable acidity. However, the fact that they have high natural acidity means that they can also be aged, yielding a totally different wine. Winemakers actually use different techniques to allow for the wine’s “ageability,” including oxidative winemaking and using stainless steel vats, but perhaps the most factor in aging is lees. Winemaker Luis Seabra “describes lees as the ‘mother’ of the wine that plays a protective role in helping wines to age.”
One successful example in which lees were used is Bodegas Forjas del Salnés 2005 Leirana Ma. Luisa Lázaro, which has been aged for 15 years but is still “vibrant and fresh.” At the moment, aged Albariño is the minority, so if you’re looking to try this unique wine your best bet may be to buy a bottle and let it age. There’s definitely the idea that you don’t want to leave a bottle of white wine on the shelf for several years, but efforts are underway to combat that perception.