Zarate Albarino 2019
In 1953, Ernesto Zarate and three friends began the Albariño Festival in the Rias Baixas capital city of Cambados. In the first year of the festival, Zarate won first prize for best Albariño. In the festival’s second year, Zarate’s Albariño won first prize again. And in the festival’s third year, Zarate’s Albariño won its third consecutive first prize. In the fourth year of the festival, Ernesto gracefully withdrew his Albariño from the competition. He said his winery wouldn’t compete again until another winery matched its accomplishment. Sixty-five years later, no winery has.
“The problem with Albariño,” says Eulogio Pomares, Ernesto’s grandson and his successor at the winery, “is that the message has been to drink Albariño young. But the best thing about Albariño is how long it can last.” At over 300 years of age, Bodegas Zarate is one of the oldest in the Val do Salnés subzone of Rias Baixas. Granite soil and cool climate make Val do Salnés — which is named for the salt the Romans used to harvest there — ideal for cultivating rich, layered, and ageworthy Albariño.
Eulogio is even more of a winemaking perfectionist than his grandfather Ernesto was. Eulogio practices natural viticulture devoutly, works his soils manually, and makes herbal treatments for his vines personally. And he ferments his wines exclusively with indigenous yeasts. On his estate rich with old vines and great terroir, Eulogio doesn’t just make the best Albariño in the Rias Baixas or the subzone of the Val do Salnés. He makes the best white wine in all of Spain.
Zarate Albariño opens gloriously, with deep, complex aromas of citrus, orchard, and tropical fruits over granite minerality. It’s an exotic summer garden in a glass. Its palate offers more fleshy fruit and fragrant flowers, more minerality, more natural acidity. It’s a beautiful, complex, and elegant wine, which persists on the palate as well as the memory.
It’s the quintessential Spanish white wine. It’s the essential white summer wine. Wine for this summer and next — and for the next five summers after that. Take it from me, you’ll be sorry when you’re out.