Sometimes, the most exciting wines turn out to be the ones you just grab from a wine-store shelf or cooler and bring home and taste, not knowing anything about them beyond what’s on the label.
That was the case the other night when I needed a fresh white wine and chose a bottle of Paco & Lola 2018 Albariño from the Rías Baixas region of Galicia in northwest Spain.
This $18 wine is a quintessential example of Albariño: white flowers and apple on the nose followed by crisp pear and apple notes, some tropical fruit, and a layer of cream and herbs on the long finish. This is a fresh wine, aged in stainless steel, with lively acidity, moderate alcohol (13 percent ABV), and a good deal of complexity.
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It’s a perfect choice for a range of simply prepared fish and shellfish dishes and for sipping on its own as an aperitif.
Now here’s what I didn’t know about Paco & Lola: The winery was created in 2005 by a group of independent winegrowers; with 400 members, it is now the largest cooperative in Rías Baixas, drawing fruit from 500 acres of vineyards covering 1,800 small plots in the Salnes Valley subzone of Rías Baixas.
It produces 800,000 bottles of its Albariño each year using state-of-the-art winemaking techniques, exporting the wine to 40 countries.
While there is a great deal of emphasis these days on small-production, artisanal wines (and a sense that they must be “better”), Paco & Lola occupies a kind of middle ground between limited-production and macro wines.
And as its delightful Albariño shows, when you land on the right one, they can be as satisfying as any wine you can find.