Quick Sip: Chrysalis Vineyards Albariño 2008

Hello Friends,

I recently jumped on the Loudoun County wine trail to attend the 9th Annual Norton Wine and Bluegrass Festival at Chrysalis Vineyards. Chrysalis is located in the small, charm-filled town of Middleburg and is the largest grower / producer of Norton here in Virginia, as well as the east coast. Anyone who has ever visited Chrysalis knows they are passionate about Norton. After all, Norton is ‘America’s grape’ and the mission of Chrysalis Vineyards is to restore Norton to the prominence it once saw in the 19th century when a Norton wine from Missouri won a gold medal at the 1873 Vienna World Exposition. Some would call that a stiff, uphill climb, but based on what I saw at the festival, Chrysalis has been hugely successful in educating the public and marketing Norton to Virginia wine lovers – they just love the stuff!

Chrysalis Vineyards

While Norton gets its fair share of hype, Chrysalis produces several other very nice varietal wines that should not fall short of your palate radar. As a matter of fact, one thing I really respect about Chrysalis is that they plant grape varieties, popular or not, that are best suited for their site (soil, climate, etc.). Therefore, you won’t see any Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot. But you will see Viognier, Tannat, Petit Manseng, Petit Verdot, and last, but not least, a rare Spanish variety named Albariño. The focal point of this quick sip is the Chrysalis Vineyards Albariño 2008.

Albarino Grapes

You will not find too many Albariño varietal wines when visiting Virginia tasting rooms. So, when I say Chrysalis makes one of the best in the state it is not because too few wineries produce it, it is because they make a very good example of Albariño. If you are familiar with Albariño wines then you know some of the best examples come from Spain’s Galicia region, specifically in the wine producing region of Rías Baixas - a [D.O]. area in Northwest Spain that has put the thick-skinned, low-yielding white wine grape variety on the world wine map. Albariño is also grown in Portugal’s Vinho Verde region where it is known as Alvarinho. Not too many other places in the world of wine cultivate this grape variety, but in a new up-and-coming wine region like Virginia where myriads of different grape varieties are being planted to find out what works and what does not, you never know what you may discover on a tasting sheet. Luckily for Virginia wine lovers Chrysalis Vineyards has a nice Albariño on theirs.

Enjoying the Chrysalis Vineyards Albariño 2008

Moving on to the quick sip: The Chrysalis Vineyards Albariño 2008 is light lemony yellow in color with bright and inviting tree and stone fruit aromas - green apples and ripe peaches really stand out. On the taste, this wine is rich, dry, and medium-bodied (lighter side of medium) with a rounder mouth-feel, good balance, and a nice lingering and satisfying finish. This is a limited production wine that sells for $24 in the tasting room. If you are new to Albariño, I strongly suggest visiting your local wine shop and getting a Spanish example from Rías Baixas, as well as this fine local example in your rotation. This wine sips well on its own and should be a treat with almost any type of seafood dish (i.e. oysters, fried shrimp, and sushi). Be sure to send me an e-mail and let me know about your Albariño experience. As always, Happy Sipping!

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