It was presumably brought to Iberia by Cluny monks in the twelfth century. Its name "Alba-Riño" means "the white [wine] from the Rhine" and it has locally been thought to be a Riesling clone originating from the Alsace region of France, but...
The Martin Codax Winemaker
Albariño is a variety of white wine grape grown in Galicia (northwest Spain), Monção and Melgaço (northwest Portugal), where it is used to make varietal white wines.
Albariño is actually the Galician name for the grape. In Portugal it is known as Alvarinho, and sometimes as Cainho Branco.
It was presumably brought to Iberia by Cluny monks in the twelfth century. Its name "Alba-Riño" means "the white [wine] from the Rhine" and it has locally been thought to be a Riesling clone originating from the Alsace region of France, although earliest known records of Riesling as a grape variety date from the 15th, rather than the 12th, century. It is also theorized that the grape is a close relative of the French grape Petit Manseng.
Spain produces Albariño to a significant degree in the Rías Baixas DO, especially in the town of Cambados. It is also common in the Vinho Verde region of Portugal, but it is only authorized to be grown in Monção and Melgaço. In other locations such as Ribeiro, Lima, Braga or Valdeorras it is often mixed with other grapes such as Loureiro, Godello, Caiño, Arinto or Treixadura to produce blended wines. Such blends were common throughout Galicia too until about 1985; when the Rías Baixas DO was established on an experimental basis in 1986, Albariño began to emerge as a varietal, both locally and internationally. Its recent emergence as a varietal led the wines to be "crafted for the palates of Europe, America and beyond and for wine drinkers who wanted clean flavors and rich, ripe fruit" and led to wines completely different from those produced across the river in Portugal.[
Albariño is now produced in several California regions including the Santa Ynez Valley, Clarksburg, and Los Carneros AVAs.
In recent years Albariño attracted the attention of Australian winemakers, several of whom are now producing varietal wines. However, it has recently been discovered that grape growers and wine makers in Australia have been supplying and selling wrongly labelled Albarino for over a decade. They thought they were pouring money into the market for the Spanish grape, only to discover they were incorrectly sold cuttings of the French Savagnin grape instead.
The grape is noted for its distinctive aroma, very similar to that of Viognier, Gewurztraminer, and Petit Manseng, suggesting apricot and peach. The wine produced is unusually light, and generally high in acidity with alcohol levels of 11.5–12.5%.