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Growing thirst for Albariño to be backed by new campaign

Published:  11 March, 2022

The latest figures from DO Rias Baixas, Albariño’s home in ‘green’ north-western Iberia, show a 6.8% increase in volume and 14.8% jump in value sales in the UK in 2021 over the previous year, as the variety continues pull in the punters.

Once an esoteric listing riding the emerging gastropub wave back in the 1990s, Albariño has gone on to establish itself as Spain’s leading premium white in the UK. As such it has arguably done much to change perception of the country’s wines – as primarily rich and red – along the way.

UK wine drinkers imbibed just over three million bottles of Albariño in 2021, with the fresh, Atlantic-influenced style now a fixture on many wine lists and merchants' shelves.

This, in turn, has opened the door for a host of other (more niche) whites, such as Godello and Treixadura, from Galicia, while also helping raise the profile of the likes of red Mencía, which shares some of the fresh, cooler climate characteristics from this corner of Spain.

“We are delighted that the UK wine lover continues to enjoy our wines and that the UK remains one of our most successful markets,” said Eva Minguez, marketing director at DO Rías Baixas.

“We will continue to champion Rías Baixas Albariño in the UK with a comprehensive promotional campaign including a strong emphasis on celebrating International Albariño Day on 1 August, because, after all Rías Baixas is the heartland of this fabulous white grape variety.”

Also known as Alvarinho across the border in northern Portugal (but typically exhibiting quite different characteristics), Albariño has increasingly attracted the attention of winemakers beyond Spain. The variety has been increasingly cropping up in vineyards from Oregon down to Chile, along with small but growing production in diverse countries such as South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Back in Spain, the country’s most famous quality producer, Vega Sicilia, stamped its seal of approval on the variety in 2021, acquiring seven hectares of vineyards in the Condado de Tea subzone of Rías Baixas, with the aim of producing a high-end Albariño.

The DO’s campaign will be anchored around Albariño Day. Activities will include working with indies and on-trade to promote the wines, “creating a buzz” with influencer group The Wine Collective, sommelier food and wine pairings with the Sommelier Collective and a trade education workshop with Tim Atkin MW.

There will also be a first ever dedicated Rías Baixas Producer Tasting in London on 10 October in London.