Laurent Miguel albarino 2013 is a wine that is the result of a vinicultural homecoming. Laurent Miguel brought the grape back to its homeland—France--with solid results.
The wine is a light crisp wine with grapefruit and other citrus flavors that doesn’t linger and a finish that is slightly bitter. There are floral and herbal hints in the wine but one of the great things about this wine is that no single aspect of it is overwhelming.
One thing I keep forgetting to note in these little pieces is what sort of wine drinker is going to LIKE a particular wine. I would recommend this wine to people who usually drink chardonnay or sauvignon blanc but want something a little different. It isn’t super grassy and while there is, as noted, grapefruit, this isn’t too “in your face.” Nonetheless this wine will appeal to drinkers of New Zealand sauvingnon blancs as well as sauvignon blancs from other areas. It also is a good option for those of you who like unoaked chardonnays; this is aged in stainless steel and has some body to it. Do you like big oaky, creamy chardonnays and only these? This might not be your thing.
I suggest this for folks who like these two wines not because it is identical but because it is something of a change; this grape produces wine that is different from chards or sauvignon blancs. It is lighter and more flowery but it has body and various tastes to think about. Isn’t that one of the great things about good wine? Being able to stop and think about what you taste?
We associate albarino with Spain and, to a lesser extent, Portugal. But ultimately the grapes origins go back to France. Monks brought the grape to Spain where it took root, literally and figuratively. The grape then basically vanished from France until Laurent Miguel decided to bring it home. I am not sure if Lagrasse, France is exactly home but close enough. Lagrasse is in actually at high altitude in Corbieres and also at Cazal Viel (both in Languedoc). This homecoming goes back to at least 2011.
Those of you who note wine labels will note the “Vin de France” on the label. The albarino grape isn’t approved in the area so the label cannot use any of the area’s AOC designations. In France AOCs (in Italy they are DOCs and AVAs in the USA etc.) correspond to a specific area but they also have to meet certain other requirements—the use of certain grapes for instance. The area may be large like a department which is similar to a US state or much smaller. The smaller the area covered by an AOC the higher the quality (generally speaking). One way to look at this is that Laurent Miguel is breaking with tradition to bring back an even older tradition.
Winemakers with a rebellious streak have gone outside the AOC/DOC restrictions successfully before in other countries. Italian “super Tuscans” spring to mind. Those wines are basically wines made in Tuscany that use nontraditional grapes.