Lusco is the passion of José Antonio Lopez, the most important figure in the Rias Baixas. For more than two decades, Jose Antonio has been the "Superman" behind the resurrection of the once nearly extinct Albarino varietal and the leading champion of the entire Rias Baixas appellation of Galicia – a verdant, sea swept region which lies upon the lofty ridges of Spain's northwest corner.
José Antonio began the revival of Galicia's fabled Albarino varietal more than two decades ago as founder and managing partner of the Morgadio estate. There he succeeded in recalling an obscure viticultural region to worldwide attention by creating dry, fully ripe Albarino wines, which critics have likened to Viognier, southern France's most expensive and compelling white wine.
In order to create the ultimate Albarino – very dry, exotic, intense and wholly unique – José Antonio struck out on his own in 1996 with the acquisition of the renowned, mature twelve-acre, southeast-facing Albarino vineyard of Pazo Pineiro. Along with the acquisition of the region's most notable vineyard, José Antonio, also, purchased the nearby 16th century manor house (Pazo), whose meter-thick walls provide ideal insulation against temperature extremes, to serve as his winery. Lusco, from the Galician word for the pensive moments of anticipation and reflection just before dawn and dusk, fashions presently the most riveting of all Albarino wines.
Albarino: Spain's Most Compelling White Wine
Albarino is an indigenous Spanish varietal whose home is Rias Baixas and the Galician wine regions of northwest Spain and Portugal. Some enologists believe Albarino is related to the Petit Manseng variety of southwest France, just on the other side of the towering Pyrenees Mountains, but no dry white Petit Manseng can match the body and finesse of Spain's finest Albarino wines. Meanwhile, in Portugal Albarino goes by the name Alvarinho, where it usually ends up as a light summertime quaff in the guise of Vinho Verde. Surely, nowhere could the same varietal be so different as in Spain and Portugal. While Portugal picks this varietal early and makes a low alcohol wine (8.5%-9% on average), Spain, under the tutelage of José Antonio Lopez and similar minded individuals in Rias Baixas, turns out a full-bodied, intense Albarino with aromatic and flavor profiles akin to Viognier – the greatest white variety of France's Rhône Valley.
Albarino is now being extensively studied and planted in other locales around the world, including Australia, California, and South Africa. Early reports from winemakers and consumers in Australia appear especially promising for the late maturing Albarino, as a long hang time is rarely a problem in Australia and the firm, bright acidity of Albarino is much appreciated. A debt of thanks belongs to José Antonio Lopez for resurrecting the great Albarino varietal and offering it to the world at lodge.