One of the few Spanish wines labeled as a varietal, albarino accounts for 90 percent of all vineyard plantings of the Rias Baixas in the northwest wine region of Galicia. Albarino was once mistakenly thought to be a clone of the riesling grape brought by German pilgrims. It is also found in Portugal, where it is known as alvarinho, but it's the Spanish version of this low-yielding grape that has achieved something of a cult status and is priced accordingly. Offering the intense fruit flavors of viognier, with the bracing acidity to balance, it works equally well with food or as an aperitif.
2011 Burgans Albarino, $16.99
The aromas are a bit reserved in this elegantly structured wine, but you get charming nuances of green apple, soft peach, pineapple, mango and mineral, along with a light hit of white pepper. The palate is broad and bright with ripe lemon, lime, mandarin orange and honeydew melon flavors. This wine finishes with creamy citrus that's completely refreshing and marked by an intriguing touch of soy sauce.
2011 Columna Albarino, $14.99
The nose on this wine is a floral mix of crisp lime, tangerine and green apple that's as fresh and clean as a soft breeze after a spring shower. Sweet citrus fruit fills the mouth and blends well with the notes of clover, herb and spring greens. The finish is long and lively with a pleasant minerality and a kiss of food-friendly, cleansing acidity. This wine is an excellent value.
2011 Valminor Albarino, $23
This wine opens with big, bold aromas of creamy lime, kiwi and quince fruit, backed by soft herb, mineral and a surprising touch of bacon. It's equally rich on the palate with vivid peach, honeyed melon and ripe apple, all balanced by racy citrus. The finish is bright and brisk with round fruit flavors of spicy baked apple that linger nicely.