The Rias Baixes Denominacion de Origen in northwest Spain first received official recognition in 1988, coinciding with a surge in popularity for the delicious varietal bottlings in the region of Albarino. Demand outstripped supply—and the price rose accordingly—but today you can find an excellent example for around $20, as this tasting proved. Here are the panel's top picks for this silky summer white:
2015 Klinker Brick Albarino, $15
Albarino responds well to heat, so it is no surprise that it thrives in the vineyards of this Lodi winery, producing a wine with a definite richness, while cool nights help preserve acidity. The result is a wine that offers aromas of ripe peach, honeydew melon and bright citrus, with the palate echoing the same, and that crisp acidity and mineral coming through on the finish.
2016 Laxas Albarino, $16
The Laxas estate has been making wine since the late 1800s, more recently being one of the first wineries granted Rias Baixes DO status. This wine is filled with zesty aromas that combine floral citrus and stone fruit with touches of honeycomb and sea spray. The plush palate offers silky peach, melon and ripe apple, all nicely balanced by tangy citrus.
2015 Reguengo de Melgaço Alvarino, $23
They use a "v" instead of a "b" in Portugal where Alvarinho is one of several grapes found in the frizante wines of Vinho Verde, but it also makes an intriguing varietal wine, here filled with apple, citrus, apricot, mandarin orange and mineral aromas. Round and ripe in the mouth, it's a balanced combo of peach and sweet citrus with a hint of brine and spice.