Spanish wine is a hot property. Where once reds from Rioja dominated the mindset when it came to Spain, now wines from different regions throughout the country are gaining acclaim. White varieties have improved as well—gone are the dull, typically oxidized wines of the past. Modern wine-making techniques have resulted in a number of refreshingly crisp white wines. Albarino from the Rias Baixas region along the Galacian coast of northwest Spain has always been a standout. This thick-skinned grape does well in the damp climate along the Atlantic, producing a notably aromatic wine, rich in flavor but with balancing acidity. The grape has soared in popularity in recent years, and with that increased demand (and a strong Euro) has come increased pricing, but the quality of the wine still makes it a worthy choice. Here are the panel's top picks:
2007 Bodegas As Laxas Albarino, $14.99
This Spanish wine offers ripe peach laced with spicy ginger and white tea on the nose with an ethereal whiff of a cool ocean breeze. That refreshing ginger quality comes through on the palate, playing against honeyed lemon and lime fruit flavors with just a hint of crushed fresh mint. The finish is clean and crisp, rounding out a delightfully different wine that begs to be paired with food. It would go great with everything from shellfish to spicy Asian cuisine.
2006 Bodegas del Palacio de Feinanes Albarino, $22
Lush aromas of apricot, rose hip, green apple and lime mix nicely with light touches of spiced honey and clover. Unctuous fruit flavors open with a combination of lemon custard and spice with a light bit of basil. White peach and Fuji apple also come through with smooth citrus and pear showing up on the finish. This would work with shellfish, but is at its best when paired with rich cheeses.
2006 Bodegas Vina Nora Albarino, $14.99
Beautifully floral aromas of apple, peach, lime and a rich hit of fig are backed by splashes of clover, herb, mint and mineral. The creamy citrus fruit flavors are bright and lively with a pleasant trace of bitterness that reminded me of subdued Campari with a twist of lemon zest. The citrus flavors turn crisp and refreshing on the lengthy finish with enough acidity to work well with a variety of foods, everything from paella to poultry.
This week's panel: Dave Faulk, Porterhouse Meats; David Kirkpatrick, Boise Co-op Wine Shop; Cindy Limber, Bardenay; Karen McMillin, Young's Market; Leslie Young, Boise Co-op Wine Shop.