With an explosion of quality over the last 10 or more years, Spanish reds have become a hot ticket. Outstanding values can be found from dozens of regions across Spain. But until recently, the white wine scene hadn't quite caught up. Sure, there were some nice, clean wines being made, but with the exception of albarino, they didn't share the reputation or variety of the reds. If this tasting is any indication, that has changed. The three top wines come from three different regions, each is made from different grapes, and each offers totally different flavor profiles. Here are the panel's picks:
2007 Palacio de Bornos Verdejo, $14.50
I once put a verdejo into a sauvignon blanc tasting as a ringer because it reminded me so much of wines from that variety. It finished in first place, so it came as no surprise that this wine echoed the aromas and flavors of good sauvignon blanc. It's from Rueda and offers a nose filled with grapefruit and pineapple along with nice minerality and a touch of lemon zest. There's an interesting interplay of flavors with soft, almost creamy fruit (lime, apple, kiwi) balanced by bracing acidity that comes through especially on the finish. It's a great spring sipper that would pair well with oysters and shellfish.
2007 Santiago Ruiz, $19.50
This albarino-based wine from the Rias Baixas is a blend of that grape (70 percent), Loureiro (20 percent) and Treixadura (10 percent). Clover mixed with gooseberry and sweet citrus highlight the aromas, all backed by lightly floral apple blossom. The flavors are utterly refreshing and impeccably balanced with an array of bright tropical fruit that includes papaya, kiwi, lemon and lime. This is another wine that cries out to be paired with shellfish or most anything that lives in the ocean.
2007 Torres Vina Esmerelda, $11.50
A combo of moscato and Gewurztraminer, this wine from Catalonia is easily one of the most unique white wines from Spain. While the former grape accounts for 85 percent of the blend, the latter definitely makes its presence known, with a decidedly spicy slant. The intensely perfumed aromas are marked by honeydew melon, peach, litchi and spice. All of that carries through on the unctuously textured palate along with nice accents of candied lemon, mango and pineapple. This one would make a great companion for spicy Asian cuisine.
This week's panel: David Kirkpatrick, Boise Co-op Wine Shop; Cindy Limber, Bardenay; Karen McMillin, Young's Market; Leslie Young, Boise Co-op Wine Shop.