When it comes to red wine, tempranillo and grenache are the mainstays in Spain, but when you're talking white, it's a much more varied field. Different regions champion different grapes, and in the line-up we assembled for this week's tasting, no two wines were made from the same variety. It was tough to judge because all were well made, but here are the three favorites:
2008 Santiago Ruiz, $20
This blend is dominated by albarino (70 percent) along with a few other varieties native to the Rias Baixas region. The aromatics are light and lively with rose petal and white flowers backed by touches of mineral, herb and clover. The palate is elegantly structured with bright fruit flavors (apple, pear, sweet grapefruit), nicely balanced by crisp acidity. It finishes round and ripe with a soft hit of lemon zest.
2007 Txomin Etxaniz, $20
In the tiny region of Txakoli (chawk-oh-lee) just west of the coastal town of San Sebastian, hondarribi zuni is the primary grape. It produces a unique wine, this one showing floral aromas marked by green apple. Richer on the palate than most Txakoli, the ripe stone fruit and sweet custard flavors are matched by bracing acidity that comes through especially on the finish. A great summer white.
2009 Torres Vina Esmeralda, $11.99
This wine from Catalunya is a blend of two grapes: a moscato clone and gewurztraminer, a variety not typically associated with Spain. The latter definitely contributes an exotic spice component to the nose, where it mixes with honeysuckle, litchi, sweet melon and peach. It offers lots of stone fruit flavors in the mouth with a light hit of citrus on the creamy finish. An enticing wine at a great price.
This week's panel: Leil Cardoza, Red Feather; Dave Faulk, Porterhouse Meats; David Kirkpatrick, Boise Co-op Wine Shop; Cindy Limber, Bardenay; Karen McMillin, Hayden Beverage