When you choose a category as broad as Spanish whites, you can expect a tough tasting. It's something akin to picking your favorite among apples, oranges and pears. Because there are not that many Spanish whites in the Boise market, we had to include different grape varieties and wines from different regions, and judge each on its own merits rather than relying on comparisons. Difficult though the task was, four very different wines emerged as clear favorites. Here are the panel's top picks:
2004 Can Feixes Blanc Seleccio, $11.99
From the Catalonian region of Penedès in northeast Spain, the Huguet family crafts this floral blend of Parellada and Macabeo with just a touch of Chardonnay. Aromas of clover, soft peach and melon dominate, backed by nice touches of pineapple, vanilla and honey. The flavors are crisp and clean leaning toward citrus and pineapple fruit. It's a light and lovely summer quaffer.
2005 Izadi Viura, $12.99
Twenty percent Malvasia is added to this Viura-based blend from the Rioja Alavesa in the Basque province of Alava. Fermented in French and American oak, the Izadi white spends three months on the lees, resulting in a sleek and silky wine. Ample oak comes through on the nose blending nicely with the white peach and pear aromas. This wine is full and rich in the mouth with spicy apple fruit and a long citrus finish. Though it's nice now, it could use a month or two in the bottle to come together.
2004 Pazo Pondal Albariño, $18.99
From the Northwest region of Rias Baixas, this 100 percent Albarino benefits from the steady Atlantic breezes that cool the terraced vineyards of Pazo Pondal. There's an outstanding purity of fruit on the nose with vibrant melon and dried apricot aromas. The flavors offer lightly sweet peach and melon backed by nice crisp citrus fruit that lingers on the finish. It's a good price for an Albarino of this quality.
2005 Quinta Hinojal Blanco, $5.99
A no-oak verson of Viura from the Castilla y Leon this time blended with 20 percent Verdejo. The aromas are fresh and fruity combining ripe apricot, grapefruit and honeyed peach. The flavors are a completely refreshing mix of melon, peach and grapefruit that goes down oh-so-smoothly. This is the perfect summer patio sip at a bargain basement price.
This week's panel: Fawn Caveney, Tastevin; Dave Faulk, Porterhouse Meats; Wayne Hansen, Starry Night Winery; David Kirkpatrick, Boise Co-op; Cindy Limber, Bardenay; Karen McMillin, Idaho Wine Merchant; Kevin Settles, Bardenay.