In a land renowned for red wine, a white beauty is beginning to take center stage. Albariño, the name of the wine and the grape, has a centuries-old history. But it is only in the past 20 years that it has evolved into the finest white wine of Spain, and the world is taking notice.
Albariño originates in Rias Baixas in Galicia, the far northwest region of Spain. The wines that come from this land blanketed in green and blessed with a mild climate are dry, zesty and brimming with attractive fruit flavors and refreshing acidity. Yet, while they are all born of the same grape, each has its own personality.
Martín Códax Albariño 2004, for example, is mineral-ladened with a burst of citrus, melon and fresh apples. Valdamor Vintage Selection Albariño 2003 is complex, succulent, a bounty of pear and pineapple. And Coto de Xiabre’s Maior de Mendoza 2004 is bright, focused and keenly aromatic. Bodegas La Val offers two winners — the sprightly and melony La Val Albariño 2004; and Finca de Arantei 2004, intense, lightly herbal and minerally, smooth and silky.
The outstanding Pazo de Señoráns 2004 is a quintessential Albariño, all lemon, lime and peach. From the same winery, its fabulous Rias Baixas de Señoráns Selección de Añada 2001, made from the 45-year-old vines of a single vineyard, is concentrated, complex and rich.
Marqués de Vizhoja Torre La Moreira 2004 is another single vineyard Albariño that captures the grape’s character with its good acidity and evocative fruit flavors. The vibrant Condes de Albarei 2004 displays a beautiful balance of fruit and acidity. Also from Condes de Albarei, there is the ripe, generous 2004 Enxebre (“homemade” in Galician), made from 40-year-old vines. The most exciting of the wines Bodegas As Laxas makes is Bágoa do Miño 2004. It is bright, well-structured, with a medley of fruit, especially pineapple and melon.
Among the many charms of Albariño is that most sell for less than $20 and they are ready to drink when you buy them. Savor Albariño with seafood, salads, tapas, appetizers. Or by itself. It is the perfect summer wine.
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