One of my favorite unheralded grapes on the planet is the white grape of Spain’s Rueda area, just abutting the region of sexy, showy Tempranillo, Toro. Aura Verdejo 2003 has a very full nose of orange, baked red apple, melon and baked lemons; the mouth continues the theme with melon, lemon, cinnamon, baked and green apples and a hint of white pepper. Friendly and layered and happy with rich dishes.
Vionta Albariño 2004 was pretty as well. This Albarino has a floral touch but it’s more about orange, green apple, the cinnamon hint we associate with red apple, with much the same flavors in the mouth: orange green and red apple, but even more melon with some lemon. It’s round, soft, simple, and a bit floral and spicy in the end. I had it with grilled scallops and we drank the whole bottle.
Another version of the more generous style of Albariño comes from Pazo Pondal near the Portuguese border. The 2004 has a pretty floral and even slightly earthy note on a nose of round and creamy apples with an orange hint. The flavors are round, soft, easy, showing creamy apple with a cinnamon hint, red apple, apricot hints, and some lemon zest.
Pazo de Senorans 2004 has a very generous nose of apricot, flowers, earth hint, and bright orange; the mouth is round, the flavors are very orange, with hints of baked green apple; there is a soft, floral end with touch of cherry, ripe, bits of leaf, and baked apple hints.
Condes de Albarei winery in the Val do Salnes in Galicia is always offering fun Albarino. The 2004 shows a soft and floral nose with orange, apricot, baked apple with earth hints. The wine carries a round, but tart pear and apple finish, with baked green apple pie. Its tartness screams for shellfish.
One of my favorites is Lusco Albarino; their 2004 shows a friendly sweet orange and apricot nose, brightly floral almost like jasmine. The wine has some great layers of orange zest, lemon zest, green pear, green apple. The finish offers red pear skins, almost a roasted pear hint with banana.
Maior de Mendoza Albariño 2004 is from a more northerly, cooler area that typically offers an Albarino that is very focused upon tart notes. This has red apple with orange and apricot tinges, with a touch of earth and cinnamon; the mouth is red and green apple, lemony, tart, almost intense, like lemon dipped green apple slices, with pleasant length. It’s capable of handling far more dishes than one might think, because of its tangy acidity.
Martín Códax Burgáns 2004 – A pretty note of spice to an otherwise floral nose, with orange and apples of all type: very tart apple, red apple, granny smith, and ripe pear hints, it ends soft and crisp with white pepper and some melon. Very well balanced and capable of a few years in the bottle.
And the slightly more expensive Codax bottling of Martin Codax Albariño 2004 was just as impressive, with lots of pretty layers of apple, melon, orange, barely floral, some generous notes that almost show mango or papaya. The wine was friendly, soft, and creamy, with apple, orange, melon and a hint of white pepper; it has lovely balance and some few years ahead of it, if you don’t get thirsty first.
A pair of Valdemor wines: Valdemor Albariño 2004 with a bright orange, mango, and apricot nose with hints of wet cinnamon and wet nutmeg, as well as baked green tart apples; this is full and fun, with apricot, mango, and red apple, and showing some length.
And Valdemor Albariño Barrica 2002, which showed plenty of barrel fermentation smells, but they tended only to enhance the apricot, mango, and apple notes with cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. The flavors were lemony, with red apple, mango and orange notes growing under black pepper, cinnamon and clove hints. Since it had some barrel time, it had good length, and was friendly and fun, with crisp fruit at the end. But at the end of the day, I remain a bit ambivalent. I think it ought to be treated as a complex aromatic white wine, like a Riesling, and not like the Chardonnay most would assume it resembles.
Albariño di Fefinanes 2004 from Bodegas del Palacio de Fefiñanes was a strange animal. The wine looked mature, even old, but had fresh fruit smells of apricot and peach slices with notes of lemon and green apple. There were pretty notes of honey and wet nutmeg, and the mouth was round, clean, and pleasant with baked apple, honey, and lemon. Still, I can’t imagine it has a lot of time ahead of it, and I’m sure it wants simple foods.
A slew of Albariños to report as well, starting with Terras Gauda’s Abadia di San Campio 2004 – A nose of lime and apricot, and an almost orange fizzies zing to it, this shows a note of sweetness in its round, red apple and pear mouth. The pretty fruit character doesn’t mean it can’t handle virtually any fish or shellfish; it can and did with some grilled grouper.
Freixenet has a number of interesting brands coming out of Spain that are not Cava from the home base in Penedes. One is Creu de Lavit 2003, made from the Pansa Blanca’ grape (it’s called Xarel-lo in Cava country) and the grape strikes me as the most interesting grape in Cava. On its own in this bottle, it’s pretty cool as well.
The 2003 has a fresh and full nose with light florals (lavender), lime leaf, lime zest, orange zest, lots of green apple, and lemon zest. While fairly short, the wine is round and friendly, with sweet Meyer lemon, a touch of allspice, orange meat, and decent length with a little touch of dried herb at the end. I’m sure it needs to be consumed fresh, but it has real texture from the brief time in oak, but never sacrifices fresh fruit character for the oak texture.