Tag Archives: albarino

Wine of the week: Burgans Albarino 2015

burgans albarino$10 buys the top-quality Spanish Burgans albarino

This wine demonstrates once again why the wine business is so confusing and why so many of us give up. The Burgans albarino ($10, purchased, 12.5%) is made by the Spanish producer Martin Codax, which also makes an albarino for E&J Gallo. But the Gallo wine costs about one-third more than the Burgans.

And, not surprisingly, the Burgans is a more interesting wine. It’s more varietally correct, with more of the savory, almost salty flavor, that characterizes albarino. Plus, the lemon fruit is balanced by tropical fruit (a little banana?) and the minerality characteristic of that part of Spain. All in all, there is way more going on than there should be in a $10 wine that is a past vintage.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2018 $10 Hall of Fame. Drink this chilled on its own on a warm fall day, or with grilled seafood or chicken.

Imported by European Cellars

Fourth of July wine 2016

Fourth of July wine 2016This weekend, we’re supposed to get our first 100-degree days in Dallas. That means lighter and fruitier – though still tasty and value-driven – Fourth of July wine 2016.

Keep the concepts behind summer wine (and porch wine) in mind as you decide on wine for this holiday weekend. It’s not so much the food that matters, but that lots of oak and high alcohol aren’t especially refreshing when it’s hot, humid, or both.

Consider these Fourth of July wine 2016 suggestions:

Muga Rosado 2015 ($12, purchased, 13.5%) This Spanish pink is consistently one of the best roses in the world. Look for crisp red raspberry fruit, bright acidity, and a long mineral finish. It’s so well done, in fact, that if I raise the price ceiling on the $10 Hall of Fame next year, this wine will be one of the main reasons.

Dancing Coyote Albarino 2014 ($12, sample, 13%): This California white helped introduce albarino to U.S. consumers, and I am most grateful. Look for crisp green apple fruit and minerality, though it’s not quite as salty (really) as a Spanish albarino. A tremendous value.

Hey Mambo Red 2014 ($10, sample, 13.5%): Great cheap California red blend the way it should be, with something else besides lots of berry fruit. That means freshness instead of that horrible cloying fruitiness, as well as proper soft tannins. Very well done, especially for Big Wine, and an example for others who think Americans will only drink wine masquerading as Kool-Aid.

Scharffenberger Brut Excellence NV ($20, sample, 12%): California bubbly that is softer than Spanish cava, not as sweet as Italian Prosecco, and a better value than Champagne. Look for some of the latter’s yeastiness and caramel, though the fruit is almost berryish from the 40 percent pinot noir. The bubbles are tight and long lasting, and the wine improves the longer it is open.

More Fourth of July wine:
Fourth of July wine 2015
Fourth of July wine 2014
Wine of the week: Charles & Charles rose 2015

Mini-reviews 86: Meh wine edition

meh wineReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month. This month, meh wine — four wines you probably won’t want to buy.

Lindemans Bin 85 Pinot Grigio 2015 ($6, sample, 12.5%): $6 worth of pinot grigio in the cheap Italian style, more tonic water than anything else. It’s certainly drinkable for people who like this sort of thing, and in its own way an honest wine. But you can do much better for not much more money.

Rodney Strong Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ($18, sample, 13.5%): Nicely done California white, as always, with varietal grassy character. But not for $18 (after a price increase from last year), and it’s not twice as enjoyable as a quality $10 sauvignon blanc or white Bordeaux.

Camino del Peregrino Albariño 2015 ($5, purchased, 12.5%): Spanish white is almost varietally correct, but there is almost nothing going on save some tart lemon. Certainly drinkable, but probably not worth buying again, even for $5.

Sauvignon Republic Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2014 ($8, sample, 12.5%): Thinnish, simple, $8 grocery store white from New Zealand that is OK as long as you don’t have to pay any more for it. This is what’s left after the recession-induced collapse of the high quality Republic of Sauvignon Blanc label, and it’s not nearly the same thing.

Mini-reviews 74: White wines for summer

white winesReviews of wines that don ?t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month. This month, white wines for the beginning of summer:

? Honora Vera Rueda 2013 ($6, purchased, 13%): Ordinary grocery store verdejo, missing some lemon fruit that should be there and a little harsh on the finish. Yet, having said this, that a national retailer is selling this hardly common Spanish white speaks to how far cheap wine has come.

? Canals Canals Cava Classic NV ($15, sample, 11.5%): Very pretty cava, the sparkling wine from Spain, that is softer and more Prosecco like, with green apples and lemons. Not crazy about the price, if you appreciate the style, worth the money.

? Amarte Mas Albari o 2013 ($15, sample, 13%): Quality albarino, a white wine from Spain, though there are equally as good wines made with the same grape for less money. Look for soft white fruit aromas, some lemongrass in the middle, and a full finish.

? Vinum Cellars Chenin Blanc 2013 ($15, sample, 13.5%): This California white is a touch overpriced, but a solid, dry, crisp, and lemony chenin blanc — the kind of inexpensive and well-made California white wine we need more of.

Wine of the week: Bodegas La Cana R as Baixas 2013

La Cana Rias BaixasJust when the Wine Curmudgeon thinks he has squeezed every last penny of value out of Spanish wine, he finds something like the La Cana R as Baixas.

Call it one more amazing wine in what seems to be a never ending succession of amazing Spanish wines. The La Cana ($10, purchased, 12.5%) is made with albarino, fast becoming the hipsters’ favorite Spanish white grape. Do not hold that against the wine, though. Somehow, and for just $10, it shows off albarino’s varietal citrus fruit in the front (a lemon-limey thing?), tropical fruit in the middle, a long finish, and even a bit of the salty tang that legend says comes from the grapes being grown so close to the sea in the Rias Baixas region in Galicia on the northwest coast.

The La Cana could use a little more acidity to balance the tropical fruit, but then it would cost $18 and would be the hipsters’ much beloved Paco and Lola albarino. Which is a nice wine, but why pay $18 when you can pay $10?

Highly recommended, and almost certain for inclusion in the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame. This is seafood wine, and especially boiled seafood (shrimp or crawfish) on the back porch as the weather warms up. And oysters and mussels wouldn’t be a bad choice, either.

 

Spanish wine

Spanish wine may offer the best value in the world — part II

Spanish wine reviewsThis is the second of two parts discussing why Spanish wine may be the best value in the world today. Part I, an overview of why Spain offers so much value, is here.

If wine drinkers know Spanish wine, it’s tempranillo from Rijoa or Ribera del Duero. Older wine drinker might know Spanish sherry, while the hipsters know garnacha and the Winestream Media-hyped wines from the Priorat. In this, it’s as if nothing has happened in Spain over the past 20 years.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Spanish wine — red, white, pink, and bubbly — is better than ever. Cava, the Spanish sparkling, has received most of the attention, but it’s not alone in the Spanish wine renaissance. The whites, including viura, verdejo, and albarino, can be spectacular for as little as $10. The reds, always excellent from the best regions, have improved dramatically regardless of where they’re from. Aldi’s $5 Vina Decana tempranillo (which, sadly, appears to be gone) is from Utiel-Requena, about as little known as a Spanish wine region gets.

These wines, tasted over the past six months, will get you started in understanding what’s going on in Spain. But they’re just a sample, and I could have listed a dozen more. The lesson? Don’t be afraid to strike out on your own. It will be hard to go wrong.

Muga Rosado 2013 ($10, purchased, 13%): One of the best roses in the world, always fresh and delicious. This vintage has tart strawberry fruit. As one CellarTracker user wrote: “My fifth bottle this summer,” which seems about as good a recommendation as possible.

deAlto Amo Blanco 2012 ($10, purchased, 13%): My tasting notes for this white, made mostly with viura, quibble about crispness and whether it’s too floral. How much have the Spanish spoiled me that I’m looking for things to complain about ?

Columna R as Baixas 2011 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): This white, made with albarino, is another excellent example of the quality wine that Ole Imports brings to the U.S. Still fresh, despite being an older vintage, with a really interesting, almost baking spice middle.

Cune Crianza 2010 ($15, purchased, 13.5%): Yes, this red from Rioja, a tempranillo blend, is three times better than the Decana, which means it’s close to spectacular. Deep, rich cherry fruit, a hint of bitter orange, layered oak, and a full, complete finish. Highly recommended.

Evodia 2013 ($10, sample, 14.5%): This red, made with garnacha, is a hipster wine that the rest of us can enjoy. The last time I tasted it, it was 15 percent alcohol and still drinkable; this vintage, with lots of cherry fruit, good weight, and some black pepper, is even better. I’m always surprised I like it as much as I do.

Val de Vid Verdejo 2010 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): Yes, the vintage is correct, and how a white wine that costs $10 and is this old can be this delicious is beyond me. Has white pepper and a sort of pear fruit that could also be lime without the citrus, plus a longish finish.

Mini-reviews 35: Anne Amie, Chianti, Raimat, Cline

Reviews of wines that don ?t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month:

? Anne Amie Estate Riesling 2009 ($19, purchased): Lots of petrol on the nose, acid and lime fruit to balance what sweetness there is, and a nice slate-y finish. It’s not what I expected — a little more sweet and not as honeyed, but that’s more my problem than the wine.

? Fattoria Montellori Chianti 2009 ($13, sample): Thin but adequate, with black pepper and some red fruit. But there are better examples of Chianti that cost less.

? Raimat Castell de Raimat Albarino 2011 ($8, purchased): Simple, basic wine with lemon and some varietal character, but won’t be confused with better examples of albarino. A decent value and something to keep on hand if you want a glass for dinner.

? Cline Pinot Noir Cool Climate 2010 ($18, sample): Lots of red fruit (cherry and strawberry?), but not overly sweet, with some pinot earthiness and character. Just not sure if it’s $18 worth of wine.