We recently introduced you to the Wine for the Rest of Us list of the Top 5 Spanish Reds. But Spain is not only a prolific source of inexpensive reds, but also a great producer of delightful and affordable whites – most using grapes that few American wine drinkers have heard of.
Two such crisp, refreshing white that are bound to make the next Wine for the Rest of Us Top 5 list are widely available locally for between $11 and $12, if you know where to look. Bodegas Abanico Colinas del Ebro Garnacha Blanca is our favorite type of value wine because it’s consistently pleasing year in and year out. Made from garnacha blanc – a white wine grape said to be a relative of the red grenache (garnacha in Spanish), famously used in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and some of our favorite Spanish reds – Colinas del Ebro is sourced from 100-year-old vines in a relatively obscure wine-making region called Terre Alta. The crisp, unoaked wine is nothing if not consistent; it’s scores from the influential Wine Advocate have been 87 points, 87, 87, 90, 87 and 88 points for the past five vintages through 2010.
On his blog last July Washington Post wine columnist Dave McIntyre described the 2009 is the vintage, which you’re most likely to find in stores, as “A terrific little white, crisp and citrusy, ideal for an aperitif or with light, herby seafood appetizers – think Mediterranean …” A month later in his August 11 Post column he noted it is “ideal on a hot summer evening and an excellent pairing for shellfish from the grill.”
“Medium straw-colored, it displays a perfume of mineral, candle wax, baking spices, nutmeg, and pit fruits,” wrote Wine Advocate’s Jay Miller in the April 2010 issue. “On the palate it has plenty of spicy fruit, good depth and concentration, and medium length. Drink this very good value over the next 1-2 years.”
Josh Raynolds scored the 2009 Colinas del Ebro white 88 points in the Sept/Oct 2010 issue of Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar describing it as having “Laid-back aromas of yellow apple, pear, melon and lemon thyme. Silky and modestly concentrated, with fine-grained honeydew and pear flavors and a light kiss of herbs. Tightly wound for the variety, finishing with good bite and lingering herbacity.”
Assuming that “herbacity” is even a word, we’d say there’s a fairly strong consensus that this is a great wine at $12 a bottle.
Compare prices nationwide and find Colinas del Ebro Garnacha Blanca online or at a wine shop near you.
Equally consistent, typically a few dollars more expensive, but now on sale at Paul’s of Chevy Chase for $12 a bottle is the perennial “Best Buy” 2010 Burgans Albariño. As the name suggests, it’s made from Spain’s albariño grape, known to produce exotically perfumed, floral and citrusy wines that are typically crisper than chardonnay and perfect for cutting through the humidity on steamy Washington evenings.
“The Burgans Albarino is a perennial Best Buy in these pages,” noted Wine Advocate’s Miller in the June issue, scoring the lastest vintage 90 points for the third time in four years. “The 2010 Burgans Albarino delivers notes of lemon, peach, mineral, and a hint of tropical fruit aromas. Round, ripe, and savory with a slightly exotic personality, it is a nicely textured effort that over-delivers in a big way. Drink it over the next 2-3 years.”
The consistently high scores for Burgans Albariño in International Wine Cellar are almost spooky; Raynolds awarded the wine between 88 and 90 points in six straight vintages from 2003 to 2008. Wine Spectator, which oddly only seems to review the wine in even numbered years, awarded 88, 84 and 87 points for vintages ’04, ’06 and ’08, respectively.
If you can’t make it to Chevy Chase for the sale at Paul’s, you’ll find Burgans Albariño for between $14 and $15 a bottle in the District and Virginia and from $16 to $17 in Maryland. Most stores will have the 2010, but might find some 2009 (which also earned 90 points from Miller at Wine Advocate) still on store shelves. (Total Wine in Virginia has been sold out recently, but should be getting more of the 2010 in this week.)
Check out the slideshow for prices around town for both these Top 5 Spanish Whites or Compare prices nationwide and find Burgans Albarino online or at a wine shop near you.
If you are convenient to Friendship Heights, the $11.99 sale price for Burgans Albariño at Paul’s (regularly $14.99) is reason enough to buy this consistent winner by the case.
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