This was our second comparison of Albariño bottlings (the first was in July 2009), and we concluded that not only are these tasty, food friendly summer sippers, they are also excellent values. While the top two bottles were the most expensive of the night, they were a very reasonable $18, and all bottles deserved some praise, with each exhibiting notions of stone fruit allied with fresh acidity.
Our last place finisher technically didn't qualify, as it was a blend of Albariño and other indigenous grapes. We did notice that this one was a bit different, showing a more earthy character compared to the rest.
Five of the six came from the classic Spanish homeland of Albariño, the Rías Baixas, and one came from just over the border in Portugal, the appellation of Vinho Verde.
First Place: Viñabade Albariño 2017 (Rías Baixas). Featured a complex nose of chalk, baby powder, clapping erasers, silt, spearmint, salt, and light lemon. Diana detected "a little urine", while David found "shellfish that's starting to turn." Matt concluded with "just some dried up dirt". Clean in the mouth, with flavors of honeycrisp apple, white peach, lemons, spent yeast cells, and sea water. Diana noted that "it's like a tide pool." A little creamy, but also zippy and fresh. Nicely complex, with a richer mouthfeel compared to the rest. Everyone gave this their top vote except for Matt, with a total of 30 points. David's bottle. About $18.
Second Place: Columna Albariño 2017 (Rías Baixas). Tasters found scents of wet concrete, hay, slate, clay, nectarine, and ketchup. A little darker and a little smoky. Rounder in the mouth, with a slight tinge of honey, along with melon, yeast, flowers, and a saline finish. A bit more weight than some of the others, with buttery mouthfeel, and a complex character. Attractive. Matt's favorite of the night. 21 total points. Andy's bottle. About $18.
Third Place: La Val Albariño 2018 (Rías Baixas). This had a light spritzy quality to it, with bright aromas of honeydew, grass, meadow, orange rind, kiwi, shallots, and yeast. Youthful and green, but with a slightly earthy quality. Plenty of acidity on the palate, paired with a creaminess, not unlike a Creamsicle, along with marzipan, and something approaching Grand Marnier. 17 points. Matt's bottle. About $14.
Aveleda Alvarinho 2017 (Vinho Verde). A little spritzy in the glass, with scents reminiscent of hay, clean barn floor, mint, parsley, and white peach. A bit chalky in the mouth, with flavors of lemons and other juicy citrus and zest. Refreshing, and almost sharp. Matt decided that it "cuts right through like a floor cleaner, from Whole Foods." Received 9 points. Kristin's bottle. About $13.
Martín Códax Albariño 2017 (Rías Baixas). Offered a fresh, vibrant nose, with scents of white peaches, lemon zest, a bit of cream, and a little funk. Ali detected "something prairie." Flavors of lemons, mint, and Jolly Rancher green apple, finishing with a notion of sweetness, but also saline. Refreshing, and not a winter wine. Fresh and zippy, bordering on tart. 4 points. Ali's bottle. About $14.
Marea Alta Dozoe 2017 (Rías Baixas). A little spritzy. Tasters found aromas of wet animal, Bazooka gum, compost bin, tomato plant, and petrol. Diana found "an oil spill, slightly off-shore", while Matt noted "Pixie Sticks." Lemons, flowers, stone fruit, honeysuckle, Dr. Pepper, spices, almonds, and salt on the palate. Andy noted "some bitter and unripe pith on the finish." Made from 56% Albariño, 20% Treixadura, 15% Caíño Blanco, 5% Loureiro, and 5% Godello. Received 3 points. Diana's bottle. About $15.