2009 Trader Joe’s Albariño Petit Reserve

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2009 Trader Joe's Albariño Petit ReservePer the bottle “Bring on the seafood! Citrusy and crisp with Tangerine and Bosc Pear nuances”

What I Think:

For those new to Albariño it is grape native to the Iberian peninsula. I’ve had it made in a number of styles from the Portuguese Vinho Verde to the Spanish varietal bottling and been a fan of them all. So given a chance to see what California can do with the grape I didn’t think twice. This one is designated as a Central Coast bottling from Anyday Wine Cellars. From there, much to my chagrin, I can’t pick up its trail. Those that read here often know that I enjoy solving the mystery of where these wines originated but this one did a meticulous job in covering its tracks. So looking at a dead end, and with shrimp tacos on the table, I decided to pop this one open and see what was in store for me…

The nose was fragrant with peach and tangerine notes. On the palate the same rich flavors greet you before a bright, racy acidity emerges leading the way to a tart, crisp, lasting finish. This refreshing wine is sure to grab your attention and is a sound paring for any summertime al fresco dining occasion. I recommend it next time you have seafood on your menu.

Rating: Buy It

2005 Muralhas de Monaco Vinho Verde

Price: $12.99 @ Friend/Gift imported by Aidil Wines

What They Said:

Per everywine.uk “The cooperative Adega de Moncao started out in 1958 with 25 growers while today they have more than 1,600. An enjoyable white wine full of fruity peach and apricot aromas, it is well balanced, persistent, smooth with a dry flavour.”

What I Think:

After the champagne was finished we opened this bottle of Portuguese Vinho Verde that our friends had brought with them. At the time I had some misconceptions as to what Vinho Verde was all about. I had long wanted to try it but had always thought it was a lower end white offering which led me to believe I could find some values in this area. It is amazing how a quick trip to Wikipedia can clear up misconceptions, love that.

It is always interesting to drink a wine and then fill in the “they said” part afterwards. With my preconceptions of Vinho Verde fully in tact at the time of consumption it is interesting to see how this new knowledge compares to my tasting notes. Here they were brief as we had guests. This wine has a bouquet full of nectarines and like fruits. On the palate it was slightly champagne like with a light spritz and flavors of grapefruit leading to a dry finish. Definitely a young wine and it appears to be made to be consumed that way. Perhaps a little too much acid for me on the finish, but certainly a eye opening experience.

So now what I learned afterwards, first off Vinho Verde is not a grape, it is a wine growing area which translates to “green wine”. Not for the color but because they are meant to be consumed young, hey I got that part. This bottle was actually an albarino blend with trajadura. Wow, I never would have guessed! I had a great time getting to know this wine and will certainly be on the look out for more wines from this region next time I am in the store.

Rating: Wow!

2006 Burgans Albariño

Price: $9.99 @ K&L Wines imported by European Cellars

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “89 points from the Wine Advocate! They say, “The 2006 Burgans Albarino, a custom cuvee chosen by importer Eric Solomon, is a candidate for Best Buy in the Albarino category. Medium gold-colored, the wine has excellent honey, mineral, orange marmalade and peach aromas and flavors in a just off-dry format. Drink it over the next 12-18 months with grilled salmon, tuna, and roast chicken. 6/18/2007″ ”

What I Think:

A friend of mine had just returned from fishing in San Diego and came home with a cooler full of fresh albacore. He invited us over to dinner and I certainly didn’t take me long to agree. As we were headed out the door I shuffled through the whites and pulled this one out. When I saw this one in the K&L email it was a no-brainer. It was albarino which I have much enjoyed in the past and it was imported by Eric Solomon how has a perfect track record with the many bottles of his Masia M that I have enjoyed.

To be honest, I don’t remember much about this wine because the food was so incredible. I do remember the pairing being great. From what I can recall this wine was on the dryer side with a mineral backbone and flavors of fruit rinds (orange or lemon) with a hint of hay. Looks like K&L has some more at this point so perhaps I will give it another go and pay more attention. That said for the time being will give it a pricey designation but this poor bottle was just a victim of circumstance.

Rating: Pricey

2005 Castineira Albarino Dry White Wine

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Evaki

What They Said:

Couldn’t find any good tasting notes specific to the 2005 so I guess you have to trust me for the time being.

What I Think:

Oh the disappointment, I saw the new label and immediately sensed trouble. If I were to make the ten commandments of buying wine at TJ’s somewhere in the upper half would be “Thou shalt always be scared of a new label.” The reasoning for this is lots of the bottlings at TJ’s are private labels. When I see a new label you can usually ascertain that this is not from the first run and means that this version was made from a different batch of grapes. Given that it is different batch of grapes and this bunch was bought after the first my thought process leads me to believe that it is of a lower quality and thus my expectations plummet. I learned this with $2 Buck Chuck way back. When it first came out it was drinkable, as time passed though it would get worse and worse. I figured they were making this on a supply and demand basis. As supply dwindled and demand remained they would buy more juice and get it in the bottle with quality degrading as the supply of juice dwindled. Could be wrong as they would have to have wines sitting in barrels waiting to go but the logic all makes sense in theory so I am sticking to it.

Now back to this wine and why that last diatribe doesn’t even matter. When I got home I realized this was a different vintage. The one that I had come to know and love was the ’04 and this was an ’05. Still leery of the label change, why mess with a good thing! When I finally opened it my suspicions seem warranted though only mildly. This one certainly seemed weaker. It just didn’t have the same zing to it that the ’04 did. It was there, but it wasn’t there if that could possible make sense. It just didn’t seem to have the depth of varietal characteristics that the previous version did. The citrus flavors seem blunted in comparison and the raciness that use to last through the finish now seems a little overly acidic and becomes bitter and sour towards the end. This one certainly isn’t the discovery its predecessor is though I would love to try the two side by side. Maybe I can track down a bottle of that ’04, in the meantime I’ll try and do some research on vintage reports for this region.

For now I’ll rate this one as 12th bottle more based on my memories of the ’04 that this effort. Just want to make sure before I strike it from the list. Feel free to wait for the next write up or move on in the meantime. The Kono Sauvignon Blanc would certainly be a better choice if you are just grabbing one bottle for dinner.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2004 Castineira Albarino Dry White Wine

Price: $7.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per quaffability “Lately it seems like Albarino is mostly famous for being unknown — or is that an oxymoron? Whatever, it’s a great varietal that more people should try, especially of they’re looking for solid, food-friendly wines at budget prices. The first time I tried an Albarino, I thought of Sauvignon Blanc crossed with dry Reisling, and that’s what you usually get, a nice balance between the floral/mineral elements of Riesling and the citrusy element of Sauvignon Blanc.

This Spanish wine might be best consumed in a darkened room, as the color is a disturbingly electric yellow. The nose is muted, but shows pretty aromas of orange blossoms, lemon, and gravel. It’s rounder and more forward on the palate, with nice balance, good flavors, really good texture, and a surprisingly long finish marked by grapefruit rind.

This is an appealing wine that drinks well by itself or at the table, and it’s an outstanding value. Drinking it, I thought I really need to be drinking more whites, and more Albarino, when I’m looking for good wines under $10.”

What I Think:

I am a bit of a sucker for Spanish wines, lets get that out of the way upfront. That being said this is an excellent wine, especially at this price point. It has all the characteristics of a nice Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc. Nice and dry in the mouth with that nice mineral undertone and freshness cutting across the palate lingering on for quite some time. I just finished my last bottle of this and returned from the local TJ’s with a 2005 version that has a much prettier label…this is usually a bad sign.  Here’s to hoping it is just as good.

Rating: Bulk Buy