Adegas Castro Brey SiN PalaBRAS 2011

Another standout Albariño from Rias Baixas. It’s worth pointing out how often I came across wines of exceptional value while in Galicia; this, for example, goes for a modest €16.50 on the wine list of moderately swanky O Beiro Vinoteca in Santiago de Compostela. A bargain at that price, let alone whatever it must go for at retail.

This fresh beauty has seen some time on lees but no oak. The nose is crisp yet full, with fresh melon fruit, fragrantly ripe flowers, almonds and spice. It’s not a sharp aroma but it shows nuance and vivacity. What I like about the palate is the way it combines fullness of body, a reasonably complex texture and flavours that are both worked and fresh. In particular, an almond meal note through the after palate is a nice segue from melon fruit that fills the mid-palate, so the wine’s narrative moves from fresh to warm down its line. Good intensity, good length and flavours that show real coherence.

I wish I could drink a few more bottles of this.

Adegas Castro Brey
Price: €16.50 (wine list)
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Martín Códax Organistrum 2010

When in Galicia recently, I made an effort to taste as many Albariños as I could, particularly those from the Rias Baixas sub-region. In tasting through these wines, I was interested to note the diversity of styles applied to the variety, with many houses having a simply made wine followed by one or more labels with more winemaking input, in particular techniques like barrel fermentation and extended lees contact. Although some such wines I tried had lost their varietal definition, I was pleasantly surprised by how well Albariño can stand up to a fair bit of manipulation and still retain its flavour, structure and impact.

This wine, made by the ubiquitous Martín Códax co-operative, sees a period of oak ageing and lees stirring before it is finished off in stainless steel. Compared to a simply made Albariño, this has immediately evident yet measured barrel-derived aromas akin to vanilla and almond. As one might imagine, these mesh superbly with fruit-driven notes of melon and stonefruit. The aroma is highly expressive and well balanced, with a lovely rich vibe.

In the mouth, predictably full and round, owing to both variety and winemaking. Its flavours are quite complex; more vanilla, nuts and stonefruit; with texture becoming a dominant feature through the after palate. It’s reasonably, if not overwhelmingly, concentrated. Rather than all-out impact, though, this wine is about rich flavours that lend the wine a luscious, generous feel without heaviness. Nicely judged in the winery, and quite delicious to drink.

Martín Códax
Price: €24 (wine list)
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Bonny Doon Vinho Grinho 2009

How a Whitman we were always wanting, a hoping, an America,
that America ever an America to be,
never an America to sing about
or to, but ever an
America to sing hopefully for All we had was
past America, and ourselves, the now America,
and O how we regarded
that past

– Gregory Corso, Elegiac Feelings American

To smell this wine, to pause, to reflectSummer softness, spearmint gum softeningPavement and boardwalk, salt water and taffyWintergreen neighbors and smokeless tobaccoSkål, then, faded circles in back pocketsUnder the bleachers, awakening to summerDandelions abloom, horizons unfoldIn this America I drive all night longReaching towards lovers, ribbons unfurlSmoke in the distance, welcoming homeIt’s alright, alright, all of it’s right

– Me, indulging my inner Beat (with my apologies)

In all seriousness, this is an enchanting wine. Ever so slightly green, the nose reminds me of a wintergreen-tinged relation to muscat, with a lovely, fresh, sweet, spearmint smell. There’s also a very soft, gentle, warm effect that reminds me of summer evenings at home, sweet hay smells drifting in from the fields; together, it’s an especially tranquil wine. Pleasantly tart, this is a fairly full-bodied wine, but with a fascinating penchant for rotating through widths as you drink, ranging from California to Galicia and back again, somehow. Dry, and yet with the suggestion of sweetness due to its size, it returns ever again to the same acidic backbone and finishes long, long, long with a wonderful hint of pears, green apples, and woodruff.I bet this would be amazing with green papaya salad. For now, though, I’m happy to drink it on its own.  Bonny Doon Vineyard
Price: $20
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Retail

Bonny Doon Ca' del Solo Albariño 2007

Several decades in to the ongoing, evolving project that is Bonny Doon Vineyard, it looks they may finally be arriving at the most interesting place yet – and ironically, it’s an arrival that sort of predates the winery’s founding. By that I mean that they’re now trying to produce wine the way you would have done it a hundred years ago in France, except presumably with a few newfangled tricks such as refrigeration and proper hygiene.This wine is one of the first Demeter-certified biodynamic wines they’ve grown, and the complexity of it suggests (to me, at least) that they might well be onto something. This is a far cry from the weirdly plush, microbubbled oddities they’ve been crapping out for a while now; instead, what you get here is a beautifully light-colored wine with a floral nose that’s oddly like what I imagine Portuguese laundry detergent might smell like: rose petals and generic “clean” with an edge of cucumber.In the mouth, this is fatter than you’d expect, with a finish that tapers off quickly to reveal a note of crushed seashells and faded lemon rind. Before it goes, it’s a sort of dilute orange blossom honey note you’ve got along with, well, a sort of drying minerality. It’s fairly distinctly itself, whatever that is, and as such it gets two big thumbs up from this drinker. I only wish I had a plate of fresh oysters to accompany it.

Price: US $20
Closure: Stelvin
Date tasted: July 2008