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)
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.
Price: €24 (wine list)