Tastings - Wine & Spirits Magazine


95             Pazo Barrantes     $59     2020 Rías Baixas Albariño
Vicente Cebrián Sagarriga, proprietor of Marqués de Murrieta in Logroño, traces his family’s history back to this domaine in Salnés. His team farms 30 acres of albariño in eight parcels, and their vineyard work came together in this latest release, the best vintage we’ve tasted from the estate. Fermented and aged in stainless steel, with 15 percent in acacia barrels, it’s immediately ripe and luscious; the flavors seem to emanate from the structure imparted by that small contribution of wood and the pale, salt-cod savor of the lees. The scent of apricot blossoms and white peach builds layers of flavor that just keep going. Delicious with roast scallops or most anything else from the sea. Maisons Marques & Domaines, Oakland, CA

94             Rodrigo Méndez     $57     2021 Rías Baixas O Raio da Vella
The first vintage from this vineyard planted at sea level on the Atlantic coast: Rodrigo Mendez fermented it without added yeasts and aged the wine in large, four-year-old foudres, carrying the brisk, oceanic site directly into the glass. The wine feels effortless, its powerful concentration of ripe, silken fruit copiloting the flavors alongside saline minerality. Harmonious and subtle, this has the depth of flavor to match game fish off the grill. Olé & Obrigado, New Rochelle, NY

93             Gran Vinum     $33     2022 Rías Baixas Selección Especial Albariño
Think of the spring scents of apple blossoms stored in an autumn apple—you’ll have something close to the fresh and bright flavor of this wine. It comes along with Meyer-lemon acidity and substantial weight, the depth of flavor contributed by 50-year-old vines. In Galicia, you could enjoy this with game fish or percebes. It would also be mouthwatering with fat Diver scallops in a Cantonese presentation with ginger and soy. Grapes of Spain, Lorton, VA

93             Matarromera     $37     2022 Rías Baixas CM Criado Sobre Lías Albariño
This wine falls somewhere between honeysuckle and crab apple in its scent, then dives into fresh lime flavor and seemingly endless oceanic minerality. The brisk malic acidity reveals depths of tart, juicy albariño pallor, structured to age but readily enjoyable now if decanted, especially with raw shellfish. United Cellars, Miami, FL

92             Fillaboa     $75     2016 Rías Baixas 1898 Albariño
This is the top selection from Fillaboa’s 135 acres of albariño, aged on the fine lees for six years, developing a dark tone and a flavor of caramelized lime zest. The deep brown spices combine with coastal richness in a texture that feels like silk and velvet. Monsieur Touton Selection, NY

92             Granbazán     $80     2019 Rías Baixas Veigalobos Albariño
You can taste the cold churn of the ocean in the salty white peach and pear flavors of this wine. It’s smoky and lean, lasting on skin tannins the way a Loire chenin might. A fresh, bright match for jamón Iberico. Europvin USA, Van Nuys, CA

92             Pazo de Villarei     $28     2022 Rías Baixas Albariño
With the scent of a bushel of tiny yellow apples and their golden deliciousness of heirloom fruit, this is a mineral-inflected albariño, its rye-grain yeastiness and saffron florals integrated into the leesy richness. The finish feels dynamic, with Seckel pear and nectarine flavors tumbling through the end. W.Direct, Lawrence, KS

91             Forjas del Salnés     $55     2021 Rías Baixas Cos Pés Albariño
Fermented as whole clusters without added yeasts, then aged in 500-liter French oak casks, this wine shows that skin contact in its golden color and bold depths of flavor. While some tasters found it over-concentrated and overtly orange in style, others took it as pleasantly Sherried, with strawberry and honeysuckle notes carried along by a fresh, tidal undertow. Panelist Emerson Stevens described it as having the tannic spice of raw honey. “I like how divisive the wine is,” he said. Olé & Obrigado, New Rochelle, NY

91             Gotas de Mar     $25     2022 Rías Baixas Albariño
Yellow at the center, white at the edge—like a daisy—this has dynamic flavors and a wholesome feel. Those flavors touch on white peach, honeysuckle and concentrated dried pineapple, ready to serve with a scallop salad on the sailboat. MHW, Manhasset, NY

91             Lagar de Pintos     $75     2021 Rías Baixas Pie Franco Albariño
It’s funny that a wine from own-rooted vines should taste like root vegetables—celeriac was my first note. Then it turns grassy, with the jittery acidity of green apples. Decant it, and the concentrated fruit develops past apple toward melon, completely encompassing the acidity. This needs a year or two of bottle age to show its best. Olé & Obrigado, New Rochelle, NY

90             Forjas del Salnés     $85     2021 Rías Baixas Goliardo a Telleira Albariño
Rodrigo Mendez makes this from a parcel of vines in Salnés planted in 1973, the wine fermented and aged in neutral 750 liter barrels. Though the wine is not overtly oaky, the wood influence takes some time to integrate, bringing notes of cinnamon and smoke to the chalky, pithy, yellow-plum-skin flavors. This needs bottle age to evolve. Olé & Obrigado, New Rochelle, NY

90             Lagar de Pintos     $35     2021 Rías Baixas Albariño
A blend of fruit from seven estate parcels in Salnés, this wine developed buttery richness over the course of eight months on the lees, resting in stainless steel and foudres. Give it air and fresh apple flavors come up from behind the buttery lees, its marzipan richness suited to jamón Iberico with melon. Olé & Obrigado, New Rochelle, NY

90             Rodrigo Méndez     $70     2021 Rías Baixas Sálvora
Rodrigo Mendez makes this wine from albariño vines planted in 1905 at his grandmother’s house, handling it as would have been done in her time—fermented with ambient yeasts in old barrels without any temperature control. That brings a slightly syrupy feel to the texture, cut by notes of crushed stone and herbs. Michael Kowalski of Berkshire Mountain Distillers described its mouthwatering flavors as “perfectly ripe star fruit.” Olé & Obrigado, New Rochelle, NY

90             Nora     $22     2022 Rías Baixas Albariño
A floral albariño with concentrated pear flavors, this ends on a dusty lees scent. It’s pale and a touch sweet but clean throughout. Aviva Vino, NY

89             Pazo de Villarei     $22     2022 Rías Baixas Albariño
A simple, unctuous albariño with some guts to it, this has grassy notes and mineral acidity combined with underripe peach flavors. The finish is green and smoky. For broiled scrod. Tri-Vin, New Rochelle, NY

88             Forjas del Salnés     $98     2018 Rías Baixas Leirana Areas de Arra Albariño
Grown in beach sands, 100 feet from the Atlantic, this is broad, lush and rich. There’s a lactic aspect to the flavors, with salty oceanic brininess underneath, to serve alongside mussels with chorizo. Olé & Obrigado, New Rochelle, NY

88             Granbazán     $53     2020 Rías Baixas Limousin Albariño
You might expect a butterscotch scent from a wine labeled “Limousin,” and you’ll find it here, along with tangy orange richness, in this oak-aged albariño. The alcohol is apparent at room temperature, but a chill should tame it. Europvin USA, Van Nuys, CA

87             Caeira     $28     2022 Rías Baixas Albariño
With one note of lemon and grapes, this is clean, pleasantly bland and simple with integrated acidity and juicy apple flavors. Solera Imports, Miami, FL

87             Granbazán     $27     2022 Rías Baixas Etiqueta Verde Albariño
There’s some spritz to this tart albariño, its almond and lemon flavors tight and a little bitter. Chill it for aperitifs. Europvin USA, Van Nuys, CA

87             Tollodouro     $32     2022 Rías Baixas Pontellón Albariño
Smoky and leesy, clean and rich, this counteracts its creaminess with coolness. The strawberry-top whiteness of fruit places it in a slightly underripe zone. W.Direct, Lawrence, KS
94             Ladera Sagrada     $22     2021 Valdeorras Castelo do Papa Godello
About as pure an evocation of mountain-grown godello as you can find: This is a selection of the top 20 percent of fruit from Ladera Sagrada’s vines on granite and slate terraces at 2,000 feet in elevation; macerated for half a day in stainless steel before fermenting without additions, this sees no malolactic conversion of the acidity. The wine is a little funky, a little sweaty, and quite beautiful, yielding scents of acacia blossoms, notes of kumquat and Buddha’s hand in a minor key. It’s savory and long with the feel of cool slate. Pour it with rabbit braised with olives and herbs. Olé & Obrigado, New Rochelle, NY

93             Ladeiras do Xil     $29     2021 Valdeorras Gaba do Xil o Barreiro
This is the “village-level” wine from a project launched by Pablo Eguzkiza and Telmo Rodríguez in 2002, on terraces above the Bibei River, close to Ribera Sacra. The certified-organic vineyards are now farmed by Jorge Saa, who makes this powerful godello that starts out rich and gets racier with air. Bosky apple scents and a machine-oil minerality lend it a nuanced beauty. De Maison Selections, Chapel Hill, NC

92             Fragas do Lecer     $20     2022 Monterrei Fraga do Corvo Sobre Lías Godello (Best Buy)
From a 10-acre parcel of godello close to the Támega River, this wine offers a fresh take on Monterrei—the hottest region in Spain. Focused on herbal and mineral coolness in its lemony fruit, this is a summery white to enjoy with cured sausages. Think Global, Santa Barbara, CA

90             Altos de Torona     $35     2022 Rías Baixas Godello
This is round and fleshy up front, with apricot and white-peach flavors carrying a little soapy perfume. Then it cleans up in the finish, bringing chalky acidity and coastal savor, turning the perfume toward the umami richness of veal stock. For a wild-mushroom paella. W.Direct, Lawrence, KS

90             Gotas de Mar     $22     2021 Ribeiro Godello
Clean and lively, this packs some power in its gingery peach flavors. Jasmine florals contrast its butter-cream richness, keeping the generous flavors driving through the finish. MHW, Manhasset, NY

88             Pazos del Rey     $20     2022 Monterrei Pazo de Monterrey Godello (Best Buy)
There’s a hoppy note to this wine’s superripe fruit, touching on orange and late-season peach. It’s simple and clean. Aviva Vino, NY
92             Casal de Armán     $24     2022 Ribeiro
The Casal de Armán estate is planted to local varieties on terraces above the Avia river. This blend is mostly treixadura (90 percent) with small amounts of godello and albariño. The foreground of the wine is white peach, the background green olive, a little grassiness and a mineral tingle of acidity. The texture feels substantial, with generous silken richness and an elasticity to the leesiness, providing depth and clarity without any excess weight. Think Global, Santa Barbara, CA

90             Tollodouro     $27     2022 Rías Baixas Blanquito
With fresh apple and pear flavors, this has a honeyed slickness tightened up by smoky mineral notes and mouthwatering acidity in the end. A blend based mostly on albariño, this will brighten a Cobb salad with blue cheese dressing. W.Direct, Lawrence, KS
95             Alberto Orte     $75     2017 Valdeorras Escalada do Bibei Mencía
Based in Jerez, Alberto Orte works with several local growers for his wines from the hills of Valdeorras. This one is a blend of 60 percent mencía, with merenzao, brancellao, grau negro and garnacha tintorera, grown at five parcels on the steep canyon of the Bibei River, the vines 80 to 100 years old. The wine’s architecture feels as vertical as the canyon walls, a cool, zesty mineral coalition with dark red fruit, complex acidity and rose-hip notes that bring it back to the slate. Olé & Obrigado, New Rochelle, NY

93             D. Ventura     $26     2020 Ribeira Sacra Viñas do Burato
Bright and ripe, this mencía includes 10 percent merenzao, grown by Ramón Losada at a parcel on the Miño River planted more than 80 years ago. It tastes like harvesting sweet cherries—the flesh cool and luscious, their skins still resistant. Underneath the fruit, the tannins shift from slatey to spicy. Ali Berlin of South Egremont Spirit Shoppe was intrigued by how the wine “changed from beginning to middle to end, and the finish is forever.” De Maison Selections, Chapel Hill, NC

92             Alberto Orte     $26     2019 Valdeorras A Portela
This is a youthful mencía, its blueberry flavors intense and vibrant, their juiciness covering tannins with the earthy bitterness of chard. It has a scent like the fat on the edge of a grilled lamb chop. Decant it before you light the grill, or give this five years in the cellar. Olé & Obrigado, New Rochelle, NY

91             Alvaredos-Hobbs     $75     2020 Ribeira Sacra Mencía
Cool and zesty, this wine’s fruit is as black as ripe blueberry skins, with an herbal edge that panelist Nacho Monclús described as “Balsamic finesse in a Galician way.” Violet-scented in the finish, this is ready for any grilled meats. Paul Hobbs Selections, Sebastopol, CA

89             D. Ventura     $45     2020 Ribeira Sacra Viña Caneiro
For pulpo ala gallega, this is hard-core mencía, astringent with dried-green-fig flavors. De Maison Selections, Chapel Hill, NC

88             Ladeiras do Xil     $27     2019 Valdeorras Gaba do Xil Tinto
Super funky. This rustic wine’s scent is either barnyard-adjacent, or cherry pit with a beautiful herbal layering of thyme. De Maison Selections, Chapel Hill, NC

86             Rectoral de Amandi     $20     2022 Ribeira Sacra Matilda Nieves Mencía
Bright and peppery, this is as light as cranberry punch, with bitter notes of cherry fruit leather to give it some depth. Chill it in place of a Beaujolais. Monsieur Touton Selection, NY

Joshua Greene is the editor and publisher of Wine & Spirits magazine.

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