Spain's Awesome Albarinos 

A unique segue into cooler fall weather

In Spain albarino was one of the first white wine varieties produced and labeled using the grape's name. In the Rias Baixas region of Galacia, it is by far the most widely planted variety, accounting for some 90 percent of all vineyard acreage. Distinctively aromatic and known for its consistent quality, it has achieved an unassailable popularity, with a price to match. So while it's not the most inexpensive Spanish white, it is certainly one of the best, and it is made in a style that works well as we segue into cooler fall weather. Here are the panel's favorites:

2010 Deusi Nai Albarino, $14.99

This lovely take on the grape puts the emphasis on balance. The aromas are a nice mix of sweet stone and tropical fruit, along with racy citrus and interesting touches of herb and mineral. On the palate, you get ripe apricot and pink lady apples playing against crisp lemon and grapefruit. The subtle but lingering finish is colored by orange and lime zest.

2009 Do Ferreiro Albarino, $22

Rias Baixas is a coastal region, and this wine definitely shows the influence of a terroir near the sea. Citrus fruit is at the core of the aromas, but it is surrounded by notes of clover, mineral and a pleasant brininess like a fresh sea breeze. Bright citrus dominates the lively palate, offering rich lime and grapefruit flavors. The finish is crisp, lively and oh-so refreshing--bring on the oysters.

2009 Santiago Ruiz, $20

A blend of albarino, loureiro and treixadura, this wine consistently finishes near the top in its category at tastings. On the nose, it's filled with enticing honeydew melon, green apple and apricot with a light touch of mineral. In the mouth, it offers bright citrus, peach and apricot fruit flavors that persist nicely on the lean but lively finish. It's a definite benchmark.

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