This month's tasting ended with perhaps the most unusual results yet encountered during these monthly gatherings. There was a tie for first place, only three wines received votes, and all three were the same wine! That is, all three were from the same producer, same bottling, and same vintage . . . yet all three showed variation. Two were even purchased at the same store. An extreme example of how the brown bag never lies!
The Albariño grape is most well-know in the Iberian Peninsula, where they make generally aromatic, light-bodied wines, with relatively high acidity and low alcohol. In Portugal they are called Alvarinho, and can be a part of Vinho Verde wines, while the Spanish versions of these are most commonly from the area called Rías Baixas.
First Place (tie): Aveleda Alvarinho Branco 2007 (Vinho Verde). Earthy aromatics were reminiscent of wet clay, mushroom gravy, slate, bouillon, and hints of strawberries and glycerin. Felt slightly more weighty in the mouth, with notions of slate, granny smith apple, and smoke. Addy was reminded of "chicken Mozambique”, while Natalie craved apricots and goat cheese. Received 28 points. Natalie's bottle. About $11.
First Place (tie): Aveleda Alvarinho Branco 2007 (Vinho Verde). Peach, stone, dust, and citrus aromas, followed by a blast of ripe flavors on the palate. Juicy, but showed focused acidity and white grape flavors. Longer finish than expected that showed minerality. Addy's bottle. Received 28 points. About $13.
Second Place: Aveleda Alvarinho Branco 2007 (Vinho Verde). Fresh and bright on the nose, with aromas of peaches and cream, along with whey, tangerine, and hints of dirty sponge. Tasters noted lemon, margarine, limestone, and grassy meadow flavors. Andy was reminded of "rabbit with pocket watch”, and also had a visual of being in Spain, looking at a mountain. Received 23 points. Kristin's bottle. About $11.
Pazo Barrantes Albariño 2006 (Rías Baixas). Effervescent. Showed aromas of necco wafer, grass, asparagus, cherries, cider, and limestone. Fresh and clean, but only slightly above innocuous. No points, but would probably have been the third place finisher had we been voting for more wines. Ali's bottle. About $23.
Montecillo Verdemar Albariño 2008 (Rías Baixas). Slightly effervescent, with scents of cleanser, crayons, bubble gum, honey, grass, red apples, and necco wafers. Almost like a wine spritzer in profile, with apple juice flavors, or like white sangria. Would pair well with a fruit tart. No points. Andy's bottle. About $13.
Martin Codax Albariño 2006 (Rías Baixas). The darkest profile of all the wines, this had a strong smell of something ripe, such as over-ripe fruit or blue cheese. Notions of olives, mace, and nutmeg. Seems old. Natalie thought she was "going to start looking around for fruit flies”. Strange and awkward on the palate, with no flavors on the attack. Woodsy and not refreshing, with an artificial, ashtray industrial finish. Tasters were reminded of Elaine from Steinfeld, dancing schizophrenic. This was easily the least liked wine of the night. No points. David's bottle. About $15.
Stonefly Cabernet Franc 2002 (Napa Valley). Cinnamon, cloves, sawdust, cedar mulch, moss, moist soil, tomatoes, and green bell pepper aromatics. Smelled more French than Californian. On the palate, tasters were reminded of plums, dark cherry, licorice, black ink, grass, and freshly printed book. About $25.
Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache 2007 (Barossa). No notes taken.