From Northern Spain, Seafood's Soulmate

By Robert Parker

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Albariño is the only Spanish wine known by the variety of the grape. If these wines were tagged like others from Spain, they'd be called Rías Baixas. That's the cool, wet viticultural area in the Galicia region of far northwestern Spain where the grape grows. It's a lush landscape marked by rías—fjord-like inlets—that run inland from the Atlantic Ocean.

Albariño is a light- to medium-bodied, fragrant, floral white wine that shows remarkable flexibility with food. Its sharp acidity allows it to pair especially well with seafood, which also happens to be the mainstay of the local cuisine. The wine rarely ages well, so readers should be buying the 2005s, which are just being released.

Bodegas Nora

86 points.

Crisp and elegant, the wine offers up notes of melons and tropical fruits buttressed by crisp acidity and a light- to medium-bodied style. While not complex, it is a fresh, lively white that will go beautifully with seafood dishes. Enjoy it over the next year. $16

Bodegas As Laxas

87 points.

This wine exhibits hints of honeysuckle, orange rind, and apricots in its quasi-Condrieu nose. (Condrieu is a northern Rhône appellation that produces fragrant viognier-based whites.) Medium-bodied with fine acidity and abundant fruit, it can be enjoyed over the next 12 months. $18

Lagar de Cervera

89 points.

This offering reveals an exotic, Condrieu-like flamboyance backed up by fine minerality, medium body, and loads of tropical fruit. Consume it over the next year, preferably with seafood. $19

Bodega Castro Martin

88 points.

Aromatically demure, Castro Martin's albariño explodes on the palate with melon balls, spices, salty minerals, and flowers. This light- to medium-bodied white is satin-textured, expressive, and sports a lengthy finish. $20

Do Ferriero

91 points.

This steely white exhibits a straw-green color as well as superb purity, loads of texture, and a honeyed, rich, elegant, bone-dry style. $24

Pazo de Señorans

92 points.

This is from one of my favorite albariño producers. Low-yielding (25-30 hectoliters per hectare) old vines planted in the northern sub-zone of the Salnes appellation have produced a wine with impressive texture, exotic peach, apricot, pineapple, and honeysuckle characteristics, superb ripeness and richness, good acidity, and great length as well as minerality. This is a stunning non-oaked dry white to enjoy over the next one to two years. $25

Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good

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