February 29, 2012 - 2:02 am
Wine: Ramon Bilbao Albarino
Region: Rias Baixas, northwestern Spain
In the glass: Ramon Bilbao Albarino is a bright fine citrine-yellow color with a star-bright core going out into a faint yellow to glass-clear meniscus (rim definition) and medium-high viscosity.
On the nose: The aromatics of this wine is like nothing else in the world of white wines. It is intense and pungent with crushed Japanese gooseberries, also known as physalis, then pear sparkler, apple cider, pomelo fruit segments, water chestnuts, Key lime pie made with kaffir limes, tangerine rind and oodles of fresh minerality. It’s just a beautifully scented wine with immense freshness emanating from the glass.
On the palate: This explosively delicious white wine coats the palate with a plethora of interesting white fruit characteristics, including, but not limited to, citrus rind, lemon drops, Granny Smith apples, white peach skins, apricot jam, honeysuckle and zesty minerals, coming through because the wine has no oak. The balance and the verve of this wine clearly defies its classification, and the finish is absolutely lovely and sharp as a tack.
Odds and ends: In the very corner of Spain, up north of Portugal and licked by the Atlantic breeze coming in over the vineyards, a native white grape variety called Albarino grows. Many would think it related to sauvignon blanc, but it has its own unique characteristics that make it a highly sought-after drink in the home market, which means there’s not much for export. Albarino is de facto the most expensive grape varietal in Spain and is considered quite noble there, especially if from top producers such as Ramon Bilbao. This wine is available for a super-reasonable price of slightly less than $10. It should drink well through 2014. Try it by the glass or with something such as spicy Thai or Indian food or grilled halibut.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at email@example.com.