Paso Señorans Rias Baixas Albariño 2007
$35; 13% alcohol; cork (!); 93++ points
While there's much mischievous prattle circulating about whether or not what Australia thinks is alboriño is indeed that or summit else like savignin, this is your actual alboriño at its very best: wet pumice stone and whitlof; anjou pear and poached parsnip; ever-so-slightly stale adult sweat and freshly-scrubbed, soap-and-bathpowder Rubens' models. The palate's real snaky. Heavy as red lead at first, but then the slithery asp of acidity starts flashin' about, and the whole show gets suddenly risque, and not the sort of thing you'd be taking your beautiful god-daughters along to see. Remember the radio-controlled tank scene in Montenegro? Vintage Cellars in Oz. 03 MAR 09
Burgáns Rias Baixas Albariño 2008$19; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; drunk 2-3FEB10; 91 points
Earthy, but not in a sloppy, mucky way, this real Albariño truly serves to prove how dumb Australia was, being conned into planting Traminer instead of this grape, then calling it Savignin in a coarse attempt to chip away at the flood of Kiwi Sauvignon blanc that's washing all the salt'n'pepper squid off the boulevard tables and into the gullets. This is not oily and greasy like Traminer, but just slightly slimy, like Pinot gris. It also has a neat, bony acidity, with just the right amount of drying phenolics to stir a dangerous yearning for tapas or mezes. By earthy, I mean a little like the radix family: turnip, parsnip, and even ginseng, but with a pleasing cucumber and peach pith juiciness to offset all those roots. This is a real alternative to Kiwi Savvy-B! Vintage Cellars and 1st Choice.
Burgáns Rias Baixas Albariño 2006
$20; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 90 points
Peach, and the ground kernel thereof, is the prime whiff of the thick-skinned albariño, a Spanish/Portuguese white grape stuck between riesling and viognier. This cheapy’s from Pontevedra, fifty kays from the Portuguese border on Spain’s verdant Celtic/Basque west coast. Not only has the high Aussie dollar shrunk its price a tad, but Vintage Cellars’ buying power has forced the Spaniards to use a screw cap, which is a victory. The texture’s more slimy than riesling, a bit like pinot gris. It’s perfect for T-Chow’s healing pig stomach soup with mustard and pepper; bouillabaisse, or mussels. Vintage Cellars.
Gemtree Moonstone McLaren Vale Albariño 2008
$25; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 84 points
Albariño is the Galician name of what the Portuguese next door call alvarinho. It seems to be a freakish offspring of riesling, and once the monks of Cluny let it go to that north-western corner of Iberia, it was commonly grown in poplar trees, which provided the ideal trellis. Because of that neck of the woods’ proximity to the ocean, which moderates the climate, the relentless Gemtree mob gave it a slice of their best biodynamic vineyard on Tatachilla Road, five kilometres from the Gulf St Vincent. Mike Brown lets it make itself, too. Wild yeast, no filters, no shovel acid, get my drift. It’s famous for high natural acidity, and this wine has plenty of that. It smells somewhere between a slimy Kath Quealy pinot gris, a hearty verdelho, like the new Sevenhill, and maybe a more feral riesling than I’ve ever encountered. There’s the acrid, nose-scratching guano-like reek of the dirt and the yeast, and then a compote of bosc, rocha and comice pears; maybe quince, or at least the passe-crassagne pear, which is a cross of a pear and a quince. The palate is thick and complex, maybe a little greasy, but bouncing with pneumatic muscle and vigour. Then the acid marches in: relentless and humourless. At the end, there’s a shot of tannin, reflecting that initial phosphatic nose, but it’s mainly acid. Even at this modest acidity, it’s a big mother of a slurp: demanding complex and hearty fish dishes, like charred lobster with chilli, or bouillabaise. I’d like to see it blended with fiano. Or something to slim it a little, and give it some florals. I’ve never been scared of flavour, but this seems a tad too big and thick. We shall see. I like my whites pretty, which is not to take my name too lightly. JAN 09