Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wine Blogging Wednesday #35 - Spanish Wine Under $10

Wine Blogging Wednesday is here again, and this month’s theme is Spanish Wines Under $10. Our host is Michelle, aka Wine-girl, at My Wine Education. WBW was created three years ago now by New York’s own (by way of Pittsburgh, anyway) Lenn of Lenndevours.

We are charged with tasting a bottle of Spanish wine, red, white, or bubbly, that also costs $10 or less. I am not a Spanish wine buff, and I don’t know all that much outside of Rioja. I thought it would be nice to try a Bierzo, made from the Mencia grape, the older uncle of my beloved Cabernet Franc. But Bierzos, like your old uncle, can be rustic and brooding wines that prefer to be indoors by the fire - better suited for another time of year.

Then I remembered a light and inexpensive Priorat that I have enjoyed in the past, but the new vintage costs about $15 – too much. Under $10, huh? I will admit that I rarely buy wine at that price point. I usually don’t like $10 red wine – all too often it’s like a bull in a china shop. So I decided not to pick a random red wine, and instead to go with a white - there are several inexpensive whites coming out of Spain that are supposed to be quite good. And I had the perfect excuse to try an inexpensive bottle of white wine...

BrooklynLady and I took BrooklynBabygirl to a Sunday afternoon picnic last weekend. BrooklynLady made two kinds of sandwiches: tuna fish (the good canned kind, in olive oil) with marinated artichoke hearts and lemon juice, and fresh mozzarella with basil. For anyone interested, A & S Porkstore on 5th Avenue between Carroll and Garfield in park slope makes incredible fresh mozz, basically every few hours. Creamy, salty, YUM. What wine would go well with these sandwiches? Something light with zippy acidity, I was thinking, more briny than exotic fruity. Left to my own devices, I might have brought along a Muscadet.

But no Muscadet allowed. This is WBW and the theme is Spanish wine under $10, so I decided to go with an Albariño from the Rias Baixas region. Albariño is the name of the grape, and these wines are marketed as the fresh seafood wine of Spain. Should go well with a nice tuna sandwich, right? The fresh mozzarella, who knows, but who really cares, it’s a picnic. Any wine should be good wine when you enjoy it in the park with friends and children running around.

I tried Chambers Street Wines, my usual haunt, but there was nothing close enough to the $10 limit. Portugese wines, yes, but no Spanish whites at about $10. So I went to Astor Wine and Spirits, a huge store, and they had a couple of bottles to choose from. I settled on a $12 bottle instead of the Borsao, or the other bottles that had labels sporting happy fish, little beach scenes, or other marketing crap that kind of turns me off. Me cynical? Absolutely. I picked a Martin Codax wine with a simple white label and a clear bottle, and I could see the attractive light color of the wine.

After drinking this wine I learned that, incredibly, it IS possible to think your wine sort of stinks, even at a lovely picnic. Several people, after one small glass, opted for beer instead. I tried hard to like it, but it was tough, really tough. Now I've enjoyed Albariño in the past, so I am not at all slamming the wine in general or the Rias Baixas region. Just this bottle because honestly, this wine was just no good.

2006 Martin Codax Albariño Rias Biaxas, $12 (Astor Wines and Spirits).
Pale straw color with tonic water quinine and wet rocks on the nose. Those smells are echoed on the palate, and nothing more. There is acidity, and the wine is light and sort of lively, but there is no balance at all. Only minerals and brine, no fruit to speak of, nothing to hold your interest. Even with bites of tuna sandwich at a nice picnic, this is not altogether pleasant.

I'm curious to read to roundup, and I hope that someone else sampled one of these popular wines - I want to taste another Albariño soon because I know that the Codax cannot be representative of the wines. Yes, I will have to try another.

Thanks to Michelle for choosing this interesting theme and for hosting.

14 comments:

Dr. Debs said...

I've not had that bottling by Codax, but in general I prefer the old world style of albarino. M. Codax is making albarino ostensibly to appeal to NWorld palates. And try something white from Rueda next time you picnic. I think is would be more in tune with your palate.

In general, I think the Spanish bargain wines are sometimes not a bargain. They are (in my opinion) now being overproduced to keep up with demand, and that's not a good thing.

Sonadora said...

I wasn't impressed by my "bargain" white either....flat and neutral would be how I would describe what I tried.

Try the Nora Albarino, I've always like that one!

Lorraine said...

You also can try Adegas D'Altamira Albarino (either Seleccion or Brandal, which is under $15.00). Unlike most other Albarinos, does not go through malolactic fermentation. Another good one is Mar de Frades. Adegas was just introduced to the U.S. last March (NY distributor is Liberty Wines) -- Mar de Frades has been in U.S. for a few years.

Brooklynguy said...

Hey All - thanks for stopping by.

Debs-not sure this wine would appeal to any palate. If by new world you mean palate you mean people who want sweeter fruit forward wines ready for drinking young, this doesn't approach that style. It was lean and mean, and no fun. Rueda is on the list for sure, thanks for the suggestion.

Hey Sonadora-okay, then, Nora. Sounds like we both were out-bargained by our inexpensive wines...

Hi Lorraine-welcome and thanks for your suggestions.I like the sound of no malo-lactic. I am stunned though, because I thought malo-lactic is supposed to change malic acids into softer more buttery lactic acids. If this Codax went through malo-lactic then they might need a refresher course. You seem far too knowledgable about Albarino to be a "civilian." Are you a wine business person?

lorraine said...

yes, I am in the "wine biz" (I handle pr for an importer out of CA that works only with "family-owned" wineries) and this was my first blog. I just couldn't help myself when I saw your comment on the Martin Codax, especially since it usually gets good reviews from the wine media.

Joe said...

Hi BKG, I was not terribly impressed with my inexpensive Spanish treat either, but it was fun regardless. I have had very nice albarino from Rias Biaxas, but not at this price point...

JB said...

when it comes to lesser priced spanish wines, I look to the importers I trust. Eric Solomon of European Cellars and Jorge Ordonez Selections have impeccable taste, and when you see their logos on the backs of bottles, it's invariably a good sign. That said, try the Burgans Albarino, as well as the Ercavio Blanco, which is from La Mancha and made from a grape called Airen. Both are great bargains and should leave you less dissatisfied.

FYI, prices on Spain are going UP so it's a bit harder to find the bargains we've become accustomed to. Blame the weak dollar; blame the Parker scores...who knows.

Brooklynguy said...

Hi Lorraine - I am proud to be your first blog! I hope you will come back and visit. I will keep my eyes open for the wines you suggested.

Joe - sounds like many of us had a less than stellar experience. BAd choices? Spanish wine no good under $10? We'll see...

Hey JB - nice site, by the way. I saw your ad on Lenndevours. i agree with you about trusting importers. I have not heard of those you mention, but that's because I'm more of a French wine fella. Appreciate your suggestions, and hope to see you around again.

Joe said...

I think it was bad choices. Try the Castano Dominio Espinal sometime - dirt cheap - you can't lose.

ryan said...

Sad, might be an anomaly, since I've had this many times, and your note seems to not reflect my experience. Codax makes some great wines, though I wouldn't say they are all New world styled.
As far as Albarino, there are plenty out there and the styles very widely. From rich and unctous to austere and minerally. It's a fun grape to explore!

Brooklynguy said...

Thanks Joe - I will keep my eyes open.

And hey Ryan! I hear you - I want to explore Albarino. Who wouldn't be into inexpensive and truyl tasty white wine in the warm weather. I do not believe that this one bottle is representative of the grape, and if you say it's not representative of Codax, then I believe that too. But I will try othes before coming back to Codax.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that JB mentioned Airen. One of our other producers, Aresan, has an Airen that is quite good. I'm a bit surprised that anyone has heard of this grape (I hadn't before we started importing it). We've been having a few distribution issues here in NY area -- hoping to have the problem solved within the next week or so, and both the Albarinos and Airen flowing by beginning of August.

Brooklynguy said...

Hey Anon - is there a particular wine store that might be selling your Airen?

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