People think of fortified wines when Portugal comes up. With Spain, it’s red wines and maybe Cava, the sparkling wine. So if you zig when everyone zags and go for a wine region’s also-rans, you can find some great deals.
I tried some wines from the Iberian peninsula available in the state specialty stores, partly with an eager eye for warm-weather get-togethers.
I may as well start off with the best:
Albariño is Spain’s indigenous breakout variety that deserves a place on everyone’s table. Granbazan “Etiqueta Verde” 2019 Albariño Rias Baixas channels riesling pretty effectively (the font on the label even looks vaguely German). Made from hand-harvested fruit from 30-year-old vines grown within sight of the sea, this wine offers floral and green apple notes with a richness and elegance that finishes with a hint of the sea air. Aditionally, the wine made Wine Enthusiasts’ Top 100 Wines of 2020. $12. ♦♦♦♦ 1/2
In Galicia, an autonomous region in Spain, sits Ribeiro, another white wine region influenced by the sea. Vina Costeira Meu Treixadura 2019 Ribeiro smells of peach skin with flavors of white grapefruit with a very fresh and lemony finish. $10. ♦♦♦♦
Moving southwest to Portugal, also along the ocean, we can find more wonderful white wines. The bright, light vinho verde is already well known. But vinho verde is better suited for summer. We can save those for a few months. Further south, the growing season is warmer and the wines more extracted.
Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, sits in a province referred to as Estrmadura that is home to about a dozen wine regions. While Lisbon is not in a wine region, it gave its name to the broader Lisboa region.
Portada 2018 Lisboa White Wine Reserva is a big, tasty fruit salad with ripe apple, grape and guava. It finishes with a lemon candy note. $10. ♦♦♦♦
When looking for on-sale whites, particularly those from the Iberian peninsula, be mindful of vintage. There are many deals, but many clearance wines could be past their prime. Unless you want to test fate, avoid white wines from a vintage beyond three years (anything from 2017 or prior at this point).
These wines are not necessarily bad, but they are less likely to taste as intended. Some may be fine, and others terrible. The question is, do you want to take the risk and spend the $11 to find out?
GRADE: Exceptional ♦♦♦♦♦, above average ♦♦♦♦, Good ♦♦♦, Below average ♦♦, Poor ♦