wine in the spotlight: abacela 2009 albariño

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Beginning today, I’ll do an occasional profile of a single Northwest wine that is especially deserving of your attention. This is a great bottle to begin with (if it ever stops raining around here!).

I did a search on the Wine Enthusiast database to see if I’d reviewed any other albariños from the Pacific Northwest over the years. Didn’t expect to find any, and none were there, except for previous vintages from Abacela.

Their 2005 got 89 points and this review: “With this bracing, bone-dry, crisply mineral white wine, Abacela continues to prove that southern Oregon is really the westernmost province of Spain. If this isn’t the perfect oyster wine, I don’t know what is. Like a great Muscadet, it’s clean, acidic and bracing but never thin or sour. Wonderful winemaking.”

Their 2007 got 88 points and this review: “Abacela’s dedication to Iberian varieties extends to this bright and peppery take on albariño. Fresh, bracing and bone dry, it evokes the wines of Rías Baixas without losing its New World flesh and ripeness. Delicious already, it seems likely to improve for at least another two or three years.”

Their 2008 got 87 points and this review: “Abacela has single-handedly revolutionized winemaking in southern Oregon, introducing Iberian varieties with great success. This estate-grown albariño is a high-acid wine, still spritzy and reduced when first opened. With breathing time it cleans up and shows the beginnings of varietal character.”

Just out (and already a gold medal winner) is the 2009. From the estate’s Fault Line Vineyards, this was harvested at 22.5° brix; pH 3.26; TA 7.11 grams/liter. The AVA is Umpqua Valley, and the cooperage was stainless steel all the way. In keeping with the times, the winery has dropped the price from $23 to $18, which means you can probably find it for $16 if you look around.

Winemaker tasting notes: “This Galician style wine exhibits aromas and flavors of crisp golden apples, citrus fruits, fleshy peach, almonds, and delicate white flowers all carried on a frame that skirts the razor's edge between creamy textures and steely minerality.”

My notes: “Estate-grown, this captures the racy minerality of the Spanish grape, while amping it up to New World fruit standards. So you get a fruit-powered richness, with citrus and peach, along with lively acidity and a steely core. The new vintage marks a big step forward for this varietal at Abacela.”

I don’t have back vintages to compare to this latest, but it’s just as well. The winery recommends drinking these wines within three years – “earlier if you seek crispness, later if you prefer greater complexity. Dungeness crab and oysters are each a beautiful pairing, but this wine will embrace any fresh seafood entrée.” As with almost any Albariño from Rías Baixas, I believe fresher is better.

You’ve got to love racy, high acid white wines in order to love this wine. I think it’s great to see such wines being made in Oregon, and not just pinot gris and the occasional unoaked chardonnay. Kudos to Abacela for all their pioneering work with Iberian varietals.

Abacela 2009 Albariño

3 comments:

andrewwenzl said...

Mr. Gregutt,

Your notes and my tasting notes have many similar descriptors. I also prefer a more youthful and fresh Albarino. I just finished driving the vineyards at Abacela and the 2010 Albarino vines look great!

Sincerely,
Andrew Wenzl
winemaker Abacela.

n. davis rosback said...

all because a man came all the way across the country to make the kind of wines he loves.

well done, earl and hilda!

jnet said...

I had this wine at a restaurant on Whidbey where the chef picks his favorite wines. We loved it so much we ordered a case. The 2009 is better than the 2008 in my opinion, but either are a special find. Very fresh and crispy. Excellent with fish. I love the peach notes, and the floral flavors are subtle. Excellent summer wine, I must say.

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