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90+ point rated wines under $20

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2011 Abacela Winery Albarino***
11AbacelaAlbarino.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Umpqua Valley, OR $18 Public Tasting 4/29/12
A watery, barely-there straw-colored wine with a nose of citrus, flowers and stone fruits that just jumps out of the glass. The palate was light-bodied with perfect balance between the intensity of the fruit and the crispness of the acidity. The flavors of lemon zest, apple, peaches and melon create a melange of fruitiness that kept me going to the glass for more. Intense, yet bright and refreshing with a lingering finish of pear and minerals. There's a lot going on here, but the wine is seamless. This was my first Albarino from Abacela and Oregon and I must say I'm hooked. It is a lovely representation of this variety, allowing the grape's natural crispness and fruitiness to shine through, while still delivering a complex, elegant wine. One of the best US versions I've tasted. Excellent QPR. If you find it, buy it. (12.9% abv)

2010 Quinta de Soalheiro Albarino***
10SoalheiroAlbarino.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Vinho Verde, Portugal $21 Private Event 5/16/11
A pale, straw-colored wine with a bright nose of grapefruit, flowers, lemon, pear, minerals and tropical fruit. The palate is medium-bodies with well-balanced acidity and intense fruit flavors that mirror the nose along with notes of peach and banana on the lively and lingering finish. Despite it's upfront fruit flavors, the wine was kept from being too flabby or fruity by not allowing malolactic fermentation and aging in all stainless steel. Coming from vines around 35-years-old gives this wine a complexity and intensity that's hard to ignore, while still being elegant and lithe, without the overt brinyness – I don't always care for – that this grape displays across the border in Rias Baixas. One of the most well-regarded versions coming out of Portugal for a reason. Excellent QPR. A wine I will definitely be searching out to enjoy again. (13% abv)

2009 Cameron Hughes Lot 240 Albarino**
09CamHughesAlbarino240.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Clarksburg, CA $11 chwine.com 6/21/11
A water-white, lemon-colored wine with lovely aromas of citrus, stone fruit and minerals, which gained in intensity as the wine warmed. The palate is light-bodied with bright acidity, clean and crisp, with flavors of lemon zest, peach, pear and notes of grapefruit on the medium-length finish. With an abv of 12.8% this is a wine that has good depth of flavor while still being refreshing and light. Not the most complex Albarino I've ever had, but certainly an interesting wine for the price. This bottle shows good varietal character for a CA version (even though has a bit of Viognier blended in) without breaking the bank. It's been awhile since I've had a Cam Hughes wine. Glad to see he's still finding good juice – in this instance from just North of Lodi – and delivering great bargains. Not a wine to hold. Just chill, drink and enjoy.

2008 Bodegas As Laxas Albarino***
laxasalbarino.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Rias Baixas, Spain $18 Colorado Wine Co. 4/19/09
A pale, straw-yellow-colored wine with aromas of flowers, citrus and tropical fruit that leap from the glass. The palate is light-bodied and creamy with just the right amount of acidity to keep the wine fresh amidst all the ripe peach, apple and citrus flavors. The finish is long with hints of banana and sweet spice. An elegant and flavorful wine I just had to take home. Intensely fruity, yet still well-balanced and refreshing. Albarino done right.

2008 Bodegas M Albarino Querida, Jack Ranch Vineyard**
07BodegasMAlbarino.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Edna Valley, CA $18 @ the Winery 9/12/11
A clear, pale, straw-colored wine with bring aromatics of lemon, tart green apple and minerals with hints of petrol and the ocean. The palate is light-bodied with brisk acidity and flavors of lemon-lime, grapefruit, pear, apple and yogurt with biscuit and almond on the refreshing, yet fairly short finish. An elegant and creamy wine that had more going on on the nose than on the palate which lacked focus and intensity, though was quite quaffable. Sourced from a 10-year-old vineyard, the wine spends eight months in one-year-old and two-year-old French oak. A good wine for the price, but nothing you'll remember in the morning. They are one of the only wineries making this varietal in CA and I will continue to follow their progress, especially since their versions show great varietal character.

2008 Bonny Doon Ca' del Solo Albarino*
08CadelsoloAlbarino.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Sonoma, CA $20 K&L Wines 2/23/11
A bright, clear, straw-colored wine with a moderately aromatic nose of citrus peel, slate, green fruit and the ocean. The palate is light-bodied with high acidity and a bit of effervesence, which I'm not sure they meant to do. The flavors mirror the nose, creating a very dry, fairly one-dimnesional wine that's quite tart and briny with only hints of fruit, mostly lemon and green apple. Though better, i.e. a bit deeper and rounder, with food (they recommend fresh seafood), this was just not very well-balanaced or interesting, expecially for the price. If I had been eating oysters or garlic shrimp this might have been more pleasurable. As it stands I found it hard to drink. (12.8% abv)

2008 Paco & Lola Albarino**
07paco-lola.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Rias Baixas, Spain $15 BevMo 8/8/11
A medium, lemon-gold colored wine with a nose of citrus, peach, melon and hints of herbs and honey that gets more aromatic as the wine opens and warms up. The palate is a bit more medium-bodied and less acidic than most versions I've had from the region, but I think that has a lot to do with the wines age. Most are meant to drink upon release and I've had this bottle in my cellar for over a year, which has mellowed the acidity and added viscosity. The flavors are intense green apple, lime, grapefruit, honey and peaches on the medium-length finish. Not the most complex Albarino on the block, but a wine that delivers lovely flavors for the price. Would definitely drink it if you've still got it. It has peaked, but is still enjoyable. Was great with Castelventrano olives and Rosemary Marcona Almonds. (abv)

2007 Bodegas M Albarino Querida, Jack Ranch Vineyard***
07BodegasMAlbarino.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Edna Valley, CA $22 Private Event 11/11/10
A pale, lemon-straw colored wine with a moderately aromatic nose of green and citrus fruit, minerals, melon and a hint of ocean air. The palate is medium-bodied, round and ripe with a lot more intensity than the nose suggests though with enough acidity to keep it balanced and refreshing. The flavors are of apple, pear, lemon creme, minerals, grapefruit and notes of almonds on the medium-length finish. There's a lot going on in this wine and even thought it's 3 years old it still has quite a lot of life left in it. This is the first vintage of this wine and I am excited to see what their future ones taste like, since they are completely focused on bringing their love of Spanish varietals front and center in CA. A great first step. (13.5% abv)

2007 Lusco Licia Albarino**
07liciaalbarino.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Rias Baixas, Spain $14 The Wine House 4/19/10
A pale, straw-yellow colored wine with a bright nose of citrus, green fruit, minerals and hints of herbs. The palate is medium-bodied and well-balanced with crisp acidity and flavors of green apple, grapefruit, lime, minerals and a bit of pear on the fairly lengthy finish, escpecially as the wine warmed. More tart when cold, more fruity when warm. All stainless steel fermented and aged, this wine comes from the southern-most vineyards of the the Rias Baixas region. While not extremely complex, it is well-constructed and has a nice persistance of flavor, showing the nature of this varietal quite well. Not a wine I'll remember, but a solid version for the price.

2007 Paco & Lola Albarino**
07paco-lola.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Rias Baixas, Spain $15 Topline Wine 2/10/10
A pale, lemon-gold-colored wine with bright aromas of citrus, stone, herbs and hints of stone fruit. Palate is medium-bodied with crisp acidity and ripe fruit flavors of lemon creme, apple and minerals with hints of peach and pear on the medium finish. A wine that keeps your mouth interested. A bit more persistence of flavor would have knocked this into the 3-star range. Better when not too cold. Held up well over several days with no diminishing of flavor or acidity. As it stands, a well-crafted wine for the price that shows great varietal character.

2007 tangent Albarino, Paragon Vineyard**
tangent-albarino_F.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Edna Valley, CA $14 Wine.com 12/14/09
A pale, lemon-colored wine with a complex nose filled with green and tropical fruits along with floral and mineral notes. The palate is ligh-medium bodied with bright acidity balanced with ripe fruit flavors of green apple, melon, grapefruit and notes of lemon creme and honey on the moderate finish. An elegant and refreshing wine that's drier than the nose implies, yet still has enough fruit to keep it from being astrigent. The wine was tank-fermented and did not go through malo-lactic fermentation, so the palate remains bright and crisp, just like this varietal should be. A great wine to pair with fresh seafood. Not as complex as the Spanish versions I've had, but a quality effort that hopefully will just continue to get better as the vines age.

2006 El Bully "El Bino" Albarino*
elbully06.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Rias Baixas, Spain $9 Cost Plus 3/13/09
A pale lemon-colored wine with a mild nose of citrus fruits, flowers and minerals. The palate was light-bodied with bright acidity and a fairly short finish with flavors of lemon, pear and melon with notes of herbs and bitter grapefruit. Not a bad white wine for the price, but just not enough depth of flavor and a bit too acidic and dry for my tastes. Might be better with food.

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**** Outstanding | *** Delicious | ** Enjoyable | * Drinkable
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