Nora Rías Baixas Albariño 2005
Bodegas Nora produces this crisp white wine from 100% Albariño grapes in the Condado do
Tea section abutting the Miño River in the Rías Baixas D.O. in Spain's Galicia. The
Galician region, in Spain's far northwest just above Portugal, seems to trail me in odd ways;
I've never been to Galicia, but when I lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico I lived on a dirt road
called Paseo Galisteo (which means, literally, the “path to the Galician”) and knew a number
of people named Gallegos, again, a reference to Galician origin. How odd these Gallegos
must have felt, five centuries ago, coming to the American high desert from their rainy
homeland by the Atlantic. The people are originally of Celtic origin, and have bagpipes (their
gaita de fol) to prove it, but today's Gallego language resembles Portuguese
(especially the Portuguese spoken in the north of Portugal, the Vinho Verde area that often
accesses the same grape, which they call Alvarinho).
I bought a bottle of the Nora for my sister, who is named Nora, figuring she would be impressed by the striking “Nora” emblazoned across the wine's capacious label. She was thrilled by the gift, of course, but also enjoyed the wine, as did I. Fairly well distributed, the Nora is available in the $12 - $16 range.
The wine has a lovely golden depth to it, with a pleasant mineral tone that carries on to a satisfying finish. The fruit, which is also consistent from nose, to palate, to finish, is led by white peach with a little ripe apple and tropical touches of pineapple and banana. I may be wrong, but I sense that a little touch of residual sugar melds with the ripeness to help integrate the show (though indeed, that may be the ripeness itself doing some fine work.) If there is a touch, it belongs.
I've called this wine “crisp,” but it is crisp on its own Albariño terms; it would be wrong to
reference it to Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, or other international grapes, although there are
some aroma parallels to Riesling. It is fruit-forward but not quite sassy, very well made
without seeming engineered. I find it better integrated than many other fruity acidic whites,
which is perhaps a result of the highly aromatic nature of the Albariño grape. With recent
hints of Albariño interest in California and elsewhere, I suspect the grape will be becoming
more international in the future, but for the present, the Nora brings in some excellent specs,
and it sets me up well with at least one of my three sisters. If anyone out there knows of a
wine called “Nina” or “Susie” I would appreciate the news.
Verdict: A Fine Effort
State-of-the-art winemaking equipment and know-how is almost always an asset; the best producers know how to plug it all into the continuum of the vine and the land.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman