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Wines Under $20

Good Spanish Whites

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One of the pleasures of doing seminars at our Food & Wine Classic in Aspen is that I get to come up with a nifty topic, then taste a slew of potential candidates for the five or so wines I can actually pour at the thing (forty-five minutes isn't very long). There are always more good wines in the tasting than actually make the Aspen slate, and it seems a shame not to give them some attention, so here are a few good Spanish white wines that almost got picked but didn't quite. Note that for this seminar, enthusiastically titled by our marketing department "Spain's Profound Whites," I'm only pouring one wine per region, so the fact that I chose not to pour the Palacios Remondo Placet doesn't mean it's not a good wine. Got it? All righty then.

2007 Vega Sindoa Blanco ($8) Eight bucks? No argument here. 75% Viura/25% Chardonnay, and while I wouldn't claim it was the most complex wine on the planet, I liked its happy apple-blossom scent and crisp body. Buy several thousand cases and pour it for everyone at Shea Stadium.

2007 Bodegas Pedro Escudero Valdelainos ($11) Grassy melon-lime aromas and perky grapefruit flavor define this appealing (and affordable) Rueda. Darn tasty stuff.

2006 Aforado O Rosal ($19) Vinos & Gourmet, a small importer of Spanish wines that I hadn't run into before, brings in this citrusy, lightly seasidey (if that's a word) Rías Baixas white. O Rosal wines (it's a subregion of Rías Baixas) are typically blends of Albariño, Caiño (Trincadeira), and Marqués (Loureira), and are on the more saline, vinho verde-like side of the Albariño spectrum. Another good one to try, if you can't track this one down, is the Terras Gauda O Rosal—though, according to wine-searcher, it's mysteriously only available in Neptune City, NJ, and Sioux Falls, SD. Go figure.

2006 Palacios Remondo Placet ($30) This is pretty terrific white Rioja, and if there hadn't been an even more impressive white Rioja in the mix I undoubtedly would have chosen it for the seminar. Lemon-lime zest aroma, minerally, clean flavors of green apple and citrus, round texture. From Priorat star Alvaro Palacios's family estate in Rioja; 100% barrel-fermented Viura. 

2005 Bodegas Dos Victorias José Pariente Fermentado en Barrica ($32) Generally, Verdejo fermented in oak leaves me cold—such a nice bright grape, why slap it with a bunch of wood?—but in this case it makes for a rich, viscous, but not overly galumphing white, the grapefruit and green apple character of the variety mingling with honey and earth notes.  

2006 La Conreria d'Scala Dei Les Brugueres ($33) Another superb wine that I just couldn't fit into the lineup. Sigh. Anyway: This white Priorat avoids the flaccidity that affects a lot of white Grenache. Instead, it's a crisp, vivid white with a lot of succulent stone-fruit character and an elusive lushness that I'm guessing comes from the winemaker's choice of letting the wine rest on its lees in stainless steel for several months.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Join celebrity chefs, renowned winemakers and epicurean insiders at the culinary world’s most spectacular weekend, the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 20-22.