Tasting Wine: Inexpensive Spanish wine for spring

Can you feel it? Spring is in the air. I know it has been more than one month since spring officially arrived and there is still a chill in the air. But now that I’m seeing all the new seasonal produce available, I’m starting to believe. If nothing else, my allergies are telling me we are in full bloom, so it’s definitely time to get into warm-weather wine mode.

Warm-weather wine means for me not just crisp whites, but also wines that have low or moderate alcohol levels and are not too heavy. I try to think of what’s in season and the wines that will match.

Fava beans, peas, Petrale sole and strawberries have hit store shelves. What’s popping into my mind are gruner veltliner, albarino, tocai friuliano for whites, and on the red side, gamay, dolcetto and, of course, pinot noir.

I can go in any number of directions, but for the sake of focus, let’s stick to some wines from Spain this week. These three fit the above criteria, and they are $20 or less.

Laxas Albarino, 2007 — I’ve always liked this albarino but have never considered it in the top tier. However, this vintage from a producer located near the Portugal border is exceptional. It has a freshness that reminds me of some vinho verde, with more complexity than most. With bright acidity and austere peach and tangerine fruit, this wine makes me think about poached or sautéed white fish with fresh herbs and lemon.

Suggested retail: $20

Finca Can Feixes Blanc Seleccio, 2006 — Now going all the way east to Penedes, we arrive at Can Feixes. Best known for its cava, Can Feixes makes a number of still wines in the Alto Penedes. A blend of parellada, macabeo, malvasia and chardonnay, this wine is crisp with a salty minerality that is crying out for fava bean puree on crostini with fleur de sel or, if you must, oysters.

Suggested retail: $14

Montebaco Verdejo, 2006 — This is the first white wine made by Bodegas Montebaco in Ribera del Duero. A sleeper producer in its home region, the fruit here is from Rueda, an hour away. Clean and crisp with sauvignon blanc-like grapefruit and peach flavors, it’s great to drink with goat cheese and fresh strawberries. Yum!

Suggested retail: $17

Pamela S. Busch is the wine director and proprietor of CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen in San Francisco.

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