- 2017 Luzada Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain ($6.99 @Trader Joe’s, California)
- 2018 Belles Vignes Sauvignon Blanc, Vin de France, France ($4.99 @Trader Joe’s, California)
Last week I found myself up the road a bit so I hit up a couple of different Trader Joe’s stores in my general vicinity. The wine sets don’t change much from store to store in the same region, but I did find some new bottles that looked especially interesting. Here we’re featuring the two winners, just in time for summer.
The weather here in Southern California has been typical for June: lots of fog and mild. But when the “marine layer” (fog) burns off you feel the heat of the sun as we approach the solstice and the official beginning of summer. (My friends on the east coast assure me that summer weather has already visited them this year!) So I was looking for interesting summer white wines to match with the change of seasons.
About the Luzada Albariño
Albariño (pronounced al-bar-EEN- yoh) is a white grape grown predominantly in northwest Spain and Portugal where it is also known as Alvarinho. It is cultivated to a significant degree in the Rias Baixas DO, especially in the Spanish town of Cambados. It typically produces lightly colored but aromatic and high acid, light-bodied wines.
This bottling is 100% Albariño grapes. At first whiff the 2017 Luzada Albariño has notes of white flowers, peach and citrus. It has a nice balance of creamy and juicy flavors and a little touch of sea salt on the finish. This wine has been nicknamed “the wine of the sea” because of its coastal vineyards and compatibility with seafood.
About the Belle Vignes Sauvignon Blanc
Speaking of the sea, there is a chain of really great seafood restaurants that began in Boston (my original home turf) called Legal Seafoods. Their slogan used to be: “if our seafood was any fresher, we’d have to slap it.” The same could be said of this wine. Take note of the vintage on this wine. It’s a 2018, which means that a relatively short 9 months ago these grapes were just beginning to be fermented and transformed from grape juice into what we like to refer to as “the nectar of the Gods.”
For most white wines, the current vintage is 2017, as is the case with the Luzada Albariño. That’s plenty fresh. But since most whites – and pinks for that matter – are meant to be drunk young and fresh, start reaching for the 2018’s as they make their way onto store shelves.
You could say that this wine has a nose like Sprite (with aromas of lemon and lime) and a flavor spectrum like Fresca. (You all remember Fresca, right?) In the mouth, it is crisp and refreshing with a tart finish of grapefruit.
What the wines have in common
One is French and one is Spanish, but the two actually DO have a fair amount in common:
- They both feature screw caps vs. corks, which further makes them perfect for summer sipping. On a picnic and forgot your corkscrew? No problem!
- Both are versatile food wines, and would pair especially well with richer fish (like salmon and tuna), shellfish, simple “white” pasta dishes and vegetarian meals.
- They are relatively low in alcohol. The Luzada is just 12.5% ABV and the Belles Vignes is lower still at 11.5%. So you won’t be feeling all sluggish after a glass or two.
But best of all, both of these wines have a ridiculous Quality to Price Ratio. With one at $6.99 and the other at $4.99, why not put them both to your OWN taste test, and decide if one or both are going to be on your house wine list this summer.
Once you have, let us know what you think. Also, if you discover a wine you think we ought to try, post it to our Facebook page or reach out to us on our Contact Page here.