As always with foreign wines, it helps to know your importers. For my taste, the finest purveyors of Spanish whites are two importers that I raved about last year, José Pastor Selections and De Maison Selections. Both companies have rosters loaded with compelling wines, and they keep adding new ones. Pastor now brings in the sensational albariños of Pedralonga. De Maison, in addition to representing what is widely and rightly regarded as the leading albariño producer, Do Ferreiro, has the deepest selection of Txakolis of any importer. According to André Tamers, who started the company in 1996, white wines now account for two-thirds of De Maison's Spanish portfolio. He says he never envisioned tilting so heavily in that direction but was just seduced by the quality of the white wines he discovered in Spain. "I have a passion for seafood and white wine, and Spain is a peninsula surrounded by water and turning out these amazing, unadulterated white wines—it sort of made the decision for me."
Tasting notes for some wines that I loved:
(Wine-searcher.com, which was recently the subject of a good piece in the Los Angeles Times, is the best way to hunt down these wines.)
2005 Do Ferreiro Albariño Cepas Vellas (De Maison Selections): A mix of grapefruit, honey, and mineral flavors, with a briny saltiness and a touch of herb, too. Cepas vellas means old vines; this wine comes from a 200-year-old, pre-phylloxera vineyard, and some of the vines themselves are believed to be that old. There is a depth of flavor here that is certainly consistent with really ancient material. A stunningly good albariño; if there's a better white wine being produced in Spain, I'd love to makes its acquaintance. The current vintage of the Cepas Vellas is 2007, which is going for $39; I have not tasted it yet, but the reviews have been enthusiastic.
2007 Do Ferreiro Rebisaca (De Maison Selections): $25: A blend of 85 percent albariño and 15 percent treixadura, another resurrected Galician grape. It's full of bright citrus flavors complemented by a molluscan mineral note (go ahead and laugh, but you'll see what I mean) and a dash of anise.
2007 Benito Santos Albariño Viñedo de Xoan (José Pastor Selections): $28: Aromas of honeysuckle, pineapple, lanolin, and kerosene burst out of the glass. A rich, almost chewy albariño that just builds in flavor and intensity across the palate. Excellent acidity, a nice saline mineral kick, and a touch of green apple bitterness on the finish, all of which adds up to a sensational drink.
2009 Pedralonga Albariño (José Pastor Selections): $28: Pedralonga's basic albariño—they have three different cuvées, plus a red wine—is testament to the quality of this producer. Perfumed with notes of honeysuckle and tart peach, it shows great purity of flavor but also a deceptive richness, which is parried by the nice mineral crunch that carries through to the finish.
2008 Valdesil Godello Val de Sil (Eric Solomon Selections): $17: An impeccably balanced godello with pristine lemon/lime and peach flavors, a floral kick, and a terrific cushion of chalky minerality.
Some other wines that I really liked and strongly recommend:
2008 Valdesil Godello Montenovo (Eric Solomon Selections) $14
2009 Burgans Albariño (Eric Solomon Selections) $14
2009 Aforado O Rosal Albariño (José Pastor Selections) $18
2008 Viña de Martin Os Pasas (José Pastor Selections) $32
2006 Pedralonga Albariño Vendetta (José Pastor Selections) $120
2007 Mengoba Godello and Dona Blanca (José Pastor Selections) $22
2009 A Coroa Godello (De Maison Selections) $23
2008 Viña Sastre Flavus (De Maison Selections) $20
2009 Ameztoi Getariako Txakoli (De Maison Selections) $19
2009 Xarmant Arabako Txakoli(De Maison Selections) $17
2009 Avinyó Vi D'Agulla (De Maison Selections) $15
2008 Viñedos de Nieva Rueda Pie Franco (Frontier Wine Imports) $21
2009 Can Feixes Blanc Selecció (Classical Wines) $15