Havens Wine Cellars2005 Albariño
(Carneros ~ Los Carneros)
There are literally a handful of Albariño producers in California. I’ve only had Havens’ and after tasting the 2003 and ’04, this ’05 is getting close to the Albariños they grow in the Rías Baixas region of Galicia in northeastern Spain.
The Yountville producer – Michael Havens – first discovered Albariño in Spain 10 years ago and a year later, planted three acres on the Stewart Ranch in Carneros to fashion his first attempt with the ’99 vintage. It was also the first Albariño in the New World. He writes about it, “Each vine produces just a few small clusters, which feature the smallest berries, toughest skins, and darkest seeds of any white wine variety we have ever seen.”
I predict that Havens’ Albariño will spur other California producers to plant more of this variety. And why not? It somewhat resembles Viognier’s peach qualities, although the Havens is slanted more toward the lemon-lime zone; and is a little easier to pronounce for some xenophobic Americans. The wine also has a hint of pear aroma, with lots o’ acid on the entry and finish. It’s tart and crisp with some sweet lemon and a hint of vanilla. It’s a perfect wine for the summer months. Mostly though, Albariño is muy versatile with ethnically spiced foods (that don’t necessarily read hot).
I had the pleasurable task of drinking this wine accompanied by the upscale Vietnamese food at the new Bong Su restaurant in San Francisco’s SOMA district – duck confit wrapped in mustard leaves, minced veal and tree ear mushrooms folded into rice flour wraps, and black cod in a sweet soy – the Havens wine was up to the task of acting as perfect foil for the myriad of spices.
The listed alcohol is a very nice 12.4 percent.
Reviewed July 13, 2006 by Alan Goldfarb.
Alan Goldfarb has been writing about and reviewing wine for 17 years. His reviews have been published in the St. Helena Star, San Jose Mercury, San Francisco Examiner, Decanter, and Wine Enthusiast, among others. Not once has he used a point system, star system, or an iconic symbol to quantify a wine. What counts in Mr. Goldfarb’s criteria when judging a wine is: how it tastes in the glass; is it well-constructed; its food compatibility; and presence of redeeming regional attributes.