Anyone who enjoys unearthing new and interesting wines, as opposed to just drinking the stuff, especially wines at reasonable prices, has long ago discovered the delights of Spain, where the quality/reward factor is tilted very much in the consumer's favor and where tradition and innovation walk hand in hand. Spain delivers an ever-expanding array of wines that really taste of the hot, dusty sunshine of the country.
Unfortunately this wonderful Spanish makeover that has delivered so much wine-drinking pleasure over the plast couple of decades has been largely confined to reds. I say largely because a few interesting whites do pop up now and again, especially from Rioja.
And then there is albariÑo (pronounced "ahl-bah-REEN-yo").
This grape is grown in Spain's cool and damp northwest, where the climate is more Atlantic than Mediterranean. It's a pretty, simple wine whose appeal for me long ago faded as its price soared north of $20, so it was with delight and surprise that I came across this week's Wine of the Week, the Spanish Quarter Chardonnay-AlbariÑo 2007 at a very reasonable $11.
Chardonnay is not normally a varietal that takes well to blending, but here all is sweetness and light—the chardonnay brings elegance and polish, while the albariÑo contributes its simple freshness and appealing floral qualities for a delightfully harmonious blend, and an eminently quaffable everyday white.
When to Drink: Now
Breathing/Decanting: Not necessary.
Food Pairing: Chicken, fish, light pork dishes, and light pastas.
Grapes: 60% chardonnay, 40% albariÑo
Web Site: www.thespanishquarter.com
See more wines at www.nickonwine.com.
Nick Passmore is an independent wine writer and consultant based in New York. For five years he contributed a widely read monthly wine column to Forbes.com, in addition to which his work has appeared in such publications as Forbes, Discover, Town & Country, the Robb Report, the Wine Enthusiast, Saveur, Sky, and Golf Connoisseur. He is currently Artisanal Editor for Four Seasons magazine and contributes the Nick Passmore: Wine of the Week column to BusinessWeek.com. He is also a judge at the widely respected annual Critics' Challenge wine competition.