Robaliño Albariño 2014

Light yellow-light gold color; light nose with flowers and hint of grass and lemon; grapefruit, lemon, green apple, mango on the palate;

medium-weight body, some acidity (but less than you expect from an albariño), long finish with tartness and pinch of saltiness (a common flavor note in albariño, thanks to vines growing close to the Atlantic). Very straight-forward wine that will not offend anyone, but falls short of wow.

This comes from Rias Baixas (ree-ass byshass) region of Spain, the only DO in the country for white wines. Rias Baixas is known for Spanish whites in similar way Rioja is famed for Spanish reds. The Rias Baixas region is in northwestern Spain along the Atlantic coast, hugging the border with northern Portugal.

Albariño is a small, thick-skinned grape that resists fungal disease, which is important in Rias Baixas because the region receives so much rain. The grape is low yielding and expensive to cultivate. Most vineyards use the pergola (parra) system for training vines, so harvesters must stand on boxes or ladders to reach the grapes. Just south of the region, in Portugal, the grapes make vinho verde wines; they are usually grown on pergolas, too, but the two wines are very different styles. The pergola system allows for lower alcohol (at 12.5% this bottle is stout by albariño standards), higher acidity, and much higher yields per vine. In addition, the ground beneath can be used for other crops and animal grazing. The pergola system is lovely—great hallways with grapes hanging from the ceiling, sun muffled by the green canopy, dappled shadows dance as the wind caresses the plants.

This is simple, easy-drinking wine, and a nice change of pace if you are a chardonnay lover. Albariño is to Spain as chard is to California, but without the oak and butter clutter (in over-thought CA chards). It is well suited for pool-side sipping out of a plastic cup or can be surprise new thing at a picnic. One of the delights of wine is you can pull cork on something your friends have never seen or even heard of before. Albariño is such a grape even though if you lived in Spain or Portugal you would know it well. $12-14

Second photo: Pergola system at Robaliño.Robaliño Albariño 2014