Spanish Picnic

Just before you head up to the attic to bring out those fall sweaters, Mother Nature has left us just enough sunshine to enjoy a scant few picnics at one of the big apple’s many parks. Barbecue if you can, but as many a Texan will chide you with a stiff upper lip, most New Yorkers mix up this religious practice with grilling. A trip to Despana store on Broome St. for some jamon y queso is all that you require, and of course a proper bottle or two of wine.

Start with a rosé, move on to white, and twilight in style. This summer, time and time again, I reached for a Spanish wine, as Spanish winemakers are in the midst of a renaissance. More and more producers are stepping up to the plate, led by trailblazers such as the Palacios brothers. My favorite rosado (rosé) this summer has been the Artazu Artazuri, a dry, crisp, clean 100% garnacha (Grenache), full-bodied, versatile and yet another example not to dismiss rosés. Jean Leon of La Scala fame continues to produce world class wines. Try the Muscat blend, with parellada and a touch of gewurtraminer. This honeysuckled wine gives tickles and surprises.

The indigenous Spanish whites have also seen better production. Albarino, the famous grape from Rias Baixas, has always been the pride of Spain for white wines. Don Olegario crafts a delicious albarino which is easily the best I’ve tasted here in the U.S. market. Verdejo, from Rueda, is also making a splash. The wines are crisp and apply, with plenty of acidity, making it easy to pair with all types of seafood. Bodegas Nieva produces a baseline blanco and a complex Pie Franco, easily the best white wine I’ve tasted this summer. The vines are ungrafted and are over 100 years old. For a comparative blend, pick up Las Brisas from Bodegas Naia, a mixture of sauvignon blanc, verdejo, and viura. This summer sipper delivers aromas of citrus.

Palacios turns in the Placet, a 100% viura that’s just summer peaches. The wine is organically crafted and elegant. If you are looking for a more serious white wine, pick up a bottle of As Sortes, a Chablis-like wine with minerality, racing acidity, and broad-textured balance.

So bid farewell to the summer with a proper glass of wine, a good spread, a memory of the sunset, and a loved one(s) next to you.