By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor

Palmer-albarino While some argue that it's vitally important for emerging regions to identify and focus on a 'signature variety' I think it's more important for any region to take its time, experiment and let the evolution toward specialization happen organically — if at all.

Without the type of experimentation and open-mindedness we might not get to enjoy wines like the newly released Palmer Vineyards 2010 Albarino ($25 for 500ml).

This is Long Island's first Albarino, from the first fruit harvested off of a single acre of vines, and it's no real surprise that it's made by Spanish-born Miguel Martin at Palmer Vineyards. It goes well beyond a Spanish winemaker bringing a Spanish grape to Long Island though.

"Albarino grapes like to grow close to the water, almost (like) it needs the saline breeze from the ocean," Martin told me in a recent email.

The grape so well known in Rias Baixas seems like a safe bet to ripen consistently on Long Island as well. It is a late-flowering grape — meaning less chance of spring frost damage — and ripens early. Martin picked the grapes that went into this wine on September 8. But even in more typical growing seasons, he's confident that his Albarino would be ripe by "the middle or third week of September."

As the vines mature and Martin fine-tunes is winemaking techniques, it will be interesting to see how the Albarino grape uniquely expresses itself here.

This first effort certainly shows promise and may inspire more local wineries to plan Albarino. Martin is adding two more acres at Palmer. In fact, they are planting the last new vines today.

The pretty and fresh nose shows aromas of ripe musk melon melon, apple, peach, citrus blossom and tropical fruit — along with a subtle minerally salinity.

In the mouth, that freshness comes through again with juicy, citrusy acidity framing straightforward, slightly-tropical fruit flavors. The lightly floral qualities from the nose reappear on the surprisingly long, mouth-watering finish. While fresh and lively, one can imagine a cooler, more typical year bringing even more acidity and verve.

Only 50 cases of 500ml bottles were produced, which is why the price is a little higher than you might expect. I think it's worth it and hope to get some more before it's gone.

Producer: Palmer Vineyards    
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
ABV: 12.5%
Price: $25*
Rating: 85

(*Ratings Guide)