Oh, the Smell of It

Winemaker Miguel Martin must have been the kind of kid who reveled in scratch ’n’ sniff books. Palmer Vineyards’ winemaker since 2006, Martin made his odiferous etch on the 26-year-old producer’s wines by introducing Long Islanders to the northwestern Spanish white-grape varietal albariño in 2010—a crisp, seafood-loving wine that quickly became a runaway sellout with its nostril-filling notes of peach and pear. This year, he’s got a new olfactory treat for the senses: the 2011 Aromatico ($25).

In 2007 Martin planted one acre each of albariño, muscat and malvasia, believing in Long Island’s great potential for white wines far and beyond ubiquitous chardonnay. “I always love to experiment and diversify the wine portfolio, and I love aromatic whites,” says Martin, who became especially enchanted with the sweet-smelling muscat grape while in charge of the white program at Robert Mondavi Wines in Napa, California. “I love muscat, malvasia, albariño and viognier,” he says. “They produce delicious wines, so I decided to plant some of them to create more unique and diverse white wines.”

It’s hard to argue with the fragrant finished product of this blend of 70 percent and change of muscat, with malvasia making up the rest. The nose is a charming, intense cloud of honeysuckle, gardenia, nectarine and pear, but with something almost briny lurking underneath that pretty perfumed posy, clueing you in to what’s coming next: a refreshing, slightly citrusy, stony, silky, bone-dry wash on the palate that kind of reminds you of sucking the last bit of peach flesh off the pit, with a lovely, lingering bit of saltiness on the finish. “What happens is malvasia gives you more the mouthfeel; the muscat gives you the aromatics,” says Martin. “To me, the combination results in a wine that you don’t have to rush to for another sip in order to remember what you just tasted.”

Right now, Martin is offering his 60 cases of oyster-loving Aromatico (although olive-oil drizzled swordfish and snappy arugula would be awfully nice, too) in a nice, duo-dinner-friendly 500 ml size. “It’s a pretty cool bottling because you may go to a restaurant or be eating at home and think, well, I don’t feel like opening a 750,” he says. “Because really, this is meant to be enjoyable with food.” We’ll sip to that.

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