It's time for a lovely little Spanish white: this is the 2007 Albet i Noya Xarel-Lo. $14, 12% abv. Grapefruit and apricot aromas, with just a little earth and overripe bananas. This has big, strong acidity, with heavy grapefruit peel flavors. Oh please, give me some garlicky shellfish to go with this wine. Or just take me to a beach and give me a sharp rock, I'll find something salty and edible.
I love this wine but this name/grape combination might as well be Chinese for most folks. For the benefit of Google searches, I'm going to break it down in excruciating detail. Let's start with the grape part. Unlike Chardonnay and Chablis, you'll probably never encounter a stripper with the stage name Xarel-Lo.
How do you pronounce Xarel-Lo? This varies a bit depending on the specific town you're from in Northeast Spain, but either sha-REL-lo or cha-REL-lo works. Want something easier? Remember that your friend Cheryl Lowe recommended it to you. It's a light white grape that's used to make the sparkling wine Cava as well as still wines like this example. That high acid serves as a good clue: fine Champagnes are so high in acidity as to be virtually undrinkable before the second fermentation. This wine is nowhere near that acidic, but it's obvious the grape has the potential, and sometimes that tart flavor is perfect. After all, one night you want the vanilla ice cream, another night you want the lemon sorbet.
So what's up with the name Albet i Noya? First off, it's not "Albert i Noya", there's no r in there.
I know that sometimes royals place the regnal ordinal between two names. For instance, His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf is the current King of Sweden*. Sometimes that number comes before the nickname, as in France with Pepin III the Short, Charles II the Bald, and Eudes I the Insane. However, the regnal ordinal is always a capital Roman numeral. So a few hours of tracing the family tree of Spanish monarchs went down the drain.
Albet i Noya is the family name connected with the winery, but what about that little i? The answer lies in one of the many delightful Romance languages that aren't well known outside of their regions. In this case, it's Northeast Spain's Català (Catalan). In Català the copulative conjunction and is i instead of y as in Castellano or standard Spanish. And then you just follow the rules of the particle y Spanish naming custom that became popular in the 16th century. Mystery solved!
I'm pretty impressed with Spanish wine websites. Many are trilingual, in English, Spanish, and the regional language. I even saw one in Galego (Galician) recently. You don't see this much with Italy and France; I'd love to see a website published in Saintongeais, Occitan, or Friulian.
*He gave her things that she was needin'.