Signs of Spring

By Sunny Brown on March 1, 2010

Category: Seasonal Feature

As many people across the nation are still digging out from under record snowfalls it hardly seems the time to start thinking about light white, crisp rosé and fruity red wines that tickle the palate and speak of warm days and spring flowers, but we Winegeeks like to stay ahead of the curve. So here are our recommendations wine-wise as soon as you start to see Signs of Spring.

Starting with the white wines, nothing says "I love you Warm Spring Sunshine" quite like a bottle of Gruner Veltliner. It could be called the perfect spring fling as it is a crisp and dry white with flavors and aromas that range from white pepper, flowers, green apples, cream and many other light and lively notes. Great Gruners are also said to have a slightly green edge to them, similar to fresh spring peas or even fiddlehead ferns, which by the way are only available in the spring. Coincidence? Hmmm.

The Hiedler Gruner Loess from the Kamptal region is a crackling lightning bolt of cold and clean intensity, filled with spring floral notes, gobs of juicy fresh fruit and a nervy and high strung style that is making my mouth water just thinking about it. Buy, drink, burp, repeat.

Other options that work for spring are floral Albariños from Spain, fruity Pinot Gris’ from Oregon, spritzy Vinho Verdes from Portugal and my personal favorite, the sweet/ tart dichotomy that is a great German Kabinett Riesling. Each of these wines are light and lively and work well with the lighter fare that graces the spring dinner table.

Another option along these lines is the arrival of the yearly allocations of delicious rosés from Europe and California. These are definitely not the sweet Mateus that clogged palates and wine store shelves in years gone by. Dry, fruity, floral and fresh rosés from the world over are released every spring, and Winegeeks everywhere will be lining up to take advantage of their delicate and easy to love qualities.

One that stands out every year is the Chateau Virgile Costieres de Nimes Rosé. From rocky soils in the far southwestern edge of the Rhone Valley in southern France, this is a whimsical yet quality rosé. The bright raspberry, cherry and even orange zest notes are offset by fresh acidity and a light and crisp feel. When you want just a little more red fruit and spice than a white can provide, but want to avoid the heavy qualities of a red this is your answer.

And finally what would a wine lover’s life be like without a red or two in the rotation? Even on the most gloriously bright and clear and white wine-like of Spring days a light and fruit-forward red can be a welcome addition to the mix. Pinot Noir is always fun if done right, and I am talking real Pinot Noir here, no syrah-like 15% alcohol fruit-bomb from Napa or even Willamette, or even whatever they are putting in the Red Bicyclette these days, no I mean elegant, perfumed, soft, delicate and almost see-through Pinot. And to find this style there is only one place to turn: Burgundy. There is no region on earth more suited to producing transparent styles of Pinot, and the light red and black fruits, lavender perfume, subtle earthen notes and bright acidity of a fine red Burgundy is about as Spring-like as a red can get. They also pair nicely with seafood, poultry and light dishes from the grill, which so happen to be quite fashionable in the Spring months.

The Bourgogne Rouge from Joseph Voillot is what my taste buds mentally picture when discussing this style of wine. Many Bourgogne Rouge come from younger vines, inferior vineyards or are blends from the entire 30km stretch of Burgundy. However the Voillot is sourced from old vines grown entirely within Volnay and Pommard, two of the very best and most storied communes in the Cote d’Or. Volnay in particular is known for creating wonderfully elegant and feminine styles of Pinot Noir, which just so happen to coincide with our sought-after lighter style of Pinot.

Other red options for Spring include juicy and fragrant Cabernet Francs from California, soft and sweet Dolcettos from Italy and young Tempranillos from Rioja, Spain.
The options are many, but ultimately your wine selection may be dictated by your mood, the weather, and how many days a week you can fire up the grill after its long winter sleep. Either way, with a few warm days and lots of bright green grass around the corner you can’t go wrong with these wines.