If faced with the question “Which do I look forward to more: the arrival of spring or opening a great bottle of wine?”, I would sense a touch of playful rhetoric from the questioner. Choosing between two of the most clearly desirable events known to womankind would exhibit about as much honesty as the question exhibits fairness. My solution: I merge the two events accordingly, welcoming springtime through the lens of wine by preparing to adjust my palate and mindset to the flavors of the season.
Along with the milder temperatures of spring comes a shift in the seasonal fare. Root vegetables play a smaller role while snap peas, morels and ramps start to make their way to the table; Animals’ diets begin to change, as does the flavor of their milk and meat; Meal preparation begins to move from the kitchen to the barbecue grill. And all of this….it dictates a stylistic shift in the types of wines I serve, moving from the dense and dramatic reds of winter toward a more aromatic, acid-driven style, in a range of colors.
Since I’m perpetually doing my wine homework, both at the table and at NYC wine tasting trade shows, I’ve already discovered a few new spring wine selections that are worth spreading the news about. For the open-minded flavor experience seekers out there, get ready to stock up on these fabulous springtime bottlings, newly in the market. Bring them to gatherings, and give them as gifts. If you order them through my strategic source, they can arrive at your NYC doorstep in just a few days. Salut!
Ease into spring with a dry white that has enough of that cool-weather richness behind its fresh personality. This Weissburgunder, or Pinot Blanc, is grown in the chalky soils and cool climate of Germany’s Mosel, and then puts on weight from large oak cask fermentation. Look for notes of pear and membrillo, and striking minerality.
Chardonnay grown on specially-designated vineyard sites, or “premieres crus” in France’s Chablis region can change your mind about a grape variety that often takes on infamous incarnations when grown in the United States. Fourchaume is one of those crus, and the delicately-nuanced Chardonnay in this bottle delivers its essences of fresh flowers, apple skin and citrusy minerals. Call it your sophisticated springtime vin blanc to pair with mild salads and grilled white meats.
Paros is located in the Greek Aegean Islands, where the growing conditions are ideal for wines of mouthwatering acid structure. Moraitis’ rosé, comprised of the native Aidana and Mandilaria grape varieties, is particularly vivid in color, due in part to extended post-harvest skin contact. Strikingly fragrant with strawberry, mineral and dried herb notes, it finishes dry and complex in flavor. Something truly unique with which to set your spring appetite in motion.
I’ve been enjoying this Spanish sparkler since mid-winter, and I’m so excited to turn everyone onto it. This is from a rare biodynamic Penedes estate that isn’t just making Cava; The wine is profoundly rich and complex, much like Champagne, but with a Catalonian twist. Composed of Malvasia and made in a Methode Traditionale style, this is a meal in a bottle. Pair it with all of your grilled goodies, and be sure there’s some eggplant in the mix.
Upstate New York never tasted so European….until now! The Cab Franc in this bottle is farmed sustainably on a single vineyard near Seneca Lake, and is vinified off-premises by an independent producer. Aromatically speaking, it offers a surreal and earthy profile reminiscent of the best Loire Valley reds. Pure, refreshing, herbaceous and wonderfully umami throughout, this is your vegetarian’s delight pairing. Ramps anyone?
Remarkably rustic and nuanced with classic Northern Rhone elegance, this Syrah is Rhone’s answer to great Burgundy. Faury’s pure, unfiltered style of St Joseph stands alone in a sea of modernized examples, and might just be the ultimate food wine. Its softness makes it appropriate for the unfolding spring season, and pairs well with foods all along the weight and intensity spectrum, particularly when gamy meats like lamb, bison or venison are involved. Magnifique!