All industries focus on seasonal trends whether fashion, electronics, cars, watches, hairstyles or wine. Spring has arrived and we know because of Daylight Savings Time, the bud break in the vineyards and the sneezing and coughing from all the pollens.
We turn to spring white wines to celebrate their fresh fruitiness and dry, satisfying finish which sets up our palates for our next bit of conversation or bite of food. Let’s examine this entry from Alsace, France.
First off, don’t let that name intimidate you. It’s well worth mumbling through, or you could call it by its nickname: Gewurz (Geh-virtz). To try these highly aromatic, rich, thrilling wines made from this green-to-pink colored grape, in dry, off-dry and sweet versions is memorable. The grape and wines are from the cool climates of Alsace, Germany, Alto Adige, Italy, Austria, New Zealand, northern California, Oregon, Washington State, Australia and South Africa.
In the glass: The color is pale to medium yellow-gold.
On your nose: Lychee fruit, white flowers, honey and exotic spice.
In your mouth: Medium acidity and a combo of fruits and spice.
Pairs With: Spicy Asian dishes (Hunan, Indian, Caribbean, Thai).
The Reason? The fruitiness of the wine mellows the heat immediately and the result is a dry,
clean, calm palate ready for the next bite.
The Price: About $24
This Spring, the grape is Gamay, its home is Beaujolais, France. The grape is also known as Gamay Noir and is an ancient variety dating back to the 14th century. Gamay suffered a bad rep when the Duke of Burgundy exiled the grape from that region. He declared the grape unpatriotic and “disloyal”. His order was largely ignored and the maverick vines continued to be planted in the southern part of Burgundy. The 1930’s saw the appellation recognized with 10 prized areas called Crus. The vines in this bottle of Cru Beaujolais are over 90 years old and produce a medium-bodied, beautiful ruby-colored wine that can be drunk slightly chilled (ten minutes in the refrigerator). This is not your Daddy’s French wine. Tip: There are several California versions (the grape’s been here since the Gold Rush Days). Check out: Edmunds St. John.
In the glass: The color is bright ruby.
On your nose: Wild berries, dark cherries, cranberries, silky tannin, white stone minerality.
In Your Mouth: Wild field red berries, earthiness, minerality, crisp acidity.
Pairs With: Well, this is the Sommeliers Secret. It pairs with BBQ, fish, chicken, everything.
The Reason? The freshness of the red berries, the acidity allow everything to taste crisper.
The Price: $18-$24
Yes, this is a sparkling, low-alcohol red wine! The region of Bugey is one of the best-kept secrets of France. The area sits at the crossroads between the Savoie, the Jura, Burgundy, and the Rhône. One of the few regions in France where looking one direction you see palm trees and turn around and you see snow. The wines were first made here by the Romans and later by the Cistersian Monks. The blend is of ninety percent Gamay and ten percent the native Poulsard. They bottle using the méthode ancestrale, a rare technique that experts believe predates the traditional méthode champenoise. First, the wine goes through a primary fermentation but is then bottled before all of the residual sugar has converted to alcohol. Then, a secondary fermentation in the bottle for at least two months and the wine is ready. The result is a wine cheerfully refreshing.
In the glass: A light ruby-garnet color.
On Your Nose: Bright red berries and fruits, fresh red roses, earthy minerality.
In Your Mouth: A fizzy burst of red fruits and bright, red berries, minerality and crisp acidity.
Pairs With: Hamburgers, cold meats, pickled vegetables, BBQ on the beach.
The Reason? The fruity (not sweet) flavors with the savory minerality and satisfying fizz.
The Price: $19.00
Lighter, aromatic wines help usher in warmer weather. The Spring Wines pair well with the lighter dishes of the Spring Season and price-wise, they are agreeable as we prepare for our tax returns!
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Photo courtesies: Vine Pair, Wine.com, FeinWein.com
Stacie Hunt, Certified Silver Pin Sommelier AIS/WSA/NASA, Vice President National Association of Wine Retailers