The season of Spring is alive with the fragrance of growing things and the heady aroma of the soil being warmed by the lengthening days.
As the sense of smell awakes to these sensations there are a number of fragrant wines that will walk hand in hand with this incredible season.
There are a number of delicate white wines which evoke this time of year by the aromas that flood the senses.
Vernazzia from Tuscany has beautiful floral notes, with a honeysuckle quality. As it is not considered a “great” wine, it is modestly priced at under $10 and is wonderful chilled, giving the impression of springtime in a glass. It is a perfect starter for a meal when served with mild cheese and fruit.
Vouvray, from the Loire valley area of France is redolent of apple blossom and green apples. Though still a dry wine, it has an almost mystical sweetness on the palate. This delicious wine pairs perfectly with cold cracked crab and is as refreshing as a Spring breeze. Many nice examples can be found for $12-$15.
Viognier, grown in the south of France, has taken root in California, and surprisingly enough, in Virginia. It boasts aromas of peach and apricot combining an enticing tang with a silky finish. Viognier pairs well with rich salads of goat cheese, fruit and toasted nuts. It is complex enough for sipping on its own and enjoying all those intense ripe aromas. Good Viognier tends to be more expensive, as good examples start at around $20. Though Virginia doesn’t produce enough to widely export, such producers as Horton and Barboursville are worth looking for.
The Chardonnays of Burgundy are remarkable for capturing the smells of the forest. They are crisp wines with loads of mineral notes, with aromas of wood, moss and mushroom. Unfortunately celebrated white wines from Mersault and Corton fetch extravagant prices. But there are some bargains to be found from Macomb and Cotes de Nuet. Though considered less desirable areas, the Chardonnay wines there evoke many of the same characteristics of their pricey rivals. Good wines from these two regions can easily be found for under$20. As these wines are more hearty rather than fruity or floral, They are great with traditional Easter foods like ham, Turkey or smoked meat and fish.
If there ever was a season to celebrate, it is Spring, and what better wine to celebrate with than sparkling wine.
Though many sparkling wines are commonly referred to as champagne, only the sparkling wines of the Champagne region of France may legally be called “champagne”. Of course, the great vintage champagnes from prestigious producers Like dom Perignon are an extravagant luxury, but there are good non-vintage wines from Moet and Mumm, that can be found in the $30 price range. They are still made in the traditional “method champagne” and are a regal treat for celebrations or intimate occasions.
But the bubbly wine can be found in the $10-$20 range from Italy, Spain and California.
The best Italian sparkling wine is Prosecco. Though it is modestly priced, it is clean and crisp, without the unpleasant after-taste of many cheap sparkling wines. There are many for around $10 that are worth a try.
Spain’s sparkling wine is Cava. There are many that even fit a college student’s budget, such as Frexinet and Cordon Negro, which are quite pleasant with salty snacks, even potato chips and popcorn.
California produces great quantities of sparkling wine, but be sure to look for the naturally made “method champagne” examples. Shrewsbury is an excellent choice, in the $25 range, but the Korbel Natural “methode champagne” is surprisingly good for under $15.
Early Spring can still have some chill in the air and lighter red wines can be a comforting thing on a drizzly Spring day.
The most fragrant and Piquant red wine for Spring might be pinot Noir. This spicy, cherry-tinged wine is extremely tangy and aromatic. Serve it slightly chilled in a tapered glass to focus all the wonderful aromas that belong to it.
Pinot Noir reigns supreme in Burgundy, but fine examples are produced in the coastal regions of California, the river valleys of Oregon and Washington state, and Chile, which has soil and climate similar to the United States west coast.
The prices of Pinot Noir vary incredibly, but good examples start around $20. Cheaper examples, will tend to be rather harsh, except for the pinot Noir from Chile, where an excellent example is the Montez for around $15.
This delightful red wine pairs beautifully with Easter foods, like ham, duck and lamb, especially with tangy fruit glazes
Beaujolais made from the Gamay grape, is always the lightest and most thirst-quenching red wine. Young Beaujolais Nouveau, is modestly priced and can be a great sipping wine or paired with a remarkable array of foods. Priced under $15, it is perfect at a buffet or pot luck as it literally tastes great with everything, especially in the Spring, when a heavier red wine will feel too dense. The better Beaujolais wines will have the designation “Beaujolais Villages” which identify them as smaller production, hand-crafted wines.
All these above-mentioned wines will enhance the traditional foods of the season and awaken your senses like a stroll through a meadow. The joy of Spring can only be enhanced by these delicious Spring wines.