I know, I'll be out sipping summery whites and Mother Nature's going to dump a whole load of snow on all my spring time aspirations, but so be it. That's the price to pay these days for enjoying the transitional seasons.
Spring seems to last about a weekend here in New York, maybe an entire week if we're lucky, so you have to be prepared for it or all of a sudden you’ll be sitting in sodden shorts like it's August! With that in mind, it's time to look for white wines that make the transition from snappy spring days to the crisper nights that follow them!
Photo courtesy epslee via Flickr/CC
Barrel Aged Sauvignon Blanc
While I like crisp, zesty Sauvignon Blanc, I tend to think of it as more of a summer wine. As a lead up to those heights of brightness, I like to prime the pump with a softer, rounder, richer version of Sauvignon, one that has some barrel age, maybe blended with a bit of Semillon too.
That's white Bordeaux and West Coast Sauvignon Blanc territory in my mind, with both regions producing many great examples. The Bordeaux tend to be a bit leaner with the oak being somewhat more obvious. The fruit in Bordeaux is subtle, elegant and complex when compared to the New World's big, rich, bold fruit which embraces the oak and incorporates it a bit better.
Two to try:
One of the things I look forward to every spring is the awakening of my senses. The light is brighter and the air is warm and soft, but the real money shot each spring is smelling the fruits, flowers, grasses and trees as they crank up their production schedules. Allergy season can be bothersome, but smelling spring is being alive!
A great white to pair with such a florid season is Viognier, possessor of its own array of arresting aromas. Classic Viognier is all about flowers and peaches, things we can all look forward to from summer as we enjoy the immediacy of a fine Viognier. Virginia's wineries are earning quite a reputation for their Viognier. Time to check them out folks!
Two to try:
Fiano or Falanghina
The competing whites of southern Italy.
This is a bit of a stretch, but you will always be confused by Fiano and Falanghina until you try them side by side. Now is the perfect time to do so!
Being in the heart of Italy’s wine country, Campania seems like an odd place for classic white wines. Regardless, both Fiano, with its rich texture and slightly herbal aromas, and Falanghina, with more body, structure and tropical fruit notes, absolutely thrive there. These are great wines for spring. They are rich yet refreshing and very food-friendly.
Two to try:
2010 Mastroberardino Falanghina
Chenin Blanc is quite the chameleon, producing wines that range from sharp as a razor to sweet as honey, with everything in between- including bubbles. It's not surprising that it might be considered a wine for all seasons, the trick is finding those that are right for spring.
I'm really fond of lightly off-dry versions for this time of year, something that the Loire Valley really excels at, though I have to give South Africa its due. South African producers have certainly reshaped their Chenin market over the past decade and the wines are among the great values of the white wine world told today. If you want big value on a budget, choose Chenin.
Two to try:
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/chrisada
Funky white is a pretty broad term. What the heck classifies as funky after all. To me, it is something out of your comfort zone, or simply a little wacky and undiscovered.
Try something like Cederberg Bukettraube, a lightly sweet Vouvray style wine from South Africa that is delicious and addictive, and you will be hooked!
If that doesn't sound like your speed, how about something in the orange wine end of the spectrum (white wines with skin contact). These tend to be a little, well, funky but are worth trying. There is no time like the present, so jump into a bottle of Foradori Nosiola. A very gentle touch of skin contact makes this an easy to approach, easy to appreciate white, rich with orchard fruit and floral/herb notes buffered by a hint of tannins. Yum!
Two to Try:
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Tim Parkinson