Offbeat Spring Whites

Let your palate blossom with the season


I love spring. In fact, it’s my favorite time of year. The return of warmer weather, the bursting forth of new life, the promise of so much all wrapped up in these first few days of the season that I am filled with remarkable enthusiasm for doing. Not the planting-trees-in-40-degree-weather kind of doing, rather the lazing on the patio, watching trees planted years ago bloom while sipping new wines kind of doing.
Spring is also a season of rebirth for wine, in many cases marking the return of lighter red, rosé and white wines that have been missing from the table since the onset of winter. At the same time, it’s also a season that epitomizes change, and is a great chance to take stock of one's palate. The evolution of an individual’s appreciation for wine is far from a straight line. You take detours, have frivolous relationships, are sometimes tricked into temporary trysts, but almost always keep moving forward.
In order to keep moving forward, though, you have to continuously experience what is new, and there is always something new—maybe not to your liking, but certainly new. One of the great things about trying wines this time of year, and I’ll focus on lighter-style white wines for now, is that they are plentiful and relatively inexpensive. So come along and take a look at what’s new and unusual out there in the world of light white wines. One of these might be just the ticket to get your vinous journey of discovery jump-started. They certainly got me looking forward to the bounty of spring!

White wine picnic image via shutterstock 

2010 Longoria Albarino Clover Creek Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley 12.6% $25

Intensely aromatic, with cottony, slightly vegetal green-tinged peach and melon fruit. Fairly ripe, but retains vibrant acids while delivering fairly rich yellow plum, melon and vaguely peachy fruit. There's a nice mineral note here that pops on the finish, along with lovely citrus and oyster shell notes. Intense and with lovely purity and precision, not to mention length. This is fabulous. 92 points 

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2010 Adelsheim Vineyard Auxerrois Ribbon Springs Vineyard Ribbon Ridge OR 13.2% $22

Quite perfumed on the nose with hints of apples and flowers over a gently spicy, nutty base. This is bright and vibrant in the mouth, with assertive green pear and lime flavors and a terrific texture that shows a hint of roundness but relies on the acidity to remain succulent and nervous. There's a nice white floral note on the back end, along with dusty mineral notes and citrus pith flavors that extend over the long, energetic finish. This is great. 91 points

2011 Ghost Hill Cellars Pinot Noir Blanc Bayliss-Bower Vineyard Yamhill Carlton 13.5% $25

Sweet grilled nectarines greet the nose over a base of dusty flowers and dry earth. This shows a subtle yet distinct spiciness on the nose. Bright and medium- to light-bodied in the mouth, with fabulous acidity that supports zesty lemon and subtle apricot fruit. Very focused and precise on the palate, with late arriving suggestions of blueberry and wild cherries that linger on the long, clean and refreshing finish. 90 points 

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2011 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc Viognier California 12% $12

Rather clear and precise on the nose, with lemon, treacle, and honeycomb fruit topped with sweet, almost violet floral aromas and a mango top note. Creamy orange and lemon flavors and aromas pop on entry, followed by a nice hint of creamy honey and lightly spicy floral notes with an edge of peach on the back end that leads to a clean, clear and vibrant peach and Meyer lemon finish. This has a lovely texture with just a hint of richness draped over vibrant green plummy fruit. 88 points

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2009 Boeckel Sylvaner Vieilles Vignes Mittelbergheim Alsace 12.5% $17

Stony and savory on the nose with a hint of dried apple peels over a base of meaty and slightly minty green plum fruit. Smooth and polished in the mouth, this has a lovely texture, supple and velvety with flavors that are rather low in the mouth, showing flashes of green apple, green plum and light stemmy herbal notes. The finish is a bit short and simple, showing a hint of bitterness and cider apple flavors that serve as nice contrast for the relative sweetness of the palate, but this does go down easily and should be a cinch to pair with food. 87 points

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2011 Alamos Torrontes Salta Argentina 13.5% $9

Intense balsa wood, lemon, pollen and spicy nettle-toned floral aromas greet the nose. Rich and slightly soft in the mouth, this shows a subtle sweet, honeycomb edge to its slightly gamy, tropical Lifesaver fruit flavors. There's a touch of pineapple here as well as a hint of coconut cream, all layered over some orange-toned kiwi base notes. There's a hint of bitterness that shows up on the back end and lingers on the moderately long floral finish. Not my style, but well done. 87 points

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Offbeat Spring Whites

Longoria Albarino Clover Creek Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley (2010)
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Adelsheim Auxerrois (2010)
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Ghost Hill Cellars Pinot Noir Blanc (2010)
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Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc Viognier (2011)
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Boeckel Sylvaner Mittelbergheim Vieilles Vignes (2009)
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Alamos Torrontes (2011)
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Ballentine Vineyards Chenin Blanc Napa Valley Pocai Vineyard (2009)
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Caymus Conundrum California (2010)
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Montgravet Colombard Côtes de Gascogne (2011)
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Tower 15 Grenache Blanc Paso Robles (2010)
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Jacuzzi Family Vineyard Arneis Paicines (2009)
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  • Snooth User: Wayne Young
    1109197 66

    It's REALLY disappointing to read these lists where Italian whites are constantly snubbed. Only one Italian variety and it's grown in CA. Spain, on the other hand is CONSISTENTLY represented.

    Apr 24, 2013 at 4:12 AM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,749

    Oh Wayne, Patience. Italian Whites will have a list of their own in just a few days.

    Apr 24, 2013 at 7:23 AM

  • Snooth User: Wayne Young
    1109197 66

    Ah! Now your singin' my canzone! ;-)

    Apr 24, 2013 at 8:34 AM

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