One moment it’s here, the next it’s not. You have to be prepared if you want to enjoy some springtime fresh wines before the summer rolls in! I laid out a plan for some spring whites recently, today it is time to follow up with some bright reds that also remind me of spring.
When I think of spring I think fresh berries, first flowers, a gossamer-soft airiness, meadows in bloom and, of course, lazy afternoons and brisk evenings. Let’s see if I can find five wines to make you think of spring today!
Photo courtesy rogersmj via Flickr/CC
One of the hallmarks of spring is the return of fresh fruits and veggies to the table after a long winter of eating cabbage and potatoes! That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but there is something to be said for a bright, light, red-fruited wine to help wipe away the winter blahs. Few wines deliver that with the consistency of New Zealand’s Central Otago Pinot Noir.
Medium- to light-bodied, redolent of crushed berries in a fresh, easy to drink style they embodies spring!
Two to try:
Mud House Pinot Noir - A great introduction to the Central Otago style.
Quartz Reef Pinot Noir - Nuanced and layered, from biodynamic vineyards.
Photo courtesy Roxanne Cooke via Flickr/CC
I’m told we generally think of white wines when we think of flowers, but our assumptions aren't necessarily true. Violets and Syrah, roses and Nebbiolo, these are pretty classic descriptors.
I’m going to take advantage of this opportunity to recommend Nebbiolo. No need for large-scaled Barolos and Barbaresco now that we’re rolling into warmer months, just check out some of the top Langhe Nebbiolos. These are wines that deliver the penetrating fragrance of Nebbiolo, strawberries, raspberries and rose petal in a lighter, fresher style. They are zesty wines for a zesty season!
Two to try:
Produttori del Barbaresco Langhe Nebbiolo - A classic wine from one the best producesr, year in and year out.
G D Vajra Barolo Albe - So I cheated, but this Barolo is so affordable it competes with some Langhe Nebbiolo. From high altitude vineyards, it’s a lighter-bodied, more floral style of Barolo.
Photo courtesy mademoiselle lavender via Flickr/CC
It’s tough to find a delicate red that is worth recommending for spring, the temptation is to hold on to those wines until summer arrives, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Beaujolais Village or Cru Beaujolais are both ideal candidates to pass the gossamer texture test. These wines embody all that can be great about Beaujolais: deep fruit, real complexity and bright yet firm textures without the weight and richness of most comparable wines.
Of course you don’t have to go to Beaujolais to find good Gamay, there are a few fine examples right here in the U.S., but they do tend to be a little harder to track down, even if they deliver that same gossamer experience we’re looking for.
Two to try:
Chateau des ours Brouilly – A very typical Beaujolais with fine berry fruit, accented with earth and spice notes in the plump style of Brouilly.
Edmunds St. John Bone Jolly – Joy in a bottle with a silky texture and real purity to the plum, red berry fruit.
Photo courtesy Martin James via Flickr/CC
Meadows in Bloom
Grenache is often described as smelling of Garrigue, which is the soft leaved plant ecosystem of much of the Mediterranean basin! Now if that doesn’t say spring, I don’t know what does. Thyme and grass, with some lavender and sage thrown in for good measure. If you’re talking about Grenache, you’re also talking about wild strawberries and other red fruits. Sounds like a lovely stroll through a meadow in bloom.
Two to try
Quivira Dry Creek Valley Grenache – This just classic Grenache. Soft, friendly and full of wonderful Garrigue notes.
Yalumba Bushvine Grenache – If you’re looking for something a bit fruitier but still true to type, this is always a winner.
Photo courtesy cod_gabriel via Flickr/CC
Lazy Afternoons and Brisk Evening
One of the traits of spring, at least here on the East Coast, that can be frustrating is the wild change in temperature from day to night. Once the sun goes down, winter’s bony fingers tend to creep down from the north, hoping to snatch back a few precious days. In order to properly ward off this assault something robust is in order, but you’ll still need a wine that can handle the daytime highs. What a dilemma!
Not if you reach for a gutsy bottle of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo! Rich and fruity but not heavy, Montepulciano is a lovely grape and one that’s perfect to help you make the transition from winter to spring just a little easier!
Two to try:
Zaccagnini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo – A classic version of the wine. Soft and fruity with a gutsy richness
Illuminati Riparosso - A bit richer in style, this is a lusty red, yet one that is still silky soft.
Photo courtesy El Frito via Flickr/CC
Want to Learn More?
Check out more perfect wines for the season in 10 White Wines for Spring