Here comes spring, and your customers are looking for something fresh and exciting from your wine program. Transition your short list and BTG list, and greet their spring fever head-on! Treat them to something a little lighter – or a lot lighter, like maybe a refreshing Rosé, Albariño or a Gewürztraminer – while they are celebrating the new equinox!
ALBARIÑO, a refreshing, food-friendly white wine, is a product of northwest Spain. It is crisp, elegant and dry with bright acidity, and aromas and flavors of pear and apple. It is perfect for the lead wine into this article. We’ve chosen Martin Códax to represent this wonderful varietal; it is an innovative winery on the Rias Baixas rocky coastline of northwest Spain. This wine boasts almost 13 percent alcohol, is stainless-steel fermented, and is sur lie aged for four months. It’s a spirited wine and an ideal choice for any spring wine list.
SAUVIGNON BLANC is a perennial favorite springtime wine. Its crisp flavor blends perfectly with spring cuisine. This varietal has many faces, from soft and fruity to the grassy, aromatic New Zealand style that has become so popular. We’ll take a look at the two distinctly different types here.
A fresh, new Sauvignon Blanc is 9 Walks, from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. The wine is inspired by the 9 Great Walks of New Zealand, premier walking and hiking trails that encompass some of the most scenic parts of New Zealand’s back country. This zesty wine is at the green end of the spectrum with fresh herbal aromas, intense tropical/citrus fruit flavors and top notes of honeydew melon and spicy lime. Beginning with the 2011 vintage, the wine will be eligible to display the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand logo.
Wente Vineyards’ Louis Mel Sauvignon Blanc is our choice for a more mellow, softer, Sauvignon Blanc. Pear, melon and honey notes exemplify this wine, with crisp acidity and a long finish. The wine reminds me of a well-made white Bordeaux, which makes sense considering Louis Mel, a French emigrant, traveled to the western United States in the 1870s seeking a place to make wines to rival the great French Crus. He found the ideal home for this in the Livermore Valley. Acquiring Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon cuttings from the Marquis de Lur-Saluces, owner of the famed Chateau Y’quem, he planted them in his vineyards. The Wente family acquired the Louis Mel estate in the 1930s, where the descendants of these vines, located in the southern Livermore Valley, live in gravel and loam soils similar to the terroir of their native Bordeaux.
RIESLING has had another growth spurt in the past years. It started making another big move in 2011 when it was the fastest growing varietal in the top 10 varietals, according to Nielsen’s data. The sweetness and acidity balance has become a favorite of many wine drinkers. Whether it’s a German Kabinett style, Alsatian or American Riesling, many Chardonnay and Cabernet drinkers are now spending more and more time with Riesling as well – they have found a friend in this wine. Usually a bit lower in alcohol, it is a milder and more manageable drink as well. This is why we have put this varietal in our spring wish list, and to represent the category is Kendall-Jackson’s Vintner’s Reserve Riesling from Monterey County. It has three percent Gewürztraminer for a bit of spice, and two percent Chardonnay for tropical lushness. Rich, ripe, crisp and refreshing – a perfect wine for springtime.
TORRONTÉS is an exciting and affordable springtime wine that gives you a chance to add some diversity to your BTG list. This wine is fresh, balanced and persistent, with good volume and acidity. It is grown at high altitudes of 5,000 feet plus in Argentina. The Doña Paula Estate Torrontés is a perfect example of this varietal. The soil is sandy and rocky, and the climate typically presents hot days and cold nights, with a considerable temperature variation. The unusually-timed harvest takes place in three different months: in February to obtain good acidity and freshness, in March in an attempt to get floral notes, and in April so as to obtain tropical fruits aromas.
It’s needless to point out the popularity of PINOT GRIGIO. Depending on your cuisine, it is most likely your number one seller by the glass and possibly from your entire wine list. This Italian varietal has branched out to almost every wine-growing country in the world. It is also known as PINOT GRIS outside of Italy, but a large percentage of producers have chosen to stay with the name Pinot Grigio, for obvious reasons. Do yourself a favor and take the time to taste and choose the right one that fits your price range. There are plenty to choose from.
Santa Margherita is the granddaddy of all Pinot Grigios. It was first introduced to Americans in 1979 and 30 years later, Santa Margherita still remains the most requested Pinot Grigio in America’s fine restaurants. This wine is well-structured and sophisticated. Its fresh, harmonious fruit is set off by a slight sweetness and a long finish full of delicate, tangy flavor.
In 1971 Bill and Susan Sokol Blosser planted their first vines in the Dundee Hills of Oregon. In those days, there was no Oregon wine industry, period. They were pioneers. Still family-owned, with the second generation taking the helm, Sokol Blosser farms 72 acres, crafting elegant, seductive estate wines with a sense of place. Sokol Blosser Pinot Gris from Willamette Valley has mineral, stony, earth, citrus, and spice aromas. The mouthfeel is crisp, dry and refreshing, with flavors of apricot, apple, and fig. This wine is extremely well-made and has exceptional long-term aging potential.
Perhaps the hottest wine of the past year has been PROSECCO. It has truly made its mark and is here to stay. Avissi is delectably fresh and made from 100 percent Prosecco grapes grown in Italy’s legendary Veneto region. The name “Avissi” comes from the delightful fizzy sound the bubbles make as they happily rise in the glass. It has a brilliant straw-yellow color and delicate floral and fruity aromas; the fresh fruit flavors lead to a clean crispness on the palate and a refined finish.
Perhaps the most under-used wine on any springtime BTG list is a good ROSÉ. “Crisp, dry and refreshing” is an understatement when describing these wines. A wonderful example comes from the Rhône Valley, Vidal-Fleury’s Côtes du Rhône Rosé. J.Vidal-Fleury was founded in 1781 as a wine grower in the Côte Rôtie, making it the oldest winery in the Rhône Valley. Marcel Guigal bought the property in 1986. This exciting Rosé is made from a blend of mainly Cinsault, with Syrah and Grenache making up the other half. It is a lovely, light ruby-orange in color with fresh fruit aromas and spicy red raspberry fruit flavors.
The spicy and zesty GEWÜRZTRAMINER is a wonderful springtime wine, especially when it’s young and chilled properly. A multitude of flavors can come from this wine depending on the producer and the region, but chances are, your customers will love it. “Gewürz” means “spicy” in German and it’s the main characteristic of the wine. “Traminer” means “coming from Tramin,” referring to the small city of Tramin located in South Tyrol, which is the German-speaking province in northern Italy where the grape originated. This wine is widely recognized for its pairings with Asian-style food but will complement countless styles. Representing the category is Chateau Ste. Michelle Gewürztraminer – fresh and sassy, with floral and spicy pineapple highlights and a moderately sweet finish.
I hope you have enjoyed these suggestions to make your wine menu more seasonal. Whatever wines you choose for your guests, remember to serve them at the correct temperature and have a system to preserve them for freshness!