People might associate Spring Break with body shots and beer, but grapefriends know the real meaning: awesome spring wines to break open! So many good ones to sip on while we transition from vile winter to blissful summer.
white pinot noir
Oh yes, this exists and it’s so cool! And you’ve actually had it before – in Champagne. Champagne is usually a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier and unless it’s rosé Champagne, they just press the Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier quickly so that none of the color form the skin gets into the juice – and voilà, white wine. So white Pinot Noir does the same process, and then you get this great wine. They’re kind of rare but definitely worth seeking out.
The Pinot Clair by Domaine Carneros ($58) has lots of fleshy yellow apple and acidic lemon peel.
Packed with pear, white peach and yellow apple, the explosion of fruit just seems to scream spring and bloom time.
Pretty much any you get from Oregon (the king of Pinot Gris making, in my opinion) will be good so you can just look for ones from the Willamette Valley. But New Zealand makes some really nice ones as well, like this very pretty Mt. Beautiful ($17.99 here).
Boring, say you? Oh no. Chardonnay is so good for spring. Lower acid than the thirst-quenching ones you want to pop in summer, and fantastic fruit flavors to be found. Check out a few from all over the world.
Tom Gore 2014 is all crisp yellow apple, slight white stoniness, very fresh and refreshing ($15). I usually avoid oaked Chardonnays, but sometimes you’re in the mood for something full and round. The Miner Wild Yeast 2011 has delicious yellow apples and soft cinnamon and nutmeg ($50 here). Getting out of the US, I loved the Lidio Carraro Dadivas 2013 from Serra Gaucha, Brazil! White florals, crisp green pear, and unoaked so you don’t get that roundness that you often find overpowering Chardonnays. Such a sucker for cheesy back labels, and this one says to “celebrate life’s gifts” which sounds about right for this (around $19 here – what a find).
I know most people dig the pale pink in summer, and on a hot day I don’t disagree with that choice at all. But in spring, a little more body and fruit will do you right. Plus, because they’re heartier, they’re often much better pairings for food. Look for ones made from Garnacha, Syrah, or Lagrein and revel in the lush strawberry and raspberry goodness.
The Muri-Gries Lagrein Kretzer Rosato, made from all Lagrein, has a deep, mineral strawberry character ($14 here). Falesco Vitiano Rosato (30% Sangiovese, 30% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Aleatico) has that dose of Sangiovese which makes it a bit more rosy floral (around $15). And for one more Italian option, the Tasca Regaleali Le Rose (around $12) is made from all Nerello Mascalese which gives it lots of red berries but still kicks it light.
I am so into Schiava, and really want it to happen this year. You may have read all about it when I went to Alto Adige two years ago, because I ate my body weight in speck and washed it all down with this amazing light red. I pop it open all year round whenever I’m having charcuterie, but springtime just seems extra perfect for this tarragon-tasty wine.
Both the Pfarrhopf ($15 here) and the Cantina Meran Schickenberg (also $15 here) are perfect examples of the herbally light goodness. Really well priced too!
If you need to go just slightly deeper than Schiava, Pinot Noir can be light as well. You don’t want to go California which tends to make the grape very ripe fruity, but both France and Italy make some silkier, lighter ones.
One sip of Michel Magnien Bourgogne 2013 and you know you’re in France – the lovely elegance and light dirt give it right away (around $23-26 here). And the St. Michael-Eppan 2014 has lots of light black cherry but with a hint of herbal, which makes sense when you realize it comes from Alto Adige – the same region as Schiava ($16 here).
a springy label
Last but not least, a gorgeous flowery label is good springtime fun! Montes Spring Harvest Sauvignon Blanc ($13) uses grapes that are the first ones picked in the vineyard each vintage, and the wines packs lots of upfront grapefruit. A perfect pop for all your spring soirées.