As we write this column, the black cloud of the novel coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the health of our citizens and the U.S. economy. But as the well-worn adage states, “this too shall pass”.
With that in mind, we are looking toward the upcoming summer months when hopefully this plague will have eased, and we again can gather with family and friends to share a glass of wine. With pleasant thoughts in mind, we offer some suggestions to our readers for their warm weather sipping.
Rosés should once again be front and center regaining their prominent place as a wine choice for many spring and summertime wine lovers. Rosé shipments to the U.S. from Europe have been delayed due to the uncertainty of the threat of a 100 percent tariff on French and other EU wines that were lifted in January. However, a 25 percent tariff still is in place since October that was largely absorbed by producers and importers.
We are hearing anecdotally from industry insiders that some producers will increase prices this year probably beginning with rosé imports from EU affected countries. A $15 rosé from Provence last year could cost you closer to $20 this spring and summer.
There are alternatives. Look for two of our domestic rosé favorites, such as the Airfield Sangiovese Rosé Yakima Valley ($18) or the Alexander Valley Dry Rosé Sangiovese Alexander Valley ($19).
In deference to the continuing drumbeat from consumers requesting non-oaked white wines, we recommend sauvignon blanc for spring and summer wines. Sauvignon blanc comes in wildly variable styles, almost all unoaked, ranging from the sharp, bright grapefruit and citrus notes of classic New Zealand selections to the more common peach, tropical fruit flavors from California wineries.
French offerings from the Loire Valley such as Sancerre fall somewhere between New Zealand and California, frequently exhibiting a distinct mineral element. Look for Sancerre producers Lauverjat and Jean Reverdy for good examples. New Zealand’s Oyster Bay and The Ned make widely available bottlings that represent the region well.
Dry Creek Vineyards, Honig and Pedroncelli also offer representative bottlings from California.
White wines from the Cote Du Rhone are becoming more popular among American wine enthusiasts. Most are unoaked and are made from a grab-bag of grape varieties, including grenache blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, bourboulenc, and viognier. The blending of grapes can create wines that can feature a multitude of flavors including apple, peach, citrus, and honey in some cases. Look for widely available and moderately priced examples from Guigal and Perrin.
The white grape Albarino from Galicia, Spain presents a refreshingly clean, citrus, and mineral-driven wine that pairs beautifully with seafood dishes. Dandelion and Burgans are dependable brands that represent the region well.
We’ll be writing more on roses and other wines for spring. Meanwhile, feast your palates on these unusual delights:
Pieropan Soave Classico DOC 2018. This simple and lively soave is a blend of garganega and trebbiano di soave. With low alcohol, it can be easily quaffed on a spring day without getting into too much trouble.
- 50 Harvests Meritage Blanc 2017 ($35). We love a little Semillon in our sauvignon blanc, but in this bottling from J.McClelland Cellars, Semillon is more than half of the blend. The result is a delicious mix of the values of both grape varieties – white peach from the Semillon and citrus, mineral and grapefruit flavors from the sauvignon blanc.
- Tenuta Regaleali “Antisa” Catarratto Sicily 2018 ($22). Catarratto is Western Sicily’s most ancient grape variety but has become increasingly scarce as producers turn to international varieties. What a shame. This is a consumer-friendly wine with lots of flavor and texture. Made entirely in stainless steel tanks, it has fresh fruit character – ripe peach and citrus flavors with hints of mango and clementine.
Lamelle Il Borro Toscana IGT 2018 ($20-25). This Tuscan white wine is crafted from 100 percent chardonnay grapes. Fermented and aged in all stainless steel and kept on the lees for 60 days. The wine is fresh and fruity with a yeasty, apple and mineral expression. Great for springtime sipping.
- Garofoli “Macrina” Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore 2018 ($15). Made entirely of Verdicchio, this wine is fermented in stainless steel, thus preserving the freshness. Citrus aromas with white peach and pear flavors.
- Enrico Serafino Gavi di Gavi “Grifo del Quartaro” 2018 ($17). Cortese grapes make up this simple yet refreshing white wine from the town of Gavi. Nice minerality and intensely fruit.
FEL Anderson Valley Pinot Gris 2019 ($25). Pinot Gris is a wonderful alternative to pinot grigio. Although their DNA is the same, they are stylistic differences. Pinot Gris is generally richer and spicer than the lighter-bodied pinot grigios from Italy. West Coast producers are making some excellent versions, this one included, that are perfect for grilled fowl and fish. The FEL has enough acidity to pair with food and spring temperatures. Stone fruit flavors.
- Alois Lageder Muller Thurgau Valle Isarco 2018 ($18). A cross between Riesling and Madeleine Royale grape varieties, Muller Thurgau is a hybrid grape popularized in Austria but widely grown throughout Europe. We’ve always enjoyed the understated, crisp Austrian wines, but here’s a good one from the Alta Adige region of Italy. Fermented in stainless steel tanks, it has pure fruit character and lively acidity. Light bodied and a perfect spring wine.
- Yangarra Roux Beaute Roussanne McLaren Vale 2017 ($50). We loved the luxurious texture in this delicious white wine fermented and matured in ceramic egg containers.