Here are some wines that will put you into a springtime mood — and they won’t lighten your wallet too drastically. Quite a few new wines get released at this time of year and they are an ideal match with springtime fare.
While thinking about the wines of spring, do keep in mind wines that are a tad lighter-bodied, while not compromising taste and aroma. Keep the Cabs and Zins but start, too, thinking along the lines of Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.
With Pinot Noir, expect supple, silky textures, with earthy aromas. On the palate find plum, leather, cherry, chocolate, tobacco, pungent earth, with mushrooms. The most difficult grape there is to grow (and produce into wine); it is highly sensitive to changes in climate and variations in soil composition. These combine to make Pinots generally pricey, but the gamble pays off with irresistible and fascinating wines. Pinot Noir is the grape of legendary Burgundy (France; except for Beaujolais). Burgundies are considered by many to be the best wines in the world. (The grape also thrives in California; the Santa Ynez Valley, the Santa Maria Valley, the Russian River Valley, Carneros, Anderson Valley, and the Sonoma coast. The Pinot Noir grape is also a component of Champagne, along with Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier.
Chardonnay is perhaps the most successful white wine-grape in the world. Expect vanilla, butter, green apple, toast, butterscotch, citrus and tropical fruit, and pineapple, Chards are lush, creamy, and full-bodied. The best Chardonnays (in some opinions; though they may be aged in stainless steel tanks, too) are barrel-aged, to impart the oak into the wine. Chardonnay proliferates all around the globe-Australia, Argentina, France (especially Burgundy), Chile, California, New York State, Italy, South Africa, Oregon, New Zealand, and Washington State. Like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay is a component of Champagne.
Savvy bargain hunters know that great wines can be had at reasonable prices, and nowhere is that truer than in the Rhone valley, where
Cotes-du-Rhones, both white and red, taste impressive across the board. Some of these wines boast the concentration and flavors that mimic their more expensive cousins from more prestigious zip codes in Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Chateauneuf-du-Pape — but at a fraction of the price.
White Cotes-du-Rhones too often are overshadowed by the region’s reds; these dry, bracing, refreshing whites are truly superb. The grapes that are most often used in white Cotes-du-Rhone blends are not household names — Bourboulenc, Clairette, Grenache blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier — but if you enjoy pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, torrontes or chardonnay, you owe it to yourself to try a white Cotes-du-Rhone very soon. Your wallet — and your palate — will thank you.