Spring is a time of renewal and freshness. With magnolias and tulips blossoming along with first growth crops like fresh asparagus and lettuce, there’s simply no better time than now to seize some young wines that are light and playful on their own or as companions with a variety of dishes. Here are some vintages that I’ve tasted recently…all from 2010, stunningly tasty, and under $20 a bottle:
Cuma means pure and clear in Aymara, the language of an ancient Argentinian tribe. It also aptly describes a range of organic wines produced in Cafayete by Michel Torino Estate. Their indigenous white grapes are grown using strictly controlled and certified organic methods. Sheep manure is the only fertilizer, ants are controlled with diatom earth, and weeds are cut with machetes.
Perfect w/ grilled pork…just the right acrid bite reminiscent of sugar-free apple sauce. Has a very delicate bouquet along with a deeply flavorful burst on the palate. An intoxicating floral array in the bouquet and mouth feel make it a most fitting intro to warmer weather out on the patio. For cheese pairings, sharper doesn’t always mean better. Lean dry
sheep’s cheese trumps a saltier aged cheddar. Peppery on the finish.
Jaboulet Parallele 45 Cotes du Rhone Rose
Straight from France’s Rhone Valley, this 50 % Grenache, 40 % Cinsault, and 10% Syrah blend has been considered France’s best value red wine for decades now. And I can see why! Just the right combo of cooling undertones and spicy flair on the palate. Smooth drinking with a spike of distinct raspberry after the swallow. Pairs surprisingly well with extra dark chocolate. Overall very flexible due to the blend but doesn’t stretch well into steak territory. A lively alternative to Chard when paired with fish although better with darker oily fish like salmon or swordfish. Conversely, lightens up heavier pastas like lasagna. Instead of interacting deeply like a Pinot, this wine playfully coalesces with oregano in the sauce and the lighter side of cheeses. An elevating change up!
Hecht & Bannier Rose Languedoc
Staying true to their mission of “conserving the typical Mediterranean strength while conserving balance and crispness”, this rose blend is made from grapes sourced from vineyards with soils rich in limestone and clay bordering the Etang of Thau along with schist-rich vineyards near Saint Chinian.
Roses can always be counted on to court both sides of the aisle…red complexity with emphatic straight-up whites. I tried this one out with left over Mexican discovering a great interplay with the Poblano chiles and spiced lamb. Effervescent bright cranberry spotlights the underlying milkiness in any cheese. The biting lively berry cuts through the more hum drum Mexican staples of soft tortilas, beans, and rice picking up on even the slightest hint of seasoning. Floral sweetness rises to the roof of the mouth with citrusy notes bubbling forth from the deep. It all adds up to a super flavorful mouth riot. For dessert pairings, it’s a little confusing with chocolate but I’m thinking nirvana with berry pies or tarts.
El Coto de Rioja Blanco
Spain’s leading brand and among the top selling in Europe, this clean-styled white is crafted from 100 % Viura
grown in the Rioja Alavesa region. It’s life cycle is precise progressing from cold maceration for 24 hours, fermentation in stainless steel for 15 days, to 3-6 months aging again in stainless steel before bottling.
I tasted sharp pear on the nose…even light lemon peel zest across my tongue making it perfect for fresh seafood dishes. Dry on the first impression but soon develops into a much richer…warmer flavor experience than Chardonnay. With an ever so slight chalky mouth feel, this light fruity wine is the further you can get from heavy or burdensome. Blossoms into an ebullient flavor bomb with cheeses, especially Gruyere.
El Coto de Rioja Rosada
A traditional Spanish blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha sourced from Rioja Alavesa vineyards, this particular vintage has excellent sugar levels due to an ideal sunny September with cool nights. The results are a light floral bouquet that showcases biting fruit along with ever so faint dry meadow grass. Opens up on the palate immediately with intense bramble fruit and no lingering alcohol after swallowing. My mouth wasn’t burdened or laden down with tannins making it a surprisingly flavorful alternative to the classic Pinot Noir or Chianti pairing with pastas. Too lively with white fish but with pasta dishes like lasagna, masterfully summons the sauce’s garlic and basil undertones while enlivening the pasta noodles’ semolina essence. Definitely puts a spring in the step of heavier dishes.
Santi Soave Classico DOC
The highest priced bottle of the bunch at $17, this wine well earns its several additional dollars with
a finer tuned flavor experience. Santi, an Italian wine maker blends Trebbiano and Garganega grapes sourced from estate vineyards situated behind the Lessin Mountains. Light and refreshing, breezy citrus and spiced pear lingers over the tongue. Plays well with lamb chop’s light fat and neutralizes the char in grilled food in interesting and flavorful ways. Super refreshing as a dessert wine as well. Peaches, kiwis, and strawberries…light cheeses…perfection!
Reviews made possible by complimentary tastings. Photos courtesy of Frederick Wildman