Spring has arrived, and as with every seasonal change, it is nice to welcome newer things into our lives. For some, it might be time to uncover the grill and make our weekends more social. Shake off the winter layers, and go for wines with a lighter appeal or medium-body with pleasant aromatics. 'Tis the season for new vegetables and lighter foods even though we still want a hot and comforting meal on a cool evening. So what's new in wine and food for this warmer season? Here are some wine labels to look for and some good eats to serve with them.
Whetstone Wine Cellars 2014 Russian River Catie's Corner Viognier, California
Eating with the season never goes out of style. Get yourself some fresh, seasonal veggies and aromatic herbs and make a delicious and spicy curry with aromatic rice to go with this Viognier. Maybe even try the new rice trend, koji, a rice that has been inoculated with a particular mold, the same used to ferment soy beans for miso. The rice also makes for a nice seasoning according to Bon Appetit magazine. (Learn more in "The Simple Side of Food and Wine Pairing.")
Robert Hall Winery 2015 Paso Robles Sauvignon Blanc, California
This Sauvignon Blanc pairs with anything from a fresh local goat cheese to some freshly made hummus (light on the garlic) with some pita chips. But then, sometimes Sauvignon Blanc pairs perfectly enough with a lounge chair on a sunny patio, sunglasses and a good book.
ROAR Wines 2014 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, California
You won't pay the Northern Coast prices for a good Pinot Noir from Santa Lucia Highlands (at least not yet). Lighten up your red collection for the season. Fresh wild mushrooms from your local farmer's market cry out for risotto. All those earthy root vegetables, artichokes, peas, nettles and more can make for a smorgasbord of a meal with an earthy and fruity Pinot.
Chateau de Brigue (Brun Estate) 2014 Cotes de Provence Rose
This GSM (Grenache Mouvedre, Syrah) blend has spring written all over it with notes of berries and a medium body with light cream and perfume-y strawberry. Chick peas, turmeric and spicy sauces are the rage this year, and sometimes, they even go well altogether in a clever, protein and anti-oxidant packed meal. Pair this wine with your Indian-influenced cuisine.
La Domitienne 2015 Sur Le Sud Rose, Languedoc
The list would not be complete without a second rosé wine. Grown in the southern France region of Languedoc; this wine is a bit lighter than the former roseé with some fresh acidity. Again, it's another great wine to go with some light and fresh local goat cheeses, even some goat cheese and leafy greens with an easy honey vinaigrette and fresh crunchy bread.
Marcelo Miras 2015 Pinot Salvaje, Rio Negro, Argentina
The colors of the Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc might combine to form something of a "rose wine" but this blend has a more "orange" ting to it. Out of Patagonia, Argentina, of the Rio Negro region, comes this interesting blend of Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. White citrus seem to dance with earthy fruit characteristics of the Pinot - interesting and refreshing. Try with fresh filet of salmon on the grill or monk fish. Keep the dish simple with some grilled veg too. You'll want to pay the most attention to the wine.
JI JI JI from Gen del Alma 2015, Gualtallary, Mendoza-Andrea Muffato y Gerardo Michelini
Argentina might be on the map this year and for years to come for some unique pioneering wine-making. Another interesting blend, but from a bit more north in Mendoza, comes this Pinot Noir and Malbec blend. Whereas most blends are wines which have been fermented separately, this combination was fermented together. The Gen del Alma project was started by Gerardo Michelini and Andrea Mufatto, a husband and wife team. Already making good scores, this vintage has only just been released - a very fragrant red with violet nuances and juicy on the palate. This is a no-brainer. Get a cut of grass-fed beef, and toss it on the grill, medium-rare or jugoso as they say in Argentina.
JI JI JI Gen del Alma 2015 Chenin Blanc, Tupungato, Mendoza
It was too hard to resist not throwing one of the JI JI JI whites on the list. It's light, refreshing, has a nice citrus taste and zesty orange nuances. Pair this wine with a freshly made ceviche and some grilled fish and light veg, asparagus comes to mind.
Bodega Aleanna El Enemigo 2012 Chardonnay, Valle de Uco, Mendoza
Chances are some of you won't be able to shake off the winter layers of big white wines just yet. If not, try the El Enemigo. From another region in Mendoza, Argentina, this wine is one more of a long line of wines from the Catena family. The wine boasts tropical notes, and a great Chardonnay true to orchard and stone fruits with an elegant finish. Great with pheasant or pigeon if you have a hunter in your midst, or a great purveyor of such delicacies in your area. All you need is a trip to the farmer's market for some spring root veg and a nice oven roasting dish.
M Signature Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Leyda Valley, Chile
From one of the cooler regions of Chile, this wine is a great Sauvignon Blanc for the season, and the price makes it an easy buy, running around $10USD. So stock up for the season and summer ahead. Nice and fresh with layers of savory minerals and herbaceous edge. Another pairing for the lounge chair.
Truly Irresistible 2015 Pinot Noir, Casablanca Valley, Chile
Your spring wine list is not complete without another wine out of Chile and from that of the Casablanca Valley. The region is mainly known for its whites, as you might assume by its name, but they make some great marine-time influence Pinot too. This is a nice and fruity one with crisp red currants and wild strawberry with easy tannin structure. Pair this with slightly fresh to aged cheeses and charcuterie of fine sliced salami, olives or a great pork tenderloin on the grill.