Spring. Whites. Lots of ‘em!April 13, 2013
Needless to say, I have not been off to a perfect start in 2013 when it comes to blogging.
Truth be told, I have no clue how this year has gone by SO. incredibly. FAST. There hasn’t been a week where I haven’t tried to sit down and write, but… I just don’t know what happened. Not going to waste a lot of breath trying to make excuses. However, one exciting thing that took up most of my energy in March was that I passed the CSW! I spent a lot of free time cramming for that thing in March. I’m relieved to have passed, as that sucker was a combination of extremely easy and extremely hard; for example- one question would be: “Which of the following is a red grape?” with four choices (easy), then the next would be: “Put these Chilean wine regions in order from South to North.” (not exactly easy). But it’s over with and now I get to have CSW next to my name in my gmail signature. Yahoo!
But I am excited to be back in the saddle, especially because SPRING is one of my favorite times for WINE! Why? Well, Spring has that sort of infectious quality where excitement is tangible in the air (along with a healthy dose of pollen). Although we don’t have particularly long winters here, clearly Columbians are fans of warm weather, and everyone gets happy in the Spring. This year we had a freezing cold March, and even though we’ve sort of skipped straight to Summer, everyone is still happy.
And we have some absolutely perrrfect Spring whites in right now! Another reason I love to hunt for Spring whites is that when you find one (or two or ten) that really captures the vitality and aliveness of Spring in a bottle, it is a truly magical event. So here are three to get us started…
First up (far left) is the Guild (Lot #6) Pinot Gris/Riesling, 2011 Columbia Valley (retail $16). This is an effortless, silky little Pacific Northwest white. There is definitely no mistaking that is is 85% Pinot Gris, and the remaining 15% Riesling is artfully blended and adds just a touch more aromatics to the wine as a whole. Oregon Pinot Gris has always been a popular category for us, and stylistically this wine offers just a touch more uniqueness than your typical one. In my mind this makes it a winner. It’s nose is pure and clean, with aromas of white peaches, apricots, honeysuckle, green apples, pears and a touch of tropical fruit. The mouthfeel is equal parts soft, textural and tautly acidic. Finishes with a zip. I would love to see anyone try to have just one glass of this. This wine is made by a co-operative of well-established Pacific Northwest winemakers who combined forces (Thundercats style) to make the best wine they could at the most reasonable cost. They succeeded admirably.
Next up is a new installment of what I like to call Crack Juice:
Crack Juice is a technical term for a white wine that is ideal for warm (and scorchingly hot) weather. It must meet certain criteria, the top two being 1.) it must be thirst-quenching and 2.) it must be easy on the wallet, since we have such long, hot summers here. Survey says? This wine is showing signs of being the number one Crack Juice of Summer 2013.
So what is it? Montgravet Colombard, 2011 France, Cotes de Gascogne (retails for a ridiculous $10). What is Colombard? Well, I’ll tell ya- all you really need to know is that it’s good- BUT, it is a genetic relative of Chenin Blanc, and to me, drinks much like a less-grapefruity Sauvignon Blanc. It ripens early and is popular in California for inexpensive white blends. The Cotes de Gascogne region of South West France is considered the place for Colombards of excellent expression, character and VALUE! This wine is delightfully crisp and clean. Beautiful fruit leaps out- especially vibrant notes of nectarines, a little pineapple, a nice hint of spring flowers; topped off with a slight bite of citrus zest on the finish. This wine hits the nail on the head for a value wine- it does one thing, and does it well. Crisp, pretty, refreshing. Done! $10. Love it.
Finally is a fun little Portugese wine: Serrado Encruzado/Malvasia/Verdelho, 2011 Portugal (retail $12).
This is a funny little favorite of mine- a blend of Encruzado, Malvasia and Verdelho from the Dao region of Portugal. Definitely not grapes you’ll see all over the Piggly Wiggly, but they are fairly common for this part of Portugal. I like this wine because it offers a bit more body while still hanging on to plenty of nice citrus and zestiness. It will definitely appeal to someone who likes Albarino; the viscosity and fruit content are similar, but this wine conveniently comes in a couple dollars less than your typical Albarino- and it’s fantastic! Encruzado on it’s own can, to me, be a little oily. But blended as in this case, that little touch of slickness makes the overall package very appealing. It has a nice golden color, with a big nose of lemon zest with hints of honeydew melon and cantaloupe to follow. There’s a nice richness in here- a bit of golden raisin? I think so, but it’s hard to nail down. Basically I just think this is a way cool wine, a great value, and I love to see weird grapes being embraced by the general public. Come try!
Next week will likely be devoted to Rose, as we are supposed to have a Rose arriving that is so good, it will make you melt. I will speak no more of it until then, but gird your loins, as this one is practically life-altering. No joke. No exaggeration. Happy Spring and happy drinking!!