In the Hudson Valley this year, springtime has felt more like an extended late-winter. A warm March prompted us to settle into spring extremely early, and the same could be said for the local vegetation. But when things cooled right back down in April, it sent nature into a state of confusion. These mixed messages might have kept us in corduroys well past spring’s due date, but it also made for a delightfully extended scavenger season, most notably for the seekers of ramps and fiddlehead ferns (which has inspired me to create more than one delectable risotto in the month of May).
Accompanying the unseasonable temperatures and the strange jumble of cuisine was the consumption of heartier, denser wines that aren’t the usual selections for April and May. Michael and I actually found ourselves uncorking red wines from Bordeaux, Southern Rhone and Super Tuscany even as recently as last week. But the vibe I’m feeling now is that it’s all about to change, which is why I’ve also kept my finger on the pulse on the types of wines we would normally be drinking in the weeks leading up to Memorial Day. A trade tasting or two, a by-the-glass selection here and there, and frequent visits to DRIVEN’s strategic partner Suburban Wines & Spirits have kept me current on the brighter, leaner, mild-weather wines in the NY market.
Without further delay, I proudly offer you my springtime wine choices for 2016. Try one, try them all. Bring them to Memorial Day gatherings or give them as gifts. If you order them through Suburban, they can arrive at your NYC doorstep usually within 24 hours. Click on the wine names to purchase. And always remember: If you would like any additional wine recommendations, contact our resident vino maven Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy Spring!
It’s the most fun and delightful wine category you’ve never heard of. “Pet Nats” or Petillant Naturel wines are mildly-sparkling white wines that are made in a less complicated manner than Cava or Champagne. The wine is bottled and capped before the fermentation is complete, allowing the last traces of sugar and yeast to interact in the bottle. The result: a simple, dry, refreshing white with a tingle of fizz (rather than a rush of bubbles). Adding to the delight is watching the delicate strings of carbon dioxide as they wind through your glass!
Michael and I have been introducing people to Gruner Veltliner so often lately that it’s becoming cliché. But it’s no less compelling as a wine, especially when it’s as well-made and radiant as this single-vineyard example. Both powerful and detailed, it possesses everything I’d want in a springtime white: Density of texture; perky acidity; aromas of white pepper, mineral and grass; yellow fruit character on the palate; secondary notes of familiar favorites from the spice rack; a dry and lengthy finish. This Austrian is at once serious and accessible. Check it out!
On my most recent visit to Seneca Lake, the winery discovery of my trip was Billsboro, located just south of Geneva. Their wines stood out amongst even the best of this rising star region, adding to the momentum that quality NYS wine has been enjoying in the local market. Their Rosé of Pinot Noir is the perfect response to the French model for this type of rosé, including those from Sancerre and Burgundy. It’s dry, subtle, and gentle in its delivery of raspberry-like fruit. And with a mere 154 cases produced for the ’15 vintage, we’re lucky to get our hands on some without making the 6-hour drive to the winery. A most versatile food wine.
The forever-overlooked wine-growing nation of Greece is finally emerging as a major player in the vino market. A perfect example of what they’re doing right is this serious, affordable red from Crete. This is my very first exposure to the indigenous Liatiko grape, and I have since tried one or two other examples for comparison. It’s for lovers of wines like real cru Beaujolais (not that crummy stuff that you buy around Thanksgiving time), sporting a medium body, ripe red fruit, and pleasantly distinctive aromatic notes of dried flowers and baking spice. It’s my find of the year, to date!
Aside from being special, there are two aspects of this red that make it unusual: It’s grown in the Saumur commune of France’s Loire Valley, which is a little-known area to most American wine drinkers, and it’s composed of the Pineau d’Aunis grape variety, which is more commonly encountered as a rosé. This red is soft and chill-able, yet is uncompromising in complexity and character (dig the pine forest-like aromas). The vineyards have been organic since 1998, and the purity shows through in your glass. Great for chops on the grill.