It’s official, spring is here. The days are longer, warmer and drier, and if you’re like me, the grill is getting a workout. One of my favorite things about spring is that I transition to a whole new group of wines. While winter is the perfect season for big red wines, as the calendar turns to spring, it’s time to add some variety into the wine selection.
As you know, I enjoy a nice crisp, chilled white wine. Perfect for seafood, shellfish, salads and cheese plates, whites also pair nicely with ham and pork loin. Some of my favorite Oregon white wines for spring are Abacela Albarino ($20), with its aromas and flavors of apple, pear and citrus. A relatively unknown varietal, which originally came from Spain, Albarino beautifully combines a soft texture with a mineral that makes it perfect for spring.
Amity Pinot Blanc ($17), also displays a nice minerality, but offers aromas and flavors of melon and pineapple. The mouthfeel is round and smooth, similar to a lightly oaked Oregon Chardonnay. Pinot Blanc doesn’t receive as much press as Pinot Gris, but it’s a delicious wine that pairs perfectly with our coastal diet.
You may not know this, but Oregon winemakers are producing some excellent Sauvignon Blanc. I recommend Capitello Walnut Ridge Sauvignon Blanc ($22). Ray Walsh, the wine maker at Capitello is originally from New Zealand, so he has a long history with Sauvignon Blanc. I enjoy this wine as it delivers aromas and flavors of lemon zest that are clean and refreshing. This wine has a crisp mouthfeel, combined with a light acidity that makes it perfect for food. This Sauvignon Blanc is best when chilled, and would be great alone or with a plate of steamed razor clams.
But, if you can’t give up your beloved red wine, you may want to give Barbera a try. Historically, Barbera is an Italian, medium bodied wine which has lower tannins, but slightly higher acid levels. I really enjoy Cana’s Feast Barbera ($25). This wine delivers notes of blackberry, cherry and currant as well as aromas of tobacco. In the mouth, this Barbera is soft with almost no tannin.
If you are a grill master, you need to try Barbera. The fruit and smokiness of the wine pairs nicely with grilled salmon or halibut, chicken, steaks, burgers and portabella.
Of course, Pinot Noir is a perfect spring wine. Recently, I’ve been enjoying Walnut City Wineworks 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir ($32). We’ve been pouring this in our upstairs Tasting Room and it’s been very well popular. This wine has aged nicely and offers layers of dark cherry and spice, with an earthiness that lasts long into the finish. This wine almost demands a salmon filet.
Lastly, for those of you seeking a compromise, a Rose’ will do nicely. So many Oregon wineries are making delicious Rose’ that it’s hard to pair the list down. Personally, I enjoy a Rose’ made from either Sangiovese or Grenache. These two grapes make a Rose’ which is nicely balanced and not overly acidic. I enjoy Del Rio Vineyards Grenache Rose ($17) which has beautiful aromas of strawberry and peach. The mouthfeel of this is perfect for a Rose’, smooth, with only a hint of acid. If you prefer a Sangiovese-based Rose’, my pick is A to Z Rose’ ($15). This Rose’ also delivers big aromas of strawberry and peach, but it also has notes of currant and cherry. This wine is a bit crisper, with slightly higher acidity, than the Del Rio Grenache Rose’, but it is excellent with food or by itself.
I love a good Rose’ because I can (and will) enjoy it with anything that is prepared or consumed on my deck! Sandwiches, burgers, steak, salads, cheese plate or seafood….it all pairs nicely with Rose’.
So, there’s your spring wine list. You may already be familiar with the wines on the list, or there may be a new favorite waiting for you. If you made a “wine resolution” earlier this year to try some new wines, you can’t go wrong with any of these.
As you are enjoying your wine, please do so responsibly. Don’t drink and drive. If you are with friends, please have a designated driver. We want to see you the next time you are in Cannon Beach!