April showers bring May flowers, which is quite convenient with Mother’s Day around the corner. But why pick up the same old bouquet when you can gift flowers in liquid format? That’s right — floral wines! Certain grape varieties contain aroma compounds that are also found in flowers, which explains why some wines smell exactly like roses, lilies, violets, and more. Whatever the reason, we’ll bet that if you bring the moms in your life one of these floral wines on Mother’s Day, you’ll be in good graces all year.
Viognier: Most famously from the Northern Rhone, viognier is typically lower in acid, higher in alcohol, and quite aromatic. With aromas of white flowers, purple flowers, and citrus blossoms, it can take on a “potpourri”-like character. Try the 2012 La Grange Bartas “Fleurs Sauvages,” Rhone Valley ($24), which smells utterly like spring — full of lilies, lavender soap, and peaches.
Gewürztraminer: Another aromatic grape variety, “lychee” is one of the most common descriptors for gewürztraminer. Like viognier, it tends to be fuller bodied, with higher alcohol, but it often smells of roses, in addition to other floral spice and tropical aromas. Gewurztraminer is classically found in Alsace, where it can be either dry or off-dry, but is also planted in the U.S., Germany, Northeastern Italy, and elsewhere. The 2008 Domaines Schlumberger “Les Princes Abbés” Gewürztraminer, Alsace ($28) is off-dry and quite easy-drinking, despite being on the heavier side, with flavors of yellow apples, lavender, and rose. Also worth seeking out is the 2013 Elena Walch Gewürztraminer, Alto Adige ($20) from Northern Italy, where grapes are grown along Alpine slopes, allowing them to better retain acidity. This dry wine is fresh and clean, and it has a subtle, soapy potpourri scent, mixed with ripe peaches.
Kerner: A crossing of schiava and riesling, kerner was born in Germany and takes many of its characteristics from its riesling parent — it tends to produce crisp, food-friendly white wines, though with slightly lower acidity. It thrives in Alto Adige’s cool mountainside climate, and Abbazia di Novacella, the second most northern winery in Italy, produces one of the two versions. The 2012 Abbazia di Novacella Kerner, Alto Adige ($20) is just lightly floral with soft white flower aromas, but also has appealing flavors of peach and pear. Overall, a very pretty, thirst-quenching wine.
Touriga Nacional: Red wines can be floral, too! Touriga nacional is the grape primarily used to produce Port wine in Portugal’s Douro region, but it also makes superb table wines. Blueberries and violets characterize this grape, and the 2010 Herdade do Esporão “TN” Touriga Nacional, Alentejo ($30) exemplifies exactly that (and was, in fact, the author’s first taste of touriga nacional). Rich and concentrated, yet at the same time bright and pretty, Mom may not want to share this bottle! Another good example of touriga nacional in a blend is the 2011 Niepoort “Twisted,” Douro ($15), which is a bit lighter and has flavors of red cherries in addition to the grape’s classic qualities.
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This article was originally published May 6, 2014.