Each year, as April nears May, the “terroir” that is our brain tells us it’s time to rethink our eating and drinking habits. We won’t need to accumulate any more body fat to help us make it through long, cold nights, nor do we need to fuel our souls with hearty red wines of a certain alcohol.
We are given the signal, “Lighten up.”
For wine drinkers, that means we want more zest and less zoom. While we want fruitiness to dance across our palate, we also want some acidity, a touch of bitterness, something undefinable called “minerality,” and lots of prickly spiciness to keep us excited.
That generally means white wines that are not weighted down by oak or an unctuous body, but are instead, as the French say, “fresh” in their crispness and lightness. It also means drinking more sparkling wines and tart rosés (the veal to red wine’s beef). But it doesn’t mean we have to give up reds — just that we need to scrape away their tannins and high alcohols.
Are we ready to drink? Here is a case of spring wine, ready for your consideration.
Chandon “Délice” California sparkling wine ($22). A new offering from Chandon using the traditional Champagne mixture of grapes, it is just a little sweeter than the brut but still has a nice crispness — drink it solo, as a spritzer, or in fruit-flavored cocktails.
Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace brut rosé non-vintage ($20). A soft and creamy pinot noir-based bubbly, it has palate-pleasing strawberry fruit with good finishing acidity and intense bubbles.
Chene Bleu Ventoux rosé 2013 ($30). A syrah and grenache blend with lots of skin contact for complexity of fruit and nice spicy edges.
Saget Le Perrière “La Petite Perrière” vin de France rosé 2014 ($16). A quite tart food wine, one that will enhance a variety of pasta salads.
Tenutae Lageder “Porer” Alto Adige pinot grigio 2013 ($25). Lively and lean with good apple flavors and lots of savory dried spiciness. The combo should appeal to gin lovers.
Marco Felluga Russiz Superiore Collio sauvignon 2013 ($28). Very lively, somewhat light in body with rich flavors and texture. Gamey and spicy — enjoyable by the glass or with food.
P. J. Valckenberg Pfalz gewürztraminer 2013 ($14). Good, spicy aromas and flavors of peach and tangerine, pleasantly plump and a tad sweet — a natural with mildly spicy Asian foods.
Terras Gauda “Abadía de San Campio” Rias Baixas albariño 2014 ($19). Riper flavors than most albariños, with good minerality and citrus notes — quite nice.
Hahn Central Coast GSM 2013 ($12). A 60/37/03 blend of grenache, syrah and mourvèdre, it is a vibrant blend of berry aromas and flavors, mainly cherries and blueberries, that are creamy and mellow without being overly fruit-forward. Good closing acidity.
Geyser Peak California pinot noir 2012 ($15). A pleasant, if less-serious pinot with the pastel fruitiness of various ripe berries and some light bitters at the edges.
Gilles Louvet Pays d’Oc “Mon Pré Carré marselan 2012 ($16). A cross between cabernet sauvignon and grenache, this marselan has flavors of tangy cranberry and rounded blackberries. Though light in body, it has good tannins, good balance, and finishing savory notes.
Austerity Santa Lucia Highlands pinot noir 2013 ($16). A light wine, very floral, with powdery pastel flavors and aromas of cherries and berries like a fresh spring breeze.