It’s not quite spring-like outside here in New York, but warmer weather and asparagus is surely just around the corner — and of course our colleagues and customers in San Francisco are already well into their beautiful spring (SF will get its own version of this blog post shortly; in the mean time, you’ll see that some of the wines noted below are available in both shops).
So what does all this mean for wine? Basically three things. It’s the beginning of Rosé season and everyone is eager to change up their wine game with something pink. Fortunately, some of our favorites have just arrived and make their way on to the list below.
It’s also time to think about spring vegetables and to address the age old question: what exactly goes with asparagus? There are a couple of answers below.
Finally, this is the time of year when I crave freshness above all else. I stop hitting the big old wines in the cellar and start bringing home the youngsters. I give Barolo a break and turn to Dolcetto. Don’t worry big wines, grilling season is just a few weeks away!
Here’s my list (in no particular order, and definitely skewed towards my usual hunting grounds like Piedmont, Loire etc.):
- Arnot-Roberts Rose 2017 ($27.99). This is an easy one to start with! It’s usually the first Rosé from the most recent harvest that we carry, and it’s always here in time for spring. It’s not the sort of super-light Rosé that you’ll crave when the weather turns really hot but perfect on a cool spring day. Of all things, this is made from Port variety Touriga Nacional grown at 1400 feet above Clear Lake! (available in SF and NYC)
- Poderi Colla Nebbiolo 2015 ($29.99). Ok, I may give Barolo a break for a few weeks in the spring, but does that mean I have to give up Nebbiolo? Hell no. And this one is so tasty. This is single vineyard Nebbiolo with some pretty old vines, aged in large barrels for a year and then again for a year in bottle. From an estate that is fast becoming a big deal in Piedmont. (available in NYC only)
- Selbach-Oster, Riesling Feinherb, 2016 ($17.99). You knew I had to include a Riesling because, well, Riesling is an important part of my diet four seasons out of four. In spring, maybe I back away from the sweeter wines, but something fresh, light and with a dash of sweetness like this Feinherb will do perfectly. Spring vegetable friendly. (available in NYC and SF)
- Knoll, Gelber Muskateller Loibner Federspiel, 2016 ($31.99). Here in New York we’re still actually waiting for the asparagus to arrive. In the mean time, you can do what they do in Central Europe and enjoy jarred white asparagus. Just cut some up and include it in a salad with a light vinaigrette for a delightful early spring dinner (yeah, go ahead and throw a little bacon in there too..). In Austria they would probably drink a Muskateller with a dish like that, and we’ll do that too, because it totally works. We have one from Wachau master Knoll. (sorry, available in NYC only but you’ve already got fresh asparagus in SF!)
- Domaine Bruyere (Reynaud), Croze Hermitage “Cuvee Georges Reynaud”, 2015 ($26.99). Syrah is a bit like Nebbiolo. I need a short break from Cornas and Hermitage, but I don’t want to give up the grape! Fortunately, Reynaud makes lovely Croze that is beautifully juicy and fresh for drinking young in springtime weather. All biodynamic. (available in NYC only)
- Gerard Boulay, Sancerre Rose, 2016 ($27.99). We’re still waiting for most of the vintage 2017 Rosés to show up, but a nice thing about this time of year is that some of the Rosés from the vintage before actually start to show better at this point. Especially the good ones! Boulay’s Sancerre Rosé was delicious in its first year, but is now really coming into its own. (available in NYC only)
- Deschamps, Pouilly-sur-Loire “Les Loges”, 2016 ($16.99). Here’s another wine that I love so much that I’m happy to drink all year long. But it’s such a great spring-vegetable wine that this is a particularly great time to break out a bottle. This is an oddity: 100% Chasselas, from Pouilly Fumé! It’s got that Loire Valley minerality that delivers the freshness I want, and the Chasselas gives a glorious floral touch that demands…asparagus? (available in NYC only)
- Hager, Pinot Noir, 2014 1L ($17.99). Obviously any top 10 list I produce is going to have some Pinot Noir on it. What surprises me here is that the Pinot Noir is from Germany! I can’t explain it. There’s nothing more spring-like about Germany than Burgundy or Oregon. I just happen to really enjoy drinking this Pinot right now. Pinot Noir has a reputation for being pricey, but this really delivers the grape’s sophistication for a great price, especially when you do the math on this being a 1L bottle. Delicious. (available in NYC only)
- Gianni Brunelli, Rosso di Montalcino, 2016 ($30.99). Here we have the young and fresh version of Brunello di Montalcino. Probably I shouldn’t have it on this list because we don’t have much and certainly can’t get more. But Jesus it is a really good wine. 2016 is such a great vintage pretty much everywhere in Italy and maybe everywhere in Europe, and we are just starting to get to enjoy its fresh red wines. (available in NYC only)
- Domaine de la Taille aux Loups (Jacky Blot), Montlouis sur Loire “Remus”, 2016 ($29.99). This wine has everything going for it. It’s so fresh and yummy. It’s happy hanging out with spring vegetables, but is so versatile I would drink this with just about anything. And it’s Chenin Blanc…a four season grape that all of us seem to want more and more of. But in spring, I don’t want anything too sweet, and don’t need anything too old. This is what I want. (available in NYC only)