White Wines For Springtime

‘E’ Wine of the Week

By Bruce Cochran

Hello Everyone,
This week we celebrate the arrival of spring weather, springtime menus and outdoor dining with a look at a wine and a style of wine that’s perfect for the season. We’ll discuss oak, blending and matching a grape variety with an ideal climate.
Try a new wine this week!

Spring is in the air and the welcomed warmer weather will likely change our menus and wine selections. Since springtime menus tend to be lighter, so, too, are the wines we serve with them (at least for some of us).
There’s been a trend lately of unoaked white wines. Even California chardonnay, for many years described almost immediately by the length of time in barrel and how heavily toasted those barrels were, has seen less oak in recent years and now sometimes none at all.
Oak adds weight to a wine, and it also adds a sense of sweetness. The more heavily toasted or charred the insides of the barrels are, the heavier and sweeter the wine tastes.
I think the former popularity of this style was due to the many new wine fans in this country at the time. As our collective pallet matures, this trend toward crisper, more balanced, fruit-centered wines is a natural progression.
And it’s not just we wine customers that have matured. Winemakers and grape growers have evolved as well. Instead of growing chardonnay in every climate, merely because it sells well, wineries are spending more time trying to match the right grape variety in the right climate. Not every grape is suited to every region.
Take Vina Robles for example, one of the best planning wineries in my small, personal portfolio. These guys own three vineyards in the Central Coast wine region of Paso Robles. The warmer areas are planted in varieties like petite sirah and syrah. Slightly cooler areas are planted in cabernet sauvignon, petite verdot and sauvignon blanc. And some of the vineyard blocks that are a little too cool for cabernet were grafted over to verdelho and vermentino.
Verdelho is best known for crisp white wines from Portugal, and Vermentino is from the Mediterranean, particularly the islands of Corsica and Sardinia, and the nearby coast of Tuscany. In these climates, the character of the wine is perfect for spring and springtime menus.
The final blend includes smaller amounts of sauvignon blanc and viognier for complexity. It’s medium-bodied, with intense flavors of peach, apricot and ripe pear. A very crisp finish makes it great before dinner, or with seafood. It’s called WHITE4, the sister wine to Vina Robles’ popular RED4. Price about $15.

Categories: Legacy Archive