Stylish whites, rosés remind of better-weather days to come
S ome folks deal with February's hard chill and persistent snow by fleeing south to warmer venues.
God bless them.
For those of us staying put, recharging the spirits requires a little more imagination. Enjoying crisp white and rosé wines paired with tasty dishes offers a fun and relatively inexpensive way to forget the cold. So envision brighter, warmer days just ahead by starting with the following:
A mere 285 independent growers in northwestern Spain's Galicia province produce the albariño grapes for the terrific 2011 Burgáns Albariño Rías Baixas, Spain (Luxury 38622; $14.99). Galicia's unique terroir — a cool, rainy climate, persistent sea breezes and granite soils — plays a crucial role.
The relatively unknown albariño grapes grow on traditional trellises to ripen perfectly with distinct aromas and delicious flavors. The growers sell their harvest to Bodegas Martín Códax, a modern cooperative that makes the wine in commonly owned facilities.
Fermentation in stainless steel allows the fruit's purity to shine. Aging on the lees — the spent yeast — adds creamy touches.
Citrus, apple and smoky aromas open in the glass. Ripe apple and juicy apricot flavors balance mouthwatering mineral notes and fresh acidity. The wine finishes soft and fruity with deft balance.
The wine compliments seafood of all sorts perfectly. Try it with pan-seared scallops with mushrooms and shallots. Recommended.
France's Loire Valley boasts a clutch of famous white wine appellations including Sancerre, Vouvray and Muscadet. But few consumers have familiarity with Jasnières, an excellent appellation where Chenin Blanc grapes yield distinctive white wines.
For the 2011 Domaine de Bellivière Jasnières “Prémices,” France (Luxury 30767; $23.99), vigneron Eric Nicolas practices labor-intensive biodynamic vineyard methods. Plowing and hoeing, for instance, supplant herbicide applications.
He also restrains yields on vines toiling in marl and limestone soils in a cool and often damp climate. The resulting fruit has more concentration and complexity.
After harvesting by hand, Nicolas ferments the grapes in older barrels. The young wine rests on the lees to create creaminess. All in all, he succeeds admirably in framing chenin blanc's full potential.
Yellow peach, apricot, honeysuckle aromas unfold. Ripe and round grapefruit and peach flavors meld with fine, fresh acidity. The wine finishes fruity and dry. Pair it with grouper baked with a citrus sauce. Highly recommended.
February in southern France brings plenty of sunshine and clear, blue skies. But a persistent north wind known as the Mistral blows hard and cold to remind the locals of winter's sway.
The wind also helps to preserve the vines around Châteauneuf-du-Pape from rots and pests. Both white- and red-skinned grapes produce distinctive fruit that typically ferment in flavorful blends.
The 2001 Domaine de Nalys Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, France (Luxury 31121; $24.99) uses a traditional mix of grenache blanc, clairette, bourboulenc, picpoul, roussanne and picardan. After harvesting by hand, careful sorting takes place to ensure only ripe, unblemished grapes go into the wines.
Part of the harvest ferments in stainless steel to highlight fresh fruitiness. The remaining grapes ferment in older barrels to add richness and complexity.
The wine opens with white peach, pineapple and citrus aromas. Ripe citrus and apricot flavors and a touch of honey unfold in the glass. Delightful, fresh acidity provides lovely structure and balance through the fresh, uplifting finish. Pair it with classic veal stew or creamy risotto with asparagus. Highly recommended.
Moving closer to the Mediterranean Sea, the 2011 Château Vignelaure La Source, Côteaux d'Aix- en-Provence, France (Luxury 39950; $13.99) offers a classic dry rosé.
The grapes come from vines growing at high altitudes in limestone and clay. The terroir allows the fruit to retain fresh acidity, a key factor in terrific dry rosés.
Well-made rosés mix white wine's freshness with the depth and fruit of fine red wines. This wine — made from grenache, cinsault and syrah — delivers beautifully.
The wine's light “onion skin” color offers fresh citrus, floral and light strawberry aromas. Refreshing citrus and berry flavors balance with bracing acidity. The wine finishes fruity, delicate and dry.
You're sitting on a shaded patio offering respite from a hot, brilliantly sunny day. The chilled wine quenches your thirst and pairs beautifully with lemon and basil shrimp with pasta. Highly recommended.
Dave DeSimone is the wine writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.