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Brisk spring days call for crisp, fruity white wines

| Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 5:53 p.m.

Spring's official arrival invariably brings brisk, sunny days aplenty. Spending time outside amidst invigorating weather has an uncanny way of working up a powerful hunger and thirst. Satisfy your appetites by pairing crisp white wines with tasty dishes.

White wines with little or no oak-barrel aging work best. The wines put pure, natural fruitiness in the spotlight to arouse the senses and make food taste better. Try the following:

The 2012 Domaine du Salvard, Cheverny, France (Luxury 48141; $14.99) comes from sauvignon blanc and chardonnay grapes grown in one of the Loire Valley's lesser known appellations.

Until 1993, French wine authorities classified the Cheverny area as a V.D.Q.S. — or Vin de Qualité Superieur — a step below the more prestigious A.O.C. — or Appellation d'origine contrôlée. But thanks to the efforts of folks like the Delaille Family, owners of Domaine du Salvard since 1898, Cheverny's reputation blossomed with consumers. French authorities eventually relented and gave the area A.O.C. recognition.

Brothers Emmanuel and Thierry Delaille cultivate Domaine de Salvard's 90 acres of vines in sand, clay and limestone northeast of the city of Tours. Like wines from better-known appellations, such as Sancerre, Cheverny whites deliver distinctive freshness and vibrancy.

This wine's straw color unfolds forward grapefruit and green-quince aromas. Ripe grapefruit and guava flavors layer with laser-like acidity and uplifting, fresh mineral notes. The wine finishes dry, yet fruity. Pair it with spring asparagus wrapped with smoked salmon and baked at low temperatures until the salmon turns crispy. Highly recommended.

The delicious 2012 Mercouri Estate Foloi, Peloponnese, Greece (Luxury 46785; $14.99) comes from a family-owned Greek winery that's been in business over 150 years. The estate, which also produces a highly regarded cold-pressed olive oil, lies on a plateau on the western part of the Peloponnesian Peninsula, just inland from the Mediterranean Sea.

This wine relies on indigenous roditis, a light pink-skinned grape, as well as a small dose of the aromatic viognier. Even though the wine ferments in oak barrels, fruitiness plays front and center.

White-flower and lemon aromas lead to lemon and herbal flavors with a deft touch of oak. Fresh acidity balances the dry finish. Pair it with fresh goat's cheese and black Greek olives. Recommended.

The 2012 Loimer Lois Grüner Veltliner, Niederösterreich, Austria (Luxury 39158; $15.99) carries a subtle, yet eye-catching, light-green hue signaling the wine's essential freshness. Winemaker Fred Loimer buys grüner veltliner grapes from leading Austrian producers who farm with organic concepts in mind.

The fruit ferments in stainless steel to capture freshness. Ripe apple and citrus aromas mingle with white pepper notes, a characteristic distinct to grüner veltliner. Ripe, ample fruit flavors balance beautifully with rich acidity.

Pair the wine with creamy cheeses such as fresh asiago and runny camembert. The screw cap makes for easy opening. Highly recommended.

The 2011 Raventós i Blanc Silencis, Penedès, Spain (Luxury 46937; $18.99) comes from a family owned estate that has grown grapes in Catalonia since 1497. Today, Manuel and Pepe Raventós hold the reins. The latter trained as a winemaker in Madrid before gaining experience in other notable terroirs with the likes of Didier Dagenau in Pouilly Fumé (Loire Valley, France), Olivier Lamy at St. Aubin (Burgundy, France), and Harald Hexamer in the Nahe (Germany).

This wine derives from xarel·lo (pronounced shuh-REL-o), a local grape typically blended in sparking Cava wines. But when cultivated on its own for dry white wine, xarel·lo can deliver terrific results.

The golden color's enthralling peach and citrus aromas open to rich apple and peach flavors. Zesty acidity melds with the creamy texture to frame an elegant, dry finish. Pair it with steamed shrimp with smoky Spanish paprika. Recommended.

The 2012 Maison Verget “Terres de Pierres” Bourgogne Blanc, France (Luxury 48275; $19.99) offers a lovely rendition of chardonnay grown in some of Burgundy's best vineyards in the Mâcon subregion. The chalky, rocky ground —“Terres de Pierres” means “stony soils” — produce grapes with pure fruit and racy acidity.

Aromas of ripe apples and smoky mineral notes open to crisp apple and pear flavors. Creamy notes balance the refreshing, dry finish. Pair it with baby endive and pickled red beets with walnuts and blue cheese. Recommended.

Dave DeSimone writes about wine for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at ddesimone@tribweb.com.

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