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What To Drink Now: Easter Weekend Wines


No matter what your holiday weekend brings, whether it be a casual back yard cookout or more formal Easter Sunday brunch, these wines will be sure to please the palate. From light and lively to rich and hearty, consider pouring one of these at your Easter table. Some selections were sent for editorial consideration.

Yarden wines from Galilee are the perfect wines for Easter, coming from the northern most part of Israel, what is considered the best area in the country for growing grapes. Grapes flourish in rich volcanic soil in vineyards with elevations ranging from 1300 to 3900 feet. The 2011 Yarden Mount Hermon white blends Sauvignon Blanc with Chardonnay, creating a aromatic wine filled with citrus, white flowers and stone fruit with good minerality and herbal notes. A delicious wine paired with grilled white fish, steamed shellfish and roast chicken.

The Carneros region of Napa Valley is considered by many to be one of the best places for growing Chardonnay. The maritime climate and dense clay soils influence everything from the acidity to the balance and flavor of the wine. Waterstone Carneros Chardonnay captures the vibrancy of the area with bright citrus, green apple and ripe pear flavors with just a touch of toasty vanilla on the finish, influenced by the French oak barrel fermentation and 11 months of sur lie aging.

Similar to finding the best land for growing Chardonnay, vintners throughout California note some of the best regions for growing Pinot Noir flow along the Pacific coast line from Sonoma down to Santa Barbara. Belle Glos Meiomi blends Pinot Noir grapes from Sonoma, bringing in bright fruit and mineral notes; Monterey, with earthiness and structure; and Santa Barbara County, filled with spice and a well rounded, silky texture. The result, a supple, food friendly Pinot Noir with notes of berry, cherry, cola and just a touch of earthiness with a long, luscious finish.

The latest release of Treana from Hope Family Wines continues to show why this Paso Robles winery has thrived in the region since the late 1970’s. They know how to make Paso Robles grapes shine, creating blends from varietals best suited for California’s Central Coast. The 2009 Treana blends 70% Cabernet Sauvignon with 30% Syrah for a wine filled with red cherry, plum and berry notes with just a touch of rich espresso, cocoa and licorice. Nicely balanced with texture and personality, this is a wine to sip and enjoy on its own, or with grilled meat, a good pork roast and game.

Spring Valley Vineyards is one of the gems of the Walla Walla, WA region. With generations of first wheat farmers, now grape growers running the farm, the winery celebrates their traditions and heritage in every bottle of wine they produce. The Nina Lee Syrah is named after the determined and independent Nina Lee Corkrum, who married into the wheat farming family in 1929 and worked beside her husband to keep them and the farm afloat her entire life. The Nina Lee Syrah celebrates her tenacity with a racy, spicy wine with aromas of wild flowers and violets, followed by blackberry, pomegranate and cherry flavors layered with touches of sweet spice, caramel and rich dark chocolate.

Katherine Corkrum Cabernet Franc also comes from Spring Valley Vineyard, and might be my favorite wine from this special winery. Named for the matriarch of the family who began the Walla Walla farm with her husband, Uriah Corkrum in the late 1800’s. This wine pays beautiful homage to her, blending 83% Cabernet Franc with 11% Petit Verdot and just a touch of Malbec, then aged 18 months in 35% new French oak barrels. Bold, well rounded and balanced this wine opens with lively aromas of strawberry, anise and cigar box leading to Asian spices, toasted vanilla and layers of dark fruit on the palate. A delicious wine paired with anything from lamb chops to steaks to smoked brisket.

Wines from Livermore continue to demonstrate how great California soils can be, especially when the right grapes are planted. Concannon made their mark on history as being the first winery to produce a single varietal Petite Sirah in America. Their 2009 Conservancy Crimson and Clover celebrates this, and the winemaker of this first Petite Sirah, Jim Concannon in celebration of his 80th birthday. A blend of 50% Petite Sirah with 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah and 10% Zinfandel, this is a food wine with nutmeg, clove and blackberry aromas, followed by bold punches of black plum, blackberry and pepper on the palate, mingled with touches of tobacco.

Spain’s old vines set the stage for incredible wine and Las Rocas 2009 Garnacha Vinas Viejas exudes rich, robust and well rounded flavors of the Spanish countryside using vines which range from 60-100 years old grown in elevations ranging from 2500 to 3500 feet. Old vines create small, concentrated grape clusters with ripe black plum, cherry and cranberry aromas with touches of spice and earthy minerality. A big wine, 15.2% alcohol, this is a food wine, pairing well with aged beef and barbecue ribs. It is still a bit young though, so consider opening and decanting a few hours prior to serving.

If Easter means pasta and roast lamb in your house consider a bottle of 2006 Brunello di Monalcino from Banfi. For many Italian wine lovers the page stops with a great Brunello and Banfi does it consistently well. Big ripe red plum and cherry flavors leap from the glass followed by layers of licorice and hints of leather. Balanced, velvety and delicious paired with an herb rubbed lamb roast.

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