What to Drink Now: Wine to Help Get Spring Started

I am so tired of the back and forth weather we are seeing this year. Just as I put my sweaters away and load my fridge with light, refreshing wines ideal for enjoying on the patio, we see another shift to a thirty or forty degree day. Well, I am determined to enjoy spring before summer is really here, and the best way I know how is with one of those refreshing wines. Here are a few easy drinking, affordable suggestions to put you in the mood for warmer weather, a few of which were sent for editorial consideration.

zardetto_1As everyday is a day for bubbles and Zardetto Prosecco, the family owned winery led by third generation winemaker Fabio Zardetto, is a great go to for an affordable price (usually around $10 a bottle) and lively, racy palate, with lemon, honeydew and stone fruit flavors, great served on its own as an aperitif, or after dinner in a Sgroppino.

2 ounces Zardetto Prosecco
2 ounces Vodka
Lemon Sorbet
Fresh Mint

Directions – Fill flute with vodka, then add a scoop of sorbet, top with Zardetto and a sprig of mint.
This would also be delicious with grapefruit sorbet and a sprig of rosemary or thyme.Biltmore Estate wine product photography on white seamless.Also ideal as an aperitif or after-dinner bubbly comes from Biltmore Winery with their 2010 Pas de Deux, Methode Champenoise – Sec. Made from Muscat Canelli grown in the Central Coast of California this floral and fragrant bubbly, aged up to a year while undergoing second fermentation in the bottle, is filled with tropical mango and guava notes with fresh lemon and orange.

Sipping Pinot Grigio in the sunshine is ideal to me, and there are a lot of Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio options to try.  For an incredibly affordable one consider Central Coast grapes with Robert Mondavi Private Selection 2012 Pinot Grigio.  Retailing for around $10 a bottle the light, fragrant wine is filled with layers of lemon and lime zest with a touch of white flowers.

Riesling is easily one of the most confusing wines out there as just understanding the types of classic German Riesling can be tough, and more often than not even their driest Riesling still has a bit of residual sugar in it, making those who prefer a bone dry wine standoffish. It is a shame more people don’t embrace Riesling though, as it has incredible character, flavor and food-friendly approachability. A new one I just tried from Germany may help those who shy away from German Riesling get on board. 2011 Clean Slate Riesling, from Mosel, Germany, the heart of Riesling country, is a low alcohol (about 10%) wine filled with green apple, pear, honey and the characteristic minerality that makes Riesling so special. There is still a bit of residual sugar, but the freshness and balanced acidity of the wine is also there, making it a great food wine.

Mixing Riesling and Chardonnay are not two grapes I would typically think to pair, but 2011 Austerity does just that. Created by Cecchetti Wine Company the blend made up of 40% Santa Barbara County Riesling with 60% Monterey and other parts of California Chardonnay, marries floral, citrus and mineral notes from the Riesling with stone fruit, citrus and apple notes from the Chardonnay to create a light white good for sipping on its own at the start of an evening.

line 39Another wine from the Cecchetti portfolio I like for its delicate take on Sauvignon Blanc is their 2012 Line 39. Named after the 39th parallel that runs through Lake County in Northern California. Filled with flavors we think of with Sauvignon Blanc, lemon, lime, mineral and grassy notes, but not over done keeping the wine fresh and palatable, without being tart, and incredibly affordable at around $10 a bottle.

If your palate loves the big fruit forward flavors of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs consider Makara from the Marlborough region. Another good value, around $13 a bottle, this one brings those New Zealand grapefruit and lemon notes together with layers of tropical fruit, and herbal notes, adding depth and complexity to the wine and finishing with a touch of creaminess and spice from the wine being left on the lees for a short period.

Lo Nuevo hopes to create modern style wines from old style vines, much like the culture, art, food and lifestyle of modern Spain. Though I do love a true Old World wine, I loved their New World style 2011 Covello Albarino, filled with floral and vibrant stone fruit notes with balanced acidity and a touch of minerality, making this a great food wine pairing with spring salads, shellfish or light pasta dishes.

2012 tower 15 Sunset RoseI love a Rose made with Grenache. The varietal is well suited for creating lighter style wines. Tower 15 in Paso Robles is taking their spring time seriously by introducing their 2011 “Sunset” Rose to take you immediately to a beach to watch the sun sink to the sky. The wine blends 60% Grenache with 40% Mourvedre to create a light, salmon colored wine filled with grapefruit, orange peel, and raspberry aromas with similar flavors on the palate mixed with red cherry and apple.

Though I do love white wine, sometimes I am in the mood for red even especially warm days so have found that adding a slight chill to some red wines is a perfect way to enjoy a red on a hot day, especially when you consider true cellar conditions in France are significantly lower than the temperature many of us store our everyday wines in Texas. Putting a slight chill on a Pinot Noir, a Grenache, even a Chianti can enhance the fruit forward layers of the wine and help the acidity pop, making them great with food.

Waterstone 2009 Pinot Noir shows how fresh, juicy and lush Carneros Pinot can be with layers of red cherry, raspberry and pomegranate with hints of toffee and toasted oak rounding out the long finish. Aged in new and used French oak for 14 months, and only gently filtered, the wine is filled with generous amounts of fruit with just a touch of earthiness.

garnet pinotGarnet 2011 Pinot Noir from Monterey County shows you can find a good bottle of Pinot for under $20 (this one retailing for around $17 a bottle.) Made with a hands off approach from benchland vineyards near Santa Lucia Highlands, and aged 11 months in 60% new French oak, the wine is filled with ripe cherry, blackberry and cranberry fruit with a touch of vanilla spice on the silky finish.