This weekend marks the change in seasons, and refreshing wines are in order. Here are a few suggestions. (Note: Some wines sent for editorial consideration.)
Classic: Traditional method sparkling wine, or méthode champenoise, is made with the second fermentation taking place in the bottle to create bubbles. Classics like Taittinger and it’s California sister property, Domaine Carneros, deliver textured wines with character. Creamy, brioche filled 2006 Comtes de Champagne exudes elegance ($130 at Pogo’s). Domaine Carneros Le Reve ($100 at Total Wine) lifts the palate with honeysuckle, almond, and apple.
Modern: Charmat method sparkling wine, often used for Italian sparklers and Cremant from France, keeps bubbles lively and fresh. Newly released Boisset Collection Haute Couture Rose, sold in charming 2 – bottle packages of 187ml each, ($25) expresses the “Joie de Vie” personality and great style of the French, crafted with the sparkling fermentation occurring in stainless steel tanks.
Classic: Americans drink more Chardonnay than any other white. They choose California favorites produced through barrel fermenting the grapes which adds texture to the wine, or the fresh, racy and mineral intense options from Chablis, France. Chablis Grand Cru, the region’s very best, will be slightly more expensive–$120 a bottle– than others. The wines from producers such as William Fevre and Domaine Laroche, but Premier Cru Chablis and Chablis will cost slightly less, but they do maintain quality. (Pogo’s and Sigel’s)
For California Chardonnay fans, Frank Family, Flora Springs, Merryvale, Jordan, and Landmark consistently deliver wines with classic citrus, melon, and orchard fruit flavor profiles. $25-$35 at Total Wines.
Modern: Non-traditional whites such as Assyrtiko, Kerner, Albarino, and Gruner Veltliner offer high acid, aromatic wines with character. California’s Sidebar Cellars Kerner($25), from Mokelumne River vineyards near Lodi, is a blend of Riesling and Trollinger. Willamette Valley’s Raptor Ridge Winery Gruner Veltliner ($20) highlights stone-fruit and steely freshness.
Classic: When we think of Rosé, Provence comes to mind. The region showcases the Mediterranean-influenced terroir on Rhone varieties better than any other. Herbs de Provence meld with tangerine and stone fruit, creating wines to sip and savor. Miraval, Whispering Angel, and lavender-filled Fleur de Mer are go-to options. Each are widely available for $20-$25 . Domaine de Cala from Proprietor & Chef, Joachim Splicha is a newly imported wine blending Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache, and Rolle for a Rosé filled with white peach and citrus.
Modern: Varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, and Sangiovese produce darker, intensely fruity wines, that are slightly richer than Rhone variety Rosé. Justin Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé ($20) layers notes of strawberry and soft herbs. Sangiovese-based Galil Mountain Rosé ($16) from Galilee melds hints of raspberry with fresh roses and spice. Hacienda de Arinzano Tempranillo Rosé ($20) leaps from the glass with ruby-red grapefruit and spice.
Classic: Berry, spice-filled Pinot Noir is ideal for pairing with spring dishes. Pacific-influenced Monterey Pinot Noir from producers such as J Lohr Fog’s Reach Pinot Noir ($35) and Albatros Ridge Carmel Valley Estate Reserve Pinot Noir ($60), showcase the variety that comes with a long growing season. This ensures acidity and remains intact while the fruit slowly ripens. The result is a balanced wine with fruit, floral freshness, and minerality.
Modern: Typically robust varieties such as Tannat, Nero d’Avola and Bonarda are tamed thanks to smart, restrained winemaking. Bodega Garzon Tannat ($20), Argento Bonarda ($18), El Porvenir Amauta Tannat ($15), and Lamuri Nero d’Avola ($20) maintain freshness while delivering earthy tobacco and leather notes. Available at Spec’s.