By Dave Eckert
While most of us spent it sheltering at home, Spring arrived at its usual time recently. Though nothing feels “usual” about what we’re all going through, I’m going to try to bring a little normalcy to the situation. Every year, I make a list of some of my favorite wines to herald the season.
Although this year is vastly different for any number of reasons, it will be no different on that front. So here goes, some wines to enjoy as the temperatures warm, the grass greens and the sands of the Stay at Home order ever so slowly make their way through the hourglass. I’m breaking this up into categories and into two articles because, well, why not! Here are some sparkling wines and roses, including two local wines, sure to brighten your day!
Photo by Pete Dulin
We all could use a little bubbly in our lives right now. That in mind, I’ve selected three sparkling wines that will both raise your spirits and entice your palate:
M.A.N. Family Wines Sparkling Chenin Blanc, South Africa ($15.99 SRP) ~ South African sparkling wines are relatively new discoveries for me, but they are quickly moving up the ladder of my sparkling wine preferences. This one, from M.A.N Family Wines, is comprised of 100-percent Chenin Blanc, the most widely planted white grape in South Africa. It has everything I love in a still Chenin-perfume, fruit, and acidity, combined with all that I love in a sparkling wine: a fine mousse, a beautiful, subtle bouquet, and a cleansing finish. Delicious!
La Marca Luminore Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superior ($30 SRP) ~ We’ve all seen the La Marca Prosecco at the supermarket or liquor store. Usually on an end cap and priced in the low to mid-teens, it’s a decent bottle of sparkling wine. This, however, is something special. Sparklers listing Valdobbiadene on their labels make up a small percentage of the Prosecco production, but they are among the highest quality. With more complexity, elegance, and depth of flavors and aromas, these are wines to seek out, and this one from La Marca is a great example of the dividends they will pay.
J. Vineyards & Winery Cuvee 20, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, CA ($38 SRP) ~ I’ve long been a fan of J.’s wines, which are among the most consistent of the domestic sparkling wines I’ve tried. With a fine and delicate mousse, and terrific, palate-cleansing, acidity, the Cuvee 20 is a “go to” wine for an afternoon on the back deck, some charcuterie before dinner, or a later night sip as you ponder better and brighter days ahead.
Photo by Cindy Bailey
Somerset Ridge Vineyard & Winery, Aphrodite (15.99 SRP) ~ an homage to the great roses of Southern France, Somerset Ridge’s Aphrodite is a rose made from the Cabernet Franc grape. Reminiscent of some of the lovely Cab Franc roses I’ve had from France’s Loire Valley, this seasonal release from Louisburg’s Somerset Ridge is lively, loaded with flavor, and refreshing. The fact that it’s local makes it all the better!
Raimat Rosado Costers del Segre, Spain ($13.99 SRP) ~ from Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes grown in a former stony desert, these environmentally sustainable wines are among my favorite Spanish rosados. Lighter than you would expect from these grapes, the wine leaps out of the glass with bright, crisp fruit flavors, and finishes with a bracing acidity that makes it perfect for a wide range of cuisine.
Enate Rosado, Somontana DO, Spain (SRP: $14.99) ~ a bit fuller-bodied than the Raimat, this Spanish rose is comprised of 100-percent Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Darker in both color and body, the Enate rose is something redwine drinkers could warm to while still pleasing traditional rose lovers like myself. Intensely fruity with notes of berries and pepper, the Enate rosado finishes with terrific acidity that keeps the wine balanced despite its extra weight.
Photo by Pete Dulin
Fence Stile Vineyards & Winery Piquette Chambourcin ($12.99 SRP) ~ I wasn’t quite sure where to place this slightly fizzy, cloudy, pinkish wine from Excelsior Spring’s Fence Stile winery. Is it a sparkling wine? Not really. Is it a rose? Perhaps., Is it unique, intriguing, and ultimately delicious? Yes, yes, and yes! One of just 20 or so wineries in the U.S. producing Piquette Chambourcin, and believed to be the first in the state of Missouri, Fence Stile bottles the wine without filtering, giving it its hazy nature and capturing the essence of the grapes, which include notes of tart cherry and hints of spice. Bravo to Fence Stile for this first-ever wine. By the way, I’m told you can save a few bucks and pick up the Chambourcin Piquette at the winery for just $9!
I hope you enjoy these selections. I’ll be back with some recommendations for white and red wines soon. Cheers!