In spring, of course, my mind turns to wine, my favorite beverage. This time of year, I can't help but shun the heavy reds and pair the weather with something a little lighter and refreshing ... mostly white wines and dry rosés. With rosés becoming a little more mainstream and hip, you can find a wider selection out there, especially the heavier, meatier ones. And the whites have been rich and satisfying this year, with an even wider selection of cool-sounding, oddball grapes and well-made traditional ones. My list of spring selections:
Antinori 2003 Cervaro Della Sala (Italy) A chardonnay and Italian grape Grechetto blend with creamy vanilla, peaches and a clean, delicious finish. Sw = 2. $43. **** 1/2
Monkey Bay 2006 Rosé New Zealand Tart strawberry and raspberry, with brisk acids that are well balanced enough to indulge in that second or third glass (oh hell, fourth). Sw = 1. $11. ****.
Domaine de Closel Chateau des Vaults "La Jalousie" 2005 Savonierres (France) Don't let the far-too-long name deter you from trying this gorgeous wine. Distinct flavors like chamomile, green tea and lemon join together to create a fun, bright white for spring or summer. Sw = 1. $18. ****
Isenhower 2005 Snapdragon Viognier/Roussanne (Washington) A gorgeous perfume floods you when sniffing this fruity number. Fragrant honeysuckle, rich peaches and a smooth aftertaste of tropical mango. Sw = 2. $21. ****
Miner 2005 Rosado Mendocino County (California) Not your wimpy, sweet blush wine experience. Bright cherry, raspberry and good acids create a damn nice pink quaff. 100 percent sangiovese grape. Sw = 1. $19. ****
King Estate 2005 Domaine Pinot Gris (Oregon) Fermented apples, pears and smooth vanilla merge in this Oregon big-bodied white. All the grapes come from their estate property, thus earning it the "Domaine" title. Sw = 3. $19. *** 1/2
Talus 2005 Pinot Grigio Lodi (California) Frickin' cheap and good. Loaded with oak, but it's soft with a collection of citrus like orange and grapefruit. Sw = 3. $8. *** 1/2
L'Ecole #41 2005 Semillon Columbia Valley (Washington) Musky, steely and very refreshing with tangerine, fig and pear all balanced in a delicious sip. Unique. Sw = 1. $17. *** 1/2
Honig 2006 Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley Amazing scent. Honeyed peaches, wet slate and grapefruit in the mouth. Sweeter than most sauvignon blancs out there. Sw = 3. $15. *** 1/2
Verget 2004 Chablis Grand Elevage (France) This traditional Chablis is earthy with a crisp, austere citrus taste. Creamy with a bit of butteriness. Sw = 1. $19. *** 1/2
Chateau Guiot 2005 Rosé Costiere de Nîmes (France) The rosé that drinks like a red. Hearty, dirty cherry and bright raspberry with a serious dose of food-friendly acidity. Sw = 1. $9. *** 1/2
Valentin Bianchi 2004 Chardonnay Mendoza (Argentina) Not to be confused with the Paso Robles winery Bianchi, this Argentinean winery has produced a lemon buttered popcorn chardonnay. A bit burnt tasting, but so unique, it's cool. Sw = 3. $14. ***.
Casa da Silva 2005 Viognier Reserva Colchagua (Chile) Steely and tart for a viognier, but still has the aromatic peaches/apricot/honeysuckle combo. Sw = 1. $15. ***
Sweetness (Sw) rating is out of 10, 10 being pure sugar. Star (*) rating is out of 5, 5 being wine nirvana.