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Wines that quench spring fever

The new labels at Souverain speak to the wine inside, which is clean and fresh and classic.
The new labels at Souverain speak to the wine inside, which is clean and fresh and classic.

Spring fever wafts over the neighborhood along with the scent of citrus blossoms. Doors are open, barbecues afire and the wine flowing.

It’s a magical time to live in the desert. Everything is blooming, Spring Training baseball is in full swing, and we’re back to entertaining outdoors.

We hosted our annual St. Patrick’s Day blowout, complete with corned beef, free-flowing Guinness and Smithwick’s beer, and an Irish whiskey bar featuring Jameson and Tullamore Dew. We sat outside around the fire pit and carried on until way past our usual bedtime.

Blame it on the fever. We can’t help ourselves.

What we can do is help ourselves to more outdoor entertaining. Perhaps a brunch is in order. Just enjoy it while you can, because you know what is just around the corner. Here’s a few seasonal wines to sip while you bask in the Valley’s glorious spring weather.

Santa Rita Medalla Real Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Chile. If Chardonnay is the queen of summer, Sauv Blanc is the princess of spring. This one exhibits all the classic hallmarks: Brilliant light yellow-green color; citrus blossoms and grapefruit on the nose; and vibrant acidity citrus and mineral notes on the palate. It’s elegant, built and sexy. Think Charlize Theron in Cider House Rules. $18.

• Wente Vineyards Riva Ranch Chardonnay 2012, Monterey, Calif. OK, here’s your big, voluptuous blonde. Bigger and rounder than the Sauvignon Blanc, this lovely bottle underwent eight months of oaking that imparts rich butter-vanilla impressions along with the variety’s intrinsic tropical fruitiness. Grab a bottle of this and a roasted chicken on the way home from work and head to the patio. $22.

• Souverain 2012 Sauvignon Blanc North Coast, Calif. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Souverain has been around for what seems like forever. Founder and winemaking innovator Lee Stewart has been producing solid, value-centric everyday wines in Napa, Sonoma and Lake Counties since the 1940s. The clean and regal new labels speak to the company’s pedigree. And what’s inside this new Sauv Blanc vintage is what they’re known for: Dry, crisp melon-citrus impressions that is both racy and balanced. Shrimp cocktails, anyone? $13.

• 50 Harvests 2011 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Calif. If I didn’t include a red wine in this group, I’d hear it from the Red Wine Police. And they would probably be right, as big, burly Cabs like this one deserve a place at the springtime dinner table. What are you going to pair that New York strip with anyway? Exactly. This wine commemorates 50 consecutive California harvests for five generations of the Scotto family, who in 1963 immigrated from Italy. The bottle may not cellar for 50 years, but its youthful vigor and structure shows that it could easily cellar up to 10 years. But don’t wait that long. Cork, grill, enjoy. $50.

Contact Drinks Editor Mark Nothaft via e-mail and click here and follow him on Twitter. Subscribe to his frequent columns on Examiner and click here.

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