Celebrate fickle season with a versatile wine menu
There’s an old saying around the Pacific Northwest this time of year: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute.”
April is one of those crazy, capricious months where the calendar says spring, but the weather doesn’t always agree. Hail, windstorms, the possibility of frost, and of course, plenty of rain can overrun any chance of sunshine that’s trying to warm us up and snap us out of those lingering wintertime blues.
Like our varied April weather, the world of wine also provides us with seemingly endless variety that’s easily adaptable to the season…and that’s a good thing, especially this unpredictable time of year.
So if a gray, rainy day interferes with your outdoor plans, grab a book, a blanket and a glass of red wine. If the sun decides to make a guest appearance, consider a chilled bottle of white or rosé as a post-workout reward for doing a little yardwork or gardening. Either way—or all points in between—wine has you covered.
LIGHTER CHOICES FOR BRIGHTER WEATHER
There’s nothing like a glass full of bubbles to lighten the mood and add a festive touch to a lovely spring day and the Vilarnau Non-Vintage Brut Reserva (about $15) is a Spanish sparkler that really delivers. The bottle itself is a work of art, with a striking mosaic of yellow and blue tiles that is easily matched by the wine inside: three white varietals combining in an explosion of juicy pear flavors and backed by mouth-watering acidity. It’s an outstanding sparkling wine at this price.
Uruguay may not instantly come to mind as a player on the worldwide wine scene, but this South American country is producing a number of excellent wines that are making domestic wine drinkers stand up and take notice.
Bodega Garzón is a label to look for, and this Uruguayan winery currently offers a pair of white wines (about $17 each) that make terrific springtime beverages.
Their 2013 Sauvignon Blanc opens with lovely tropical fruits of pineapple and banana before transitioning into leaner, greener fruits of gooseberry and Granny Smith apple. The finish has a bit of a lemon-drop note with a touch of herbaceousness. Try it with creamy cheeses, prosciutto or fresh fruit. And the 2014 Albariño is a unique white varietal that’s also becoming increasingly popular. This wine’s subtle apple, melon, and pear flavors are highlighted with a finish of lemongrass and mildly spicy accents.
Another pair of lighter-style wines, this time from northeastern Spain, also make good choices for enjoying on the patio, deck, or at that first-of-the-year outdoor social event. The Barón de Funes 2015 White and the 2015 Rosé (about $11 each) are both highly affordable and great pairing partners with chicken, pasta salads or lighter seafood cuisine.
The white wine is a combination of Chardonnay and Macabeo grapes and features gentle flavors of lemon and white peach; while the rosé is composed of 100 percent Granacha and displays lovely floral and strawberry aromas and flavors along with a slightly crisp finish.
RED WINES FOR GRAYER DAYS
You don’t have to wait for the skies to darken to enjoy a red wine, of course, but a day stuck indoors due to inclement weather just naturally seems to lend itself to a robust red, served perhaps with a hearty stew, a tomato-based pasta dish, or anything beef.
The Beringer Winery 2014 “The Waymaker” Red Wine (about $28) is a great place to start. Sourced from California’s Paso Robles wine region, this full-bodied wine is a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and four other red varietals. Big, bold black cherry and berry aromas lead off, with opulent black plum flavors, a whisper of baking spice, and a fairly plush finish.
Also from California and certainly worth a taste is “The Cleaver” 2014 Red Blend (about $19). Zinfandel, Syrah, and Petite Sirah combine forces in this plush, red wine with a core of ultra-dark black cherry fruit that melts into a finish of brown sugar, crème brûlée, lardo, and smoky bacon. It’s a guilty pleasure, no doubt, that may be best enjoyed when served simply on its own.
Closer to home, Washington winemaker Paul Portteus of Portteus Winery offers a trio of red blends that are both easy to drink and easy on the budget (about $15 each). His 2013 Bistro Red pairs Merlot and Cabernet Franc for a soft red wine with cherry fruits and a slightly herbal finish; the 2013 Rattlesnake Red is a bit denser and chewier blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Sangiovese; and the 2014 Rouge 66 is an even more full-bodied (and delicious) combination of five Bordeaux red varietals.
If you like your reds more on lean and mean side, the Bacchus 2015 Piceno Ciù Ciù (about $18) may fit the bill. The Montepulciano and Sangiovese grapes take center stage here, resulting in a big, Italian red with dried red fruits, nice acidity, and a somewhat chalky finish that can easily be toned down with a pairing of red meat.
And you might think of New Zealand as a good source of just Sauvignon blanc and Pinot noir, but the country’s Trinity Hill 2014 “The Trinity” (about $17) proves otherwise.
This amazing wine, which starts with a base of Merlot and adds Tempranillo, Malbec and three other red varietals, is a beautifully drinking, perfectly balanced red. Dark, black currant and black plum fruits are capped by gentle spices, supple tannins, and a lingering finish. Put this wine near the top of your must-try list during the Northwest’s volatile spring weather months…or practically any other time of year, for that matter.