Spring Wines You’ll Love
Pair with brunch, an ocean breeze, a dinner, a poolside lounge, boating or barbecuing
Photos by Allan Kissam
I am a seasonal drinker. This means I don’t have one specific wine I drink year round. I like to drink what goes with the season.
As I pen this wine review the cold weather has given way to cool temperatures. Spring is here. Hurray! It’s a delightful time for wine lovers as it allows us to drink both reds and whites. It’s not too cold for whites, not too hot for reds.
This article is a review of seven wines any savvy wine shopper will like. The tasting took place in a private home in Temecula, CA. Temecula is a trendy wine region in Southern California. We call the group the Wine Review Council.
We generally meet once a quarter to review an assortment of six wines. Four wine writers, two photographers and a designated “consumer” were in attendance. Each person was assigned a wine to research and bring an appropriate food pairing for that wine.
At this tasting we were dealing with some relatively inexpensive wines that “paired” nicely with mild spring temps and lighter food. Most of the wines were under $20.
As I was pulling the wines for the tasting, I came across a vintage Temecula Champagne, circa 2004, made by one of the founding Temecula Valley Wine Country vintners. I figured this group would enjoy seeing how it aged and saluting a name now gone from the valley, but certainly not forgotten –Dr. Filsinger (Filsinger Winery).
We rate the wines. Everyone gives their opinion. Many times I am surprised by the final vote, but this time we had a unanimous winner – the Rosé, VIEVITÉ CÔTES DE PROVENCE .
So let’s begin and see how the group of six (the vintage champagne was not rated), did in this tasting.
Wines are listed as we tasted them.
Wine Review Council Spring 2018
Participants: Linda M, Linda K, Allan , Todd, Sue, Tom, Bernie
1. Filsinger Vineyards and Winery Diamond Cuvee NV (Temecula, circa 2004) – A dry Brut with extended oak aging. Done in the traditional méthode champenoise way it held its own after all these years. The color presented with a golden hue as would be expected from a wine this old. Lovely flavors of green apple, yeast and citrus still came through. Fine bubbles completed the experience. Pairing: Cold Cream of Hazelnut Asparagus soup.
2. VIEVITÉ CÔTES DE PROVENCE Rose 2016 – $20 –This one was voted the best of the group and for good reason. It was the rock star of the tasting.
If you’re looking for a solid Rosé for lighter spring foods, tasting on the patio or serving aboard your boat, this would be it.
VieVite presents on the nose with a delicate but fresh aroma of cherries and strawberries. Dive in! The nose delivers on the palate. Expect to experience a rich sensation on the palate with well-balanced fruity flavors. Truly an all-around delight for the senses.
Sourced from 25-year old vines and produced in smaller quantities it captures the attention of true rosé lovers.
The blend for this rosé is 30% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, 30% Syrah & 10% Carignan. Be sure to stock it in your wine refir or cellar. Highly recommend. Pairing: Smoked Salmon & Lemon Crème Fraiche Finger Sandwiches.
Note: VieVité Côtes de Provence Rosé has released its 2017 vintage, which I will review separately. I understand the winery also offers VieVité Extraordinaire ($40) sourced from 80-year vines. Produced in smaller quantities it’s supposed to be the “real deal” capturing the attention of true rosé lovers for its opulent fruit flavors. I look forward to reviewing that as well. If you see the 2016, 2017 or the Extraordinaire, GRAB them and enjoy! Learn more here.
3. ZURI Getariako Txakolina 2016, Txakolina, Spain, $20: Despite its complicated name, this wine should be on your “TO DRINK” list. Light aromas of green melon and white fruits on the nose lead to a memorable taste on the palate. Expect citrus herb flavors as it resonates with tangy green-apple notes on the finish. Good alternative to Sauvignon Blanc or Albarino. Learn more here.
4. Joya White Sangria- $12.95: What’s a spring or summer party without Sangria? If you don’t make your own, this one is perfect. Not too sweet. The blend uses Premium Spanish white wine using the Airén grape and natural essences of Mediterranean fruits. The light, yet full-bodied (12% ABV) character matches with grilled fish, summer salads or your favorite tapas. Pairing: Thai green curry with white rice.
5. Joya Red Sangria –$12.95: A partner to the Joya White Sangria, this refreshing blend of Premium Spanish Red Wine – Tempranillo, Garnacha and Bobal –is layered with natural essences of fresh Mediterranean fruits. Full-bodied (12% ABV) character matches with grilled summer foods, hearty cheeses or your favorite tapas.
Note: Combine 70% white, 30% red to make a JOYA’s Rosé . It was a hit with our group. Guess you could say the group was in a Rose state of mind that day.
Try out their fun Sangria Recipes!
6. Montes 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile, $10.00: This was the bargain wine of the tasting. Who knew a Cab could taste that good at that price?
There’s minerally freshness to the ripe dark plum, blackberry and cherry flavors. Nice peppery hints. Well-structured mid palate, featuring Asian spice and black fig notes on the finish.
Drink now through 2020. *#42 on the Top 100 wines of 2016, and a ‘Best Values’ designation. Having placed in the top 50 of Wine Spectator’s 2016 Top 100 list, the Montes Cabernet Sauvignon continues to be one of the world’s best for its modest price.
Aurelio Montes built up his winery to focus on a number of different varieties and price points, though it is arguably their Syrah and Cab programs which lead the pack.
As good as their higher end, famous “icon” bottlings are, this Cabernet is possibly even more impressive for its value and consistency.
The winemaker highly recommends pairing with braised beef with French fries, steak and eggs, paella, cannelloni, and lasagna, but our group went lighter with a pairing of assorted springtime chocolates. Blend: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot. Learn more here
7. Sweetgrass Winery Apple Cranberry $12.00 – This wine comes from a winery in Maine that also sells spirits. It is the PERFECT wine for spritzing, or serving with turkey or ham at a beautiful spring brunch. Refreshing tartness with flavors of apples, cranberries, and cherries. Perfect for the people you have over who like sweeter wines. If someone asks you for a “sweet” wine, keep this in stock and be the hero of the day. Pairing: Brie and crackers. Learn more here