Spring has sprung this week and the warm sunny weather begs for some fresh wines. Wines that are floral, fruity and informal. And wines that can be sipped or served at picnics, barbecues or whenever you want to feel a spring in your step.
Here’s a new wine that fits the bill for spring sipping: the 2016 Lafage ($17.99) from the Cote’Est in the Pays D’Oc of southern France. It’s a blend of Grenache Blanc and Vermentino. Grenache Blanc was a mutation of red Garnacha in Spain and spread across the Pyrennes to Roussillon and the Rhone. Its wines are characterized by high alcohol and low acidity, with citrus and or herbaceous notes.
Vermentino is a grape with an oily texture and a bit of bitterness and is planted in Italy, especially Sardinia as well as Languedoc-Roussillon in France. Blended together they produce a fresh wine with a nose of orange blossoms and daffodils and flavours of lemon and grapefruit with a mild bitterness of green almond and a minerality similar to rock dust. If you like Sauvignon Blanc, Albarino or Verdejo, you’ll love Lafage.
Enjoy with spinach quiche, fresh halibut or pesto. I thoroughly enjoyed it with Sausage Haus’ Toulouse pork sausage with garlic and black pepper.
With Japanese cherry and plum trees starting to bloom in Richmond, a rosé seems like a perfect choice to match the season. I recommend the Hester Creek 2018 Cabernet Franc Rosé ($18.99). Its orange pink colour is seductive. So is the nose with floral scents of roses (how appropriate for a rosé) and violets as well as strawberries. In the mouth you have a pink wine with delicious character: ripe strawberries and cranberries burst on your tongue with a dash of pepper and a smooth elegant dry finish.
Great to sip on the patio after gardening, and delicious with a wide range of foods including fried chicken, schnitzel and moules provençale.
If you are into barbecued red meats, then the 2017 Wolftrap ($13.99) from South Africa is a tasty choice. It’s a Rhone blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Viognier.
The Wolftrap’s bouquet is a mixture of vanilla with red and black fruit along with Syrah’s characteristic black pepper. It has an elegant and rich palate with vanilla, blackberry, cherry and spice, along with that smoky taste that many South African reds possess. Delicious with a medium rare steak or a Vietnamese beef dish with chili, lime juice, and fish sauce
All of today’s spring picks are available in government liquor stores. Cheers!
Eric Hanson is a Richmond wine educator and journalist. Contact him at Ehanson0705@gmail.com
@ Vitis Magazine