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Spring Sipping

Spring Sipping

It’s hard to believe that the first day of Spring falls next week, ‘Tempus Fugit’ and all that aside, I thought now would be the perfect time to focus in on some fresh white wine choices to pair with the lighter dishes that will soon be appearing on our tables.

Of course, if I wanted to play it safe we could look at Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio, I could certainly recommend plenty of examples of each which would be ideal choices for the season.

But as Spring is the season of all things new, I will be suggesting some alternative varietals, some quite well-known, some a little more obscure, but rest assured, one and all they are perfectly well-suited to Spring Sipping.

My first choice is one that is sure to please those who don’t want to stray too far outside their Sauvignon Blanc comfort zone; Le Labyrinthe Côte de Gascogne (€10.00 down from €14.95) is made in Southwest France using the local varieties, Colombard & Gros Manseng. It is incredibly fresh and fruity with grapefruit aromas and underlying exotic fruit. The palate is zesty and refreshing with a long finish on those underlying exotic notes. I would pair this wine with some Sushi or even some mildly-spiced Thai fishcakes.

Winemaker Rudi Rabl, at home in the Kamptal region, Austria

Next up, is Austria’s great white grape, Grüner Veltliner. Rabl Löss (€14.95 down from €18.95) is zesty and lively, and if you haven’t tried Grüner before, you are in for a real treat. In terms of flavour, it is a little like a cross between a Sauvignon Blanc and a dry Riesling; fresh & crisp with lots of cool grassy fruit and subtle notes of pepper.  Try this chilled as an aperitif or serve it alongside some freshly grilled shellfish and be prepared for a thoroughly delicious experience.        

Pergola-trained Albariño vines in Pazo Señorans cool-climate vineyards

 A little bit closer to the mainstream now with Spain’s Albariño grape variety. Pazo Señorans (€18.95 down from €22.95) is a very classy wine from arguably the finest estate in the Rias Baixas DO, a perfect example of premium Albariño, delicately floral on the nose with hints of lemon and pear. This opens up on the palate to reveal a complex, mineral-driven white with an incredibly long finish. It should go without saying that this wine is the perfect partner for Seafood Paella.

All of the wines above are produced in traditional cool-climate zones, however for my last two selections we are heading into some warmer locations, both in Italy.

Lorenzo Marotti Campi amidst his Verdicchio vines.

Albiano Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico (€11.95 down from €14.95) is from the family winery, Marotti-Campi, which is located in the central Italian region of le Marche. Refreshing citrus fruits, zesty acidity and complex minerality are the hallmarks of the local Verdicchio grape and, when well-made like this excellent example, it's one of the very best whites Italy produces. Serve alongside Linguini with Clams for a match made in Heaven.

My last recommendation takes us to the island of Sicily, Cusumano Shamaris (€14.95 down from €18.95) is made with the indigenous Sicilian grape variety, Grillo. It is a wonderfully aromatic white wine. Aromas of orange blossom, melon and peach along with some floral notes lead into a deliciously juicy palate which shows excellent balance between the acidity and the fruit. This wine is more than a match for fuller-flavoured fish dishes, such as grilled sole with a lemon and caper brown butter.

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