Crispy White Wines

By Sunny Brown

Spring has sprung. The daffodils and tulips have opened their faces to the sun, the birds are hastily building their nests and folks everywhere are tilling, planting and mowing. The smells of spring have reached our nostrils- fresh mulch, hyacinth blossoms, spring rain. The days seem warm no matter what the temperature and the nights feel cool and clean.

At this time of year our thoughts lean towards wines that reflect and remind us of the vibrancy of nature. Even the coldest of hearts can’t help but be warmed by the bright greens, purples, yellows and snow white colors that assault our senses. And so it is the same with wines, and there is nothing that smells, feels, tastes and mimics spring more than a cool and refreshing glass of white wine.

The fresh flavors and bright acidity of a crispy white wine pair wonderfully with the warm spring days and the fresh and delicate flavors that grace our first journey to the picnic table. What attributes could possibly make a liquid crispy you ask? It is the nature of a light, lively and above all dry white wine. The tingle of the acidity, the snap of the citrus, the zing of white peaches and green apples, the quintessential crunch that just screams "I am refreshing. Drink me and I will reward your palate," these are elements that go into making a wine crispy.

As it turns out we just so happen to have a few recommendations for you in terms of crispy wines. The first is the Vevi Rueda 2008, a delightful little blend of 80% old vine Verdejo and 20% Viura from Rueda in western Spain. The Vevi starts off with subtle aromas of honeysuckle and lemon zest that suggest a wine of zip and zing and zest and lots of other Z-related stuff. Flavors that run from meyer lemon to fresh cream to almond notes. The finish is light and has lip-smacking acidity and leaves the palate feeling refreshed.

One of my favorite treats is a dry style of sparkling wine. I mean dry, with just a few grams of sugar added for the dosage if any is used at all. Which leads me to the Domaine Bott-Geyl Cremant d’Alsace. This wine is made from the same grapes used in Champagne (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir), it is made by a 6th generation winemaker in Jean-Christophe Bott who has trained in Champagne, it is made using the Champagne Method- the time honored tradition that is the hardest, lengthiest, most expensive yet ultimately the best way to make sparkling wines and it is even produced at around the same latitude as the prestigious Vallee de la Marne in the heart of Champagne. Except it has an everyday price point. The wine offers lots of apple and pear fruit, touches of spice and creamy notes in the middle, and a long a lively mousse that provides just enough tickle on the tongue. It is everything you could want in a sparkling wine and nothing you wouldn’t. Oh yea, it is also certified organic and biodynamic.

One other wine to keep in mind is the Bridesmaid Wines Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2008. This project hails from Napa stars Pam Starr and Drew Neiman and is produced from some of the Valley’s finest vineyards. While they will not mention specifically which vineyards, it is widely known throughout the Valley that the owners of such prestigious fruit would not want it known that their grapes make it into such an inexpensive wine. A blend of primarily Sauvignon Blanc with just a kiss of Semillon thrown in to add weight and complexity, the Bridesmaid White is as fragrant as the backyard in May. The nose offers complex notes of white flowers, soft spring grasses, tropical fruits and a touch of gravel. The palate is crisp and fruit-forward, with some of the tropical fruit notes familiar to the Musque clone of Sauvignon Blanc, but also lighter notes that are more green and citrusy in nature. The wine is practically alive with acidic intensity which brings harmony and balance to the lush fruit.

Each one of these wines on its own would be a perfect complement to the seafood, fresh veggies and appetizers that make me think of spring. Their lighter styles and fresh acidity work to bring out the flavors in the food they are paired with. In the end they are light, lively, fresh and cool, just like a spring day.