Springtime is the perfect time to enjoy all sorts of wine, from whites to reds. Spring is also the time for bud break and the beginning of a new vintage. The weather is ever-changing, so a heavier red still works, whereas, on a nice warm spring day, a refreshing white can be ideal. Join me as I traverse Europe and share some of my recent spring wine finds.
Here are three Italian wines from Sicily that all share the uniqueness of the indigenous varieties found in Sicily and are optimal spring wine considerations.
Colomba Platino Insolia: The grapes for this wine are grown in western Sicily in the provinces of Trapani and Agrigento. The soils are a mix of calcareous and siliceous. This grape is known for its nutty flavors and is often used to produce Marsala.
This refreshing wine exudes the aromas of citrus, grass, and apple. On the palate, I found citrus and green apple flavors.
Irmàna Grillo: Like Insolia, this grape comes from western Sicily and grows in similar soils. Grillo is also used for Marsala production.
I found flora notes on the nose, while on the palate, this fuller-bodied wine exhibited flavors of citrus, mostly lemon and apple.
Columba Platino Nero D’Avola: Nero D’Avola is considered the flagship wine of Sicily. Named after the town of Avola in southeast Sicily, the grape grows throughout Sicily. The grape is dark-skinned, thus its name Nero d’Avola, which means Black of Avola, a reference to its color and original location in Sicily. The Columba Platino Nero D’Avola comes from central and southern Sicily. The wine ages ten months in fine-grained oak and vats of vitrified concrete.
I found a wine that speaks of cherries and tobacco.
Pinot Noir makes the perfect spring wine as its texture and body often meld into the type of weather that persists in the spring.
Spätburgunder “Little Red Riding Wolf”, Jan Matthhias Klein Landwein Der Mosel: In Germany Pinot Noir is called Spätburgunder. The grapes come from two different sites, one with limestone and clay soils and the other, a steep slope composed of grey slate. The wine ages 18 months in a 1000-liter fuder.
The wine displayed distinct flavors of forest floor, mushroom, and bramble. I found minerally notes too.
Garnacha and Tempranillo represent the prominent grape varieties of Spain, and both equate to a wonderful spring wine.
Las Moradas De San Martin Inito Garnacha: One winery known for its Garnacha is Las Moradas De San Martin. The winery was established in 1999, just outside Madrid near the Gredos range of hills. It is a location Garnacha vines date back to the 12th Century. Northwesterly winds significantly impact the grapes in this area.
The Inito Garnacha ages 14 months in French oak. On the nose, the wine exhibits earthy cedar qualities. On the palate, the Garnacha delivered smoky, mocha flavors that accent the blackberry fruits present in the wine.
Spanish Wine Rioja
Many of the outstanding wineries in Rioja started in the late 1800s. One of those wineries is Ramõn Bilbao. Beginning with a warehouse in Haro, Ramõn Bilboa has expanded not just in Haro but also in Rueda.
Crianza: This Tempranillo represents a classical style aged 14 months in American oak. The grapes grow in alluvial and calcareous soil. The wine exhibited an earthy character with dark fruit, hints of mushroom, vanilla, and some spicy pepper on the finish.
Reserva: Composed of primarily Tempranillo mixed with Graciano, this wine represents grapes grown on 40-year-old vines in sandy and loamy-sand soils in the Rioja Alta region. I found a wine with a lot of grip and muscle. I found a dry yet smooth and balanced savory wine with cedar on the nose and flavors of plum accented by thyme and cumin. This Reserva aged 20 months in American oak.
Gran Reserva: Combining Tempranillo with Graciano and Mazuelo, the grapes for this wine come from 60 -65-year-old vines. The wine aged in American oak for 30 months, followed by 36 months of bottle aging. This dry Gran Reserva expressed those cedar characteristics I found common to the Ramõn Bilboa Tempranillos. Flavors of plum and blackberry accented by hints of tobacco and mocha enhance the long finish and nice acidity of this wine.
Edición Limitada: This modern style wine showcases the new approach to winemaking seen at some of the older wineries. The wine ages in both French and American oak casks for 14 months, followed by ten months in bottle. With its ripe dark fruit profile, this full-bodied wine also has balsamic, sandalwood, and Eucalyptus notes.
Alentejo Portuguese Wine
Alentejo is one of Portugal’s up-and-coming wine regions. The quality of the wine for the price is superb, so you cannot go wrong with any of these spring wine selections.
Herdade Do Rocim: A wine made in Amphora always grabs my interest. The wine combines Moreto, Tinta Grossa, Trincadeira and Argonez. Vinification of this wine occurs in a traditional way utilizing clay pots with no temperature control. The wine then aged for three months in bottle. This wine’s saline quality accentuated the ripe berry flavors and the pepper on the finish.
Cartuxa: The wine blend consists of Aragonez, Alicante Bouschet and Trincadeira. After sampling different years of the Cartuxa, 2016 was one of my favorites. I found earthy aromas accented with cherry, cedar, and mocha. The wine exhibited bright nuances of dark cherry with pepper on the finish. The wine before aeration was spicier, but after aerating, the wine became smoother. This wine also pairs nicely with truffles.
Adega De Borba Reserva 2015: One of my favorites that I recently tasted from Alentejo, this wine combines Trincadeira, Alicante Bouschet, Argonez and Catelão. This balanced, medium-bodied wine displays soft nuances of dark fruits, especially dark cherry, with hints of baking spices.
Spring is one of my favorite times of the year as I hear the chirping of birds and see the budding of flowers, so it goes without question that it would be an ideal time to enjoy the fruits of the vine with some favored spring wine.
Note: Common to the wine industry, this writer received hosted wine samples. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.