Chinese New Year is just around the corner and spring is imminent. For the past couple of months, you may have be en indulging in the Christmas and New Year holidays, so it may be time to switch to lighter meals and refresh your wine “wardrobe” to something more seasonal?
A spring cleaning of the wine cabinet can be a fun exercise. It allows you to take stock of what you have, and gives you a chance to list out what to add to your collection. Those full bodied reds can now take their temporary place at the back, and make way for the whites and lighter reds that will get you in the mood for spring.
Everyone has their preferences when it comes to wine; there is nothing wrong with holding on to your favourites all year round. Some people also find the lighter, more acidic wines not to their liking but the change in temperature and increased humidity may cause a shift in your taste. Whether on their own or paired with food in an al fresco setting, light-bodied wines are especially enjoyable this time of the year.
Light-bodied wines are usually fermented in stainless steel rather than oak and include light reds and younger, dry whites with more pronounced acidity. Reds like Pinot Noir and Beaujolais, after being sidelined in the colder months, make a comeback. A glass of Chardonnay, in the style of Chablis with distinctive characteristics, can stand on its own very well. So not surprisingly, it is the season for Burgundy, or Burgundy-style wines, rather than Bordeaux.
Pinot Noir is typically associated with the Burgundy region, though it is also grown in other major wine regions worldwide. Their thin skin makes for a light, lower-tannin red. It is refreshing and fruity but still possesses a supple texture.
Pinot Noir Domaine Valeta Sunny Slope 2008 is a new world pinot that fits the bill. The bouquet is floral and exotic with overtones of red and black fruit. The flavours are a balance of cherry, plum, clove and earth. It is supple, rich and long on the finish; what one would expect from this Santa Cruz Mountain site.
“The winery, Clos de la Tech, has an interesting story. To pursue the world’s best Pinot Noir, the owner went to work for the renowned Domaine de la Romanée-Conti for free for three years, before returning to the US to grow his own. The result is a pinot with a Burgundy character, but also the richness of a Californian wine,” said Gary Wong, senior wine consultant for One Red Dot Fine Wines.
The Chardonnay grape is itself neutral, so it can give rise to many different wine styles according to terroir and ageing. For the spring, it is the crisply mineral wines of Chablis, with a light body, acidity and flavours of green plum, apple and pear, that appeals.
Perfect to drink now is Domaine Jean Collet & Fils, Chablis 2013. This 100 percent Chardonnay is matured nine to 10 months in stainless steel. It appears a little smudged on the nose, although there are attractive light minty scents that emerge with time. The palate is fresh on entry, but then the second half feels diluted and anonymous. From the same winery the Chablis 1er Cru Montmains 2009 is a notch up in elegance with lovely purity to the medium weight flavours and a nose that is overtly floral. The finish is bone dry with nice minerality and plenty of racy acidity.
Chablis is usually associated with oysters but a good Chablis can definitely be enjoyed on its own.
A small glass of chilled ice wine after dessert or just before you go to bed will never go amiss. This golden elixir may give you a nice night of sleep and sweet dreams in the damp spring air.
“German Eiswein has the highest standards in ice wine making with a very long history. They have clear standards on when to harvest, as grapes are allowed to ripen on the vine and are harvested in the winter when they are frozen, naturally,” remarks Wong.
The most common grape varieties for ice wine are Riesling and Vidal, but sometimes Cabernet Franc can be used for a pale red version. Look for elegant Rieslings from the German estate Weingut H. Dönnhoff, which belongs to a family that has been making wine in the Nahe region since 1750.