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Think spring
Look globally for wines to pair with light, fresh food
By Geoff Bland

With the onset of spring, my mind always turns to light, fresh foods that wake up my palate and tantalize my taste buds. These foods call for wines with a similar theme - bright, crisp and refreshing. Fortunately, there are many such wines available from all around the world.

Italy produces many lovely wines, but I'm partial to the 2009 Marchetti Verdicchio Dei Castelli Di Jesi ($15). This wine comes from the Adriatic coast and is blessed with lovely, bright, peach character with hints of citrus on the finish; pair it with seafood salads.The 2009 Cantina di Taburno Falanghina ($15), from the Campania region, has more weight on the palate but remains fresh and lively with ripe pear, pineapple and mineral character; think grilled octopus or lobster.

Don't forget the bright, lively and beautiful white wines that come from Austria. The 2009 Hiedler Gruner Veltliner Loss ($17) is a great introduction to these wines. Produced from the powdery "loss" soil, this wine shows rich tropical fruit, bright acidity and wonderful length, the perfect wine to pair with asparagus risotto.

Spain is a worthy source of lively wines as well. Try the 2009 Burgans Albarino ($16) from the region of Galicia in northwest Spain. This cool, green area lies along the Atlantic coast north of Portugal. The Albarino grape, which is native to the region, is a wonderful partner to the shellfish and fresh fish that dominate the diet in Galicia. The combination of bright acidity, minerality and grapefruit-lime character make it pair perfectly. The 2009 El Hada White ($13) is a blend of native grapes, Verdejo and Viura. This is a crisp, vibrant white with lots of citrus character and excellent weight on the palate, perfect with robust seafood paella.

South Africa, with two oceans surrounding it, produces the elegant and delicious 2009 Edgebaston Sauvignon Blanc ($17) from the region around Stellenbosch. The soils in this region are complex and produce lively and intensely flavored wines - a hybrid between the mineral-driven style of the Loire Valley and the tangy, grapefruit-driven style you see in New Zealand. Enjoy with grilled fish with citrus butter or fresh oysters.

Speaking of New Zealand, don't miss the incredible 2009 Mohua Sauvignon Blanc ($15). Passion fruit and pink grapefruit dominate the aromas and flavor of this seamless wine, and the lively acidity makes it perfect with the local green lip mussels so common in New Zealand.From France, I always enjoy the wines of Muscadet. This region at the western end of the Loire river, just before it flows into the Atlantic, is home to some of the brightest and crispest wines produced.

The 2009 Domaine les Hautes Noelles Muscadet ($14) tastes like biting into a fresh Granny Smith apple. After the first impression of green apple, you pick up on the crisp minerality and zippy acidity. This is the perfect wine with steamed mussels that are so abundant in that region.

From the Macon region of Burgundy, we get the elegant 2009 Larochette-Manciat Macon Morizottes ($14). This wine is produced from Chardonnay and shows bright pear and Fuji  apple with nice creamy notes and no obvious oak influence - a perfect pairing with a simple herb roasted chicken. 

The Beaujolais region is home to the Gamay grape and the medium-bodied, lively reds it can produce. Don't miss the 2009 Chateau de Thulon Beaujolais ($14), a smooth, seamless red with bright cherry and strawberry fruit. Chill this wine for 30 minutes and enjoy with grilled salmon, chicken or salads.

From the united states, I look to Oregon for lovely spring wines. The 2009 Adelsheim Pinot Gris ($19) is an example, with bright pear- and peach-scented fruit with a kiss of lemon on the finish, making it a natural companion with light seafood dishes. Also, try the 2008 Chehalem INOX Chardonnay ($20). This unoaked Chardonnay is packed with flavor and has wonderful richness and texture on the palate. I love to sit and sip this wine, but it also has incredible versatility with food. 

I hope you have an opportunity to sample at least some of these wines. Think spring!


Story published Friday, March 4, 2011 ( Volume 6, Number 2 )

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