VOICE OF THE VINE
By Abby Cifarelli
As the days grow longer and warm weather is on the horizon, it’s a great opportunity to try new wines to propel you into the spring season. I picked up three wines from G. Griffin Wine & Spirits on Forest Avenue that are drinkable now through the summer.
Let’s start light, with a French white from Chablis. If you’re drinking California Chardonnay, this will be a whole new experience, not the oaky, buttery taste you’re used to. Before taking you through the taste profile of the 2018 Daniel Dampt & Fils Chablis ($26), let me tell you a little bit more about this region.
Chablis is a wine appellation in Burgundy. If you are drinking wine from Chablis, it must be 100 percent Chardonnay. You’ll find the climate to be cool and continental which allows a longer growing season for the grapes. Chablis possesses a unique soil called Kimmeridgian, which is a combination of limestone, clay, and fossilized oyster shells.
Grab a glass and pour the Daniel Dampt & Fils Chablis, which is pale with a hint of straw. This wine has fresh fruits, lemon and lime coming through on the nose. As you take your first few sips, you’ll notice it is medium bodied with flavors of green apples, pears, and some minerality, which is a reflection of the soil.
Chablis has a crisp acidity. All of my California Chardonnay drinkers will notice there aren’t any of the oaky, buttery flavors you’re used to. This being because this particular Chardonnay is aged in stainless steel, so the taste is clean and refreshing. The nice thing about Chablis is it can be enjoyed year–round, but it’s a perfect choice for early spring and summer.
One of my favorite things about drinking wine is pairing it with the right food. Chablis shines when paired with seafood — oysters, mussels in a white wine and garlic sauce and sushi — as well as with asparagus and poached eggs, tarragon chicken, green salads with goat cheese, or goat cheese on its own.
Red wine needn’t be confined to the winter months, and there are lots of options for drinking it now. We are going to leave France and jump over to Italy for the 2016 Vietti Perbacco Nebbiolo ($25). This Nebbiolo hails from Piedmont, Italy, specifically the Barolo appellation. If you’re drinking a red wine from Barolo, it must be 100 percent Nebbiolo. Piedmont, which is bordered by France and Switzerland, is one of the most important and best wine regions in the world. The Alps protect Piedmont from harsh weather that can damage the vines. Similar to Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo takes kindly to its terroir, showcasing the mix of limestone and sandstone that makes up Barolo’s soil.
Get your glass ready and pour the ruby red Nebbiolo. If you give it a swirl, aromas of cherry, rose, and ripe strawberries will jump out of the glass. This wine is medium-bodied, structured, and balanced with fruit, stony minerality, acidity, and tannin. Tannin is the grip on the center of your tongue which comes from grape skins, seeds, and stems. This tannin, however, fades fast on your palate.
With Italian wines, you need go no further than Italian foods. The Perbacco Nebbiolo can stand up to powerful flavors in a truffle risotto, butternut squash ravioli, or pasta Bolognese.
To close out the wines that will spring you into spring, let’s head back to France for the 2015 Domaine de Pallus Les Pensees de Paullus Chinon ($25). About four hours northwest of Burgundy, where our first white wine was from, our second red is from the Loire Valley. In the Touraine appellation of the Loire Valley, there is a small area called Chinon, which has a continental climate and soft limestone soil. Although the Loire Valley is best known for its white and rosé wines, Cabernet Franc–based reds are a pleasant surprise. Red wines from Chinon are 100 percent Cabernet Franc. Interestingly, this grape is one of the most important varietals found in Bordeaux blends.
Grab your last glass to try the 2015 Les Pensees de Pallus Chinon. Once in the glass, you’ll notice the wine has a ruby red color. After a swirl and sniff, aromas of strawberry, raspberry, and green bell pepper will come forward. On the palate this wine is dry, medium-bodied with low tannins. This particular Cabernet Franc has a soft texture with flavors of dark red fruits, jalapeno, green bell pepper and black pepper. The taste will drop quickly from your palate, but a lingering tingling of acidity is still noticeable long after your last sip.
As spring gets closer to transitioning into summer, it’ll be time to go buy a bottle. Les Pensees de Paullus is delightful if chilled. It pairs perfectly with a rack of lamb for Easter dinner and is great to have on hand as the grilling season begins — think a steak covered in garlic butter or the perfect burger.
<To learn more, visit Abby Cifarelli’s website, www.sommnightswithabby.com.>