Spring Staples: What We’re Reaching for as the Weather Warms

Springtime Staples: 1
Think of this as our monthly answer to, ’so what have you been into lately?’ — fresh updates from Portfolio Managers with unfiltered intel on why we’re drinking what we are.

Springtime Staples: 4It’s SPRING. This year it feels like we’ve been anticipating the changing seasons more than ever before, and the feeling of positivity we would have felt in any normal year is effectively doubled with the flurry of new activity in the streets and around the world.

Personally, we treat any change in the seasons as an opportunity to break out new wines, and in the case of spring, this means new vintages, new releases, & a revisit of some of our warmer-weather staples.

It’s fair, we’ll use any excuse to match wine to our mood, dish, or company — but there’s something about the change from winter to spring that elicits the sublime: the instant, ubiquitous craving of fresh and bright profiles to match the same freshness and brightness felt all around us.

Enough poetry. We present to you today a shortlist of wines, a sake, and a spirit that we anticipate throughout the year for this very moment— the transition from cold to cool then warmer.

ITALY

Colli di Lapio – Clelia Romano Fiano di Avellino 2019

 

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Volcano lovers’ Fiano di Avellino that erupts with the perfume of honeysuckle and wet stones. Explosive white stone fruit on the palate and a finish that goes on for eons.

This is one of our very best Italian white wines year in and year out. Oh, and it ages spectacularly to boot!Mark Fornatale, Italian Portfolio Manager

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Schlosskellerei Gobelsburg Rosé is a wine that we wait all winter for. The arrival of the new vintage signals the changing of the seasons in the same way that the first crocuses do. It means warming weather, more daylight, and a shift in what we’re cooking and drinking. Spring means lighter food and bracing wines.

The 2020 is a cooler vintage in Austria (read our full vintage report here), very different than the warm year it was in most of Europe. The 2020 relies on crisp, vibrant structure rather than overt ripeness. It’s lifted and aromatic, showing bright citrus peel cranberry note.

This is a thirst-quenching and delicious Rosé, perfect for sitting outdoors, in the sun. Gabe Clary, Vice President, Germany, Champagne, & Austria

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The 2019s in the high altitude Maconnais are almost tannic Chardonnay with complexity, density, grip, and a tremendous aging potential.  One of my favorites from this great vintage is from Domaine Frantz Chagnoleau!  The 2019 Pouilly-Fuissé ‘Pastoral’ is a palate-staining beauty primarily in older demi-muid!!

The aromatics are explosive, with more complexity and a bit deeper fruit than even the legendary 2014s. Certified organic, horse plowed, and hailing from 60+-year-old vines on average, the four parcels for ‘Pastoral’ are all from the village of Vergisson that sits on an ancient corral reef at 350 meters.  The overall balance, texture, and high acidity of this perfect white burgundy is a dead ringer for some of the finest Puligny-Montrachet. David Hinkle, Chief French Officer

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Talley Vineyards produces estate-grown chardonnay and pinot noir that highlight the unique characteristics of their five San Luis Obispo County estate vineyards. The guiding principles at Talley Vineyards—planting vines ideally suited to each vineyard site, viticulture, and winemaking that emphasize long-term sustainability, and minimal processing and gentle bottling of the finished wine— all contribute to the goal of showcasing the SLO terroir.

The Estate Chardonnay is the signature white wine of Talley Vineyards, and a pure expression of Arroyo Grande Valley’s cool climate and calcareous soil. Made in a classic old-world style, incorporating barrel fermentation and aging, it was the first Chardonnay produced in the appellation – dating back to the inaugural vintage of 1986.  The wine continues to be a perennial spring favorite – aromas of lemon blossom and stone fruits, with saline minerality on the palate, are teases of the coming summer, and the barrel aging offers just the right amount of weight for those still-cool spring evenings.Ryan O'Rourke, USA Portfolio Associate

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As the warmer weather and longer days put a spring in my step, I crave wines that match this jubilant mood. One such wine is the ‘Montecastrillo Rosado’ from Finca Torremilanos.

This wine has a little more weight and structure than your typical rosé, making it a great pairing for anything off the grill. Made from 100% biodynamically-farmed Tempranillo, it’s the perfect companion for the season!Ted Damianos, Greece, Assistant Spain Portugal Cider Portfolio Manager

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Despite the 2020 vintage being carried out during level 4 lockdown in New Zealand thanks to the COVID pandemic, super dry weather and cooler temperatures throughout the majority of the growing season prior to harvest produced what many winemakers consider to be the best vintage in Marlborough in the last decade. While vintage variation is too often downplayed in Marlborough, these ideal conditions are readily apparent in this wine.

Sourced from multiple, sustainably-certified vineyard sites across both the Awatere and Wairau Valleys, Mount Riley’s 2020 Sauvignon Blanc bursts with bright tropical fruit notes of grapefruit and key lime before finishing with a mouth-watering acidity that leaves one thirsty for a second glass (or bottle)!Cody Stephenson, World Portfolio Manager

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Is it spring yet? Pretty please? We’ve been looking forward to a lot of things this year including the return of warm weather, but have also been waiting for the return of this stunning sake from Kochi in southern Japan. Located on the thin rocky coast between the Pacific and the soaring Shikoku mountain range, they pull underground river water from the mountains to make distinctively soft and light sake with a signature snappy dry finish.

Their ‘Hina’ is the rare Junmai Daiginjo that is lean and dry with a citrusy finish as opposed to being luscious and opulent. You can almost catch a whiff of salty breeze in the glass. It’s always a treat to savor bottles from far-flung places; as the days grow longer and brighter will be happy to have some of this to sip on in the warm breeze and think of the coasts of Kochi.Jamie Graves, Japanese Beverage Portfolio Manager

 

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I watched a movie the other day in which a character cheekily suggested having tiny martinis on the veranda, and I can’t think of a better springtime activity. A versatile dry vermouth is just one of those things you always want around—especially in gin season!

Antica Torino Dry has a lovely balance of stemmy herbs and vinous qualities that play nicely with whatever gin you happen to have on hand, ensuring that pinkies-up happy hour in the sunshine can commence whenever the mood strikes.Amanda Elder, Spirits Content & Education Manager