10 great whites for spring


The snowstorm that blanketed New York City and much of the northeast this week notwithstanding, there is good reason to think about the white wines we want to drink when the warmer weather of spring finally arrives. For one thing, nothing says spring like the move to daylight saving time, no matter what the thermometer of the back porch is telling you.

With warmer days in mind, I've put together a wish list of 10 white wines that offer a range of flavors and interesting complexities without being overwrought or heavy. In other words, perfect for spring sipping. In alphabetical order: 

Baileyana 2014 Grand Firepeak Chardonnay, Edna Valley ($28) shows the skill of winemaker Christian Roguenant with a grape that is easily abused. Roguenant, French by birth, approaches chardonnay with European sensibilities. This one is richly layered without losing its nervy acidity. The use of oak aging is well measured, with everything in perfect balance. 

Cakebread 2014 Chardonnay, Napa Valley ($37) is the preference of many over the winery's more expensive reserve chardonnay. That's because it has a lighter touch of oak and is crisper on the palate. This well-balanced beauty is one of the most elegant chardonnays produced in the Napa Valley. It may not have the heft of the Cakebread Reserve, but it is every bit as satisfying. 

Colome 2016 Torrontes, Estate, Salta, Argentina ($15) is light and refreshing with floral aromatics and an exceptional persistence on the palate for such an easygoing wine. Torrontes was once an unimpressive wine that seemed to have little character save for its nose of jasmine and lilacs. Better care in the vineyard and the winery have made this a distinctive wine that now looms as Argentina's finest white. 

Eberle 2015 Viogner, Paso Robles ($26) is consistently one of the finest Viogniers produced in California. It's loaded with aromas of fresh peach and apricot, with a touch of spice and a subtle floral note. Unlike many other Viogniers made in California, it is structured and refreshing despite its obvious richness. 

Handley 2015 Gewurztraminer, Anderson Valley ($22) offers up notes of spice, honeysuckle and rose petal, with mouthwatering acidity and outstanding persistence of flavor through the finish. This is one of my favorite wines with sushi. It's an excellent example of the success of the Alsace grape varieties in the cool Anderson Valley. 

J Vineyards 2015 Pinot Gris, California ($18) is a crowd-pleaser that offers up notes of citrus and stone fruits with mouthwatering acidity and a clean finish that begs another sip. Remarkably well-balanced and always inviting, it's the closest thing I have to a house white wine in the spring and summer months. 

Navarro Vineyards 2015 Riesling, Anderson Valley ($19.50) is right up your alley if you are looking for superb complexity without going down the heavier path of chardonnay. Navarro's dry riesling exhibits juicy acidity combined with inviting minerality and luscious fruit aromas. One of California's finest rieslings in this style. 

Pieropan 2015 Soave DOC, Italy ($20) is a fantastic example of the strides made by Soave producers over the past two decades. With refreshing acidity and inviting notes of citrus and stone fruit, this is a beautifully balanced Soave that will make every spring day seem more refreshing. I'm old enough to remember drinking Soave that was so thin it was like drinking water. No more. This wine is a world-class white. 

Ranchero Cellars 2015 'Chrome' Grenache Blanc, Paso Robles ($28) isn't the easiest wine to find because winemaker Amy Butler has developed quite a following for her Rhone-style wines from Paso Robles. She usually sells out of everything quickly. This is the finest grenache blanc around, lush, well-balanced and complex, with green fruit notes of pear and citrus. 

Zocker 2015 Gruner Veltliner, Paragon Vineyard, Edna Valley ($20) is another stunning wine from the Frenchman, Christian Roguenant. Gruner is an Austrian grape variety not widely planted in the United States, but the Zocker would seem to be evidence that it has tremendous potential here. It's known for its firm acidity and peppery notes, with hints of green fruits. 


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