Choosing wines in the changing spring weather

Lions, Lambs and other March Madness(es)…

In like a lion, out like a lamb, right?

Let’s face it, March just can’t make up its mind. It’s officially winter until the 20th, although the weather experts say that the meteorological spring — whatever that is — actually starts on March 1, which makes no sense to this weather non-expert. It’s cold, then it’s not, then it’s cold again, with wind and rain this time, followed by warming sunshine, bringing big rays of hope, at least for a day.

Through all this madness, what wine are you supposed to drink?!

Well, for you winter lions out there, this is still a great time to hibernate with some big reds and heavy whites. And for those who are bound and determined to “wine your way” into spring no matter the temperature, there are some great choices for you, too…including rosé!

For a weighty white, Belle Pente’s 2013 Willamette Valley Chardonnay is a gorgeous take on a classic varietal, coming from the hottest Chardonnay growing region around: Oregon. Consisting of all estate-grown fruit, both fermented and aged in French oak barrels, this wine is rich in color, bold in aromatics, and luscious on the palate with citrus tones, tropical fruit characteristics and a nuttiness reminiscent of an old burgundy blanc. It’s the best sub-$25 chardonnay I’ve had in a very long time and goes perfectly with cream sauce dishes, poultry and seafood.

On the lighter side, with a spring calling, there’s 2016 Guilhem Rosé from the Languedoc-Roussillon area of southern France. From one of the most prestigious wineries west of Provence, Mas de Daumas Gassac, Guilhem is a 50/50 blend of syrah & carignan, with a salmon color that shines. Its fresh berry fruit scents and red currant undertones make this the perfect fit for grilled meats, creative salads, and tart desserts. It lets you know that there are warm days close ahead.

For you red wine fans with spring in mind, spice is the name of the game with the 2016 Xiloca Garnacha, the bottle with the big “X” on it. Pronounced “the-LO-ca,” this racy red from Calatayud, Spain is 100 percent garnacha, the most widely planted grape in Spain. It has an intense blackberry color and captivating aromas of ripe red fruits wrapped around an earthy core. The freshness and well integrated tannins invite a second sip, as the intensity continues in a mouth-filling palate and a lingering fruit-filled finish. And the best part? It’s only $15.

And finally, for the heavyweight winter red wine fan, look no further than the 2014 Tikal Patriota Red from Argentina. Founded by Ernest Catena, a fourth-generation winemaker of Italian descent, Tikal represents all that is perfect about malbec with a healthy complement of “patriotic” old vine Bonarda. This wine made the Wine Spectator’s list of Top 100 Wines of 2015, and for very good reason. The color is a deep reddish purple, and the aromas of bright berry and cherry fruit explode. It’s big bodied, yet very balanced with luscious layers of raspberry, cherry, and cocoa flavors, with a hint of baking spice at the end that brings it all together. This is a big wine for grilled or smoked meats such as beef, pork, and yes, lamb.  

Yes, March is the “month of two seasons.” But, there’s a lot more than just a couple of wines to get you through it, so head down to your local wine shop…they’re waiting for you. Until next time, Happy vino’ing!  

Mark Luna
About Mark Luna 4 Articles
Mark Luna is a Portfolio Rep for Roanoke Valley Wine Company. He has a Level 3 Advanced Certification from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) and is a member of the prestigious Wine Scholar Guild, where he’s finishing his Italian Wine Scholar post-nominal accreditation. Through and beyond his work for RVWC, Mark writes, teaches and guest-speaks about wine in a variety of both industry and privately held events. He lives in Nokesville with his family. For events, Mark can be reached at mluna96@gmail.com.

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