For some reason, springtime always makes me think of Paris. You always hear of Parisians headed outside to have springtime picnics all around the city after a cold, dreary winter; museums and gardens hosting events with springtime themes; and the city starts buzzing with excitement for the French Open (#BucketList). Heck, even Ella Fitzgerald knew of the magic with her song entitled “April in Paris.” No matter what, springtime brings thoughts of renewal and the desire to be outside.
Those thoughts of Paris always bring me to thoughts of French wines. Sure I love Bordeaux and certainly drink my share with some heartier winter fare, but spring just makes we want to reach for classic, lighter bodied wines such as those from France’s Loire Valley. OK, and let’s be real. I live in Texas and its warm a good chunk of the year, but even we get caught up in the whole springtime excitement. Spring is definitely patio season for us (it’s just too darn hot in July) and I find myself switching to Rose, crisp whites, and lighter bodies reds. Truth be told, we could drink Rosé year round, but there is something about spring and the impending summer, that makes us think pink.
Here are some solid choices I’m drinking this spring and that I’ll probably still be drinking this summer. And just about all of these fit my #BudgetMinded criteria.
And just so you know, I deliberately stayed away from Burgundy. I mean, they get lots of love so let’s put a spotlight on some of the other regions. I also don’t love Gamay (I’m working on it) so I didn’t go there either. And to put some taste buds to the test, The Corkscrew Concierge participated in a local fundraiser and poured three of these wines for attendees.
The Loire Valley is always a go-to when warmer weather makes an appearance. Pretty much any wine across the region will fit the bill.
2015 Domaine de Beauregard Muscadet Sèrve et Maine “Sur Lie” ($13)
Made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, Muscadet hails from the Pays Nantais region in the eastern Loire Valley. This is a classic seafood wine in that it is typically refreshing and crisp with nice acidity. Because Muscadet can be somewhat neutral tasting, some versions such as this one, are aged “Sur Lie” or “on the lees” (the spent yeast and other by-products of fermentation) to add depth and complexity. This one was bone dry, crisp, with a touch of mineral and citrus and just had an overall freshness to it. Lovely.
2015 Domaine du Pré Semelé Sancerre ($23)
Classic Sancerre here. The grapes are grown in the famed Kimmeridgian chalk soil of the region and aged in stainless steel to create a lovely crisp wine with Sancerre’s hallmark acidity and mineral and flint aromas and flavors. There is also some really pronounced fruit flavor on the palate that just keeps you coming back for more.
I’m definitely in the “Yes Way Rosé” and “Rosé All Day” fan clubs. Rosé can be the ultimate crowd pleaser and there’s nothing like chilling on the patio or lounging in the pool while sipping on some Rosé. And while I love Rosés from Tavel, Loire, and a few other regions, there’s nothing like Rosé from Provence.
2016 Domaine La Suffrene Rose Vin de Pays ($15)
This is the little sister to big brother La Suffrene Bandol (which is about $10 more) and is made from Carignan, Cinsault, and Grenache. And while this one doesn’t have the pedigree of it Bandol sibling, it’s a nice, fruity and fresh sipper made for quaffing.
2016 Miraval Rosé ($21)
People love to hate on this wine because of Brangelina’s involvement, but it’s a damn good Rosé and consistently gets high scores from critics. Yes they bump up the price a couple of bucks because of Brad & Angie, but depending on where you get it, it’s not significantly more than a lot of other Rosé. This one is made from Cinsault, Grenache, Rolle, and Syrah. Nice red fruits and crisp acidity with a floral elegance. Get some!
So I’m crushing on wines from the Costières de Nîmes region. Just don’t ask me to pronounce it! Costières de Nîmes was formerly part of the Languedoc region of France, but now considered part of the Rhone Valley as it’s more similar in character to Rhone wines. It’s one of the southernmost parts of the Rhone Valley and is a bit cooler due to Mediterranean breezes. The region receives a great deal of sunshine which allows for deep ripening and flavors in the grapes and results in wines with “big noses.” Call it whatever you want, it’s all good. These wines tend to be less powerful than some of its other Rhone cousins.
2014 Halos de Jupiter Costières de Nîmes Rouge ($13)
This is a medium-bodied blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Carignan and provides a mouthful of fresh, ripe red fruit with a hint of spice. I could truly pair this wine with just about anything. It’s quite versatile. Bring on the BBQ!
2014 Chateau La Tour Beraud Costières de Nîmes Red ($10)
Another lovely wine from Costières de Nîmes Rouge, this one shows more black fruit than the Halos de Jupiter, but some of the same spice and seemed a bit heavier in the mouth. But still lower in tannin and a pleasure to drink.