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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Spring Wines and Spring Foods

By Lisa Ramirez
For the Times Herald-Record
March 23, 2008
It is, officially, spring. Time, finally, to set aside the hearty wines of winter and reach for something a bit lighter, brighter and ready to pair up with spring's long-awaited cuisine.

"Spring (in the Hudson Valley) brings foods that we only really see for a week or two," says Marcus Guiliano, the chef and owner at Aroma Thyme Bistro in Ellenville. "There's trout. And there are morels, those fabulous wild mushrooms that appear in the spring and no other time."

With trout, wine selection can be tricky, Guiliano says. "The fish is delicious, but the flavors are subtle and light and easily overwhelmed, by for instance the grapefruit and grass of a sauvignon blanc."

Instead, try an unoaked chardonnay or an Alsace pinot blanc. "The higher acidity would be best," Guiliano says.

At the eatery, Guiliano likes to pair trout with another, less-well-known white: albarino from northwest Spain and northern Portugal.

"We have the Salneval Albarino from the Rias Baixas in Galicia. This wine has high acidity and a super set of citrus fruit scents and flavors, with quite complex mineral qualities on the finish," Guiliano says.

"It goes perfectly with fresh trout cooked with as little manipulation as possible."


Pair morels with pinot noir
With a dish of morels, there is really only one way to go, Guiliano says: pinot noir from Burgundy.

"Morels bring with them the tastes of the earth itself, and no other wine quite matches that like red burgundy, which itself combines terroir with the fruit and flower cascades of pinot noir," Guiliano says.

"We have some nice selections on that score, from Laboure Roi's Gevrey Chambertin 2005, to Bouchard Aine et Fils' Gevrey Chambertin 1999.

"And, if you want to elevate this experience into something you may never forget, then we also have the 2005 Les Cazetiers, a premier cru from Gevrey Chambertin, made by Dupont Tisserandot," Guiliano says. "The only word to describe the big wines from 2005 on the Cote D'Or is sublime; nothing else will quite do the job."

These wines also match well with a simple grilled filet mignon, strip steak or skirt steak, Guiliano says. "A few fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme, and the sautéed morels are a sure hit. And you've got one of the best celebrations of spring you could possibly have."


Spring for Down Under wines
For Michael Taiani of Wines by the Glass Enterprises in Pine Bush, spring is the perfect time to enjoy the wines of Australia.

"Reds or whites, it makes no difference. Their styles and flavors complement our casual cuisine meals like London broil with baked potatoes to oysters on the half-shell," Taiani says.

In reds, Taiani particularly likes the Thorn-Clarke Shiraz Shotfire (about $20), the St. Hallet Shiraz Faith (about $16) and Yellow Tail's Reserve Shiraz (about $13). In whites, he suggests the Pikes Clare Valley Riesling (about $20) and the Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend (about $15).


Go for sauvignon blancs
Come spring, Alan Glass of Star Wines and Liquors in Monroe loves "rediscovering the lively, clean, crisp, exciting sauvignon blancs."

Glass says, "I always come back to Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2007 ($15.99) from Marlborough New Zealand. This white wine exhibits bright, vibrant grapefruit flavors with a slight grassy finish. (It) pairs great with grilled salmon, swordfish, tuna and other rich fish dishes."

If you prefer sauvignon blanc from California, Glass recommends the 2006 Trinchero Family Sauvignon Blanc ($9.99) from Santa Barbara County, "a vibrant and refreshing wine from the cool regions of the Central Coast. Start your meal with fresh goat cheese or for a main course serve this wine with chicken in white wine sauce," he says.

And for an exotic wine experience, Glass suggests the 2007 Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc ($20.99) from the Western Cape of South Africa.

"This is an intense white wine with peach, lime and mineral flavors. Try this wine with raw oysters, clams or even grilled shrimp," he says.


Light, with good acidity
Steve Carrizzo and the rest of the experts at Mid Valley Wines and Liquors in Newburgh have several suggestions that, he says, "exemplify the style and flavors we're looking for at this time of year. These wines are on the light side, and have good acidity to stimulate the appetite, and lots of flavor interest." Carrizzo's first pick is the 2006 Muralhas de Moncão Vinho Verde from Portugal ($11.99). "We like it because it has strong flavors that are mostly the result of the 75 percent alvarinho used in the blend. It has a crisp texture and is a bit fuller than most other wines of this region," he says.

From Italy, Carrizzo likes the 2006 Notte di Luna Vernaccia di San Gimignano ($10.99).

"Vernaccia has a fascinating set of flavors, with almond, lemon, and a slatey-mineral nuance that gives it complexity. It is a bit softer in acidity than the Vinho Verde mentioned above, and also is a bit fuller," he says, adding, "With the rise in the value of the euro versus the dollar, this is one of the best values we've seen in Italian wines."

From France, Carrizzo recommends the 2007 Mas de Gourgonnier Rosé (sale price $13.99), which is made from organically grown grapes. "It is dry and, for rosé, is fairly full and assertive. Try it with gumbos or even with simply prepared fish," Carrizzo says.

And from New Zealand, Carrizzo recommends the 2006 Kiwi Pinot Noir ($14.99). "It has great balance, and is dry without seeming austere," he says, noting, "Most California pinot noirs of this quality are $20 or more."


Ah, rosé!
For Jim Morrison of Consumer Discount Wines and Liquors in the Town of Wallkill, nothing "cries springtime more eloquently" than a glass of rosé.

"It's perfect with the first picnic or backyard barbecue," Morrison says. "(It's) delicate and dry with just that right hint of floral olfaction to complement the springtime evanescence."

Provence, Morrison says, is the home to some of the world's most delightful rosés, and the Mas de Gourgonnier Les Baux de Provence ($15.99) is a perfect pick.

For something a bit bigger, Morrison likes the Le Galantin Bandol rosé ($15.99). "Simply delightful with a purfumey nose redolent with the scent of the mistral," he says.

"And, " Morrison says, "let's not forget the good old USA. A to Z Wineworks Rosé is a big wine with just a hint of sweetness on the finish and a bargain at $14.99."

E-mail Lisa Ramirez at Lmjramirez@hotmail.com.

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