The promise of warmer days ahead infuses the current season with a sense of anticipation. This month, we turn to the Loire Valley of France to find three wines that embody this time of year, and that will pair well with springtime bounty like lamb, asparagus, peas, and leafy greens.
Toast the arrival of spring with a refreshing bottle of Gratien and Meyer Saumur Brut ($20, Bacchus Importers Ltd.). This effervescent, dry sparkler is composed mainly of Chenin Blanc and is made using the same method as in Champagne. It may not be Champagne on a beer budget exactly, but, then, have you seen the price of craft beer lately? If you like the crispness of a dry bubbly, you’re sure to enjoy what the town of Saumur has to offer in this bottle.
It is the Sauvignon Blanc grape that many people associate with Loire Valley greatness, and it’s also a variety that pairs brilliantly with local asparagus and light, flaky fish. The villages of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé are most revered for this wine, but the hamlet of Cheverny offers up some fantastic ones for much less money. My perennial favorite is Domaine du Salvard Cheverny 2010 ($16, Prestige Beverage Group) from famed French importer Kermit Lynch. It is the epitome of Loire Sauvignon—racy, lemony citrus flavors; a slightly chalky texture; and thrilling bright acidity. It works well as an aperitif, but really revs up salads, fresh produce, and lighter seafood.
Green thumbs have been hard at work for weeks, and all that clearing and tilling can make one quite thirsty. Working with the earth may inspire you to try a wine made with organic grapes, like Manoir de la Tete Rouge Saumur “Bagatelle” 2010 ($16, Potomac Selections). The wine delivers the classic notes of a Cabernet Franc, like prim cherry, plum, cranberry, and black pepper. Roasts will go down easy with this wine, as will a nice steaming bowl of green lentils.