Spring is my second favorite season of the year, second only to fall. The aroma of newly bloomed flowers fills the air, welcoming the release of youthful wines from around the world.
Along with new flowers come the fresh new vegetables that our Chefs get very excited to create dishes around. The delicate nature of these young vegetables and the subtlety of the dishes they become tend to lend themselves to the lighter and more vibrant wines of the world, and to Sauvignon Blanc in particular.
Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection.
Sauvignon Blanc is perfect for spring cuisine. In general, Sauvignon Blanc is a light, white wine with high acidity and powerful herbal aromas. If you buy Sauvignon Blanc from California it will likely have softer acid, tasting smoother and more deeply “fruity.” Wines like Hourglass Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley smell and taste like honeydew melons, cantaloupe, lemon zest and wild clovers, and pair perfectly with first-of-the-season asparagus. Many California Sauvignon Blanc producers age their Sauvignon Blancs in oak to add a toasty or smoky element to them; in this case, grilled asparagus seasoned with a high quality olive oil makes a perfect partner for the wine, with the char on the asparagus matching perfectly with the oak flavors in the wine.
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is another smart choice for pairing wine with the flavors of spring. In particular, I love a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with a fresh spring salad. Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand has more acid than that of California, and can stand up to the tart vinaigrettes used on salads. The aromas and flavors of the wines are reminiscent of grapefruit, jalapeño, and a freshly picked green tomato vine. Try Cloudy Bay from Marlborough, New Zealand with a salad of freshly picked organic greens and herbs from a local farm, served with salt roasted beets and whipped goat cheese; it is a paring I cannot get enough of during the spring months.
Lastly is Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley in France, my personal favorite. Within the Loire Valley is a small appellation called Sancerre that produces Sauvignon Blanc in its most earthy and mineral form. The wines of Sancerre taste the driest and have aromas and flavors similar to citrus zest, tarragon, crushed stones or fresh oyster shells. Because of this intense mineral taste I like to pair these wines with the fresh oceanic flavor of our locally caught fish.
In the spring this pairing gets even better with the arrival of new produce. There is a dish on the menu now (though it may not last for long) that incorporates local fish, fava beans, baby fennel and green strawberries. With this dish, the acidity in a Sancerre will balance the tart strawberry, the herbaceous notes will compliment the subtle licorice flavor of baby fennel, and the strong minerality of the wine will match the fish to perfection. Pairing a dish like this with a Sancerre from the producer Pascal Jolivet is an experience not to be missed.
Eager to learn and taste more? Come join us in Seasons restaurant for dinner (or lunch) and explore the many pairing possibilities that spring and Sauvignon Blanc have to offer. Cheers!