The best wines for spring

Oregon excels at Pinot Gris.

You have to love spring with new life everywhere, buds bursting, chicks chirping and, here in the mountains, no more shoveling. One could say it’s the Goldilocks season: not too cold, not too hot, just right. It’s truly a reason to celebrate — and what better way than with a wine exploration?

Willamette Valley winemakers create medium-bodied white wines that deliver abundant
stone-fruit flavors.

Look at this like matching wines with the fresh energy, vibe and flavors of the season. In that light, spring calls for wines that aren’t too heavy and are full of floral aromas and flavors that offer a new palate of taste sensations.

This is clearly an opportunity to spread our wine-wings, so let’s look at some delicious wines that fall between warming winter wines and the crisp sippers of summer — wines that take us out of our wine box as far as grape varieties and regions of origin.

Spanish Garnacha Rosé.

For starters, let’s consider Oregon’s other Pinot: Pinot Gris. From this blush grape, Willamette Valley winemakers create medium-bodied white wines that deliver abundant stone-fruit flavors, a little lick of mineral and palate-cleansing acidity.

Another alternative white that marches to the beat of springtime is Torrontés from Argentina. With as much spicy flower as fruit on the nose and palate, these will remind you of the blooms of nature and challenge your wine mind with unique flavor profiles.

Springtime Rosés need to be a little more grounded than the ethereal summer versions. A good bet is Spanish blushes that usually feature Garnacha or Monastrell grapes. With a little earth and spice to complement red fruit flavors, these go great with early season barbecues and are bargains to boot.

Medium-bodied reds with red and purple fruit flavors and a little crunchiness come from the foot of the Italian Alps in the Piedmont region in the form of Dolcetto and Barbera wines. Look for the regions of d’Alba, d’Asti or di Dogliani on the label for authentic versions.

California is magic in the spring and Lodi’s Markus Bokisch of Bokisch Vineyards grows a variety of Spanish varietals such as Albariño and Verdelho that capture that energy perfectly. In the Santa Barbara area, Palmina Winery is dedicated to creating top-notch expressions of Italian wine grapes from cool-climate valleys that draw the fog and winds off the Pacific.

On the white side try their Cortese and Vermentino that both yield aromatic tree fruit flavors with complex almond/hazelnut notes. They also make one of the few Nebbiolos, the red grape of Barolo, which does justice to this variety outside of Italy.

These are just a few of a myriad of spring wine possibilities. Use your own imagination and those of our local wine purveyors and you can’t go wrong in this season of renewal.