Wines of the Month

April, 2001

A Dry Spring

When most people think of April, they probably think of showers, but as you probably already know, I'm a little different. I think dry. During the winter months, sweet wines can be a comfort, smoothing the hard, cold edges of the day. When the snow is blowing outside, a nice Port and a warm fire seem like the perfect antidote. However, when the days start getting longer, and the buds start sprouting on the trees, the comfort of a sweet drink doesn't seem quite as necessary anymore.

It's April, and that means spring is here at last. Well, at least for people who live in a less, uh, severe, part of the northern hemisphere -- looking outside at the gray Boston weather is starting to make me wonder a bit... But never mind; the weather is better than it was in January, which qualifies as spring for me. And when spring arrives, I start thinking about crisp, dry whites. On a warm, sunny day, these wines seem to shout the promise of a fresh start, with bright flavors that resonate with the colors of the myriad blossoms in the gardens and parks.

At the same time, the perfect spring wine should be a bit more weighty than the light trifles of summer. The lazy days have not yet arrived, after all. Spring wines should keep you on your toes, and make you feel ready to get outside, whether to plant summer vegetables, repair the ravages of winter, or just to get a glove and ball to play catch with your kids.

Fortunately, the dedicated vintners of Alsace and Austria have just the Rieslings to fit the season. Bright and lively, with plenty of acidity to wake you up after a long winter, these wines say "spring" to me. Generous fruit flavors seem to promise the coming bounty of summer, while the serious (but not ponderous) demeanor tells you that you're not there yet...

Pierre Sparr Riesling Carte D'Or Alsace '97 -- Generous aromas of pear and peach, followed by flavors of pear, peach and melon, with a hint of pineapple and a touch of spice. Lush mouthfeel. Not as much acid as I would expect in an Alsace Riesling. Turns soft on the finish, with more pear and melon flavors. Not enough structure to age, but very nice now.

E.u.M. Berger Riesling Gedersdorfer Steingraben Qualitatswein Kremstal '98 -- This Austrian beauty has aromas of cola, apple, pineapple, and some minerals. Good fruit flavors, with apple, pinapple, some grapefruit, and a hint of peach. Flavors of wet stones and cola add some complexity. Finishes very strong, with more fruit flavors, good acidity, and a hint of petrol. This could age nicely for a few years, and even better, it cost less than $15.

Charles Schleret Riesling Herrenweg Turckheim Alsace '95 -- Schleret is a perennial favorite value in Alsace wine. The crisp apple, mineral, and cola aromas aer echoed in the mouth, along with a bit of peach. Softer than many of Schleret's wines, but still has plenty of acidic structure. Long finish dominated by mineral and cola, along with some peach flavors. A bargain at $17.

As always, your comments are welcome.

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Copyright 2001 by Marcel Lachenmann.