WBy Annette Alvarez-Peters WHEN THE WARMER weather of spring arrives, many people reach for lighter foods and a variety of white wine. But instead of a traditional go-to
Chardonnay, which continues
to be a best-seller, I suggest
that you try one of the numerous other choices available to
liven up your spring and summer meals.
A good place to start is
the Spanish specialty. Crisp
and refreshing, and a perfect
seafood companion, Albariño comes from the cool,
damp northwestern region of Rías Baixas. You’ll
find pure fruit flavors of peaches, stone fruit and citrus with zesty acidity, followed by a lingering mineral finish. Albariño is an uplifting and aromatic
wine meant to be consumed young. It’s one of my
favorites and pairs exceptionally well with oysters.
The famed Austrian grape Grüner Veltliner
(groon-er velt-leen-er) is sure to wake up your palate. Here’s a wine that breaks the “red wine with
meat” rule. With its crisp acidity, bold mineral flavors and distinct spice and white pepper notes,
Grüner pairs wonderfully with meat dishes, as well
as a variety of fish. This light- to medium-bodied
wine can have unique herbal flavors that work well
with many vegetarian entrées—especially hard-to-pair veggies, such as asparagus and artichokes.
Another excellent choice is Sauvignon Blanc,
which has been successfully cultivated across many
continents. In New Zealand, where it’s called
“Sauvy,” the wine expresses bold gooseberry and
grapefruit flavors with mouthwatering acidity.
I particularly like the Sauvignon Blancs from
the Graves appellation of Bordeaux. These dry
whites have a distinct grassiness and citrus flavors
with strong mineral influence from the region’s
famous gravelly soils. Some oak aging and blending
(with Semillon and Muscadelle) add complexity and
creaminess. Some of the region’s best dry whites
come from the commune Pessac-Léognan.
North of Bordeaux, in the scenic Loire Valley,
elegant Sauvignon Blanc examples come from the
easternmost areas of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. In
Sancerre, grapes are grown in chalky limestone soil,
which helps bring out the pure Sauvignon Blanc flavors and high acidity. Poully-Fumé soils have more
limestone and flint, giving a smoky character to the
wine (in French, fumé means “smoke”). The grassy,
herbal wines with gooseberry notes are full of min-erality (think clean wet stones), which is attractive
and pleasant on the palate.
The Loire Valley is also home to Savennières,
where wonderfully aromatic, dry Chenin Blancs
are made with bright acidity and intense flavors of
melons, peaches and honey. Vouvray produces a
broader range of Loire Chenin Blanc—styles can
range from dry (sec) to sweet (moelleux), with
equally intense flavors and aromas. Due to the laws
in France, the grape variety is not listed on the bottle; the appellation name is the indication that the
wines are Chenin Blanc.
California produces some delightful light- to
medium-bodied Chenin Blancs that tend to be fruit
forward, with beautiful peach and floral notes.
South Africa’s version is locally known as “Steen.”
Both New World wines pair particularly well with
spicier dishes and salads.
Another nice match for spicy and savory dishes
is the slightly sweet, slightly bubbly (frizzante)
Moscato d’Asti. Normally an aperitif, this wine hails
from the Piedmont region in northwest Italy.
Moscato is an easy-to-drink wine with lovely flavors
and aromas of peach and apricot.
California Moscato continues to climb in popularity. This crowd-pleaser is fragrant, mildly sweet
and low in alcohol, making it the perfect sipper for
a warm spring afternoon.
Spring forward and warm up to some new
white varietals. Look for these full-flavored wines
during your next Costco visit and explore the many
ways they can be paired with a variety of foods.
Annette Alvarez-Peters oversees Costco’s wine,
beer and spirits program.
You’ll ;nd these ;ne white
wines at select Costcos:
Rías Baixas, Spain
Laurenz und Sophie
Santo Moscato d’Asti
Les Hospices Sancerre
Loire Valley, France
FOR INFORMATION on Costco’s
Kirkland Signature™ wines, go to
Costco.com, click on “Costco
Connection Magazine,” then
“Kirkland Signature Wine Connection.” To find which warehouses carry wine, click on
“Beer, Wine & Spirits Locator.”
MAY 2011 ;e Costco Connection 43