Here in the Northern Hemisphere we’ve made it to the start of the growing season – woo hoo! Personally, I still have snow in my yard but I’m beginning to see spots of lawn and dirt show in the sunnier parts of the yard. This means we will be turning the earth and planting the seeds very soon. With this thought in mind, I’m thinking of drinking some wine with minerality in it. Not really sure if minerality is a word in the English dictionary but in my dictionary it means wine that has the taste of minerals. This includes the flavors of slate, essence of rain, aromas of newly mowed grass. A balance between fruit, floral, acidity and tannin. Perfect for the growing season.
If you are not familiar with the flavors and bouquets of a mineral wine, think of going to the opposite side of sweet and fruity. If you’re able to get to salt water, that smell you get from the water and the salt in the air. A mineral wine is dry and flinty, never sweet and little fruit. Most mineral wines are white but there are some reds.
When I think of a wine that is high in minerality, my first thoughts go to a wine that comes from the cooler climate, for instance a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley such as
Joseph Destinea Mellot or a Chablis such as Louis Michel & Fils. A bit more obscure wine would be a Domäne Wachau, which is made of the signature grape, Gruner Veltliner, from Austria. Turning towards the reds, a Pinot Noir from the cooler regions such as Oregon or the North Coast of California, is my obvious go-to red for something in the flinty tasting category but a wine from Priorat, Spain would be a more unique choice. A red wine with peppery notes, nuances of licorice and steel, the wines coming from Priorat, Spain are usually a blend of Garnacha, Cabernat Sauvignon and Carinena which give them that earthy, graphite taste and texture.
If you’re like me, and you’ve been working outside in the warmer weather, you want to sit down to a chilled, crisp white and a plate of honeyed goat cheese, some lightly salted crackers and perhaps a bit of fruit chutney or Potlicker Jelly. My first choice from my inventory would be the Louis Latour Marsannay Blanc which is a white burgundy full of steely goodness. If I was headed to my local wine shop, I would ask for a Chablis or a dry Chenin Blanc (most under-rated varietal right now – in my opinion). Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier would fall into this category. The best part about the white wines is; they are nice even without food, just sipping on the porch. Okay, I like my nibbles, but if I was stuck with nothing but the wine – I could make it work.
Now – if we’re talking barbeque or grilling then that’s a different story. If I was grilling some lovely spring veggies and perhaps a little pork, chicken or fish then I may go with the red. I’m not talking about a deep red (notice, no red meat was mentioned above) but the lighter reds that have no fruit but more of a structured pepper taste to it. Pinot Noir is the obvious choice but a good earthy Sicilian such as Buceci Myrina Nero d’Avola would work – perhaps even a Chianti in a pinch. Be sure to pick a red that does not have a lot of fruit or floral to it, a red with more of a blend of controlled tannins and a balance of spice to the fruit. Be sure to take advantage of the Spring seasonal veggies and foods such as Fiddleheads, Fennel, Greens and Artichokes. Put a bit of garlic infused olive oil on these, toss a few mushrooms in with a bit of parmesan or assiago cheese, wrap in foil and grill for about 5 minutes on each side. This will really bring out the flavors in your wine.
So…pick up that shovel, spade, rake, hoe, whatever your garden tool of choice is and start digging, planting and spreading that fertilizer, then sit back with the wine of your choice and admire your hard effort. What wine will you be drinking?