Like Wine

With spring looming on the calendar, this is an ideal time to segue from bigger, denser red wines to whites, rosés and lighter reds, though depending on the weather, there are still plenty of excuses to indulge in the heavier stuff, too. The occasions vary in importance, from the frivolity of St. Patrick’s Day (a good time to also consider tippling a whiskey) to Earth Day, a fine kickoff to the planting season and stocking up on earthy Pinot Noir.

PINOT NOIR FOR ST. PATRICK’S DAY

If you like:
Siduri 2012 Van der Kamp Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir ($48)
From the wilds of Sonoma Mountain, as green in springtime as an Irish meadow, the Van der Kamp Vineyard produces a compellingly intense wine. This Pinot is a mix of black tea and spicy pomegranate wrapped in smooth, velvety tannins, with excellent structure and length.

Then try:
Fritz 2012 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($30)
Oaky and full-bodied, this quick-footed welterweight Pinot Noir provides big-boned layers of spice and herb around a core of dense blackberry and black cherry. Like March, it comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.

RED BLENDS FOR DAYLIGHT SAVINGS

If you like:
Francis Ford Coppola 2012 Sonoma County Director’s Cut Cinema ($39)
As day blurs into night, enjoy this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel with touches of Petite Sirah and Syrah that’s aged in a combination of French and American oak. Soft in cola spice, with medium acidity and medium weight, it’ll help you through the transition from wintry foods to lighter fare.

Then try:
Gundlach-Bundschu 2012 Sonoma County Mountain Cuvée ($20)
Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot find companionship in this approachably smoky, leathery mix of black and red fruit that’ll please many palates and pocketbooks. On the finish, expect bittersweet coffee and chocolate, accents worth pairing with a roast or grilled, red-sauced pizza.

VIOGNIER FOR EASTER BRUNCH

If you like:
Thumbprint Cellars 2013 J & B Schmidt Vineyard Dry Creek Valley Viognier ($36)
Enjoyed before or after the Ramos gin fizzes, this fragrant Viognier will complement the wide range of eggy foods on the table. It offers jasmine and beeswax aromas and a full-bodied frame of fleshy apricot, peach and honeydew melon — other pairing considerations.

Then try:
Anaba 2012 Landa Vineyard Sonoma Valley Viognier ($28)
A consistently solid and pretty wine from a single vineyard, this Viognier dances in highlights of wet stone and apricot, swirling fancifully on the tongue in acidity. Its lack of flash is more than made up for by its sophistication and subtlety, and it finishes forcefully in spice.

RHONE-STYLE REDS FOR EARTH DAY

If you like:
Palmeri 2011 Sonoma County Dark & Brooding Wine ($54)
Mountain-grown grapes from the Dry Creek and Alexander valleys contribute to this dark, dense wine that fits its name. It’s brooding, indeed, with blackberry, currant and gamy meat character and firm tannins that soften on the finish. Sublime seasonings of toasted oak, black pepper, dark chocolate and vanilla bean creep slowly onto the palate.

Then try:
Preston of Dry Creek 2012 Dry Creek Valley L. Preston Red ($36)
A complex blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Carignane and Cinsault, the wine has refreshing acidity and layers of wild raspberry and licorice flavors. Not overly oaked, it’s instead on the floral, velvety side. It has plenty of structure to match with food, or sip it on its own.

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