Spring’s swing into summer begins a busy season of tastings, events, parties and auctions. It’s all the more reason to pick out just the right wine. Here’s an idea of what to drink for a dreamy Mother’s Day brunch, the well-heeled frenzy that is Auction Napa Valley, and other spring flings.
Sparkling Wine for Mother’s Day (May 11)
If you like:
Moët & Chandon 2004 Grand Vintage ($58)
This classic Champagne is fruity and floral, rich in lemon, spicy apple, herbal tea character, and has a grace note of brown sugar. Brilliantly yellow and with a satisfyingly minty finish, it’s generous enough to wash down breakfast and brunch fare such as green eggs and ham and eggs Benedict, and is a delight on its own.
Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blancs ($22)
Made entirely from Carneros-grown Chardonnay grapes, this nonvintage blanc de blancs is resplendent in orange blossom essence and creamy minerality, with hints of apple and brioche. All the right flavors and effervescence are there to rise above the sweet and savory cacophony that is brunch.
Cabernet Sauvignon for Taste Alexander Valley (May 17-18)
If you like:
Rodney Strong Vineyards 2011 Symmetry Red Meritage Alexander Valley ($60)
The Healdsburg winery is always a good one to look to and its top bottlings often hail from Alexander Valley. Symmetry (primarily Cabernet Sauvignon with splashes of Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot) is one of its best, with lush blackberry fruit around a core of spicy dark chocolate and a velvety texture.
Rodney Strong Vineyards 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley ($28)
Also from Alexander Valley, this Cabernet Sauvignon is from estate vineyards and offers accessible, fruit-forward black and red fruit flavors amidst soft tannins. Aged in mostly French oak barrels, it’s ready for midweek meals and large gatherings, its price being a gift to us all.
Chardonnay for Auction Napa Valley (June 7)
If you like:
Grgich Hills 2011 Estate Napa Valley Chardonnay ($42)
The storied Grgich Hills Estate has always had a way with white wines. Founder Mike Grgich is responsible for making the winning Chateau Montelena 1973 Chardonnay in the famous 1976 Judgment of Paris tasting, a point in time many believe to have cemented Napa’s worldwide reputation. This Chardonnay offers ripe peach and tropical fruit, and refreshing acidity.
Then try:William Hill Estate 2012 North Coast Chardonnay ($17)
Based in the Napa Valley and now owned by E. & J. Gallo, William Hill’s easygoing Chardonnay is crisp and lively, with tropical fruit and brown-sugar spice — lean and creamy. Most of the fruit is from Sonoma and Mendocino counties.
Pinot Noir for the summer solstice (June 21)
If you like:Signaterra 2012 Bella Luna Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($49)
Benziger Family Winery’s small-production Pinot Noir delivers an expertly hewn taste of tart berry, plum and cranberry and a restrained layering of more savory elements, including black tea. Florally aromatic, it melds the best bouquets of both spring and summer.
Cherry Tart 2012 California Pinot Noir ($25)
From the Mark Wine Group (the same folks behind the single-vineyard Cherry Pie Carneros Pinot Noir), Cherry Tart is a blend of Sonoma Coast, Monterey County and Santa Barbara County grapes. Evocative of its name, it has plum, cranberry and wild strawberry notes, rich texture and an oaky-vanilla finish.