Spring into these vintages for a seasonal treat

You may have noticed that the produce section has gotten a bit more colorful — and certainly more varied — in  the last week or two.

That is because spring has sprung and asparagus, ramps, fava beans, artichokes, English peas and other spring delights have emerged from the ground and are ready to be made into simple salads as well as culinary masterpieces.

Wine choices are in step with blooming gardens. White, rosé and red wines all have a place at the table, though some styles are better with certain seasonal produce. Over the next few weeks, I am going to break down spring wines into two columns.

Today, we will start with the easier greens; we’ll save asparagus and artichokes for next week.
Fava beans, English peas, ramps and green garlic go well with clean, minerally white wines. Some Italian grapes such as verdicchio, arneis, vermentino and garganega fit this bill perfectly. Sauvignon blancs, so long as they are not heavily oaked, can work well, too, as can albarino.

These wines tend to bring out the freshness and flavors of the vegetables and sometimes complement the flavors. Here are three white wines with spring produce in mind (all are under $20):

Crnko Jareniccan, 2009 (Maribor, Slovenia): This 1-liter blend of riesling, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc is a terrific value. Minerally with a touch of residual sugar, apricot skin, golden delicious apples and a long dry finish, it has green salad with a honey mustard or soy vinaigrette dressing written all over it. Suggested retail: $14

Staete Landt Sauvignon Blanc, 2008 (Marlborough, New Zealand): Staete Landt was the original name given to New Zealand when Abel Tasman discovered it in 1642. In 2000, two other Dutch expats, Ruud Maasdam and Dorien Vermass, founded the Staete Landt winery in Marlborough, choosing this name in homage to the country’s first European settlers. This sauvignon blanc was a standout in a tasting of hundreds of other wines, having also been one of the last I tasted. Medium-bodied with pure gooseberry, nectarine and pink grapefruit flavors, it is a personal favorite for the spring. Suggested retail: $20

Comelli Tocai Friuliano DOC, 2008 (Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Italy): The Comelli family purchased the vineyards in Colli Orientali del Friuli in 1947 and began bottling under their own name in 1989. Nicola Comelli, of the third generation, is becoming the face of the winery as the wines shift from being local delights to new players on the global stage. True to form, this Tocai is nutty, with fennel, nettles and a hint of tangerine, and perfect with favas, peas and nettles, of course. Suggested retail: $20

Pamela S. Busch is the wine director and proprietor of CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen in San Francisco.

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