As I write this, the forecast is calling for snow over the Easter weekend. But since the deadline for this column is much earlier in the week, it may or may not: a.) have snowed, b.) be snowing, or c.) be going to snow. Forecasts can be fickle, because weather patterns can be tricky things to monitor and predict.
But I can’t wait any longer. I feel like I expect most of you do — I’m ready for spring! Heck, I’m ready for summer! This has been a hellish winter, the worst ever that I can recall, and it just needs to be over.
And for me, nothing says spring like white wine. Especially when it’s sipped outside, whether it be at a campsite or at a lakeside cottage or on a deck or screen porch at home.
I’ve discovered two new-to-me whites recently that I’m sure will please a lot of palates and pocketbooks. They’re as different as night and day, but they’re both really yummy.
The first is the 2013 Nederburg The Winemaster’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa. With lots of citrus — mostly lemon and grapefruit — with a touch of sage, this is both a typical and an atypical sauv blanc.
The citrus is expected, but the herbal element is a really interesting twist. And while, to my palate, citrus tones in reasonably priced sauv blancs tend to be a bit bitey and sort of edgy, the Nederburg is not. It’s not smooth, either, but is a great compromise between the two. There’s a tinge of sweetness on the finish, but that’s welcome after the hit of citrus. It’s an interesting wine, to be sure.
While the recommendation on the bottle is to serve it with non-creamy seafood — they’re very specific about that — I’ve never been one to take direction well. And while I know the Nederburg would be beautiful with chilled prawns garnished with fresh-squeezed lemon and dipped in cocktail sauce, those crustaceans weren’t on the menu the two nights I tried it.
What was on the menu, however, was fried pickerel. I love fresh-squeezed lemon — lots of lemon — and tartar sauce with pickerel. And the Nederburg was great with it. No surprise there. Once I’d tasted the wine, I knew it would pair beautifully with the fish. And it did.
But the next time, I decided, as admitted above, to go against what the winemakers recommended, and try the Nederburg with lemon pepper chicken fettucine. The lemon is key here, too — in fact, the pairing might not have worked without it — but the sauce is mushroom Alfredo, which is definitely creamy. And the Nederburg was lovely with it!
So for $13.49, this is definitely a wine worth trying, especially if you’re already a sauv blanc fan.
My next white wine adventure was facilitated by friends who were coming over for an Island Party and knew I was going to serve my honey-Dijon salmon.
Coupled with their familiarity with the wine — they had visited Vouvray in France’s Loire Valley and had loved it there — they got some advice from the amazing Cindy Rousseau, product consultant at the Corral Centre Liquor Mart, about which brand to pick. She recommended the Michel Picard 2011 Vouvray, which sells for $17.88.
And as is always the case when we socialize with these folks, I loved their choice. It had a touch of sweetness and was a great sipper. But with the honey-Dijon sauce for the salmon, it was a knockout!
The Vouvray, while certainly not dry, wasn’t pronouncedly sweet either, but was enough so that it complemented and supported the zesty, somewhat syrupy sauce. I was actually surprised it stood up so well, but it really did. I’d been searching for a wine to go with this salmon recipe for ages, and with the Vouvray, I think I’ve finally found it.
As an added bonus, both the Nederburg and the Michel Picard Vouvray (I think the Vouvray would be great with ham) are likely to be wonderful with the many incarnations of Easter feasts folks are likely to indulge in this weekend.
So I encourage you to try these wines now, and if the weather doesn’t yet allow them to be enjoyed outside, at least toast to the advent of spring. And hoist those glasses high. Maybe that’ll entice the warm weather to come our way sooner rather than later!
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition April 19, 2014