Elodie Cameron, from the team at Thirsty, picks her best wines for springtime
I have been observing a fascinating time over the last few weeks – and no, I’m not referring to Brexit or Trump, but the arrival of spring. Pottering around Cambridge on a bike, it’s amazing to see how the city has transitioned slowly yet dramatically over the course of a few weeks, from the depths of winter into this season of renewal.
I enjoyed spotting snowdrops, which were followed quickly by handfuls of yellow and purple crocuses. Mornings started to seem slightly lighter, and before I knew it every supermarket and farm shop in town was piled high with bunches of daffodils. Yes, of course, there were the obligatory high winds, showers and a bit of hail, but then, hey presto, a bright sunny weekend – and of course my mind moves to what to drink. At this point my excitement for spring hits fever pitch and I’m thinking about what bottles to pull out.
Immediately those thoughts of big, bold malbecs and comforting riojas make me want to pack up my hot-water bottle and throw my sheepskin slippers away with abandon. I want to try new vintages of fresh wines, chill down whites, open light reds and yes, I’ve even started thinking about rosé!
Spring is a great time for wine; in summer we crave fresh and light, something refreshing to while away long evenings with friends. This season, however, offers a far more complex array of options, with the selection of fresh produce ensuring that our tables are interesting and diverse. Easter brings traditions of lamb, whilst the milder weather makes us lean towards light dishes with fresh vegetables and fish, and our drink choices match accordingly.
“It’s a great time for white wines with oomph”
Spring is a great time for white wines with oomph: pastas and risottos with spring vegetables and prawns, or fish dishes with creamy accompaniments all cry out for chardonnay. The former matches with lighter unoaked styles and the latter moves into richer oaked styles – go for cool climate, new world wine or burgundy for elegance and style.
I tend to find lighter reds are a joy at this time of year, like a soft pinot noir bursting with cherry coupled with roast chicken, or a sankt laurent from Austria if you want to try something different. For those who are keen to keep their reds a little fuller with their leg of lamb on Easter Sunday, a peppery syrah from the Northern RhÔne will always be a trusted friend. Equally a juicy Galician mencia will lighten the mood and provide some lively floral and fruity flavours for this ‘middling’ season.
Personally, I also love any excuse to crack open a bottle of riesling; these beautiful, dry aromatic wines, with fabulous acidity, pair brilliantly with smoked salmon, crab and spicy dishes from south-east Asia.
Last but not least, it is definitely not too early to open a bottle of rosé, especially if there is even a hint of sunshine. A delicate, salmon-hued wine from Provence with spicy prawns or grilled tuna is hard to beat, and if we are really lucky it may even start to feel as though summer is just around the corner.
Top 5 Spring tipples
1 Chardonnay, Chemin des Pins 2015, Languedoc, £9
2 Sankt Laurent Pure 2012, Artisan Wines, Austria, £12.50
3 Mencia, Viňa Roboreda 2015, Spain, £13
4 Riesling Kalkmergel 2015, Rings, Germany, £15
5 Rosé, Domaine des Jeanne Prestige 2015, Provence, £10.50
All wines mentioned are available from Thirsty, Chesterton Road or at wearethirsty.co.uk