When you weren’t looking, spring snuck in, with blustery trade winds and constant afternoon showers on the Kona side of our island, tornadoes and hail storms rolling through Texas and Arkansas, and record high temps in parts of California, according to our families. Spring may have passed right by you as you were diligently staying in place in the comfort of your home, but yes, open a window and breathe in clean air and warm sunshine. As Lady Guinevere did in “Camelot,” let’s raise a glass to the “lusty month of May.” #Cheers and #staysafestayhome
Sipping white wine on the front porch or lanai will start the month off perfectly. Winter calls for hearty wine, like robust Cabernet, dense Mourvedre and Xinomavro, or powerful Petit Sirah. Now, instead, look for bright, vibrant white wines, filled with fresh acidity and sunshine. May is Sauvignon Blanc season. France boasts two key regions for growing superb Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux and Loire Valley, with the later often delivering my favorites. Loire’s Sancerre and Pouilly Fume regions, filled with silex (flintstone) soils, create wines with gorgeous floral, herbal, and citrus characteristics, with smoky earthiness.
Family-owned J. de Villebois began just over fifteen years ago, producing elevated Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wines from their estate vineyards. J. de Villebois Touraine Sauvignon Blanc ($15) was the first Cuvee of the winery, starting with the 2004 vintage, becoming the flagship white of the winery. Crisp and clean, with complexity and texture, the wine is produced from a mix of clay, sand, and flint soils, giving the wine an underlying layer of crushed stone minerality. A classic representation of the region, J. de Villebois Sancerre ($25) melds soft herb, ripe lemon-lime citrus, and vegetal notes with smoky, crushed stone.
In a Loire Valley style, Sonoma’s Dry Creek Vineyards Fume Blanc ($16) is highly aromatic, revealing wildflowers and honeysuckle, followed by lemon blossom, tangerine, lemongrass, and crushed stone.
Napa Valley’s organically farmed Cade Estate Sauvignon Blanc ($34) is energetic, and exceptional, highlighting white stone fruits, passion fruit, lychee, and lemon zest.
Galerie Wines Naissance Sauvignon Blanc ($30) from Napa Valley reveals a complex, structured profile embracing a New and Old World style, marrying ripe grapefruit and lemongrass with crushed stone and herbal notes.
From Monterey, Scheid Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc ($22) from the family’s Central Coast estate, has a beautiful blend of ripe citrus fruit and bright acidity, thanks to hot days and cool nights, with constant breezes, revealing balance in the wine.
Blending fruit from South Africa’s warm Agter-Paarl region and cooler, higher-elevation vineyards in Stellenbosch, Elgin and Franschhoek, M.A.N. Family Sauvignon Blanc ($12) reveals juicy tropical kiwi and pineapple, with green, grassy, herbaceous notes, for well-rounded, textured wine with character.
Riesling can be very dry or very sweet, I prefer the drier styles, highlighting the acid backbone of the fruit. From Pfalz, Germany, Von Buhl Bone Dry Riesling ($20) is clean and precise, with apricot, golden grapefruit, and white peach, with a focused line of flinty minerality.
With a very dry palate, Gundlach Bundschu Dry Gewurztraminer ($25) shines with floral rose, jasmine, and honeysuckle, followed by Asian pear, apple, and zesty grapefruit. This is the ideal wine to pair with spicy Thai curry & Tom Yum.
From Puglia, Italy, Masseria Li Veli “Askos” Verdeca ($17) celebrates the little known Italian variety, grown in chalky clay soils, delivering a wine with intense acidity, crisp citrus and herbal notes, and loads of minerality. The high elevations surrounding Italy’s Dolomite Mountains provide the ideal backdrop for producing some of the finest white wines of the country.
From coastal Maremma in Tuscany, Aia Vecchia transplants you to a relaxing day at the beach with their Vermentino ($13) layering peach, pear, lime zest, and blanched almond, with a fresh, juicy finish with lovely texture, enhanced by adding a bit of Viognier to the blend.
I am a huge fan of the wines of Alto Adige in Northeast Italy, as their wines consistently deliver character, texture, brightness, and fabulous personality. Embracing sustainable, organic, and biodynamic farming to do their part to protect Mother Earth for the next generations, Alois Lageder began in 1824 as a wine merchant, shifting to winemaking in 1934, with the sixth generation of the family managing their projects throughout the region today. Showcasing the quality of the soils, and fruit, from areas surrounding Alto Adige, Alois Lageder Terra Alpina Pinot Bianco ($15) showcases an expressive profile for what is often considered a soft wine. Grown in predominantly limestone clay-filled soils in the Dolomite foothills, the luscious wine layers golden apple, quince, crushed stone, and a hint of creaminess thanks to a touch of the wine going through malolactic fermentation.
Bubbles are appropriate at any time of year, as they bring an immediate sense of joy to any afternoon, even if that afternoon is simply enjoying your time at home with family. With thousands of fruity, fun bubbles, the non-traditional blend of 50% Merlot and 50% Raboso from vineyards around Italy’s Veneto, DaLuca Sparkling Rose ($17) leads with red fruit aromas of wild strawberry, raspberry, and cranberry, layering these flavors with red apple and toasty brioche on the palate.
A classic representation of Prosecco, Avissi Prosecco DOC ($14) shines with honeysuckle, green apple, pear, and honeydew melon.
From Northern California’s Anderson Valley, FEL Pinot Gris ($25) leaps from the glass with fruity and floral aromas of lemon blossom, orange blossom, and honeysuckle, followed by tropical papaya, mango, and banana, melding beautifully with bright acidity, creating a well-poised, luxurious wine. Embracing the floral notes in the wine, the winery just released the 2019 vintage with a new label featuring the winery’s signature blooming tulip, the ideal nod to spring.
Highly approachable, and affordable, CK Mondavi Pinot Grigio ($7) is juicy and bright, with lemonade, golden peaches, and ripe orchard fruit.