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New Wines for Spring

Spring is here, and that means NEW WINES!!!

I love trying new wines. These are all varietals I have had before. However, I have not had the wines from the following vineyards, and they did not disappoint.

First up is a light white wine from the famed Stellenbosch region of South Africa: the Simonsig

Chenin Blanc.

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Chenin Blanc is also known by a few other names, most commonly: Steen and Vouvray. We have some very nice examples of Vouvray in our store, but no Steen.

The Simonsig Chenin Blanc is made from sustainably farmed, all natural grapes. The Malan family has been committed to stewardship of the land for three generations now, and has done a beautiful job of getting the most out of their vines. They have even joined the BWI (Biodiversity and Wine Initiative), where for every hectare they plant to vines, an additional hectare is set aside for preservation. This has helped to protect native plant and animal species, and maintain a healthy balance in nature.

This dedication to the natural world shows in their wines. Their Chenin Blanc has a lovely nose that expresses notes of pears, sweet melon, tropical fruits and a hint of lime zest.

On the palate, Chenin Blanc's typical high acid slaps your tastes buds and says: "WAKE UP!" The mouthwatering fruit tastes of lemon-lime, apples, and honey fill your mouth. This is a slightly sweet or off-dry wine and would pair well with sweet-and-sour Asian dishes. This might sound crazy, but out of curiosity I tried this wine with honey roasted peanuts the other day and it worked! I was so surprised.

Price range: $8-$13

Next up is perhaps one of my new favorites in a varietal that I'm not particularly fond of: Roth Vineyards Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.

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Located in the southern region of Healdsburg, across the road from Chalk Hill's Sonoma Coast vineyards, the Roth vineyards lay on some of the richest soils that are perfect for growing high quality Pinot Noirs.

One sniff and you know this a special Pinot Noir. Rich notes of plum, blackberries and spices like clove and cinnamon fill your nostrils. On the palate, big, jammy, bright flavors of red plum, blackberry, vanilla bean and some clove spice delight your senses. This is a very drinkable Pinot Noir, and one could easily drink the whole bottle all by itself, but to get the most out of its big fruit flavors and medium body, I would pair it with a juicy pork loin, flayed and filled with cranberry chutney then rolled up and smoked to perfection, and topped with a cranberry glaze. Serve it with baby red potatoes that have been steamed then sautéed in olive oil, butter, rosemary, sea salt and coarse ground dried garlic.

Add some steamed asparagus topped with butter, sea salt and cracked black pepper. Mmmmm...

Price range: $15-$22 (and worth more!)

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Back in our stores once again, is the Carol Shelton Pizazz Old Vine Zinfandel. This has been a hot seller every time we get it in. The downside, is that we get it in limited quantities, (which is why I have never tried it).

This is a fruit forward Zin with bold, racy, young fruit aromas of red raspberry, boysenberry, red plums, and a hint of oak spice.

On the palate, big, round tannins and flavors of rich raspberry, plums, cola and a pepper spice, are tempered with a hint of vanilla. It's easy to see why those in the know snatch this wine up so quickly. It could well be the perfect barbecue wine. You don't have to wait for the weekend to enjoy this wine, pair it with everything from grilled burgers, teriyaki-glazed, pineapple chicken, roasted pork loin, steak and veggie kabobs, to a juicy New York Strip steak.

Price range: $11-$16

Lastly, we come to yet another example of a near perfect Malbec from Argentina: Casa Bianchi Famiglia Reserva Malbec.

I have often explained to my customers who have never had a Malbec that it is a wine that, "if Cabernet and Merlot got together and had a baby, it would be Malbec." It is a wine that has the best of both Cabernet and Merlot. It is often big, bold, and tannic, but not grippy. It has all the rich flavors you get in both: cherry, blackberry, plums, blueberry and cassis, and the earthiness of a Merlot, yet more of a dry red clay earth. Among Malbec's fruit aromas are black cherry, stewed plums, and blackberry. You can also pick out hints of violets and depending on which type of oak barrels are used to age the wine, vanilla or spice.

The Bianchi Famiglia Malbec uses both French and American oak for six months, so some vanilla and spice are present. There is also a pleasant mocha coffee note to the finish of this wine, which makes it all the more enjoyable. Pair it with red meats like a Santa Maria style Tri Tip, blackened Cajun Rib Eye, or a grilled sirloin. This is a great summertime barbecue wine, so stock up!

Price range: $10-$15

Come back for more new wines next week. Until then, cheers!