Young Wines Mirror Spring Magic

By Doc Lawrence.

Then younger than springtime, am I,

Gayer than laughter, am I,

Angel and lover, heaven and earth,

Am I with you! (From “South Pacific.”)

“South Pacific” was one of the first movies I recall from childhood. It played at Atlanta’s Fox Theater, an architectural and cultural treasure where over the years I would see Elvis, Johnny Cash, Elton John, the Metropolitan Opera and a special concert by The Rolling Stones that was organized to save the theater from from a developer’s wrecking ball.

Just across Peachtree Street, the Georgian Terrace hotel continues to have wine events. Once Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland booked rooms there during the opening of “Gone With The Wind.” On a lovely Spring evening the French Counsulate hosted a Champagne tasting there. The evening confirmed my belief that there is a spiritual connection between fascinating women and great white wines.

During dinner recently with esteemed Master Sommilier Sandy Block, we talked about wines for spring enjoyment. “Avoid most of the oak,” advised Block, who teaches wine at Boston University and is the wine direrctor for Legal Seafood. “White wines from the Loire Valley and Burgundy regions of France are usually good choices as are wines from other countries made in these styles.” With this direction, I offer these choices.

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A relaxed, fresh and lively wine, Petit Chablis is a reasonably priced introduction to Chablis wines, providing

Petit Chablis

great value and taste. Often drunk young, Petit Chablis pairs well with soft-tasting seafoods like mussels or cheeses such as Gouda. This is a precursor to the more regal Chablis that has more body than Petit Chablis. Glowing more golden as it ages, Chablis partners with curries and grilled fish.

Premier Cru Chablis is crisp and often fruity, allowing an infinitely amazing range of food and wine pairings. It’s a delicious accompaniment to everything from ham and veal to chicken, fish and a variety of cheeses. Grand Cru Chablis is a robust, full-bodied wine that fills the mouth with complex tastes. Grand Cru Chablis pairs best with rich flavors like lobster, foie gras, truffles and oysters. These wines can be pricey, but the experience is unforgettable. Like looking for a fine romance.

Many red Burgundy wines are natural partners for red meats, fresh-water fish and seafood dinners. The Marsannay rosés are perfect for grilled dishes because they pair well with barbeque meats, Asian, Mediterranean and other spicy foods. Bouzeron, contributes lemony notes to oysters and matches their saltiness with steady minerality. It makes an impressive aperitif. Fish, poached or fried is ideal with Saint-Véran, while Saint-Aubin fits snugly with firm textured fish and grilled or steamed shellfish.

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Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume are made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes, but are as far removed from New


Zealand cousins as fish is from venison. These are magnificent warm weather wines and have seafood enjoyment in the DNA. Chenin Blanc is the grape base of Vouvray, often bone dry with remarkable acidity. But, don’t overlook one of the region’s genuine treasures, Muscadet: light and dry and a near perfect accompaniment for clams and oysters. March is a transition month that seamlessly introduces the new season. The great observances, celebrations and traditions of spring make each day special. Dining is part of the ritual of living. Give everything a boost with wines that have stood the test of the ages. Many of these wines have exalted status, but the important consideration is the real potential for enjoyment.

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Pleasantly aromatic Perlage Pinot Grigio has flavors of pear and green apple. Balanced, soft and light on the

Organic Wine Grapes

palate, it qualifies as a wonderful early evening aperitif. The 2008 Perlage Terra di Chieti Bianco features light peach and pear fruit and is a terrific Italian white food wine made fromTrebbiano grapes. The 2008 Altana Rosato del Veneto Frizzante is from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, and made in the lightly sparkling frizzante style, a serious Rosé that’s fun to drink.

The 2008 Perlage Sangiovese Marche has remarkable cherry fruit with a hint of spice and a nice clean finish and is enjoyable with pizza, barbeque and pasta while the 2004 Barbera del Monferrato Minola Nuova Cappelletta has complexity prompted by oak barrel aging. Known for its lighthearted fruitiness, this vintage Barbera soars on the spring palate.

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These wines, all made from only certified organic grapes, are usually available in retail stores but can be ordered from

In Florida during March, Major League Baseball is omnipresent. Called the Grapefruit League, here’s an opportunity to watch the game up close and personal and after the final out, celebrate a great day with some daring. Whether cooking at home or visiting a local restaurant, try some adventure by ordering wine a little off the beaten path. It’s hard to make a bad choice with these simple guidelines and who knows, the moment might be right for a home run.

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