A few months ago, there was snow everywhere. My arrival home each evening was announced with a loud “crunch, crunch, crunch” as I attempted to maintain my balance on our icy sidewalk. On several occasions, I was pelted by hailstones while I was walking the dog or simply shoveling snow.
It was an assault by Mother Nature herself. But now, winter is in full retreat and spring is finally beginning to, well, spring.
What does this have to do with wine?
Well, just like squirrels who store their acorns for the winter, we store wine samples.
Each fall, I receive wine samples from PR firms, winemakers and vineyards from around the globe. During the height of the “sample season,” our neighbors regard us with a mixture of envy and concern as the boxes pile up on the porch. I’m sure the FedEx and UPS delivery guys believe I have a “problem.” And I know the recycling guys want to party with us.
But the problem with receiving so many samples is that I have to actually try them. It’s an obligation I have to the nice people who go out of their way to ship the wines my way. I owe it to them and, more importantly, I owe it to the WTOP listeners and readers.
Each week, the boxes are opened and the wines are organized into groups and then sampled to see which wines I think will make the cut.
For those wines that don’t fall into any specific topic or theme, I set them aside for “later” and hope that I can slide them in somewhere. But now I have a pile of good wines and no theme, so what the heck — it’s time for spring cleaning and a little of this and a little of that, and all for under $20.
Raeburn is an Olde English term which means “the river where one goes to drink.” But I don’t need to go to a river to enjoy the 2020 Raeburn Rosé from the Russian River Valley of Sonoma, California. Made from a blend of Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Grenache, the wine is very reminiscent of a traditional Rosé from Provence, France. Lovely aromas of watermelon and lavender lead to lovely flavors of wild strawberry, kiwi and red raspberry. Nicely balanced and refreshing, the crisp acidity provides a bright finish. $17
One of my favorite ways to welcome warmer weather is with Sauvignon Blanc, and the 2019 Decoy Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma County, California, scratches that itch. From the same talented team behind the Duckhorn brand, this version is fermented 100% in stainless steel tanks to preserve the fresh fruit intensity. Aromas of passionfruit and pineapple pop out of the bouquet. Mouth-filling flavors of tangerine, lemon peel, pineapple and guava are kept in balance by the bright acidity. Notes of lemon or lime citrus linger on the beautiful finish. This wine would pair beautifully with fresh seafood or oysters on the half shell. $17
The 2018 Murphy-Goode Cabernet Sauvignon from California is — well, good. It’s also a great value for an easy-drinking, food-friendly cabernet. Made from grapes sourced from vineyards throughout California, it delivers abundant plum, cherry and chocolate notes across the palate and ends with a pleasing hint of licorice on the medium finish. $14
Lately, I have seen a resurgence in Lambrusco on restaurant wine lists. At first, I was skeptical, but the Non-Vintage Villa di Corlo Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro from Italy is not your parent’s Lambrusco. While it is slightly sweet, the sparkling, fruit-centric wine is kept in balance by the fine tannins and abundant acidity. Notes of red cherry, fresh plum and a touch of red licorice fill the mouth. A very versatile wine, it can be a wine for dessert as well as paired with lighter pasta dishes and soft cheeses. $16
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