Dylan here. With the arrival of the sun after a long winter, I always find renewed energy. Last week, I was back in Germany for a family event and I was reminded how much we'd look forward to -- after six gloomy months -- the day when the thick grey clouds would start to lift, the trees would turn white and pink with blossoms, and you could finally feel the first hints of warmth on your face.
In California, spring doesn't always come in such dramatic fashion, but this year feels like an exception. I don't know about you, but after sheltering at home for a dozen atmospheric rivers, these past few days of sun have put a new spring in my step.
Yesterday, with the sun peaking through the clouds in Muir Beach, Simon, Vanessa, and I sat down to taste through some new wines to enjoy as the weather gets warmer - ones to serve chilled, sip on the beach, or drink al fresco on a mild spring evening. Simon said sipping these wines "filled his soul", and I couldn't agree more.
Weinkultur Preiss ‘Flo’ Grüner Veltliner 2021 ($18)
For our first wine we travel to eastern Austria and to the tiny 815 hectare wine region called Traisental, which lies between the River Danube and the towering Alps. This relatively new appellation is gaining a reputation for delicious, mineral-driven Grüner Veltliners and Rieslings. The Preiss Estate is run by fifth generation winemaker Viktoria Preiss, who took over from her father in 2019. They cultivate it all organically, using home-made compost, cover crops, and natural pheromones to keep bugs away. This delicious Grüner Veltliner has a fresh, almost spritzy character that just begs to be sipped in the sun. Notes of green apple skins, pear blossom, and wild herbs are supported by a wonderful mineral backbone. The extra-large 1 liter bottle means you can squeak out a few extra pours, so it's the perfect bottle to throw in the cooler when you're heading to the beach or a picnic with friends. Pull out a fresh baguette, goat cheese, and olives and you're all set for a lazy afternoon.
Rafael Palacios Louro do Bolo Godello 2021 ($28)
Our next wine comes from northwestern Spain where Rafael Palacios started buying plots of land from elderly winemakers in the region of Valdeorras in 2004. The region had been almost entirely abandoned due to extremely poor soils, harsh conditions, phylloxera, and economic depression. But Rafael saw the landscape's potential: the high altitude, poorer growing conditions, and continental climate (hot summers and cold winters) make the vines work harder, creating more complex flavors. In the hands of skilled winemakers, the indigenous grapes of the area produce highly complex wines full of character and sense of place. This Godello is just a perfect example of the region's potential. The great mineral character jumps out of the glass, while notes of honeysuckle, almonds, and passionflower, are balanced with the chalky texture from the soils it grows in. This is a wine that can be sipped on its own, or pair with seafood like mussels, lobsters or shrimp. What better way to celebrate spring.
Cirelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2021 ($21)
This red comes to us from the town of Atri in Abruzzo, Italy. The estate is a mere 8km inland from the sea, surrounded by rolling hills, olive trees, and forests. Though his family abandoned their rural origins in his childhood, Francesco Cirelli eventually returned to buy a farm in Abruzzo in 2003. The symbiotic relationship between countryside, winemaker and wildlife are Francesco’s calling and he is producing some truly special wines in this idyllic landscape. His 2021 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo opens up beautifully in the glass and reveals layers of complexity, with wonderful fresh strawberries, cherries, and a hint of white pepper. Its elegant, underlying minerality and well integrated tannins make this a perfect food wine -- especially with pasta. Try with pasta al ragù with plenty of parmesan cheese.