As the weather warms up, it’s not just our wardrobes that need a seasonal update, our taste buds crave change too. So cast off those woolly-sweater wines and sip on something light, fresh and new. Here with the wine trends to look out for this spring is Natalie MacLean, who offers Canada’s most popular online wine classes.
• Natalie Hello
We’re starting with a trend that I’m really excited about, Pink Prosecco. Why are they so popular right now?
• Take two already trendy wines—rosé and prosecco—and combine them for a mashup of this season’s hottest wine as the temperature soars. The Italian wine regulatory body approved this new category for Prosecco last year. So these wines are just starting to arrive here in Canada like the spring tulips poking out of the ground, and they’re just as pretty too.
You’ve sent us two pink proseccos to try. Tell us about them while we sip.
• First we have Blu Giovello Prosecco Rosé. It’s fresh, crisp and vibrant with aromas of small field strawberries.
Blu Giovello Prosecco Rosé
Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Prosecco DOC, Italy
• All Rosé Prosecco is made in a dry style; there are no sweet versions. It’s also low in alcohol at just 11.5% which makes it even more refreshing.
• Next I want you to try the Mionetto Prosecco Rosé. It’s racy and juicy, perfect for the patio and just 11% alcohol.
Mionetto Prosecco Rosé DOC
• Low-alcohol is also trending across many wine categories. The wines taste more spritely and lively versus the heat and heaviness of higher alcohol wines like a Shiraz that can clock in around 14 or 15%. That’s not what you want when it’s hot outside.
How should we serve these bubblies?
• I suggest either a sparkling or white wine glass. Serve them chilled, but not so cold that the bottle is sweating with condensation or the glass mists over. If you’ve got them in the fridge, which is about 4°C, take them out for 10 minutes or so and let them come up to about 8°C.
Let’s move on to our second trend. You say it’s chardonnay all the way this spring, why’s that?
• Chardonnay is back baby, and leaner and crisper than ever for spring. For years, this grape was pushed out by the Anything But Chardonnay (ABC) trend after it became a little too popular, much like overexposed celebrities we love to hate.
• It was grown in almost every wine region and made in every possible style, but was often heavily oaked. Oak is often considered the ketchup of the wine world when it’s over-used to hide winemaking flaws.
• So Chardonnay has pivoted to reinvent itself oak-free. It’s become more transparent about where it’s from and who it is, like that same over-exposed celeb doing an Instagram video without make-up. It’s getting real. You don’t get any heavy buttery, oaky, alcoholic taste: something you really don’t want in your glass as the weather heats up.
We’re ready to give a taste and see for ourselves! What do you have for us here?
• First you’re tasting Hob Nob Chardonnay from the south of France. I think you’ll find it’s clean and crisp. The most famous region for unoaked Chardonnay in France is Chablis, at the northern tip of Burgundy. The wines there are a lot more expensive than this one at just $13.
Hob Nob Chardonnay 2019
Languedoc IGT, Pays d’Oc
• That’s another trend we’re seeing: the search for value without giving up great taste. Even the Proseccos we just tasted are an extraordinary value at about $16 compared to $75 for entry-level Champagne.
• You also have the Chamisal Vineyards Stainless Chardonnay from California. Stainless is something to look for on the label if you want unoaked Chardonnay because it usually means that the wine was fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks and didn’t cozy up to any oak barrels. So this one is a burst of energy with lime zest and lemon sunshine. While it’s a bit pricier at $25, it’s still an incredible value for the quality and taste.
Chamisal Vineyards Stainless Chardonnay 2019
Central Coast, California, United States
If you have a bottle that hasn’t been chilled but you want to drink it, is there a way to cool it faster than the fridge?
• Yes! Put your bottles in a bucket of ice water to chill them quickly. You want a mixture of ice and water, not just ice, because the dispersion of the temperature will cover the bottle completely versus having pockets of warmer air between the ice cubes.
• Another tip is to wrap a cold wet cloth around your bottle and stick it in the freezer for 15 minutes… this is also faster than just putting it in the freezer, again because the chill is evenly dispersed around the bottle.
Our final trend is going local! You suggest exploring Canadian wine this season.
• Drinking local has never been hotter. One of the positives about the pandemic is that it’s introduced us all to the pleasures of wines made in our own backyards. And supporting these wineries has never been more important. Buy Canadian wines and if you’re allowed to visit the wineries in your area, they make a great stop for a weekend getaway that’s close to home.
What Canadian wines do you have for us to try?
• First, we have Thirty Bench Pinot Noir from Niagara’s Beamsville Bench. It’s medium-bodied with a silky texture and gorgeous aromas of fleshy ripe cherry notes. Canada excels at Pinot Noir because of our cool climate and that results in these lovely spring reds that aren’t too heavy for warmer days.
Thirty Bench Small Lot Pinot Noir 2019
Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario V.Q.A., Canada
• We also have Quails Gate Pinot Noir from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, also medium-bodied, juicy, mouth-watering with a velvet smooth texture. It offers aromas of fresh field berries.
Quails’ Gate Estate Winery Pinot Noir 2019
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia V.Q.A., Canada
• Pinot Noir is known as the heartbreak grape because it’s so finicky and expensive to grow being susceptible to mildew, pests and it seems Winemakers who pursue this grape are self-described pathological optimists.
• Despite this, both of these wines also offer incredible value at $35 as compared to Burgundian Pinot Noir that usually starts at $50 a bottle and goes up from there. Any of these wines can stand shoulder to shoulder on taste with the best of Burgundy.
You had us decant the Thirty Bench Pinot – why is that?
• Normally I wouldn’t suggest this, but the winemaker Emma Garner, asked that we do this because this wine has just been bottled, so it’s fresh off the press. Decanting it and giving it some air will smooth it out even more.
How should we serve these wines?
• I suggest red wine glasses, and if you have them, a bigger bowl, since Pinot Noir tends to be highly aromatic and you can collect all of those aromas better with a glass that has more specie when you’re swirling and sniffing.
• This is a light red wine so you want to serve it about 15°C, and not as warm as you would say a full-bodied Cabernet or Shiraz at 18°C. Also when red wine is served too warm, you taste more of the alcohol and oak… you want it to be refreshing, especially if you’re enjoying it on a warm spring day. If the bottle is too warm, stick it in the fridge for 15 minutes before opening.
Natalie, thank you for sharing these wonderful wines! Cheers to the spring season everybody!