The spring rains have washed over us, a refreshing cleanse just in time for Easter, Passover and other celebrations of the season.
It's a time to mirror that fresh vitality in the glass and Rhone wines make perfect sense.
For the uninitiated, American-style Rhone wines are made from grapes whose ancestral home is in France's Rhone valley.
There are 22 varieties recognized by the French government and the best known are syrah, viognier, mourvedre, grenache and roussanne. Many of these varietals are thriving on American turf, offering some great sipping.
Rhone wines, at their best, generally have a buoyant acidity, bright fruit, and a smooth, lush texture. Certain red varietals, like petite sirah, offer more: concentrated flavors, chewy tannins and snappy spice.
There's a place at the spring feast table for both Rhone whites and reds. Here are some tasty Rhone wines to consider making a part of your celebration:
Cline, 2011 North Coast Viognier, 14 percent alcohol, $12. Aromatic with layered flavors. Notes of apricot, peach and pineapple. Bright, yet rich. Oily texture. Lingering finish.
Le Cigare Blanc, 2010 Bonny Doon Vineyard White Wine, 12.7 percent, $24. A white wine with a range. Notes of pear, quince, herbs and minerals. Subtle and yet there's a lot going on. Nice length.
Zaca Mesa, 2009 Santa Ynez Valley White Wine, 14.5 percent, $30. A complex blend with a lot of personality. Rich and layered, with notes of apricot, melon, pear, fig, honey and spice. Silky texture. Lingering finish.
Ridge, 2010 Lytton Estate Petite Sirah, 14.3 percent, $30. A rustic red with some punch. Rich black juice, briary spice and chewy tannins. Boisterous.
Terre Rouge, 2008 L'autre Sierra Foothills Rhone Red Blend, 14.5 percent, $30. A tasty red with notes of cherry, herb and spice. Nice acidity. Balanced.
Landmark, 2010 Steel Plow Estate Vineyard, Sonoma Valley Grenache, 14.8 percent, $35. A lovely grenache with bright acidity and concentrated flavors. Notes of cherry, herbs and spice. A wine with some depth.
Staff writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 521-5310 or peg.melnik@ pressdemocrat.com.
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