The colourful burst of flowers heralding spring is a natural invitation to discover wines that boast enticing blossom aromas. Here is a seasonal selection of dry white and red wines made from grape varieties with a definite floral character.
Sauvignon Blanc is one grape variety that established New Zealand’s reputation for quality wine. Not only does it deliver pronounced aromas of gooseberries, nettles and even grass, but it can produce a distinct touch of elderflower. Pair it with aromatic Thai and Vietnamese dishes to see how the wine’s intense aromas and flavours make a great match.
With its complex notes of apricot and peach, musk and gingerbread, the Viognier grape variety almost became extinct 50 years ago. Its revival is thanks partly to the unmistakable aromas of jasmine and honeysuckle, especially in its spiritual home of Condrieu in France’s northern Rhône region. Inexpensive examples are hard to find, but it is worth the bit extra to enjoy the intoxicating perfume, especially in young wines. It pairs well with rich dishes with crab or scallops, pork or chicken with cream sauce, and rosemary or saffron-infused recipes.
Among the more surprising aromas is rose. Two outstanding grape varieties fit the bill. Gewürztraminer is one of the noble grapes in the Alsace region, but it is also grown widely elsewhere, including in Switzerland. Lychee fruits and the heady scent of rose petals set it apart from other varieties. Gewürztraminer polarizes opinion, but whether you’re a fan or undecided, serve this white wine with duck or chicken pâté, smoked fish and Asian dishes featuring lemongrass, coriander and coconut, not to mention strong-smelling cheeses such as a Munster.
Nebbiolo is the star of black grape varieties in Italy’s Piedmont region with its great Barolo and Barbaresco wines. These display exotic and strangely enticing aromas of tar and roses as well as dried cherries and liquorice. Aged Nebbiolo demands heavy meat dishes like a spiced beef casserole or slow-cooked beef marinated in Barolo, whereas young Nebbiolo goes with bresaola, salami and pâté. While you can detect occasional violet aromas in wines made with Nebbiolo, it is in Chile and Argentina that you find their classic expression in some (but not all) wines made with Malbec. With their intense black-fruit flavours and ripe tannins, South-American Malbecs are best enjoyed with richly textured stews, grilled beef, pork ribs and boldly flavoured cheeses.
Simon Hardy holds a Diploma in Wines & Spirits. He is the founder of Fitting Wines, which provides a range of personalized wine services in Switzerland. firstname.lastname@example.org