Wine Pairings for Spring Flavours

Published by David Adamick on 05/04/2018

Matching Californian wines with the Spring Table

As sure as eggs is eggs, I’m once again putting them all in the wines-of-California basket, and placing that firmly by the season’s cornucopia, in which you’ll find:

Meat: spring lamb, venison, pigeon

Fish: cod, mussels, oysters, salmon, halibut

Cheeses: Sainte Maure, Valençay, Selles Sur Cher, Brie de Meaux, Brie de Melun, mature (12 Month+) artisan cheddars

Veg: Beetroot, leeks, Savoy cabbage, Jerusalem artichokes, broccoli, kale, parsnips, celeriac, cauliflower

Wine line-up:

  • 2016 Tatomer, Meeresboden Gruner Veltliner, Santa Barbara County
  • 2015 Arnot-Roberts, Watson Ranch Chardonnay, Napa Valley
  • 2016 Matthiasson, Linda Vista Chardonnay, Napa Valley
  • 2015 Sandhi, Santa Barbara County Chardonnay
  • 2015 Kutch, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
  • 2016 Broc Cellars, Vine Star Zinfandel, Sonoma County
  • 2016 Vinca Minor, Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains
  • 2014 Matthiasson, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2015 Arnot-Roberts, Sonoma Syrah

Here I’ve lined up some key Roberson Californian wines to go the distance, whose elegance and structure will invigorate.

Starting with the whites, let’s hit the cheeseboard: Vanlençay/Selles Sur Cher/Sainte Maure are all Loire Valley goat’s cheeses and amongst several now in season. As their fresh, citric, salty and acidic natures will require something to meet on terms, we want something with a bit of steel, zip and backbone with minerally, citrus fruit.

Step forward Graham Tatomer’s Meeresboden Gruner Veltliner and Steve Matthiasson’s Linda Vista Chardonnay: both with laser focus and precision (the latter toward the Chablisien); delicate, chiselled green, yellow and apple fruit with remarkable length.

For the richer, weightier dairy options such as Brie de Meaux/de Melun and artisanal cheddars, we’ll want similarity in our whites, where Chardonnay springs easily to mind. Matthiasson’s Linda Vista still has the stuff to take on creamier fare and you can move seamlessly to Arnot-Roberts Watson Ranch as it offers a bit more texture and weight but still with the brisk and lively current of acidity to keep the palate in top shape.

To progress the fruit and richness we move to Sandhi’s Santa Barbara Chardonnay, offering a bit more by the way of stone fruit and spice; the higher degree of malolactic takes up the brie in easy harmony.

Equally easy are all four whites with the seasonal seafood and fish with the Tatomer and Matthiasson being to the shellfish what they are to the Loire cheeses: perfectly resonant. As cod and salmon are fleshier, best keep to the Sandhi but again, you can chop and change any combination and pretty much come out a winner.

For meat it’s a no-brainer: lamb loves all red wine, though some more than others. To lamb’s inherent fattiness, our Californians offer that structural edge, both cleansing the palate and enhancing the flavours with clean, articulated fruit and heightened acidity.

Jamie Kutch’s Sonoma Coast Pinot is first in line here with bright, savoury, spiced cherry fruit; freshness, precision and depth; the acidity cuts easily through fat and cleans up neatly. Perhaps a touch delicate for something like venison, red fruit like this does make a beautiful combination with squab, also in season.

Reach for the Syrahs and Cab Sauvs, then, when confronting the deer, and our latest addition Vinca Minor of Santa Cruz Mountains offers all the classic notes of elegant Cab: black currant, mint, cedar, cigar box, with Steve Matthiasson’s Napa Valley expression an equally ideal option, offering slightly darker fruits and spice, but both with that briskness that keeps the appetite ticking over.

Chris Brockway’s Vine Star Zinfandel weighs in somewhere between the Pinot and the Cabs, though given its floral, lifted sweet spice and red-fruit profile, it would ally better with the Kutch. ‘The pretty side of Zin’, as Chris puts it. Quite!

All this leaves us with the crowning glory of Arnot-Roberts’ Sonoma Coast Syrah on the lamb. Here is fresh damson/plum fruit with the crucial attributes of olive tapenade, cured meat, wild herb and violet; firm tannins and that cool-climate structure, it can’t get much better.

It also can’t get much easier to explore the affinity Roberson’s California offer has with Old World gastronomic regionality and in time for one of the calendar’s most festive – and digestive – seasons.


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