After serving as the sommelier of the critically-acclaimed and cult hit Momofuku restaurants of New York City, Ms. Turley returned to her roots in Napa Valley. Now, as the principal of the esteemed Turley Winery, Ms. Turley is one of the most dynamic members of a new generation transforming American wine. With her unique style and engaging prose, Ms. Turley highlights her essential spring wines worthy of leaving work early to sip and savor.
With just those few words in mind, every one of the below wines--and one sake!--presented themselves almost immediately (not literally, of course—though that would’ve been amazing, and made my afternoon exponentially more pleasant).
They sprang forth nary unbidden, so desperate are they for you to pull their corks and acknowledge their presence. Hey, we’re not the only ones glad to see that spring is here.
This Sauvignon Blanc was the first wine to jump to mind, perhaps because it shrieks the first word in my little thought cloud: GREEN. Really any Sauvignon Blanc could fit the bill, but those from the Sancerre portion of the Loire Valley in France really bring the funk: fresh cut grass, white flowers, salt water, crushed minerals. Bright & tart. In need of a reprieve? Knock off work early (“allergies” works great this time of year). Opt for outdoor seating in the middle of the afternoon (because now you can), get a bottle of this and a dozen oysters (or two). Go light on the lemon; the wine’s got plenty. Strong though your desire may be to lord your suddenly lavish afternoon over your friends, resist the urge to do so over social media in case colleagues try to rat you out. May I suggest waving condescendingly at the plebians on the street instead.
This dry (“seco”) Moscatel from Spain is THE spring wine. Incredibly floral—jasmine, orange blossom, bamboo shoots, you name it—without any of that saccharine sweetness you might expect from Moscatel. This wine is all spring sunshine: bright, piercing, welcome, but still with a cool edge to it.
…and I’ve just now realized I wrote that entire description à la Stefan from SNL (“this wine has EVERYTHING: acid. Crispness. And a midget dressed as a unicorn only instead of a horn he has a corkscrew.”) Sigh. Anyways.
You could stick with oysters on this wine, though I’d veer more towards the interesting mignonettes as opposed to just lemon. Spring salads would really be perfect: English pea with mint, crab & avocado with mango, etc. What about a picnic? Does anyone do that anymore? Doubtful, but doesn’t it sound charming?
Dewazakura, “Oka,” Ginjo Sake
One of my favorite things about sake is how pure and clean it tastes. Indeed, other than the delicate cherry blossom aroma, there are not many other ways to describe it. We all know about sake with sushi, but this one I recommend you try on its own: hit the reset button on your palate, your evening, your outlook. Sake is still an “unknown” for many; but don’t be afraid. After all, it’s spring. Turn over a new leaf. Try something new. One of the many fun things about this sake: it comes in 300ml, 720 ml, and 1.8L bottles; so you may go as gently or bravely into that good night as you please.
Disclaimer: yes, this wine is my baby. And yes, I drank throughout the pregnancy. Nevertheless, it belongs on this list, for what wine deserves a new beginning more than white Zinfandel? Long shunned as an overly-sweet boxed wine, white Zinfandel is making a comeback. This one, picked early and made like a true Provençal rosé, is dry, crisp, light, and exceedingly refreshing. Picked from certified organic head-trained, dry-farmed vines, this is as “serious” a rosé as they come. This is one I’d bring to a dinner party—especially if there’s going to be wine snobs there—just to see their initial reaction (guaranteed noses upturned) only to BLOW THEIR FUCKING MIND with how good it actually is.
This lovingly wrought Cabernet is the first release ever from budding winemaker Massimo Di Costanzo, just in time for spring. Di Costanzo represents the next generation of Napa Valley winemakers: worldly (he’s worked in Italy, Argentina, and South Africa) and passionate, with an impressive resume (Screaming Eagle, Abreu). He’s taken a chance on the lesser-known appellation of Coombsville, which only became an AVA in the last year, with great results. The wine is like that quietly hot brunette you WISH you’d hooked up with in high school: dark, brooding, thoughtful, with an incredible inner brightness. Also, of all the wines on this list, this is probably the most likely to get you laid. Pair it with a springy take on Massimo’s most famous dish in these parts, his lasagna. Basically just throw a bunch of green veg in there, pour the wine, and let the magic happen.
If these wines don’t cure your spring fever, well , I’m afraid you’re beyond help. For the rest of you, I do sincerely hope you’ll take my advice: get out there and celebrate this season by drinking something new. As for me, my allergies seem to be acting up, boss; I’d better get outta here.