Island Cooking

Awaken Your Palate

• by Carri Wroblewski – BRIX Wine Shop •

After a winter that seemed like it would never end, I’m ready to shed my glasses of rich reds and uncork fresh, aromatic whites and rosés and lighter-bodied reds.

I’m ready to awaken my palate.

There is something special about those first spring sips. Maybe it’s that rosé does taste better while being sipped outside. Maybe it’s that white wines are more delicious when the ocean is in sight. Maybe. But what I love about spring wines, are the foods that we pair with them.

Spring offers up the first fresh flavors of the year. From asparagus to artichokes and fennel to fiddleheads. We start tucking away our cookbooks filled with rich, savory dishes and dust off our recipes that lean to the lighter side. And that’s what we do with our wines. It’s not so much that we stop drinking reds (we love reds); we just start drinking lighter ones. We seek out whites that are bright and crisp and find rosés that have more minerals than viscosity. We refresh.

So with Daffodil Festival in mind and a tailgate menu at hand, I started thinking about food-friendly sips for the spring.

Punta Crena has been owned by the same family for over 500 years. The vineyards of Punta Crena sit just 1,200 meters from the ocean, on the Mediterranean coast of Liguria in Italy. Named for the large point that protrudes from the sea, the 2012 Punta Crena Pigato ‘Vigneto Ca da Rena’ is a fresh and aromatic white made from 100% Pigato grapes. Loaded with minerals and due to its close proximity to the water, this wine has a hint of salinity, making it the perfect pairing with seafood—a natural on the Nantucket table.

Grüner Veltliner—this could be spring’s calling card when it comes to wine. Hailing from Austria, Grüner Veltilner is known to be extremely food-friendly and a favored wine among chefs. It has a natural way of pairing with some of wines ‘less favorite’ ingredients, such as asparagus, leeks, and artichokes. So being that this is spring’s bounty, finding a favorite Grüner at this time of the year is as much about need as it is about want. And trust me, you’ll want a sip of the 2012 Weingut Steininger ‘Steven Holl Loisium’ Grüner Veltliner.

This bottling, named after New York architect Steven Holl, who owner and winemaker Karl Steininger pursued to build a new winery and hotel amongst his vineyards, is a hot shot within the category. Weingut Steininger is a family run winery located in the Kamptal region of Lower Austria, where Grüner Veltliner can be made into a wine of different styles—from a light and easy-drinking Grüner to one with age that you could mistake for White Burgundy. All of the fruit comes from a single vineyard and it has spicy, white pepper notes. I love this wine with grilled fish, but you’ll also find me sipping it on spring afternoons with nothing to eat at all.

And speaking of spring afternoons, as I started to plan my menu for the Daffodil Weekend tailgate in Sconset, there is one wine that will reign king at my table, and that is rosé. Pink wine encountered a bad rap over the years. Once the “Coca-Cola” of the 80s (a.k.a. white zinfandel), many people associate rosé with being sweet. And I don’t blame them. Good, dry rosé used to be hard to come by. But luckily now, from Provence to Piedmont you can find delicious rosés in just about every price point.

If you’re reading this right now, you’ve probably sipped a glass or two of pink wine on this island. Unlike most places, Nantucket is no stranger to rosé. I myself love rosé, whether it’s Domaine Ott or Chateau Peyrassol, I’m in. So when I tasted the Clos Cibonne Tibouren Côte de Provence Cru Clase Rosé a few weeks ago, I knew I had stumbled upon something special. At first glance, you wouldn’t think this was rosé at all. Packaged in a tinted bottle, a departure from the clear glass that most rosés come in, it isn’t until you pour it that you are reassured of its rose-colored brilliance. A historic property, Clos Cibonne dates back to 1797, when the Roux family purchased the estate from Jean Baptiste de Cibon, captain of the royal marines of Louis XVI. So, what makes Clos Cibonne Rosé so unique? Two things. They champion the native grape, Tibouren, and age the rosé under fleurette (a thin veil of yeast) in 100-year-old, large oak barrels. This is not your seaside sipping rosé, rather a rosé that should find its way to the table with a roast chicken or salade Niçoise.

And last but not least, as we wipe the cobwebs from our grills and fire up our barbecues for the first party of the season, there is very little that I love more than a lighter-style red served with a slight chill. Whether you’re making grilled pizzas or having cheese and charcuterie, the 2012 Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso from Sicily is a natural. Grown on Mount Etna and planted on years of volcanic ash, these vineyards are believed to be the highest in Italy and in Europe. Anchored by the indigenous varieties Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Capuccio, these late ripening grapes offer up wines with beautiful aromatics and softer tannins.

So, what will be on your tailgate table Daffodil Weekend? I hope something that awakens your palate and unearths the flavors of spring.

Brix Wine Shop is located at 1 Windy Way, just off of Surfside Road;; 508-228-9123

Articles by Date from 2012