story and photography by Pete Martin
Let’s face it: many people are easily overwhelmed when choosing a wine. Most wine stores have a daunting selection that can challenge even a seasoned wine drinker.
Nathan Luginbill, a certified sommelier, and his business partner Nolan Merritt, an avid wine collector, understand this. When the two opened Wine House in 2019, a key goal was to offer a carefully curated list of high-quality wines at various price points that could be enjoyed in the store or at home. And, with warmer weather upon us, the outdoor patio is an excellent option, especially for enjoying lighter red wines, which are perfectly suited for spring.
Luginbill recently took the time to share five of his favorite lighter reds that are ideal for warm days and cool nights, and that pair well with a variety of seasonal dishes.
Antica Terra Ceras Pinot Noir, $128
THIS OREGON PINOT IS ALL ABOUT FINESSE AND DELICACY.
Luginbill suggests pairing this with roasted split chicken or grilled duck breast.
The 11-acre organically farmed vineyard is located on a prehistoric seabed in the Eola-Amity Hills appellation, forcing the vines to struggle, without topsoil, atop a mixture of sandstone sown with 40-million-year-old marine fossils. Production, as you would expect, is very limited. “One very cool aspect of the winemaking at the winery is they blend all their wines blind, which create wines that will vary from year to year,” Luginbill says. “That is what is exciting to me.”
Justin Dutraive Fleurie La Madone, $117 (1.5-liter magnum)
THIS FRENCH WINE, MADE FROM GRAPES HARVESTED FROM 90-YEAR-OLD VINES, WOULD BE A GREAT OPTION.
Pair it with grilled salmon, octopus or burgers, or wood-fired pizza.
Winemaker Justin Dutraive made his first vintage in 2015 after leasing a small plot of land near the village of Fleurie. Expect a lighter wine, aromas of raspberries, spice and cherries, and flavors of bright fruit anchored by a smooth, tannic finish. “Everyone needs a magnum of gamay around when spring and warmer weather is approaching,” Luginbill says. “I look for lower-alcohol reds when drinking in warmer weather.”
Garcia Georgieva Finca los Quemados Claret, $42
THOUGH IT LOOKS DARKER THAN MANY CLARETS, THIS SPANISH TEMPRANILLO IS A FULL-BODIED WINE THAT DOESN’T EXHIBIT BIG TANNINS, SO IT IS A SOLID CHOICE FOR SPRING WEATHER.
Lamb chops, charcuterie or venison would be Luginbill’s recommended pairing.
This naturally made wine sources grapes from very old vines and is matured in old French barrels. Expect a very clean nose, with dark fruit, floral notes, minerality and good acidity on the palate. The winemaker’s notes call this wine “very reminiscent of a French pinot noir,” so it should work well both alone and paired with a variety of dishes.
La Collina Rosa Luna Lambrusco, $23
LA COLLINA IS AN ITALIAN WINERY WITH AN INTERESTING BACKSTORY.
Serve this by itself, or preferably with appetizers such as charcuterie with plenty of prosciutto.
This agricultural co-op, founded in 1975, cultivates fruits, vegetables, grains, livestock, bees, dairy for cheese, and, of course, wine. This wine is fermented in stainless steel for a very traditional and precise Lambrusco. Expect this lightly sparkling red to be fresh and fruit forward with good acidity. This is a highly drinkable wine that is perfect for spring. “There’s nothing like some great Lambrusco for springtime,” Luginbill says. “Juicy, fresh and just tasty bubbles.”
Les Enfants Sauvages Bouche Bee Rouge, $32
THIS MOURVEDRE IS NOT YOUR TYPICAL MOURVEDRE IN MANY WAYS.
This French wine can stand up to heavier dishes, so pair it with ribs, barbecue or sausage pizza.
For starters, while some can have high alcohol levels, the Bouche Bee is about 12.5%. It also is not heavily tannic, as some wines made from this varietal can be. Instead, it’s bright, with lots of crisp fruit. No oak is used during fermentation. “It’s mourvedre in a different light,” Luginbill says. The wine is made organically and biodynamically, and the grapes are hand harvested. Only 250 cases are produced.