May Flowers

April showers bring May flowers, or so they say. It may be June, but I still want them. Who doesn’t want flowers? I will never get sick of the sight of a fresh bouquet, and I don’t think that’s just because I hardly ever receive one, albeit come to think of it, I got some a few times in the last year, the most unexpected being birthday THISTLES given to me by someone who knew my goth heart. They might have been my favorite flowers to receive ever (but if you want to send roses {or rosés} that’s cool). What I’m saying is whether you’re being given or getting, flowers in one’s life are beautiful. And! Sometimes you can get them in wine. As for what floral wines to seek, I wanted to go beyond overly over floral-bordering-on-bathsoap wines, and get into nuanced perfumes. I wanted my recommendations to be gender-neutral (gender is a construct but there are smells people oft describe as feminine or masculine) fragrances. I wanted wines anyone will feel confident imbibing. Also I stuck to dry wines. Where do wines’ floral fragrances come from? There are aromatic compounds in some, such as terpines and geraniol, that lend a hand, certainly. But I think terroir sometimes has something to do with it too. And thus I considered the many flower fragrances I get in wine, whether they come from grape or environs. Such as: -Orange blossom: Buy some orange flower water from a bar supply store and get to know it! -Honeysuckle—I actually grew up tasting honeysuckle in a walkway that ran through the middle of my block. I hadn’t thought of the glory of the fresh honeysuckle sensation until tasting a wine in my WSET 3 class and flashing back calling out amongst my other classmates volunteering tasting notes “honeysuckle”! And feeling very proud when my teacher confirmed my note. -Iris--I was lucky enough to grow up with my mom’s iris garden, so seek one out if you aren’t familiar. -“White Flower”-I hear people use this tasting note a lot and while I know what they mean, sometimes I’m like, come on, WHAT white flowers? The main ones that come to mind are lilies, white roses, baby’s breath, and clover blossom. People cite Acacia but I honestly have no clue what this is and honestly—well okay I honestly want to seek some out to smell; bad on me I haven’t done that. A recent bouquet I was given did have tiny white flowers. I don’t know what they were but they…smelled like white flowers. -Lilac--omg we had a lilac tree in my childhood backyard too—Would I be good at wine if I hadn’t had my childhood backyard and my mom hadn’t been a gardener? -Lavender—This is something we all probably taste more often due to the popularity of it in modern culture. It’s in everything from cookies to soap, and I think the reason we taste it in wines may be—hot terroir take—have more to due with the landscape than the grape. There is this thing called ‘garrigue’ from southern Rhone to southern France that is all lavender and scrubby bushes and…you taste it in the wines. You just do. -Roses: You’ll smell these in different wines as different colored roses. Again I was lucky to grow up with both my mother and grandmother’s backyards full o flowers—but if you are an adult get your hands on rose flower water. It may not give you the full spectrum of rose flavors but it will be a solid start. -Violet: Buy a candy called pastilles and you’ll get it. There will be anise influence but you’ll get the violet factor, oft found in quality Beaujolais. Annnnnnd more. I’m sure to leave out both cool floral wines and cool flavors I’m missing, and if so please tell me! I’m always happy to expand my horizons. Skip to the end for my flower floral! REDS Before I get into my examples, other reds that sometimes have floral notes include Pinot Noir, Barbera, and Aglianico. For some of my favorites though, look to: NEBBIOLO There is a reason “tar and roses” is such a common descriptor. I’ll never forget my first Barolo. At least the first that I was aware of—then again before I started to get into wine I wasn’t in a position of having Barolo-caliber wine in my glass. It was a Damilano Lecinquevigne—a 2011 I think. And I couldn’t believe everything that was coming out of the glass. The earth, the heavenly roses, all in perfect harmony. The power of the tannins balanced with the elegance of bouquet. GAMAY, ESPECIALLY FROM FLEURIE (BUT ALSO OTHER CRUS) Fleurie, one of the Beaujolais cru wines, made from Gamay, is true to its name. It does smell like flowers. True, I noticed cru Bojo needs a minute to open up, but even before those violets start blooming it tastes GREAT out of the gate. Just as I’d think, slowly sipping, “eh, I don’t know if this is floral enough even if I get a hint of violet”—JUST when I’d given up and accepted that I’d bought a terrific, if not useful for a floral article wine, then I’d take another drink in the “might as well finish the glass” spirit, and the violets would knock me over with a petal. Henry Fessy Chateau des Labourons Fleurie 2016 Flowers, anise, berries, and a foxtrot. These are all the things I feel in my bones drinking this Fleurie. It really does smell like the pastilles candies. The violets and anise and tannins are light, and the body just strong enough to spin you across the dance floor. Yay times. Jean-Marc Burgaud James Côte du Py Morgon Gamay 2018 Hi hey this is a scrumptious wine even if you don’t want herbs and berries of all colors AND violets all in a sip. DECANT. Please. Or have a glass immediately, then slowly let it unveil all it has to hide. My goodness. All the way through though you get structured but silky tannic fun. I wish I had a whole bunch of these bottles. It is a wine that makes me wish I were writing about cru Beaujolais every day. RHONE VARIETAL BLENDS AKA GARRRIGUE Is it the grape? The dry scrubby land? Or both? To clarify, Rhône grapes, the red ones at any rate, include Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Counoise and a handful of others. And while they may have some floral nature on their own, I tend to think it is the garrigue that really gets them going. Chateau Routas Coteaux Varois En Provence 2020 How about a rosé? Routas is a blend in which Cinsault dominates at 46%, followed by 30% Grenache, 15% Syrah, and surprise! 9% Cabernet Sauvignon go fig). The floral notes are quite subdued, but along with a slam of seashell and white nectarine and sweet red berries you get dried roses and lavender and it all makes a delightful bespoke salve on your tongue. Ever so refreshing but has more interest to me than some Provence rosés. THE WHITES You may be familiar with the usual culprits like Moscato, Viognier, and Riesling for their blossom-heavy bouquets, please also consider the following! ALBARIÑO/ALVARINHO Truly, there have been times I’ve tasted Albariño so floral I thought it…well it was in my wine infancy so I was like, flowers? Must be Riesling! And it wasn’t. Now that I’ve had quite a bit of Albariño/Alvarinho experience (thank you trip to VinhoVerde) I’ve found there are some that are flowerbeds a glass, and some that just hint at flowers. Neither one of my selections are ‘hit you over the head with floral’ notes, but both exhibit lovely levels. Black Stallion Albariño 2019 Albariño out of Napa?! Thanks to the cooling San Pablo Bay Breeze, yes. Interestingly, winemaker Ralf Holdenried, who hails from Germany, said he hadn’t had many Albariños before making one but something in him jumped at the chance to try. This is a minimalist example—quite citrus-y and the floral component comes in the form of punches of honeysuckle, which could get heavy but this sports a smidge of retained CO2 rendering it crisp. A smidge of saline sneaks in—it really evolves across the palate and finishes with a heel click. Granbazán Etiqueta Verde Rías Baixas Albariñ0 It smells of green things up front. A bit of grass, a smidge of green apple, all surrounded by those mysterious white flowers I mentioned. In particular I’m getting a lily vibe on this. It is a lovely golden color and had a weight to it, but is also a smidge of effervescence methinks. It massages and tickles the tongue in equal turns. LOUREIRO Admittedly, this is not something you see as a single variety so much. I discovered it on a trip to Vinho Verde where I was struck by the growing trend of single varieties, though I see way more Alvarinho and Arinto than I do Loureiro, which separates itself from the others with it’s floral nature. It certainly adds to Vinho Verde blends, but its nice to see it bloom on its own. Quintas Do Homem Vale do Homem Loureiro 2018 Spritzy in a way that serves the rosewater and orange blossom. All balanced with vanilla weight and honeydew-fresh vibes. The flowers sing loudest on the nose. On the palate they show off but they are part of the ensemble including honeydew and lemon-lime. It is JUST the right give and take from heaviness to lightness. Less a perfume than eau de cologne. TORRONTES Ah yes, the grape that can be mistaken for Gewurztraminer. The joyous thing that makes me fancy it first is a higher acid content than good ol’ Gewurz. Zuccardi Serie A Salta Torronteés 2020 I love love love love this style. It is citrus and daffodils with yellow roses and—dare I call it springtime in a bottle. Sure do. Now, which of these would accompany me into the shower? I am going with the Granbazán Albariño. As I said it is both a back scratch and a massage and both of those seem like things I wouldn’t mind while getting clean. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Want to read more from Ellen? Check out her recent articles: Ma Sherry Space Wine More Wine Women Guilty Pleasures All I Want for Valentine’s Day Is Some Skin Contact Bridgerton, Beverage by Beverage Make Your Own Wine Winter Whites Wine For Kamala Women in Castles Down by the Loire River You can also listen to Ellen's podcast , The Wine Situation here . Check out her recent transcripts of the Final Five questions: Wine Situation Final Five! With Philippe André Wine Situation Final Five! With Theodora Lee

Agro de Bazán

Granbazán Etiqueta Verde Rías Baixas Albariño 2019

So much of what I want in a textbook Albariño I love that there’s a body, a weight, and also a almost effervescence. This one massages and lightly scratches like the best of back rubs except it’s your tongue so get into that. Apples and greens and lilies are finished with cream and fleur de seal. Gosh this wine would be a great vegetarian side were it to metamorphosis into solid food. — a month ago

Josh, Trixie and 11 others liked this
David L

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Love it also
Ellen Clifford

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@Matt Perlman excellent, it was my first time trying it!
Ellen Clifford

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@David L glad to hear it, cheers!

Familia Zuccardi

Serie A Salta Torrontés 2020

I adore this style of Torrontes. Like lemon thyme and daffodils and yellow roses. Nice kick of salinity to boot. Makes me want to drink more Torrontes. — a month ago

John, Ericsson and 23 others liked this
Bob McDonald

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@Ellen Clifford I remember one of the 3 blind tasted wines for the WSET LEVEL 3 a few years ago was an Argentinian Torrontes. Not only delicious but stood out like the proverbial. An easy pick.
Ellen Clifford

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@Bob McDonald we had it on a Diploma test too!

Château DES LABOURONS

Fleurie Gamay 2016

Floral because it’s Fleurie? Maybe not but I’ll never stop commenting on how much I love that Cru Beaujolais sounds like it tastes. Violets just throw themselves at you like a bridal bouquet (don’t know if violets are traditional to a bouquet but if I ever have one maybe they will be) and anyway even if you are a commitment-phobe like me you’re gonna catch this wine. There may be rose or so and some plums and then just this wine wants to flow through your veins with happiness and if happiness flowing through your veins is something a relationship could bring then I am at least giving this a second date. — a month ago

Trixie, Severn and 11 others liked this

Jean-Marc Burgaud

James Côte du Py Morgon Gamay 2018

What I want, what I need! Out of Cru Beaujolais. Given air. It needs some air so take your time time or decant in advance. I mean it is cool and fabulously balanced out of the gate but give it about 45 minutes and all sorts of aromas and flavors come out. Violets to wit. Besides those come greenery and bright blackberries and blueberries and it’s a geode in a glass. With time it is a geode giving life to violets. — a month ago

Jason, Ira and 16 others liked this

Château Routas

Côteaux Varois en Provence Cinsault Blend 2020

It’s got that garrigue that’s just like, hey, I’m gonna be dehydrating some lavender and roses back here and everyone pretends like they are just letting garrigue do it’s thing but they really cherish it.
This has poise and nuance and beyond the dried flowers we could discuss perhaps a polka if polkas have grace (they can make you dance on air in the right arms) and just enough grounding. In all honesty I don’t necessarily reach for Provence when I want rosé but this is one I am into
— a month ago

Trixie, Serge and 14 others liked this
Vasanth Balakrishnan

Vasanth Balakrishnan

Where have you been all this time with your reviews, Ellen?!
Ellen Clifford

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@Vasanth Balakrishnan Not drinking enough, apparently! 🤣🤣🤣

Black Stallion Winery

Limited Release Napa Valley Albariño 2019

Deeeeeliteful. Very unassuming but it’s got subtle depth. Salinity and citrus soothed by honeysuckle. It’s like, “I’m gonna sprint across the ocean walking on water but when I get zonked I’m gonna stop to smell the roses, ocean marathons can wait” and then it trots on. Supes into it. — a month ago

barak heller, Ron and 13 others liked this

Quintas do Homem, Lda

Vale do Homem Loureiro

I love this wine. It is perfume in all the right ways—that classic spritz feel Vinho Verde gives really lifts you just far enough from the roses and orange blossoms so you are gliding over the garden but choking in the aromas. And as your air-chariot (like a hoverboard but you get to sit) glides you also get to much some honeydew and all of it feels like how in THINK early morning sunrise dewy gardens should feel. There is also a vanilla bean nature but not like oak, more a body and richness heavy enough to give it gravity, but not so heavy your hoverboard-glider-chariot will crash. — a month ago

Randy, Jason and 13 others liked this
MaJ CappS

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I love this as well! Such and amazing wine house.
Ellen Clifford

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@MaJ CappS glad to hear you like it too!