Spring Sippers

It is time to shed your sweaters and full-bodied red wines and stock the fridge with aromatic, crisp, fruity spring wines. Local wine shop proprietors are eager to help you discover unique wine regions in different countries.

Jeffrey Bell, General Manager of the retail shop and wine bar Eleven Eleven in Benson, prefers to focus on unique varietals from small producers offered by boutique distributors. Decisions are made by tasting the wines and talking with the producers. “I like to work with people and family winemakers,” he said. “There is nothing on my shelves that I don’t think is a great representation of both grape and terroir.”

Featured wines are reasonably-priced and often eclectic. Bell will recommend a wine when asked, but his philosophy is to “drink what you like”. For example, if you normally enjoy rosé, try something a little fuller bodied or drier. If you like Sauvignon Blanc, try an interesting French Sancerre. Grown in the limestone hills of the Loire Valley, the grapes express zingy minerality balanced with a bit of savory smoke. This combination makes a beautiful pairing with an herbed, whipped goat cheese spread on slices of toasted baguette.

Pair warm patio breezes with a Pouilly-Fuisse’ from the Burgundy region in France. Made from chardonnay grapes, the aroma and flavor are crisper, lighter, and more distinctive than California chards. Due to the different soils, wines from this region express more fruity, citrus, and acidic notes.

Eleven Eleven was designed to look like an effortlessly cool half-finished basement. Thrifted couches, eclectic chairs, and mid-century lamps line the floor while macramé plant hangers line exposed stud walls. The effect draws you in, and before you know it you’ve ordered a glass of wine and nibbles from nearby Yoshitomo.

This season, make time to visit Eleven Eleven for a tasting, learn more about its wine club, or simply browse and enjoy a glass or two with friends in this cozy Benson spot.

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