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Peggy Raley and her Nassau Valley Vineyard in Lewes will celebrate spring like many local wineries—by offering bottles of fresh, white wines.  Photograph by Jared CastaldiFrench winemakers love the term fraiche or “fresh.”

Simply put, it means that a wine has a lot of snappy fruit flavors and crisp finishing acidity. Such wines are ideal for celebrating spring, and the perfect spring wines are fresh whites made locally from locally grown grapes.

Some of the whites making their way to our retail shelves and restaurant lists come from last fall’s vintage. Others are from 2009.

“The 2010 vintage was an early one and a good year for all whites,” David Hoffman told me during the winter, as we went from tank to tank, glass in hand, at Paradocx Vineyard in Landenberg, Pa., where Hoffman is winemaker and co-owner. None of the four whites he was finishing before bottling would see any time in oak barrels, which makes them toasty and buttery. Most would not undergo a secondary fermentation that softens them.

So when you pull the cork on one of these Paradocx wines some fine spring day, the 2010 Pinot Blanc should be crisp, with lots of pear and apple flavors. The Haywagon Chardonnay will be full of tart apples. The Pinot Grigio will be quite juicy, with fresh apricot and apples. And the Viognier? A jungle of juicy tropical fruits.

Eric Miller has been making a slightly sweeter, fruit-forward Spring Wine for years at his Chaddsford Winery. The 2010 version is especially fruity, with lots of tropical aromas. “We had some botrytis this year,” Miller said, referring to a fungus that dries grapes and concentrates sugar. “The wine is almost all made from vignoles, a grape that grows particularly well in this region.”

Not all whites released this spring come from the 2010 vintage. Stargazers Vineyard’s 2009 Solar Celebration Chardonnay is very aromatic, with flavors leaning toward the fruitiness of apples, says owner-winemaker John Weygandt.

Anthony Vietri at Va La Vineyards in Avondale, Pa., has been attracting an avid following over the past few years for La Prima Donna, Weygandt’s unusual blend of aromatic grapes also grown in northern Italy and southern France. Those LPD fans should start lining up for the 2009 when it is released this spring, for it is one of the best American white wines I’ve ever tasted. Period. It is a lovely mélange of dried and tropical fruit flavors infused with lots of spicy, peppery notes, with a long, tight finish.

In its first year as a commercial winery, Galer Estate in Chester County, Pa., will release a Chardonnay that is well-balanced and floral.

Downstate, the wine choices are growing, with Fenwick Cellars and Pizzadili joining the venerable Nassau Valley Vineyard. All will be releasing new whites, though Adrian Mobilia says his 2010 Reflections of Fenwick will feature Vidal and Chardonnay from his father’s Lake Erie vineyards. “We’re so new that I’m waiting for our vines to grow,” he says.—Roger Morris
 

Page 2: The Celebrity Chef Brunch Survival Guide | The Dining Insider will get you through.

 

The Celebrity Chef Brunch Survival Guide

The Dining Insider will get you through.

Don’t panic.

You find yourself in a swanky atrium surrounded by 30 world-class chefs, mountains of quail eggs and wild mushroom crepes, and 1,200 impeccably dressed revelers.

The Meals from the Masters annual Celebrity Chefs’ Brunch—which goes down April 17 at the Bank of America building in Wilmington—is, no doubt, a culinary extravaganza. But between all of the food, important people and natural sunlight, the brunch can be an overwhelming affair.

So without further ado, here’s the Dining Insider’s Guide to the Brunch:

• Get trayed up. The clear plastic trays provided at the door are absolute necessities for serious eaters. More importantly, the cup holder cradles your drink and frees up a hand.

• Grab a mimosa. No further explanation necessary.

• Survey the land. Get your bearings. Know which room has the pineapple parfaits and which booth is serving bacon spoon bread.

• Pace yourself. Don’t go too big too early. That white-pepper chocolate tuile will still be there later. Should you find yourself slipping into a food coma early, grab a cup of complimentary Wawa coffee and rally.

• Avoid strong liquor. Yes, counterintuitive, but that Ketel One ice luge is going to anesthetize your taste buds. With food this good, you’ll want to taste it.

• Try new things. This is your opportunity to be bold. You’re getting a single taste-sized portion of braised veal cheek. You’ve already paid for your ticket. Down the hatch.

• Give props to the locals. They’re surrounded by dozens of some of the most decorated, talented chefs in the world, so why not show some love for the Dan Butlers, Jay Caputos and Matthew Curtises of the world?

Read more Dining Insider at delawaretoday.com/Blogs/Dining-Insider. —Matt Amis
 

Page 3: The New Face of Dining

 

New Delaware Restaurant  Association  leaders (from left) Matt DiSabatino, Ryan German and  Stephen Lucey. Photograph by Jared CastaldiThe New Face of Dining

They’re young, they’re hip, they’re connected, they think green and they Tweet. They’re the new faces of the local restaurant industry.

Meet the latest executive committee of the Delaware Restaurant Association: Caffé Gelato owner Ryan German is the association’s chairman, Six Pauper’s Steve Lucey is vice chair and Matt DiSabatino, a partner in Striper Bites, Kindle and Half Full, is treasurer.

They lobby state legislators on behalf of restaurants (which make up a huge chunk of the state’s workforce and small businesses) and, along with the rest of the DRA, are dedicated to promoting, protecting and improving Delaware’s food service industry.

A younger crew in charge means the DRA can sharpen its focus on 21st century public policy issues. “I think the younger vibe mixed with the folks that have been around, it’s like the perfect blend of ingredients,” says DRA president Carrie Leishman. “Public policy issues that are hot right now have to do with sustainability and social responsibility, and you see the younger generation taking the reins on those sorts of things.”

German, 33, opened Caffé Gelato in Newark in 2000 during his senior year at UD. He joined the DRA in 2004 and quickly became a legislative force. “He’s really grown into such a sophisticated guy,” Leishman says. “He gets it when it comes to advocacy, both on a federal and state level.”

DiSabatino started Striper Bites in Lewes with wife, Ali, when they were both 25. Now 35, the homegrown restaurateur rounds out the executive board with Lucey, who opened Wilmington pub Dead Presidents with his brother Michael in 1997. Now 41, Lucey co-owns Six Paupers in Hockessin, which opened in 2004.

Restaurants comprise a public industry, Leishman says. “You have to bend with the public, and change has to be fast, flexible and creative. These guys are it.” –Matt Amis

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