Few vegetables are tougher to match with wine than green asparagus, which is synonymous with spring. My go-to white for the job is sauvignon blanc, because its characteristic aromas and flavors — commonly called green, herbal, herbaceous or vegetal — echo those of asparagus.
Many Long Island producers offer sauvignons, and the 2012s have begun to enter the market.
My preferred preparation of asparagus at home involves poaching and serving the stalks with slightly browned butter or olive oil and lemon. The idea is to keep things simple; too much complexity can overly complicate, if not defeat, a wine-and-asparagus match. If you want to add a complementary ingredient, sprinkle bits of tangy goat cheese over the cooked stalks, as chefs in the Loire Valley of France do.
I tasted five East End sauvignons, all 2012s, last week. Each was distinctive; all were awash in fresh acidity, which clears the palate while whetting the appetite. Steady chilling kept them brisk on the palate.
The vividly flavorful, grassy sauvignon ($15) from Osprey’s Dominion Vineyards in Peconic was the closest match to cooked asparagus. This winning wine was round and full-bodied.
The almost plush sauvignon ($23) from Macari Vineyards in Mattituck, a personal favorite for many vintages, had a rewardingly rich fruit-salad flavor redolent of Granny Smith apples, with hints of lime.
Raphael in Peconic makes two usually stylish sauvignons. The regular, complex version ($20) had a particularly inviting, slightly smoky aroma and a generous, earthy flavor. The First Label sauvignon ($26) was lean, piquant, graceful and subtle.
The lightest sauvignon in the group was the perfumed, just-released one ($19.99) from Palmer Vineyards in Riverhead. Its delicacy implied versatility, so after the asparagus it accompanied baked Tasmanian sea trout. The combination clicked.