Made by two buddies from two continents and two different traditions, the SLO-based wine duo known as L’Union Sacre is, as the bottle says, “an homage to beauty’s strange ways.” It is also proof of what amazing things can happen when sleep deprivation melds with creative ambition. First, meet the two friends behind the winery’s bold and colorful labels: French transplant Xavier Arnaudin is a winemaking powerhouse, working at local wineries like Sans Liege, Barrel 27, Herman Story, and Arcadian since 2011. His partner, Philip Muzzy, is a creative mastermind and a brainchild behind Proof Wine Collective, where he’s designed labels and branding for many of those aforementioned wineries, including Desparada and Tooth and Nail.
After working a particularly tiring harvest back in 2012 just for fun (which included about two months of toiling away together, day in and day out), the guys got to talking about how much they had learned from the local industry and what kind of wine they would make if they had the singular opportunity to give back to that community. What rare and strange flavors would grace the long, crowded table of a dinner surrounded by their closest industry friends and colleagues?
Before the boys knew it, their own label, “the sacred union,” was born. I recently had the chance to taste a few of the team’s spring 2016 offerings, including a tart pinot noir rosé and a playful dry riesling. However, it was this straw-colored gewürztraminer that really stole the show—due in large part to its luxurious grapes, sourced from the Paraiso Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands. With its gorgeous floral allure (not unlike jasmine on the breeze) and a silky, lush mouthfeel, this white is perfect for toasting spring’s beauty, inspiration, and whatever strange new partnerships may come your way.
L'Union Sacre’s 2016 Gewürztraminer—$24 a bottle; unionsacre.com.
DIY Herb Butter
OK. So, we’ve already decided that gewürztraminer—quite flamboyant and scented with bright honeysuckle, rose, clove, and ginger—is the perfect springtime wine to bust out at your next garden party. But what to serve with that slightly chilled glass? I say literally anything, as long as it’s smeared with a healthy helping of fresh herb butter. This stuff is like spring on toast. If you already have oregano, mint, thyme, rosemary, or even cilantro growing in your garden, you are well on your way to this creamy snack. DIY it: Grab about a half pound of unsalted butter and let it come to room temperature. Now, pulse it in a food processor with a few pinches of minced garlic, a tablespoon of minced scallions, and a few tablespoons of freshly cut herbs. Add a dash of lemon juice and zest, combine, and chill in the fridge till needed. Dill is an amazing choice for tuna salad and watercress finger sandwiches, and basil-sun-dried-tomato herb butter is a smashing base for goat cheese and avocado toast. Extra credit: Add edible flowers (like teeny tiny purple rosemary blooms or fleshy squash blossom petals) for a beautiful and bountiful spring spread.
Hayley Thomas Cain is obsessed with flowers on (and in) everything this time of year. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.