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Swizzle Wine Reviews



It's not officially summer yet, but it's long past the time to tuck away big, red tannic bombs we love so much in the fall. And they'll do better with a little aging, anyway. With the swelling heat and humidity, it is a time to think pink or white or light. Many of these wines are lighter in style to match summer dishes, but all are good aperitifs. And most are priced right for comfortable quaffing. Enjoy.

Locations to buy and drink reviewed wines are current at press time.

NV Ca' Vittoria Prosecco Brut

Conegliano Valdobbiadene, Italy / $20 Retail


Prosecco just might be the best summertime refresher of them all. Wines from this region in the Treviso province, just below the Veneto's Alpine area, are considered some of the premier examples of Prosecco due to the very cool growing season. Vinified to drink young, the medium-bodied, well-balanced wine is best served well chilled. In the glass, invigorating aromas of white flowers and tangerine and a tinge of minerality lead into tiny bubbles spilling over the palate with clean flavors of citrus, white peach and a zesty lemon-lime burst in the lively finish. It has nice acidity and is a good accompaniment to a wide range of dishes from breakfast selections to antipasti, salads, cheeses and fruit. Buy it at: W.I.N.O. Drink it at: The Grill Room at the Windsor Court, Carmelo's Ristorante, Clever Wine Bar and Yuki Izakaya.

2008 Ameztoi Rubentis Rose

Getariako Txakolina, Spain / $14-$17 Retail


The grape for thise wine is as difficult to pronounce (choc-o-lina) as it is easy to drink. Once you try it, you won't forget it. It is a refreshing and delicious blend of Hondarribi Beltza and Hondarribi Zuri grapes sourced from the center of Spain's northern Atlantic coast. Fermented in stainless steel, the wine's residual carbonation provides an intriguing natural spritz. Aromatics of lemon, lime, white floral notes and subtle pepper roll into flavors of red berries, ruby grapefruit, green apple and a wonderful minerality. It has great acidity and a slightly tart finish. Match it with a wide variety of dishes including seafood, salads, brunch items and fruit. Buy it at: Swirl Wines and Cork & Bottle. Drink it at: Boucherie, RioMar, Rambla and Delachaise.

2008 Cono Sur Sauvignon Blanc

Central Valley, Chile / $9-$10 Retail


Chilean producers have raised the stakes on Sauvignon Blanc. Made from 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc grapes, this expressive wine was aged three months in stainless steel to preserve its freshness and fruitiness. With characteristic herbaceous and grassy aromas, this crisp Chilean charmer is not for the faint of heart. It is a light-bodied wine, but vividly-scented. Grapefruit and tart apple flavors, citrus and herbal notes and a pleasing minerality dominate the palate. Serve it well chilled. Enjoy it with salads, asparagus, artichokes, soft cheeses, white meats and light pasta dishes. Buy it at: Rouses, Terranova Brothers Superette, Prytania Liquor and Martin Wine Cellar. Drink it at: Martinique Bistro, Cannon's and Mimi's in the Marigny.

2007 Undone Pinot Noir

Rheinhessen, Germany / $12-$13 Retail


Germany produces Pinot Noir, but the varietal is called Spatburgunder, and it's coming on strong in the world market. It is the most planted red grape in the country, and production is up. Fortunately, Rheinhessen's 2007 vintage made it through an inclement harvest unscathed. Fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks, the wine touches no oak. The bottling is fresh and light with delicate red berry aromas followed on the palate by juicy flavors of strawberry, cherry, plum and raspberry. It's a very soft wine with balanced acidity and is food friendly, so don't be afraid to drink it with a wide variety of foods such as salmon, tuna, poultry, pork, red meat, Italian cuisine or pasta. Buy it at: Partysist and Corkscrewed. Drink it at: Café Minh and Rick's Cabaret.

2006 Waterbrook Melange Blanc

Columbia Valley, Washington / $14-$15 Retail


A blend of 40 percent Reisling, 20 percent Gewurtztraminer and 10 percent each Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier and Pinot Gris, this wine is deliciously well balanced and refreshing. Grapes were sourced from Walla Walla Valley, where they ripened at a slow, even pace. After fermentation, 20 percent of the wine was aged for eight months in oak barrels and 80 percent in stainless steel tanks. In the glass, the wine offers myriad scents characteristic of some of the varietals: floral notes, apricot, honey and spice, grapefruit and stone fruit flavors on the palate, bright acidity and a long, clean finish. Drink it with everything from Asian cuisines, Cajun dishes, fish and shellfish to soft cheeses and fruit. Buy it at: Rouses. Drink it at: Iris.

2008 Houchart Cotes de Provence Rose

Côtes de Provence, France / $14-$15 Retail


A classic rosé from southeastern France, this wine's grapes were sourced from vineyards less than 20 miles from the colorful and charming Aix-en-Provence. A vibrant, dry rosé, it is a blend of 35 percent Grenache, 25 percent Syrah, 20 percent Cinsault, 10 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 5 percent Mourvèdre and 5 percent other grapes. In the glass, one swirl awakens lovely scents of raspberry, watermelon and floral nuances. On the palate, savor strawberry, red currant, tart lemon, some minerality and good acidity. Serve it lightly chilled with oysters, scallops, sushi, seafood salads, desserts, fruit and cheese. Buy it at: Swirl Wines, Rouses Uptown, Hopper's Wines and Spirits and Cork & Bottle. Drink it at: Cochon, Herbsaint, Vizard's and Dick and Jenny's.

2008 Fools Bay Mallee Sands Chardonnay

Padthaway, South Australia / $13-$14 Retail


One sip of this delightful wine demonstrates how good Chardonnay can taste when its pure fruit aromas and flavors aren't overpowered by oak aging. A product of Hentley Farm Wines in Barossa Valley, this full-bodied bottling showcases the varietal's elegance and freshness. In the glass, it offers inviting aromas of stone fruit, pear and nectarine. On the palate, the crisp wine exhibits apple, citrus and a complex array of tropical fruit undertones with a zesty acidity and clean finish. Chill it slightly for best results. Drink it with everything from cream soups, crabmeat, shrimp and fish to chicken or risotto. Buy it at: Partysist. Drink it at: Maximo's Italian Grill and Stein's Deli & Market.

2006 Taft Street Pinot Noir

Sonoma Coast, California / $18-$22 Retail


Established in Sonoma in 1982, Taft Street produces solid, value-priced wines from Russian River, Dry Creek and Alexander Valley as well as the Sonoma Coast. This wine was fermented in open-topped stainless steel tanks with three daily punchdowns to achieve maximum color and flavor extraction. Aging 14 months in barrels gives the wine a subtle oak influence, but fruit flavors and aromatics are the most prominent elements of the bottling. It exudes strong cherry scents with plum notes and spice. Velvety on the palate, it features ripe berry flavors, pomegranate and hints of mushroom and sage. With balanced acidity and a long finish, it's a great companion to a variety of dishes including fish, lamb, duck, pork, roasted vegetables, pizza and burgers. Buy it at: Langenstein's in Metairie, Dorignac's, Rouses in Mandeville and the Wine Market in Slidell. Drink it at: NOLA.

2006 Graham Beck Brut Rose

Western Cape, South Africa / $20 Retail


Over the past several decades, the Graham Beck winery has made great strides in showcasing South Africa's potential for producing world-class wines. The winery's vintage brut sparkling has won accolades. The fruit for this wine — a blend of 88 percent Pinot Noir and 12 percent Chardonnay — was sourced from the Robertson-Bonnievale region northeast of Cape Town. The wine was made in the Cap Classique method — the traditional methode Champenoise employing a second fermentation in the bottle. In the glass, a fine mousse tickles the nose along with aromas of fresh baked bread and floral notes. On the palate, the wine features apple, strawberry and raspberry flavors with an enticing finesse and vibrant acidity. Pair it with grilled shrimp, crab cakes, smoked salmon, foie gras and cheese. Buy it at: W.I.N.O. Drink it at: La Petite Grocery.


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