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Reviews of wines for summer 

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2013 Wente Louis Mel Sauvignon Blanc
Livermore Valley, California
Retail $11-$15
Wente's reputation as an outstanding wine producer dates to the 1880s. This American wine pioneer is acclaimed for creating a clone vine of chardonnay known as the Wente Clone that is used today by a majority of chardonnay producers across California. Louis Mel, who immigrated from France to Livermore Valley in the 1870s, brought with him cuttings from sauvignon blanc vines in Bordeaux. His vineyard was purchased by the Wente family right after Prohibition. The Wentes achieved the Bordeaux style of sauvignon blanc through excellent vine placement in gravelly soil, a good growing season, timely harvesting, cold fermentation and no exposure to oak. The straw-colored wine offers melon and guava aromas. On the palate, taste honeydew, pineapple, tropical fruit and a bracing acidic finish. Drink it with local seafood, especially shrimp, crab and oysters. Buy it at: Dorignac's, Whole Foods Market in Uptown and Winn Dixie on Airline Drive. Drink it at: Liuzza's by the Track, Ugly Dog Saloon & BBQ, Hoshun and the Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel.

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2014 Seven Hills Dry Rose<
Columbia Valley, Washington
Retail $21
Columbia Valley, located in southeastern Washington State, lends its name to the Columbia Valley American Viticulture Area (AVA), which crosses into Oregon. A good bit of fruit grown in Oregon is vinified in Washington, more specifically in Walla Walla, and takes on the Washington name. Seven Hills designates certain vineyard blocks for its rose program. This wine is based on cabernet Franc, which makes it reminiscent of fine wines from the Loire Valley in France. The rose wines from that region are renowned for elegance and structure, and this wine compares well. Grape additions here include petit verdot and some malbec for structure. After destemming, the wines are pressed, and the juice is immediately removed from the skins, resulting in the pale pink color. Designer yeast and low-temperature fermentation assure a bone-dry finish. It offers aromas and flavors of white peach, strawberry, grapefruit, papaya, white flowers and hints of spice. Drink it as an aperitif or with sushi, boiled seafood, roast chicken and fruit salads. Buy it at: Faubourg Wines. Drink it at: Shaya and Bacchanal.

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2014 Txomin Etxaniz Getariako Txakolina
Getaria, Spain
Retail $20
Txakolina (chock-o-LEE-nah) wines are the pride of Basque country in northeastern Spain. Hondarrabi zuri, the grape in this wine, is grown nowhere else. There also is a red txakolina, and there are other names for the same wine and grapes. Sometimes Basque wines feature all these words on the same label. A feature of these wines is the fizzy aspect brought on by not allowing carbon dioxide to escape during fermentation. That procedure contributes to its fresh character, though it also helps that wines are released by Christmastime every year. This wine offers aromas of green apple, cucumber and a hint of pear. On the palate, there is a touch of sweetness blending with the light carbonic quality, and a touch of tartness on the clean, balanced finish. Its relatively low alcohol content is 11 percent. Drink it as an aperitif or with tapas, seafood and salads. Buy it at: Martin Wine Cellar. Drink it at: Cane & Table, Capdeville and The Dakota.

2014 Mayu Pedro Ximenez
Elqui Valley, Chile
Retail $13-$16
Elqui Valley is in northern Chile on the Elqui River, about 300 miles north of Santiago. The Olivier family planted vines in 2005 for Vina Mayu — Mayu is the Incan word for Milky Way. Pedro Ximenez is a Spanish white grape — likely of Arabic origin — named for the village of Jimenez, or possibly a vintner who propagated the grape throughout southern Spain. The vine stock is hardy and can withstand heat and lack of water — a real advantage in arid Chile. While the grape mostly is used to produce the spirit pisco, here the expression in wine is bright and clean. The wine offers aromas of lime and other citrus fruits and a fresh and lively minerality. On the palate, the crisp wine finishes with tart citrus. Drink it with ceviche, frog legs, shellfish, pork rillettes and duck liver terrines. Buy it at: Martin Wine Cellar, Sidney's Wine Cellar and Whole Foods Market in Uptown. Drink it at: Restaurant R'evolution, Annunciation Restaurant and Angeline.

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2013 August Kesseler Kabinett Riesling "R"vRheingau, Germany
Retail $14-$15
Few grape varieties in the world cause as much divergence of opinion as riesling. This white grape varietal recently has been grown far from its home along Germany's Rhine River. There are significant plantings in other areas of Europe, such as Alsace and Austria, but few grapes are as loyal to their birthplace as riesling. Vintner August Kesseler spent time in America and France learning how to maximize quality through vineyard practices, and the result has been a run of well-structured wines that reflect their region's traditional character. R Riesling features the slate quality associated with riesling, as well as key characteristics of German Riesling: flavors of sweet apple and peach. It also has subtle cherry, and all of the flavors play against an unmistakable background of minerality. Drink it with Asian dishes, boiled crawfish, pate and white-meat sausages. Buy it at: Martin Wine Cellar and most Rouses. Drink it at: SoBou and The Roosevelt New Orleans.

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2014 Domaine Houchart Rose
Cotes de Provence, France
Retail $13-$16
Crafting rose requires delicate balancing skills, but Domaine Houchart stomps where angels fear to tread by using four grape varietals in this rose. This latest generation of the Quiot family continues a tradition begun in 1748. Working in Provence and the Rhone Valley, Genevieve, Florence, Jerome and Jean-Baptiste Quiot oversee six winery labels including Domaine Houchart. Sitting in the shadow of the fabled Mount Sainte-Victoire, the vineyards are composed of eroded rock from the mountain. This Cotes de Provence rose is the result of several different trellising systems, mechanized harvest and individual treatment of the different grapes. Some of the grapes are subjected to a direct-press and others get a cold-soak. The wine offers aromas of strawberry and other red berries. On the palate, taste grapefruit and stone fruit such as peach. The wine is balanced, complex, delicate and food-friendly. Drink it with smoked salmon, shrimp remoulade, boudin and barbecue. Buy it at: The Wine Seller, Prytania Liquor Store, most Rouses, Hopper's Carte des Vins, Philippe's Wine Cellar, Stein's Market & Deli, Dorignac's, Acquistapace's Covington Supermarket, Langenstein's and Whole Foods Market in Metairie and Martin Wine Cellar in Metairie and Mandeville. Drink it at: Trenasse, La Crepe Nanou and Old Arabi Eats.

2014 Schloss Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner
Kamptal, Austria
Retail $16
The origins of this estate date to 1074 when a group of Cistercian monks were granted deeds to land. The vineyards were established to provide a source of funding for the large holdings and the resulting schloss, or castle. The current owners, Michael Moosbrugger and Willi Brundlmayer, obtained the property in 1996 and devote their energies to crafting high-quality indigenous wines. Gruner veltliner is a white grape dating back to the mid-1800s. Along the banks of the Danube lies the Kamptal, an area noted for steep slopes and a thin layer of topsoil that forces vine roots to reach through underlying rock for sustenance and water. Like all gruners, Kamptal presents a zesty, earthy character with black pepper and a hint of tobacco, along with apple and caramel notes. Drink it with smoked fish, herb-roasted chicken, asparagus salad, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and goat cheese. Buy it at: Martin Wine CellarDrink it at: Peche, Herbsaint, Ralph's on the Park and Cochon.

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Casal Garcia Vinho Verde
Vinho Verde, Portugal
Retail $6-$9
Vinho Verde is a region in northern Portugal, and there are a number of different grapes grown by various producers. Vinho Verde wines are not complicated, and the term is literally translated as "green wine," meaning fresh wine or young wine. Casal Garcia sells more Vinho Verde than any other winemaker in the area outside Oporto. This one is produced by Aveleda and comprised of four varietals: trajadura, loureiro, arinto and azal, a combination used by no one else. Winemakers from this area traditionally allow malolactic fermentation to take place in the bottle, which means the wine acquires a spritzy quality. Today that practice is less common, but lovers of Vinho Verde still like the peppy expression, and carbon dioxide is added to the wine before it is sealed. The low alcohol and fresh expression of citrus and stone fruit make a quaffable beverage. Drink it with sushi, sashimi, salads, seafood and Asian cuisines. Buy it at: Canseco's on Esplanade Avenue, most Rouses, Robert Fresh Market in Lakeview and on West Esplanade Avenue, some Breaux Marts, Elio's Wine Warehouse, Walgreens at 5518 Magazine St., Dorignac's, Langenstein's in Metairie and Acquistapace's Covington Supermarket. Drink it at: NOLA, Wayfare and Suis Generis.

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NV Lunetta Brut Prosecco
Trentino, Italy
Retail $11-$13
Prosecco has become popular due to producers' new commitment to quality, reasonable prices compared to other sparkling wines and delightful flavors across a broad spectrum of labels. Lunetta devoted a complete state-of-the-art winery in the Trentino region to produce only this style of wine. Lunetta means "little moon," and the romantic hint is meant to promise pleasure. Prosecco is made with the Charmat, or Italian production method, which has been improved in recent years to make better sparkling wines. This wine is made from glera, a grape with a solid acid component that perfectly frames its green apple and peach aromas and flavors. Drink it with a wide spectrum of foods. Buy it at: Breaux Mart on Magazine Street, Sidney's Wine Cellar, Dorignac's and some Rouses and Winn-Dixies. Drink it at: Muriel's, Cafe Giovanni, American Sector and Gio's Villa Vancheri.

Email Brenda Maitland at winediva1@bellsouth.net




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  • LUNA Fete @ Lafayette Square
    601 S. Maestri Place http://www.lafayette-square.org

    • Through Dec. 10
  • The Lion in Winter @ Sanctuary Cultural Arts Center
    2525 Burgundy St. http://www.sanctuarynola.org

    • Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 18
  • Notes of a Native Song @ Contemporary Arts Center
    900 Camp St. http://www.cacno.org

    • Fri., Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m. and Sat., Dec. 10, 7:30 p.m.
  • Jim Jefferies @ Joy Theater
    1200 Canal St. http://www.thejoytheater.com

    • Sat., Dec. 10, 7:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • St. Claude Second Saturdays @ St. Claude Arts District
    2820 St. Claude Ave.

    • Second Saturday of every month
    • 4 going/interested

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