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Wine Reviews 

Swing into summer with light, refreshing wines to accompany lighter meals, bar bites and party food. Following is an array of familiar and not-as-well-known varietals and regions to capture your fancy this summer. We searched the globe to find an effervescent brut prosecco from the Veneto, a refreshing South African Sauvignon Blanc, a captivating Chilean Chardonnay, a luscious Oregon Pinot Noir, a dazzling Rose from the Rhone and more. All but the lone red wine should be served well chilled.

Try all nine and enjoy all summer long.

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NV Adriano Adami Garbel Brut Prosecco 13

Veneto, Italy / $16 Retail

This stunning sparkler proved a revelation. Following the trend toward drier proseccos, the Adami "garbel," meaning dry and crisp, presents delicate fruit in a clean, refreshing style. Estate bottled, a small amount of Chardonnay is blended into the wine, which offers a fine mousse in the glass, emanating scents of pear, green apple and wildflowers beckon. In the mouth, tiny bubbles burst on the palate with flavors evoking white peach, melon and a pleasing minerality. It is extremely well-balanced with brisk acidity and pear and almond notes on the finish. Drink now or within the year. It is a good aperitif and delicious with hors d'oeuvres such as caviar, smoked salmon and seafood. Or pair it with salads such as tuna Nicoise, brunch items and desserts. Buy it at: Cork & Bottle. Drink it at: Restaurant August and Domenica.

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2008 Arabella Sauvignon Blanc

Western Cape, South Africa / $11- $13 Retail

If one particular varietal epitomizes summer sipping for wine lovers, this Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa fits the profile. This recent discovery is a fantastic value as well as a delicious, food-friendly wine to enjoy with a variety of dishes. Fermented in stainless steel to retain its freshness, this invigorating wine showcases aromas of tart apple, florals, lime zest and subtle grassiness. On the palate, citrus flavors mingle with passion fruit, pear, pink grapefruit and tropical fruit notes, with a beautifully balanced, but not overbearing acidity on the finish. It is delicious as a sipping wine or paired with seafood, Asian or Cajun cuisines, salads and other light summer fare. Buy it at: Swirl, Dorignac's and Bacchanal. Drink it at: NOLA.

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Vinho Verde, 2009 Casal Garcia Branco

Portugal / $8-$13 Retail

A blend of four Portuguese varietals sourced from the country's largest wine region, northwest Portugal's Vinho Verde, this wine exhibits an appealing freshness and delightful spritz on the palate. It might be the perfect summer quaffing wine because of its low price and alcohol level (10 percent) and high marks for taste and flexibility. Subtle orange blossom and citrus scents lead into tart apple and peach flavors with some mineral character and lively acidity. Vinho Verdes are best consumed within the first year of their release. Try it with seafood, steamed mussels, fruit salads, light pastas, white meats, and spicy cuisines like Thai or Indian. Buy it at: The Wine Seller, most Rouses, Breaux Mart Uptown, Dorignac's, Cellars of River Ridge, Acquistapace's Covington Supermarket and The Wine Market. Drink it at: Loa, Cafe Fresco and Nuvolari's.

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2008 Hedges CMS White

Columbia Valley, Washington / $10-$14 Retail

The Hedges Family Estate produces exceptional wines in Washington's Red Mountain American Viticultural Area (AVA) as well as the Columbia Valley, carefully cultivating each vintage with minimal intervention. A blend of 77 percent Sauvignon Blanc, 21 percent Chardonnay and 2 percent Marsanne (a classic white Rhone Valley blending varietal), this wine has the look and feel of an Old World bottling, reflecting the family background: Tom and Anne Marie wed in her native Champagne, France, in 1976 and opened their Washington winery in 1987. In the glass, the well-structured wine's compelling aromatics and lush flavors unfold in layers of white peach, citrus, pineapple and pear with mineral notes and good acid levels. Drink it with seafood and soft cheeses. Buy it at: Whole Foods Markets. Drink it at: Emeril's Delmonico, Le Meritage, Olivier's, Muriel's Jackson Square and Le Phare.

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2009 La Yunta Torrontes

Famatina Valley, La Rioja, Argentina / $10-$15 Retail

Torrontes is Argentina's emerging white grape, and it is the basis for this refreshing, clean, crisp wine. La Yunta, from the Mendoza region, offers this high-quality, value-priced bottling. In the glass, floral aromas lead the way with cantaloupe, grapefruit rind, citrus, apple and stone fruit following on the palate. It is well-suited for warm climates and is a good choice as an aperitif or with dishes such as prosciutto-wrapped melon, seafood, fowl, pork, sushi and Asian cuisines. Buy it at: Some Rouses, Vom Fass, Breaux Marts in Uptown and River Ridge, Bacchanal, Sidney's Wine Cellar, Cellars of River Ridge, Acquistapace's Covington Supermarket, Habano's and The Wine Market. Drink it at: La Boca, Calypso Patio Grill, N'Tini's and Fazzio's Italian Restaurant.

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2009 Domaine Les Grand Bois Cuvee Les Trois Soeurs

Cotes du Rhone, France / $12-$14 Retail

A beautiful light rosé color immediately suggests pairing this wine with salmon, but the versatile bottling — a blend of mostly Viognier, a white grape, and a bit of Grenache, the red grape of the southern Rhone Valley — goes well with many foods. It has a bouquet of sweet, fresh flowers and on the palate, it tastes of raspberry, strawberry and a touch of watermelon, all bone-dry. The namesakes for this wine are the next generation of the Besnardeau family, whose members founded the House of the Big Woods in 1920, with its first release in 1935. The family refuses to filter its wines, but the vintner is committed to hand harvesting and cold fermentation to showcase the full delicacy of the grapes. Buy it at: Swirl, Baccanal and Acquistapace's Covington Supermarket. Drink it at: St. James Cheese Co., Kyoto, Nuvolari's and Cafe Lynn.

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2008 Nora Albarino

Rias Baixas, Spain / $14 Retail

How do you explain the stunning aromas and flavors of a wine made from a white grape that grows almost exclusively in a remote region of northwestern Spain, cultured by people whose heritage is Irish? There's no need for words. The wine in question is Albarino — golden with aromas of ripe apple and lime, presenting a crisp, citrus-clean, acidic taste perfect to drink with fish, chicken and spicy Asian cuisines. Only lately have winemakers experimented with this grape outside of its home base in Rias Baixas, but nowhere does it achieve the results it does here. Interestingly, the grape originally came from Germany, and was brought to Spain by monks. The Spanish name of the grape is derived from Alba-Rino, the "white" from the Rhine, but it has found its true home in Galicia. Drink it with tapas, poached salmon and other seafood, salads, chicken and Asian dishes. Buy it at: Martin Wine Cellars.

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2007 Vista Hills Vineyards Treehouse Pinot Noir

Willamette Valley, Oregon / $25 Retail

Oregon has gained respect in the wine world for its beautiful and elegant Pinot Noirs. Willamette Valley is the epicenter for the grape — and the well-deserved reputation. Vista Hills Treehouse is a seductive version with strong notes of sour cherry, aromatic spices, a bit of earth and a hint of milk chocolate. Vanilla and raspberry round out the layers of flavors on the palate. The texture is silky, and the long finish captivates the senses. The altitude of the Dundee Hills, 500 to 800 feet above sea level, contributes to the wine's complexity and balance — as do vines cloned from Burgundy. Treehouse refers to the winery's tasting room, a wood and glass structure nestled on a rise among a grove of trees looking down on the rolling vineyards. Enjoy with it grilled salmon, sesame tuna, roast duck, lamb and chicken. Buy it at: Dorignac's. Drink it at: Orleans Grapevine Wine Bar and Bistro.

2009 Apaltagua Reserva Chardonnay

Casablanca Valley, Chile / $10-$16 Retail

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Think of Napa Valley and you have a pretty good idea of the layout of Aconcagua Valley in Chile. To the warm northern end is the Valley of Aconcagua, and to the south is the Valley of Casablanca, with its maritime influences and cooler climate, not unlike Carneros. Apaltagua Winery is known for its Carmenere wines made in Colchagua. But in the winery's vineyards in Casablanca, the first valley in Chile to welcome winter weather, Chardonnay flourishes, developing citrus and big acidic characteristics, with a strong presence of vanilla and a hint of tropical fruit and banana. The long hang time as winter descends allows the grapes to mature slowly and develop robust varietally specific personalities. The oak components added by the winemaker are subtle. Although this wine is budget-priced, the taste elevates it to a greater level of appreciation. Pair it with cream soups, seafood, shellfish and light meats. Buy it at: Rouses Uptown and Bacchanal.

Wine prices and availability current at press time. Any questions? Email


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