Author mug By The Glass

Chuck Furuya

Try these wines
before prices rise

Isn't it great to discover a store or restaurant that offers a new twist? In fact, when something really innovative comes along, it can be downright exhilarating.

The same rush happens for me when I find a new and unique wine. Take these, for example:

2003 Gruner Veltliner, Hirsch, No. 2 ($13): Many wine professionals are touting Austria's Gruner Veltliner as the latest "perfect" pairing partner for contemporary fusion foods.

The challenge has been to find one reasonable in price. Well, here it is -- dry with a laser-like focus, pure and crisp, you can match this with many a seafood dish, from simply grilled or seared fish to more involved recipes.

2002 Pinot Bianco, Cantina Terlano ($16): This is one of those wines that is so striking, my first encounter will be etched in my mind forever. It is, in one word, riveting. The longer description -- dry, effortlessly light and crisp, ideal with fresh seafood -- from Asian, to Italian, to Southwestern to Spanish.

The wine comes from a steep, rocky hillside in northeast Italy and is one well worth seeking out.

2002 Chardonnay, Blackwing ($14): Australia is producing some of the world's great values. You can read about it all in virtually every wine and food publication. Here is another one, though quite atypical in profile. Intense, yet surprisingly light in weight, the crisp, lemony edge frames the wine's fruit and nuances very well and, more importantly, makes this chardonnay much more food friendly.

2003 Shiraz, Wishing Tree ($11): Quick -- buy up this wine before it is discovered! The wine has lovely, delicious fruit -- alive and exuberant, yet is still smooth and supple. You will see the price will go up quickly with each subsequent release.

2002 Las Rocas ($12): This is a deeply flavored, intriguing, rustic, old-vine grenache-based red from Spain. Beat the crowd, is the message.

2001 Faugeres, Leon Barral, ($20): Over the years, several shining stars have emerged from southern France. Mas de Daumas, nicknamed the "The Miracle of the Languedoc," was one that I once bought at $8.50 a bottle. Today, it is $50. Domaine Grange des Peres was another, starting out in the teens and now roughly $70 a bottle -- and that's if you can find it!

Leon Barral is being heralded as the next phenom and, judging from the last two releases, I have to agree. The wine has much more than just grape-variety correctness blended in with some new oak and a rustic, Old World edge.

This vineyard has pedigree, that something extra that separates the superstars from the wannabes. It is not showy and boisterous as some cabernet- or syrah-dominant reds can be. This wine is delicious.

2000 Lagrein, Whitcraft ($29): An absolutely HUGE, black, brooding, immense California red that is surprisingly light. An absolute must to try. Lagrein is the grape variety and the wild and woolly Chris Whitcraft is the winemaker.

Chuck Furuya is Hawaii's only master sommelier
and a consultant with Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar.

This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to features@starbulletin.com



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