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By The Glass
David Ellis

Feeling daring
this summer?
Try port on ice

Summertime and the livin' is easy. Summer wines are among my favorites. The season offers a chance to try some fresh, young and palate-stimulating wines.

I look for something with fresh, bright flavors and crisp, clean acidity, without a lot of perceptible oak or heavy extraction. A short list might include a dry rosé from Provence, Italian prosecco, German riesling and, for those of you a little more daring, port on ice.

Summer wines should enhance rather than compete with foods and with the moment. Simply stated, they are yummy.


Sparklers: A cold glass of prosecco from Italy's Veneto region reflects a lovely extra-dry style with aromas of peach and lychee that finishes clean and fresh. Look for Zardetto or Bele Casel for excellent quality and affordability. From California look for J Winery 1999 Brut, with its clean, elegant style balancing apple and pear with medium body and a bracing finish. Or from France, Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte's Brut Premier Cru and Brut Rose NV are both great values.

Rosés: Routas Rouviére from Provence is just delightful, like savoring a bowl of fresh, summertime strawberries. Italy has some fun offerings, Vitiano from Umbria and Regaliali Rosato, a fuller style from Sicily.

Whites of Italy: Pinot grigio is a common first thought, but some fun alternatives include orvieto from Central Italy, which when done with care is fresh and perfumed with a hint of earthiness. I suggest La Carraia and Sergio Mottura, which is organically farmed.

Whites of Spain: Nora is made from albarino (the most famous white grape of Spain and Portugal), with exotic aromas of ginger, lychee and peach with pure, clean and dry flavors. Naia, made from the verdejo grape, has a very crisp, lemony flavor reminiscent of fine sauvignon blanc.

Chardonnay: To let the clean fruit flavors come through, I look for wines without oak. Two fine examples from France are Louis Latour Ardéche, with its clean citrus and apple flavors, and the 2002 burgundy from Domaine Barat Chablis A.C., with a little more body. It is a great match to grilled seafood.

Rieslings: Consider a medium-dry German riesling such as the affordable Selbach Piesporter Michelsberg, which has a light body and enough fruit to hold up to mildly spicy fare, or the Selbach-Oster Riesling Kabinett, with its complex aromas of peach, apple and slate.


Beaujolais Villages: This is the obvious choice from France and Louis Latour produces a classic example, fruity yet dry and not wimpy. A natural with grilled burgers.

Grenache from Spain: Vina Alarba Old Vine Grenache is juicy and ripe, with soft tannins. Also look for Bodegas Borsao (grenache and tempranillo blend) for an everyday, fun and satisfying red that would make any grilled short rib proud. Both provide a real mouthful for your dollar.

Italian reds: Italians in Piedmonte drink young dolcetto while waiting for their big barbarescos and barolos to age. I think of dolcetto as akin to beaujolais on steroids. The wine is very fresh -- jammy and vibrant with a firm backbone of acidity. Look for Guiseppe Cortese or Andrea Oberto. From the Veneto, valpolicella is a fine example of full flavors and velvet texture. Try a bottle of Zenato Superiore at the entry level, then step up to Allegrini La Grola for something really fine.

Pinot noir: This would be the American grape of choice. From the now-famous central coast, check out Foxen and Morgan Twelve Clones. Heading north to the Russian River, the J Winery Estate bottling is elegant and balanced.

One more tidbit

If you want a real treat, do what the Portuguese do. Try some tawny port on ice, and none is better than Grahams 20 Year Tawny or Smith Woodhouse 10-Year. Watch out -- you will find it addictive.

David Ellis is wine educator for Chambers and Chambers.

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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