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Wine without Pretense: Sampling some wines from around the world

POSTED: August 3, 2011 1:30 a.m.

Had enough Georgia summer? Ready to travel somewhere else ... anywhere else?

Me, too!

Today we’re taking a global tour without leaving the house. As you probably know, fine wine is produced all around the world. Compared with 20 years ago, there are so many good examples of well-made wines from so many places, it really is incredible.

I recently offered a wine-tasting party in a lovely home overlooking Lake Lanier. Did some research on wines from around the world, selected and sampled five and folks really did enjoy them. So I will trot them out for everybody to savor.

We will sample (vicariously, of course) five very nice wines from Italy, New Zealand, Argentina, California and Spain. This list actually could comprise wine planning for a full meal, ranging from a bubbly aperitif to a sweet and viscous dessert wine.

Buckle up ... we’re ready to depart.

1. LaMarca Prosecco NV (Non-vintage):

This friendly bubbly has won a number of awards in recent years.

Truly a value wine. Of course, there are other brands of Prosecco, and the variation among them is not all that great. I like this one, however. About $13.

2. Drylands Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010:

This dry, crisp white from New Zealand’s famed Marlborough region is a perfect match for seafood and lighter chicken dishes. Fermented and aged in steel, this wine retains the true expression of the sauvignon blanc grape, which makes it really food-friendly. The word "Marlborough" on a New Zealand sauvignon blanc label pretty much promises there’s a very good, food-friendly wine inside. About $15.

3. Crios Rose of Malbec 2010:

"Crios" refers to her children, which is how she regards her wines. Made from the same malbec grape that produces some of Argentina’s great reds, this wine is perfect with salmon, veal and heavier poultry dishes. I am quite fond of good, well-constructed dry roses, such as this one, or the rosados and rosatos from Spain and Italy. France and Portugal also crank out good rose wines. About $15.

4. Hullabaloo Old Vines Zinfandel 2008:

The fruit comes from the Lodi area in California, which has become a zinfandel haven. Zinfandel, as my readers know by now, is my favorite red. It’s a true American grape, in terms of wine production, although the zin ancestor came from Europe. Nobody in this ol’ world makes zinfandel worth much of a hoot except in the USA. About $16.

5. Osborne Sweet Oloroso Cream Sherry NV:

Osborne — pronounced Oz BORN ay — produces a broad line of sherries, just about all of which I like. They offer quite good quality at sensible prices. Osborne also produces the Montecillo line of Spanish table wines ... also good values. About $13.

Back home already. If you’re craving any or all of these wines they are in general distribution. Check your local wine shops first; some selections may not be on the supermarket shelves. If you have trouble finding them, drop me an email and I’ll let you know where I found them. My address is just below.

Farm Winery Day

Don’t forget Rabun Farm Winery Day from noon to 4 p.m. Aug. 20. This event shows the public the farming aspect of running a winery, while offering samples of wines and foods produced there.

Tiger Mountain Vineyards and Persimmon Creek Vineyards in Rabun County are the stars of the show. For more information call Tiger Mountain 706-782-4777, or Persimmon Creek 706-212-7380.

Randall Murray is a Gainesville-area resident. He can be contacted at murrwine@aol.com.

Imagine sipping this after a fine meal. This true Spanish sherry is a classic dessert wine that helps your digestion ... and makes you mellow. Made from wines blended from different years, this wine brings flavors of sweet almonds and caramel. It comes from Jerez in Spain, a name that was corrupted by British wine merchants until it became "sherry."
This wine is a zinfandel ... a red zinfandel. Never had one? If you like cabernet sauvignon, you’ll probably love a good red zin. It’s full-bodied, with a hint of spice and dark red fruit. It’s the perfect mate for a big steak, lamb chops or spicy red-sauced dishes.
No, this pink wine is not white zinfandel. It’s a rich, dry rose, meant to be consumed with food. It comes from the talented hands of Susana Balbo, one of South America’s well-respected vintners.
Crack the screwtop, pour a bit into a glass and take a deep sniff. What’s the first aroma sensation you pick up? Hint: It’s a form of citrus.
This light, fruity sparkler from Italy is becoming widely popular as an aperitif and cocktail wine. Made from the prosecco grape in the LaMarca Trevigiana region, this wine is like Champagne — only different. It’s softer, not so crisp and dry as its French big brother. But it’s fun to drink!



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