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Wine Without Pretense: Celebrate with red, white and blue wines
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Artazuri Rosado 2014

The wine: Dry but fruity rose.

The grapes: 100 percent carnacha.

The source: Artazu, northern Spain.

The verdict: Summer in Georgia means the heat and humidity are visiting. One of the best wines to crush those two things is a well-chilled rosado from Spain. And this one, while light in body, is a heavy hitter in the world of pink wines. Vinification in stainless steel helps show off the rich, fruity flavors of the garnacha grapes, and garnacha is one of Spain’s best. Did someone say picnic wine? Keep it chilly in the basket, along with cold fried chicken, cheeses and sliced apples and pears; find a shady spot under a big old oak and y’all are in heaven.

The price: About $16.

CORRECTION: The May 6 wine column incorrectly described the creation of South Africa’s pinotage grape. The grape was developed in the mid 1920’s by South African scientist Abraham Perold who crossed the pinot noir grape with the hermitage grape, also known as cinsault.

Saturday is Independence Day. Happy Birthday, America! And what better way to celebrate this auspicious occasion than to embrace the red, white and blue and all the goodness and greatness it represents.

And we can do the same thing with wine.

The following trio is All-American; evidence of the fine wines produced in this country. All are available in Georgia.

The first may be harder to locate because of small production and distribution. But I promise it is worth it.

First, the backstory. In the mid-1970s, the American (read California) wine industry was in its infancy. While folks in the know understood some truly fine wines were being produced in California, primarily in the Napa Valley, wine snobs throughout the world turned up their pointy little noses at American wines.

“Vin du pipi,” sniffed the French.

But then came the Judgment of Paris in 1976. In that tumultuous and landmark event top-ranked Napa Valley chardonnays and cabernet sauvignons bested prestigious French red Bordeaux and white burgundies. In fact, California took first place in both categories and six of 10 in the final rankings.

The French set their hair on fire, and Napa Valley never looked back.

Since then we’re living in a global wine world. Go to a full-service wine shop and you’ll find wines from places you’ve never heard of, as well as the long-lived stars, such as Napa Valley, Tuscany and Bordeaux.

But it’s red, white and blue — Old Glory wines — we honor today. So let’s get to it.

Red: Woodward Canyon Artist Series No. 21 Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Cab, as we winos call it, is the red wine that started another sort of revolution. Of Bordeaux origin, it’s the grape to which Napa Valley hitched its wine-making wagon. Big, bold, full of flavors and able to last for many years, Cabs became the California trademark red.

But this one is not from California. It’s from Washington state and will make your eyes bulge out and ears spin. It’s that good. It’s made from a handcrafted blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, petit verdot and syrah by famed winemaker Kevin Mott.

Mott assembled this stellar wine from some of Washington’s revered vineyards. The fruit was handpicked and was given white glove treatment throughout the process. Some new and some older French oak barrels give the wine a tenacious nose. It’s almost ready to drink but will get much better over the years, probably another 10-12. About $50.

White: Edna Valley Vineyard Central Coast Chardonnay 2012

I love the wines from California’s Central Coast of Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Seco and Edna Valley. In the past decade, this area has become a wine hot spot. Edna Valley has a great history. And this Chardonnay has a great future.

It’s 100 percent chardonnay and reflects the ideal growing conditions of the 2012 vintage, which is a welcome change from the dreary nature of 2011. About a third of this wine underwent malo-lactic fermentation, a process in which the wine takes on a softer, creamier mouth feel.

The volcanic rock and marine sediment soils give Edna Valley wines a distinctive taste. You’ll understand when you get some in your mouth. About $18.

Blue: Marvin Dunson’s soon-to-be classic ‘Ole Blue’

Yes, really!

I met Marvin, owner of Currahee Vineyards just outside Toccoa, at a winemaker dinner last summer in White County. We sat at a table and I thoroughly enjoyed his company. He’s a country boy and farmer, who converted his family’s farm into vineyards and a winery.

And Ole Blue is one of his winners. This wine, although not blue in color, is a muscadine wine flavored with more than a touch of blueberries.

Take a taste and, oh my, who put the blueberries in the bottle? Marvin Dunson, that’s who.

It’s mildly sweet, not a wine to pour for a lamb roast or lobster, but it is just flat out fun to drink because, dadburn it, it tastes good!

Muscadine is the native American grape from which many sharp-sweet wines are made. You get that hint of sharpness in Ole Blue, but the blueberries do a fine job of smoothing it.

You don’t have to drive to Toccoa to get it. It’s sold in this area at The Cottage Winery north of Cleveland. It’s about $20.

Now go find your flag and get ready to display it proudly. Then take some time to offer quiet thanks that we live in such a marvelous country.

Randall Murray is a Gainesville-area resident. Have a question about wine? He can be contacted at His column appears on the first Wednesday of the month and on


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