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Randall Murray: A few good wines for summer sipping
Randall Murray
Randall Murray is a Gainesville-area resident. Have a question about wine? He can be contacted at His column publishes monthly.

OK, it’s almost here; the days of the twin 90s. And in northeast Georgia those twins would be named Heat and Humidity.*

Time to consider lighter, crisper, more heat-resistant wine offerings; the kind you can sip while sitting in the shade, take on a picnic or simply savor while watching Chip and Joanna demolish a wall.

Those of you who would rather gargle with Clorox than drink anything but red wine, move along … nothing to see here. But for those who appreciate the lightness of well-made whites and roses, take a seat. Class is about to begin.

Wine of the month

Niro Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2016

The wine: Dry, medium-bodied red table wine.

The grapes: 100 percent Montepulciano.

The source: Montepulciano D’Abruzzo region of Italy.

The verdict: Montepulciano is the second-most planted red grape in Italy. The first is Sangiovese. This famed growing area is tucked between the Adriatic Sea on the east and the Apennines Mountains to the west. “Niro” in some Italian dialects means “black.” In some areas it is spelled “Nero.” And this is an extremely dark red, almost black, wine, offering great texture as well as flavors. This wine is produced from carefully selected, top-quality fruit picked from vines at least 30 years old. Flavors of black cherries with a hint of pepper abound. I am impressed with the balance of the Niro … tannins and fruit just right. Chill this beauty slightly and serve with a hearty meal and life will be very good.

The price: About $20.

Hess Select Sauvignon Blanc 2016 — Dave Guffy is a special wine maker and he’s been with Hess for dog’s years. Hess steadily produces good-quality wines at sensible prices. This crisp, dry white goes down smoothly — with or without food. It’s 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc from California’s North Coast. About $15.

Garofoli Macrina Verdicchio 2017 — Dry and elegant this snappy white from Italy’s Marche region earns a spot on my summer sippers list. I love the citrusy bite from this well-structured wine. It’s fermented in stainless steel so the fruit character really stands up and asks to be noticed. Terrific with seafood. About $16.

Aveleda Alvarinho Vinho Verde 2015 — Portugal produces more than just Porto. And this bright, medium-bodied white will make you look for more — it’s that tasty. In Spain the grape is called Albarino. Whatever the name, it makes for a near-perfect seafood companion and one to enjoy on the porch. Vinho Verde is the region of origin and it means “young wine,” not “green wine.” About $15.

Chateau Souverain Sauvignon Blanc 2016 — It’s a California blend, with subdued fruitiness – no grapefruit peel, no fruit cocktail. Straightforward, crisp with a medium finish. Tinges of citrus in the mouth. This is a full-blown seafood — especially shellfish — wine. Serve it good and cold. About $15.

Crystal Creek Cellars Riesling 2016 — Looking for a summer wine that’s not bone dry; that offers some tantalizing fruitiness? Riesling is what you need. This edition carries a soft roundness to the mouth, accompanied with a hint of pear and honey. It comes from Washington state’s Columbia Valley, where many fine whites originate. This can be found at Aldi. About $8.

Cline Family Cellars Ancient Vines Mourvedre Rose 2016 — I’ll repeat my declaration: This wine may be pink but it ain’t white Zinfandel. This remarkable dry rose from California’s Contra Costa County, has big shoulders and more structure than many roses. Why? The Mourvedre grape, native to France’s Cotes du Rhone, shows through. Color is salmony-orange; primary tastes are apple and strawberries. Nice with food. About $15.

La Playa Dry Rose of Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 — Here’s another hefty rose, made in Chile’s Colchagua Valley from 100 percent Cabernet grapes. I served this in a recent Brenau University class and it wowed the crowd. Color is deeper than many pink wines and so is the mouth feel. I detected a trace of cocoa in the finish, which lasts a long time, and a hint of tannins. Try this one with grilled salmon. About $12.

Beronia Rose 2017 – From Spain’s famed Rioja region comes this light but nicely built wine from a blend of traditional Spanish grapes – Garnacha, Tempranillo and Viura. It was bottled this past January so it’s crisply fresh. Lots of strawberry that lingers with a long, creamy finish. It comes from Gonzalez Byass, a well-respected, family-owned collection of Spanish wineries. About $14.

Mionetto Prosecco Treviso — You can’t endure the season without a fruity sparkling wine to bubble away your summertime blues. This one springs from traditional Prosecco turf in Valdobbiadene in northern Italy. Made from the Glera grape, this is a lovely wine for the simple reason that it tastes wonderful. Crisp nuances of green apples and ripe pears match up with the tingle of the bubbles to make life good again. Does not need a special occasion. Just make sure it’s way cold. About $15.

*Reminds me of my days in Boca Raton, Florida. In the early 1990s a new National League baseball franchise had been awarded to south Florida and a contest was set up to name the team. Miami, a few years earlier, had given birth to a pro basketball team christened Miami Heat. It was a lousy team. So my favorite nomination for the baseball team was “Humidity,” with the suggested slogan: “You think the Heat’s bad, wait till you see the Humidity.” Sadly that did not win. The team is now the Miami Marlins. And they’re not very good, either.

Randall Murray is a Gainesville-area resident. Have a question about wine? He can be contacted at His column publishes monthly.
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