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Try a New Wine or Two This Summer

With spring at hand, we’ve got some terrific columns coming up to get you in the mood for warmer weather. This week, we give you 10 reasons to celebrate spring. These wines were chosen because they are delicious and different to those of you stuck on pinot grigio and pinot noir. Many of them are great deals, too.

  • Michael David Ancient Vine Cinsault 2016 ($25). What a treat. This medium-body wine made from Lodi vineyards more than 100 years old sports bright cherry and cranberry flavors with a dash of spice. Very quaffable.

  • Caleo Nero d'Avola Terre Siciliane 2015 ($10). This is a killer wine for the price. Made entirely of nero d'avola grapes grown on Sicily, it has ripe black cherry and raspberry flavors with hints of lavender and rosemary. It's a great pasta, pizza, or hamburger wine.

  • Steele Shooting Star Blue Franc 2014 ($15). The grape variety in this fun and easy wine is actually blau frankisch (blue grape from France), but it's a relative of lemberger, a grape variety common to Austria. Neither grape is anything you want to put on a label, so Jed Steele just calls it "blue franc" and puts a French franc note on the label. Steele likes to have fun with odd grapes and this one is just a delicious joyride. Simple and spirited cranberry and cherry flavors.

  • Niro Pecorino Terre di Chieti 2016 ($17). Pecorino isn't just cheese. We just loved this unique and lively wine from the Abruzzo region of Italy. Made entirely from pecorino grapes, it has generous pineapple, acacia, and almond aromas, a viscous texture and oodles of pear flavors. Serve it with pecorino cheese.

  • Beronia Rueda Verdejo 2017 ($13). We just can't get enough of Spanish verdejos. This is an incredible steal. Lots of herbal aromas with peach and citrus flavors and rich, full mouthfeel.

  • Luce Della Vite Lucente 2015 ($30). The second wine of the well-known Luce, this super-Tuscan blend of merlot and sangiovese has fresh blackberry and plum fruit flavors with hints of vanilla and coffee. Very soft and rounded in the mouth, it's great drinking by itself.

  • Pazos de Lusco Albarino 2016 ($25). Herbal and citrus aromas give way to generous, varietal grapefruit and pineapple flavors. More full-bodied than most albarinos, this is a great wine from Spain to pair with an elegant fish dinner.

  • Writer's Block Lake County Grenache 2015 ($18). Like most grenaches, this version is relatively light in color and body but provides a refreshing lift of citrus, strawberry and spice character.

  • Domaine Paul Mas Cote Mas Blanc Mediterranee ($13). A blend of grenache blanc, vermentino, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, this Pay d'Oc from the Languedoc is simple yet delicious. Fresh acidity with citrus, grapefruit and pineapple flavors.

  • Cusumano Nero d'Avola 2016 ($12). A great buy from Sicily, this smooth nero d'avola has lots of blueberry and plum flavors with a hint of olives. Violet aromas and dark in color, it has a glass closure – odd, but it's easy to remove.


"Toes in the water, ass in the sand, not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand," sings Zac Brown. Now the country singer has put his name behind a new wine label, Z. Alexander Brown. Don't worry: he's not putting his toes in the juice.

We tasted the 2017 Uncaged Sauvignon Blanc and 2016 Uncaged Chardonnay and found them to be pleasant but not special. Both cost $20 a bottle.

Country singers are associated more with beer than wine. Maybe he should change the lyrics to "...a chardonnay in my hand."


  • Catalina Sounds Pinot Noir 2015 ($19). It's clear to see why this region is becoming as known for its pinot noirs as its sauvignon blanc. This value wine has elegance, simplicity, and long-lasting cherry and raspberry flavors.

  • Sonoma-Loeb Sangiacomo Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 ($30). From one of the most-desired vineyards in Carneros, this oaky chardonnay surpasses its price point. Generous citrus aromas are followed by richly textured tropical fruit flavors and abundant, oak-inspired flavors of vanilla and clove. This chardonnay is for those who like their chardonnays buttery and oaky.

  • Landmark Vineyards Grand Detour Pinot Noir 2016 ($35). Black cherry and raspberry flavors with an earthy feel and hints of leather and tobacco.

  • Goldeneye Confluence Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2015 ($84). This complex single-vineyard pinot noir broadcasts wide red berry aromas and fresh strawberry and cherry fruit flavors.

  • Kendall-Jackson Vintners Reserve Pinot Noir California 2016 ($17). While not overly complex, this pinot noir delivers a very appealing quaffable red wine with pleasant cherry and spice notes in a rich, round package.

  • Pfendler Vineyards Chardonnay 2015 ($38). This was an easy winner in a tasting flight of a half-dozen chardonnays we recently tasted. Well balanced with lush lemon curd, green apple, and sweet vanillin oak.

  • Aaron Petite Sirah Paso Robles 2014 ($48). This is a massively intense red wine that that will fill your mouth with wonderful berry and spice flavors. Known around the world as durif, petite sirah is the result of a chance crossing of the peloursin and syrah grapes in France. Today, it has found a home in California, where it even has a fan club “P.S. I Love You” that advocates for the grapes recognition. Try this full-throttle 15.6-percent alcohol wine if you want to see what petite sirah can produce.

  • Provenance Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($26). Delicious grapefruit and pineapple flavors with a kiss of oak to give it more weight and dimension. Semillon and muscat are blended into the wine to round off the edges and add more layers of fruit.

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