Hot grapes for hot days and nights
By Joseph Baca
What an exciting time to enjoy the vast range of culinary offerings and wines found around Albuquerque! Spurred by the city’s explosive growth, the restaurant and beverage industry has expanded exponentially; our eateries and watering holes are exploring wine and cuisine from around the globe like never before. Shops that offer an expansive range of international items to select from have become ubiquitous. Wine classes and seminars are offered at locations throughout the city. There's an assortment of ultra-chic wine festivals and tastings that add luster to these warm weather months. The options for oenophiles today are unlimited, so get out and enjoy all the magic Albuquerque has to offer and open your mind to the wondrous world of wine.
The Alibi’s summer wine recommendations focus on eclectic grapes you may have never heard of—but they're all the rage among the experts and all available locally. Whether you're attending a Fourth of July blowout, a romantic summer picnic or a formal dinner gathering, the wines highlighted here will complement the occasion. Toast Albuquerque’s abundance by giving one of these unique and refreshing warm-weather wines a swirl.
Feudi Di San Gregorio, Falanghina
From Italy’s Campania region, this luscious white wine is made from the indigenous Italian varietal Falanghina by one of the world’s most progressive wineries—the owners practice sustainable agriculture and support the Slow Foods Movement. Hints of melon and banana flavors combined with mineral and acidic characteristics are tailor-made for summer sipping. It's also terrific with grilled seafood and chicken. $17.99
Itsas Mendi, Txacolina
Out of northwest Spain’s Basque region (Bizkaiko Txakolina), this refreshing white relies on the Hondarrabi Zuri grape and works well with picnic foods like salads, salmon and shellfish. It's is as chic as they come. Perhaps more interestingly, it's said that after your first bottle, you'll be able to pronounce the Basque names printed on the label. $22.99
Château Musar, Cuvée Rosé
Château Musar's Cuvée Rosé is made exclusively from the Cinsault grape. Winemaker Serge Hochar makes it Lebanon, and many experts (including local chef Sam Etheridge) believe the wines of Château Musar are some of the best in the world. In an article in GQ magazine, author Elizabeth Gilbert said it's “perhaps the best wine ever made.” Château Musar's white wines are made with other Lebanese grapes such as Obaideh and Merwah. $18.99
Wine geeks around the world are enthralled by the varietal from Spain’s gorgeous northwest coastal wine region called Rías Baixas, situated in Galicia (just above Portugal). There's simply no better wine for pairing with scallops and other seafood—it has hints of pineapple and peach, mouthwatering minerality and a long, dry finish. $15.99
Hirsch, Grüner Veltliner
One of the world’s most versatile white varietals for pairing with a wide assortment of foods. Grüner Veltliner is best described as “zingy” and referred to by people in the industry as GrüVe. When lightly chilled, it enhances the texture and flavors of fried chicken and even artichokes (which are notoriously impossible to pair with wine). G.V. is so delicious, it offers a reason to finally forgive the Austrians for introducing the world to Falco in the ’80s. $15.99
Arca Nova, Vinho Verde
Portuguese wines are irresistibly inexpensive. Arca Nova's Vinho Verde is a crisp and simple summer white and probably the most refreshing of these selections due to its low alcohol content (10 percent). Made from native Portuguese grapes Loureiro, Trajadura and Pedemão, this slightly effervescent "green" wine combines apple, pear, and lemon and lime flavors. $8.99
Garretson, Enchantment Cuvée
Two white varietals from the Rhône region of France—54 percent Viognier, 46 percent Roussanne—get California’s Central Coast treatment. Winemaker Matt Garretson is considered one of California’s most innovative winemakers, and he created this blend for a couple of New Mexico friends (thus the New Mexico flag label). Don’t for one second think this is a novelty item, because Garretson’s magic blend of grapes becomes deeply engaging. $19.99
Norton, Lo Tengo
The flagship Argentine grapes used to make this white (Torrontés) may be the country’s most exciting export since Che Guevara. You will not find a more delightful sipping wine with enough balanced acidity and fruit to stand up to culinary offerings like spicy Asian dishes. $9.99
Altos Las Hormigas, Malbec
Just about every wine critic has raved about Altos Las Hormigas' Malbec, and it's easy to see why: This consistently great value is always well-balanced and elegant with plum, cherry and assorted berry flavors. Malbec is Argentina’s other flagship grape; a red varietal, originally a Bordeaux blending grape, that’s been perfected by South American growers. Drink it with grilled and barbecued meats. $10.99
Montes, Purple Angel
Carménère is another French grape that's come to perfect fruition in the hands of South American winemakers. Purple Angel is silky-smooth and balanced, and lives for barbecue of any sort. $55
Italian varietals Corvina, Rondinella and Sangiovese blend into an ideal light, red picnic wine. Its dry, velvety texture and hints of berry flavors combine well with light meats and salads. $16.99
Umani Ronchi, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi
Verdicchio, an Italian white grape grown in the Marche region along Italy’s Adriatic coast, is one of the best wines on the market for pairing with fish. Light and crisp with bright fruit flavors—drink slightly chilled. $12.99
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