Saint-Hilaire 2014 Blanquette de Limoux Brut ($14.99)

Saint-Hilaire

A blend of Mauzac (“Mo-zock,”) the historical regional grape, with Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc, this Limoux sparkler foams up briefly, then falls back to a slight but persistent bubble stream. It shows a very light brass color, pale straw with a greenish hue. Its light, fresh-fruit aroma suggests a mix of delicate fruit and scents, hints of tangerine peel and kiwi fruit with a breath of acacia flower, an aroma reminiscent of wool. Creamy carbonation and fresh, brisk acidity come together on the palate, opening to citrus and floral notes that mirror the nose as the wine warms in the glass.

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Domaine J. Laurens “le Moulin” Blanquette de Limoux Brut ($14.99)

Domaine J. Laurens

A blend of 90% Mauzac with Chardonnay, this is a clear, light straw-color sparkling wine, with a foamy mousse that falls back to leave multiple streams of lasting bubbles. Simple, pleasantly earthy note behind light scents of pears and green apples. Effervescent prickliness and tart acidity dominate a palate impression backed by simple white fruit and a touch of chalky minerality. The label claims a relatively gentle 12 percent alcohol by volume. It seems simple at first, but gains intriguing notes of Champagne-like “cocoa” and “biscuit” as it warms in the glass.

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For a wider selection of Blanquette de Limoux and some information about the region and its wines, see this Wine-Searcher.com link. Read article.

Pascal Janvier 2015 Cuvée du Rosier Coteaux du Loir Rouge ($22.99)

Pascal Janvier

This wine of 100 percent Pineau d’Aunis grapes is a very light garnet color, almost bordering on a dark rosé. There’s nothing pale about the flavor, though, which is bright and fresh, cranberries wrapped in a fragrant cloak of aromatic white pepper. Tart cranberries dance with abundant white pepper on the palate, too, with plenty of fresh, food-friendly acidity, firm tannins, gentle 12 percent acidity, and a distinct sense of intriguing “rainwater-over-granite” minerality to lend flavor interest in a subtle but complex Loire red.

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For more examples of the rare Pineau d’Aunis, page down on this info page about the grape on Wine-Searcher.com.
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San Pietro 2015 Alto Adige Schiava ($12.99)

San Pietro

This Northern Italian Alpine blend of 95 percent Schiava and 5 percent Lagrein is a pretty, rather light garnet color. Simple but appealing on the nose and palate, it offers a lightly spicy raspberry and cranberry scent and tart red-fruit flavor shaped by crisp, food-friendly acidity. It doesn’t seem tannic at first, but some astringency becomes more apparent with subtle red berries and a hint of stony minerality in the long, clean finish. On the light side at 12.5 percent alcohol, enhancing its versatility at the table.

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Vitiano 2013 Umbria Rosso ($11.99)

Vitiano 2013 Umbria Rosso

A blend of equal parts of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese, this is a dark purplish-garnet wine, with a clear ring at the edge. Lush black-fruit flavors show on the nose, plums and Bing cherries and a subtle but distinct whiff of black licorice. Fresh black-fruit flavors carry over on the nose, clean and balanced, framed by tart, zippy acidity that refreshes the palate and 13 percent alcohol, adding up to a good food wine. There’s just a wisp of tannic astringency along with plums and distant anise in a fairly long finish.

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