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White Chick

She'd rather be dead than drink red (in the summer)

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It's time to get serious about summer wines. This frickin' 100 percent humidity and scorching heat make me want to flee as far away as possible from red wine, no matter what the occasion. Give me something white and cold, and give it to me now, baby. To conquer your sweat, slide out to the deck/pool/patio, roll the chilled, wet bottle across your forehead, and pop open the cork or unscrew the top. It'll provide relief for a little while, at least.

Recommended Summer Wines

Highfield 2002 Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Meatier than most sauvignon blancs, with energizing grapefruit, passion fruit and a slight buttery aftertaste. $17.

Nora 2003 Albarino Rias Baixas Spain The albarino grape thrives in the wet, green earth of northwest Spain. Its bright, tangy acidity makes it a perfect accompaniment to anything seafood, but also a pretty kickin' just-relax wine. Taste some peach and green apple, with a hit of lemon-lime. Good price for an albarino. $13.

Caymus 2002 Conundrum California This label reads "White Table Wine" because the winemaker blends several different grapes to create this gorgeous, lush beverage. The Conundrum formula changes each year, and this one smells so good I want to climb into the bottle and live. Seductive and rich with spicy-floral, honeysuckle and vanilla. There's a slight hint of sweetness, yet it's art at the same time. Magnificent. $25. 1/2

Baileyana 2002 Sauvignon Blanc Edna Valley Paragon Vineyard A refreshing blend of grapes picked at different times during harvest to form a cornucopia of flavors, from grass and lemon to white peach and almonds. $13.

Carmel 2003 Private Selection Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc Israel Something a little different from Israel -- a delicious wine for any time, not just kosher occasions. It shows off the best of both grapes in the blend: delicious grapefruit with a hefty dose of rich butter on the tongue and finish. $17. 1/2

Kings Ridge 2001 Pinot Gris Oregon I've seen a lot of overpriced Oregon wines lately, but this ain't one of them. Pinot gris is a fantastic grape for the cool climate in that state. This version yields a clean, melon-y, honeyed and citrus wine, great for lounging around the pool. $13.

Faiveley 2002 Chablis A solid chardonnay from the Burgundy region of France. It's hard to find inexpensive Chablis -- except jug wine imposters from California. (By the way, that isn't Chablis, or chardonnay for that matter; it's cheap grapes, made into cheap wine, to sell cheap. Needless to say, the French hate that Almaden, et al, sullied the name.) This is The Real Thing: minerally, slightly earthy with a tinge of tangy citrus. $16.

Whitehall Lane 2002 Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley A sauvignon blanc with balls. Strong oak influences with citrus and exotic fruit, like mango and lychee. Fascinating. $13.

Montecillo 2003 White Rioja Sportin' some lively lime, crisp green apple and a clean, soft texture in the mouth. It's made from a relatively obscure white grape called Viura. $10.

Alta Vista 2003 Torrontes Premium Mendoza A white grape that thrives in Argentina, torrontes is unlike most wines out there. It reminds me of a gutsy, well-made viognier: very fragrant, full of exotic fruit and flowers in both aroma and taste, yet it's dry. Great for drinking with anything spicy or just for drinking. Easy entry point on the price too. $10. 1/2

Question or comment? Contact Wine Editor Taylor Eason at 813-739-4881, or e-mail corkscrew@creativeloafing.com.

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