Vigna di Terre Rosse 2003 Colline-Saluzzesi Pelaverga, $21
Wow. My first Pelaverga and I hope not my last. I don’t usually note color, but this was a beautiful transparent light garnet that almost glowed. The nose is even more beautiful, mixing fresh strawberries and flowers. On the palate, there is nice tart strawberry accented by some herbs and a little spice. This combines ethereally light texture with ample flavor. It’s silky smooth with bright but not harsh acidity and in perfect balance. There is zero evidence of 2003's heat. Outstanding match with pizza. I don’t normally think of a “light” wine being a good value at over $20, but this is better than many wines costing twice that price. Importer: Selected Estates of Europe, Mamaroneck, N.Y.
Clos Roche Blanche 2004 Touraine Gamay, $14
Very nice. Pleasant nose of strawberry, flowers, high-toned, perfumy elements, and some minerals, with tart strawberry, earth and lots of minerals on the palate. It has bright acidity, grainy but reasonably smooth texture, and a nice finish. Excellent match with a pasta salad with feta, vegetables, etc. My first 2004 version of this wine and it hits the spot again. Importer: Louis/Dressner.
Domaine de la Pépière 2004 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie, $11
This starts out with fairly light aromas and flavors that gain in intensity with a little time and warming. This is stone- and slate-dominated with some sharp citrus and herbs. Not for those into fruit, great for those into rocks. Bright and refreshing, it goes great with shrimp sauteed with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, etc. It’s just as good the next day and is excellent with breaded, pan-fried Tilapia fillets. On the third day, it’s a little softer but even better with more herbal notes, yet the minerality stays in the fore and citrus fruit is still there as well. Outstanding match with an asparagus/sweet onion/chevre omelette. Importer: Louis/Dressner.
Bodegas Riojanas 2000 Rioja Reserva Viña Albina, $25 restaurant price
Had at a Spanish restaurant in New York; I can’t believe the charge was just $6 over retail. This was very smooth despite its relative youth, offering a nice balance between good cherry fruit and Rioja spice. The oak is clearly there but it accents the wine rather than dominating it. It was an excellent match with garlic soup and various tapas. Importer: Vintage Wines, Staten Island, N.Y.