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Wine of the Week

By Dave Buchanan

We already have lost an hour of daylight on both ends of the day, a noticeable shortening of the time when sitting on the patio is especially nice.

What we haven't lost, at least this week, is the hot weather, which means I'm still searching out refreshing white wines to ease the scorch of August's heat.

I've recently been working through some samples from Robert Mondavi, including the winery's latest offerings of the 2009 Pinot Grigio and the 2008 Fumé Blanc.

Pinot Grigio (its italian name, most of the world knows this grape as Pinot Gris) is considered a white variant or clone of pinor noir and as such, when made conscientiously can be a full-bodied wine.

Unfortunately, the wine has become extremely popular, which means most pinot grigio we know is light, unassuming and unimpressive.

However, the Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Grigio ($11) has a full mouth feel with a nose of pears, peaches and a little floral scent.

It's not a heavy weight, like the over-oaked California-style chardonnays, but instead offers a crisp, clean finish untouched by oak.

Most of the grapes going into this wine came from California's cooler regions of the Central Coast and the wine retains the crisp acidity and bright flavors that pair well with the light meals of late summer.

And at this price, it's worth pursuing.

I've also recently tasted the 2008 Robery Mondavi Fumé Blanc Napa Valley.

With this pedigree you expect a better wine at a higher price, and this bottle ($20 SRP) gives you both.

Fumé Blanc is Sauvignon Blanc. Robert Mondavi created the term "Fumé Blanc" in 1966 to distinguish his dry Sauvignon Blanc from the vapid, sweeter Sauvignon Blanc wines commonly offered at the time.

2008 was a difficult vintage for California Sauvignon Blancs and the smaller yields resulted in wines showing concentrated flavors.

The relatively light touch of oak (two-thirds was fermented in French oak, the rest in stainles steel while most of the wine spent four months in used French oak) doesn't overpower the fragile lemon-citrus nose and peach flavors.

These wine make great companions if you have a little time to kick back and relax at the end of summer.

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