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Raise a glass: New red, white and rose wines

TODAY wine columnist Edward Deitch shares three standout wines from California, New Zealand and South Africa that capture the taste of spring in a single sip.
/ Source: TODAY

Every once in a while, I like to depart from my customary focus on a single producer or variety and offer you a roundup of wines that have stood out in my tastings, such as the following three new releases that caught my attention in recent weeks.

As the warm weather moves in, there’s nothing more delightful than rosé for easy drinking with a variety of foods. I must have close to a couple of dozen rosés waiting to be tasted from all over the world, and I’m planning to offer you a list of my picks of the best of them in coming weeks. But I can’t resist giving you a preview — another excellent rosé from South Africa.

A while back I mentioned the delightful 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, $12, from Mulderbosch Vineyards in the Stellenbosch area of South Africa's Cape region. This latest one is the 2008 Rosé from Graham Beck Wines, which is an unusual blend of malbec and sangiovese, two red varieties that are relatively rare in South Africa and are grown, in this case, in the Franschhoek and Robertson areas of the Cape.

This thirst-quenching wine has notes of raspberry, black cherry and cassis with a tingling minerality that lingers on the long finish. We enjoyed it with smoked ham on Easter weekend. It’s a steal at $10.

Wild Rock is a new winery in New Zealand that sources grapes from both the North and South Islands and has just released its first wines in the United States. Wild Rock’s 2008 “Elevation” Sauvignon Blanc offers an unusual take on sauvignon, the country’s most important variety.

With grapes sourced from the Marlborough region, Wild Rock offers a softer, rounder take on sauvignon by adding small amounts or two other white varieties — viognier (5 percent) and riesling (4 percent). The wine has less of the grassiness that is the trademark of New Zealand sauvignon. Fruitier in character, it shows notes of pear, apple and lime with the same piercing acidity that makes New Zealand sauvignons so quaffable. We enjoyed it with simply broiled flounder fillets. It’s suggested price is $17.

La Crema, based in California’s Sonoma County, has been around for 30 years now, producing chardonnays and pinot noirs from several Sonoma appellations, as well as the Anderson Valley to the north and Monterey County to the south. The pinots show Burgundian restraint and elegance, and a good place to start is La Crema’s 2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.

This $25 wine is slightly lower in alcohol (13.9 percent) than many California pinot noirs made in that "fruit-bomb" style with alcohol levels that sometimes approach a whopping 15 percent. La Crema's wine has more charm than brawn, with pleasing notes of cherry, raspberry and vanilla. Classic pairings would be roast chicken, pork or salmon.

Edward Deitch is the recipient of the 2007 James Beard Foundation Journalism Award for Best Multimedia Writing. He welcomes comments from readers. Write to him at