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Late summer harvest's bounty pairs well with whites

| Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012, 8:57 p.m.
Cantina Adriano in Alto Adige, Italy
ptr-wine-082912

Visit the Strip District's Farmers @ Firehouse market at 2216 Penn Avenue this Saturday morning, and you'll discover one of late summer's incomparable delights — a bumper crop of tempting heirloom tomatoes. Mini yellow tomatoes, the sweetest and juiciest of the bunch, make a terrific match with crisp and fruity white wines.

These delightful little yellow tomatoes have relatively low acidity that allows the sweetness to shine. Try Ozark Golden Nuggets with a cherry-like size and brilliant yellow color, or savor Yellow Cherry tomatoes, also cherry-shaped, but with a lovely orange-yellow hue.

As the name indicates, Plum Lemon Yellows look like little plums and have a bright lemon color. Similarly, mini Yellow Pear tomatoes look like little pears and deliver a burst of juicy sweetness.

All of the varieties lend themselves to simple and easy recipes.

Put a couple of containers of your favorite mini yellow tomatoes with fresh mini-mozzarella balls in a large bowl. Add some freshly chopped basil and freshly minced garlic, and then toss the ingredients with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season the ingredients with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and serve with baguettes slices for a delicious, no-fuss meal.

Or, cut a container of mini yellow heirloom tomatoes in half and put them on a plate with slices of fresh goat's cheese and sprigs of fresh chives. Drizzle on olive oil and serve.

Eating mini yellow heirlooms simply by themselves creates a satisfying treat, too, especially with the following tasty white wines:

The 2010 Cave La Comtadine Côtes-du-Rhône “Passion Blanc,” France (Luxury 20338; $12.49) comes from a respected cooperative in the tiny village of Puyméras — population 600 — in majestic Mont Ventoux's foothills. The Provençal climate strongly influenced by the Mediterranean Sea supports the surrounding varied agriculture of grape vines, olive trees, lavender and apricot trees. Ancient, stony terraces overlay clay and limestone soils.

Around 280 growers supply grapes for fermentation in La Comtadine's commonly owned winery. In this case, the winemakers use grenache blanc, roussanne and viognier for a classic southern Rhône white blend.

Aromas of honey and citrus open to fresh melon and citrus flavors. The soft and fruity, yet dry finish lingers pleasantly. Recommended.

The 2011 Cantina Adriano Müller-Thurgau, Alto-Adige, Italy (Luxury 45608; $16.99) comes from northern Italy in a region blending Italian and Germanic cultures. Hence, the winery also goes by the German name Kellerei Adrian.

Müller-Thurgau, a hybrid of riesling, grows at high altitudes where the cooler climates preserve the fruit's freshness. Fermentation in stainless steel also highlights bright fruitiness, while aging on the lees, i.e., spent yeast cells, adds subtle creamy notes.

White flower, pear and pineapple aromas open to vibrant white peach and citrus flavors. Fresh acidity balances this delightful wine's fruity, yet dry finish. Highly recommended.

The 2009 Michel Fonné Muscat “Tradition,” Alsace, France (Luxury 36857; $19.99) comes the Burgundy-trained winemaker of the same name. Monsieur Fonné also trained in sparkling wine production and worked a harvest in California's Alexander Valley. He brings a modern, international perspective applied within the context of Alsace traditions.

With this wine, for example, Fonné manually harvests muscat grapes, a variety long grown in Alsace. Careful sorting ensures only fully ripened grapes go into the vat.

Instead of first crushing the crop, Fonné directly presses the whole grapes with a gentle pneumatic process to maximize the fruit's delicate aromas and purity. The exacting efforts pay off in the wine.

Lovely rose-petal and honeysuckle aromas waft from the glass. Fresh grapefruit flavors follow and carry through the soft, fruity finish with just a touch of sweetness. This most uplifting and delightful wine's proper acidity provides terrific, refreshing balance. Highly recommended.

The 2010 Domaine Moltès Pinot Gris Réserve, Alsace, France (Luxury 36310; $23.99) also offers a terrific reflection of Alsace terroir at its enticing best. Again, attentive vineyard work including manual harvesting precedes careful, patient work in the winery exalts fruity purity.

Floral and quince aromas lead to fruity grapefruit, quince and pear flavors. Prominent mineral notes and firm acidity balance fruity finish to create a vibrant, exhilarating wine of great pleasure. Highly recommended.

Dave DeSimone is the wine columnist for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at ddesimone@tribweb.com.

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