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Wines for Labor Day dishes recall summer, look ahead to fall

| Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

L abor Day has evolved into a convenient way to mark summer's unofficial end.

Use Labor Day as an opportunity to savor summer wines with the seasonal bounty, while trying more robust bottles better paired with autumn fare. Put white and red wines on the table with these suggestions:

In the French Alpine region of Savoie, growers cultivate difficult hillside vineyards to produce delicate, breathtaking white wines full of satisfying refreshment. Try the 2013 Bernard et Christophe Richel Apremont, Vin de Savoie, France (luxury 33277; Chairman's Selection, on sale; $10.99).

After studying winemaking in Burgundy, Christophe Richel joined the family winery in 1987 and set about extending sustainable vineyard practices. He tends 15 acres of Jacquère vines averaging 50 years old in the villages of St. Baldolph and Apremont. Soils ranging from predominately limestone to a mix of marl and clay render grapes with complex aromas and juicy fruit flavors.

Fermentation in stainless steel captures the grapes' lovely aromas of white flowers and peaches. Pear, peach and quince flavors meld with a touch of creaminess. Mouth-watering mineral notes add balance and structure through the fruity, but dry, finish.

This delicate, easy-drinking wine complements full flavored Savoie cheeses such as Emmental and Reblochon served with baguette slices and slices of apples, peaches and plums. Highly recommended.

The Upper Loire River Valley offers ideal terroir for cultivating sauvignon blanc. Rocky soils rich in limestone allow the grapes to develop marvelous aromas and flavors without the need for extensive aging in oak barrels. Just enough warm, sunny days and cools nights ripen the grapes fully while retaining elegant acidity. The resulting wines perfectly complement grilled seafood, including wild-caught salmon and swordfish.

Try the delightful 2012 Domaine Régis Minet Pouilly-Fumé “Vieille Vignes,” France (luxury 48611; $24.99). In 1976, when Monsieur Minet's father passed away, Régis left his studies and took over the relatively small, unknown estate. He gradually expanded cultivation to about 22 acres of vines spread over the villages of Pouilly-sur-Loire and St. Andelain.

In so doing, he assembled vineyards incorporating soils with mixed clay and limestone, as well as the highly prized Kimmeridgian marl with flint and fossilized oysters from ancient seas. With Minet's labor-intensive, sustainable viticulture practices, the terroir delivers distinctive fruit combining delicacy and depth.

Minet's long association with the dynamic American wine importer Kermit Lynch enabled the domaine to develop a solid international reputation. A small, loyal cadre of appreciative fans awaits each vintage with high anticipation.

In the glass, aromas of quince, grapefruit, white flowers and smoky flint greet the nose. Rich citrus flavors and refreshing mineral notes balance with zesty acidity to frame the fruity, dry finish. Highly recommended.

Southern France's Rhône Valley turns out plenty of succulent, easy-drinking red blends that make perfect partners for grilled meats ranging from burgers to steaks and everything in between. Try the 2012 Domaine de la Bastide Côtes du Rhône “Cuvée les Figues,” France (luxury 45069; $14.99).

The domaine lies on a historic site in the town of Visan toward the northern reaches of the southern Rhône Valley. The slightly cooler climate allows syrah to predominate this wine's blend augmented by smatterings of grenache and carignan.

The domaine's vines, averaging 35 years old, grow on ancient rugged terraces scattered with the region's famed galets, large, smooth round rocks that retain the sun's heat. Fermentation occurs without stems to soften the tannins.

Black-raspberry, smoked-meat and light-lavender aromas greet the nose. Ripe, dark-fruit flavors with juicy, meaty notes and savory herbal notes carry through the fruity, but dry, finish. Recommended.

Dave DeSimone writes about wine for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at ddesimone@tribweb.com.

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