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Cupcake Vineyards Chardonnay 2008, California

COST: $13-15

WHAT: This smooth and creamy Chardonnay is the perfect summer sipper. You can have it with a little cheese while sitting on the porch, or with a fine seafood or chicken meal.

Pleasant, simple aromas lead to citrus flavors, balanced by buttery oak. It starts off with a touch of apple, a hint of tropical fruits and is complemented by a balance of vanilla and spice.

Malolactic fermentation provides the smoothness that characterizes Central Coast wines. The wine is aged for nine months in oak barrels to provide a rich mid palate and a long, satisfying finish.

WINERY: Cupcake is a new winery in California's Monterey County, where many of the grapes are grown. The Central Coast has come on strong as a wine-producing region because warm days are tempered by cools nights and fog rolling in off the Pacific Ocean. This slows the growing process and allows the grapes to spend more time on the vine. That, in turn, helps balance the acids and sugars, adding to the complexity.

In addition to Central Coast wines, winemaker Adam Richardson has added wines from regions around the world: a Riesling from Colombia Valley, Washington; a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand; and a Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina. He also makes a wonderful sparkling wine from the Loire Valley in France.

My only criticism is the labels aren't very attractive. There are a lot of lines swirling around that I guess are supposed to be grapevines, and the type is difficult to read.

GOES WITH: I had this with fried shrimp, and it was delicious. The creaminess of the wine really brought out the flavor of the shrimp. The winemaker recommends serving the wine with crab cakes, seared Ahi tuna or fresh-baked French bread and cheese. I think those would be great pairings.

WINE EVENTS

FRIDAY

In-shop tasting, Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Lock Road, Evans, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

First Friday wine tasting, Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta, 5-8 p.m.; six wines, $4, rebated with purchase of a featured wine

SATURDAY

In-shop tasting, Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Lock Road, Evans, 1-6 p.m.

WEDNESDAY

Educational wine tasting, Bee's Knees, 211 10th St., 5:30-7:30 p.m.; $15; wines paired with Bee's Knees food; reservations with Ninth Street Wine Market, (706) 724-1442


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