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FOOD + DRINK
Reinventing the Bottle
Three specially packaged white wines for warm-weather drinking
by Ami Kealoha
on 03 May 2013

Sometimes a simple tweak to the classic wine bottle is all it takes to turn a chilled glass of white into an all-out warm weather celebration. Dressing up all kinds of leisure activities—from watching the playoffs on TV to attending baby or wedding showers—elements like fluid shapes, storied inspiration, and stopper alternatives offer at least more romantic compensations for cork than the now-common spongy plastic substitutes and twist-offs. But good bottle design can carry an event about as well as a lovely candleholder, if its contents don't please the palate. Read on to learn what our highly subjective panel of amateur wine drinkers (aka the Cool Hunting editorial staff) had to say about these three white wines that come in packages as appealing as their taste.

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Villa Sparina Gavi di Gavi

Since a wine-broker friend introduced me to it a few summers ago, wines from the Gavi region top my mental list of go-to summery choices. An apricot-tinged example of the region's offerings, Villa Sparina's Gavi comes in a bottle shaped like the Roman clay amphorae. Though running slightly sweet for a typical Gavi, it still has a nice dryness that makes it "really easy to get into" according to our testers. That with its relatively moderate alcohol content (12.4%) can mean a quick unexpected buzz if you're enjoying it without food. This crowd-pleasing trait also works across multiple seasons, from spring all the way into fall. Pick up a bottle online for $20 or see their list of stockists to find a shop near you.

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Silver Mer Soleil

At the risk of seeming like the grey bottle influenced our impressions of the Wagner family's Mer Soleil, this unoaked chardonnay has a distinct tone not unlike the cool depths of a cave. While the ceramic bottle is part of Chuck Wagners' son Charlie F. Wagner II's overall efforts to reinvigorate several brands under the umbrella (a QR code on the bottle directs you to a YouTube video), the wine itself clearly informs the basis of the entire approach. Its a nice departure from the oak and butter that characteristically define California chardonnays, which could attract detractors of the vine or simply provide a drier and slightly more complex option for fans. The testimonial from one taster that it "smells like cheese" also gives clues as to what type of drinker would like it, not to mention a solid (albeit broad) pairing suggestion. Mer Soleil sells from Wagner Family of Wine for $24.

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Jules Melange

This bright, crisp varietal blend has a subtle yet nicely rounded sweetness that might win over even ardent dry-white purists. Panelists called Jules Melange alternately "light" and "earthy," assessments that also contribute to a deliciously nuanced wine perfect for pairing with a smoked trout salad, pasta with a light Alfredo sauce or baked tilapia with rosemary as well as sipping on its own. Like the Mer Soleil, the design, such as the clean illustration of a branching plant on its label and especially the glass stopper, nicely echoes a wine that tastes fresh and contemporary without a hint of pretension. An extremely small lot, like all of the organically grown, handmade wines from Barrelhead, get it by the case for $216 or half-case for $111 by calling The Wine Source at +1.707.823.9458.

Images by Greg Stefano

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