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N/V U.S. Warrior, "Defender White," California
Posted: Thursday April 26, 2012, 11:26 AM
By Joe Iurato of The Record

A patriotic illustration of an eagle, sword in claws, swooping before an American shield might seem more like a tattoo than a wine label, but it certainly makes the point that this is not just another bottle of vino. There is a nobility and cause behind U.S. Warrior's "Defender Red" and "Defender White," but before I decide to feature the wines, I need to know if what's inside the bottle is any good. Turns out it is.

"U.S. Warrior" wines were created by Army veteran and sommelier Jeff Cantor. While stationed in Bagram, Afghanistan, in 2009 and 2010, Cantor made frequent trips to visit wounded soldiers at Craig hospital. "I kept saying to myself that I had to do a better job," Cantor says. "I had to give back to them somehow and let them know how thankful I am for their sacrifices. That's when I came up with the idea for Warrior Wines."

When he returned home, Cantor began his search for juice to bottle under the Warrior Wines label. The first two wines, a petit sirah and a white blend, both from California, were released in late 2011. Ten percent of all proceeds are donated to Special Operations Warrior Foundation (specialops.org), which provides scholarships and counseling to the families of fallen special ops personnel and to severely wounded Special Ops veterans and their families. Cantor plans to expand the line, as well as host charity events, to help raise awareness and money for the organization. For more information: WarriorWines.com.

In addition, I've included a sauvignon blanc and a merlot.

* N/V U.S. Warrior, "Defender White," California

Blend: 50 percent chardonnay, 30 percent sauvignon blanc, 20 percent gewürztraminer

Medium bodied, it displays a vibrant combination of grapefruit, pear and citrus peel with undertones of lychee fruit, exotic spice and white flowers. The finish is clean and crisp with a bit of a spicy edge. All the varietals make themselves known in this refreshing, balanced cuvee.

Try it with: Shellfish, sautéed vegetables, Caribbean fare, mild cheeses

How much: $11.99

Where to buy: Widely available, including Carlo Russo's Wine and Spirit World, Ho-Ho-Kus

* 2010 U.S. Warrior, "Defender Red" petit sirah, California

Blend: 96 percent petit sirah

Exhibiting juicy black fruits, blueberry pie, coffee and a hint of tobacco, this young, fruit-driven petit sirah is one to drink now. Medium to full bodied, it stays on the side of fresh and easygoing with wild berries lingering through the finish.

Try it with: Pasta, grilled sausage, burgers, roasted meats

How much: $11.99

Where to buy: Widely available, including Carlo Russo's Wine and Spirit World, Ho-Ho-Kus

* 2011 The Beach House, sauvignon blanc/semillon, Western Cape, South Africa

Blend: 80 percent sauvignon blanc, 20 percent semillon

A light, bright, warm-weather wine full of lemon peel, pear, gooseberry, a touch of mandarin orange and wet stone. It's clean and crisp, with a refreshing finish comparable to a squeeze of fresh citrus. It does a fantastic job capturing the spirit of lazy summer days at the shore.

Try it with: Crab, tangy white fish, fruit salsas, casual light fare

How much: $11.99

Where to buy: Widely available

* 2008 Waterstone, merlot, Napa Valley, California

Blend: 100 percent merlot

This is a soft, elegantly styled merlot with a seductive bouquet of black cherries, mocha, violet perfume, toasted oak and earth. Its silky texture married with lush, dark fruit and cocoa carries on through a lengthy finish. A very pretty, well-balanced wine that will appeal to lovers of both Old World and New World merlot.

Try it with: Grilled meats, chops, rich sauces, bold cheeses

How much: $18

Where to buy: Limited availability, call your local retailer

Joe Iurato is a certified sommelier, wine consultant and lecturer, and a working fine artist. For questions and comments, e-mail him at features@northjersey.com.

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