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Scintillating Silvaner

In my ongoing pursuit of refreshing but dry summer wines, I'm often taken by surprise. Such was the case last week when I tasted Hans Wirsching Silvaner 2007.

This Franken, Germany, vineyard hails from the stable of legendary and respected importer Rudi Wiest -- a frequent visitor to Savannah and the man responsible for turning my Riesling palate from dry to, in his words, "more fruity, food-accessible Riesling."

And while this Silvaner (that's the grape variety) is no Alsace Riesling, it has less sweetness -- but a nicely characteristic acidic finish.

Silvaner is generally a blank canvas, the dominant grape in a bottle that's blended with other varieties chosen to augment its bone-dry character. But Dr. Heinrich Wirsching, who owns and runs the estate, calls upon more than 350 years of family wine-making tradition. He's planted the majority of his 140-acre vineyard in Silvaner, and he relies upon his mastery and the unique terroir to coax a beautiful wine from this formerly characterized blank slate.

The vineyard's make-up lends the wines a special character. Minerality, along with layers of fruit, spice and great depth, makes the wines unique. It's no wonder that Pope John Paul II, during his 1980 trip to Germany, celebrated Mass with a 1967 Wirsching Silvaner -- and then finished it with his supper.

As for me, I could almost taste caramelized scallops while sipping this Silvaner. Apparently, the 2008 vintage, which I have not tasted, is more acidic --almost puckeringly so. However, the 2007 is bright with melon. It possesses an amazing mouth feel -- rich, luxurious and well-rounded. And, of course, the acid and minerality on the finish consummate this wine's overall appeal.

It's about $20: I found mine at Habersham Beverage.

A new Full Sail Session beer

The Hood River, Oregon-based craft brewer Full Sail weighed anchor in Savannah a few weeks ago with an impressive 5.2 percent ABV lager in a distinctive 11-ounce bottle.

Now, the delivery trucks are heading east with another squatty bottled beer -- Session Black.

The marketing materials defined this as a summer dark beer, which left me skeptical. However, I really enjoyed its lighter than typical body for a dark beer -- and savored the big flavors of cocoa, coffee and toasted malt that place dark beers among my favorites.

Again, lower ABV keeps it in the "session" category at 5.4 percent ABV.

A recent gathering of beer friends who aren't particularly attuned to craft beers revealed that almost everyone agreed that both Session beers were eminently drinkable. That's a coup among a party of beer geeks and non-beer drinkers.