Friday, April 01, 2005

4 Sauvignon Blancs: NZ, France

KIM CRAWFORD 'FLOWERS' SAUVIGNON BLANC 2002, Marlborough, New Zealand, 13.0% XD, Winery ~$20.00

Named for Brandon Flowerday a young worker who died in a vineyard accident, 'Flowers' is Kim Crawford's (of Hawke's Bay) premium Sauvignon Blanc from grapes handpicked from selected Marlborough vineyards during the best vintages. Website says: "... classic characteristics of gooseberry, passionfruit, figs (white) and a touch of herbaceousness.... Pale straw with touches of green. Cellar to five years." My notes: Cellared in May 2003.... comes with a screwcap. The nose is full gooseberry aromas as described. Colour the same lightness.... and the flavours fuller and creamier by a smidge than a good year Cloudy Bay - with a well balanced freshness. Sipping is a treat. Have with anything light and breezy from sliced chicken on greens; mussels, oysters, shrimps or scallops grilled or in pasta. Perhaps there will be enough bottled for import some day.

CLOUDY BAY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2002, Marlborough, New Zealand, 13.5% XD, 304469 $28.95

The Vintages release June 26, 2004 is the 2003 vintage priced at $31.95. A big increase for a screw-cap and a bit more 'herb'. LCBO says: "In the Classic Cloudy Bay style, it is full-bodied and fresh, with good vigour and excellent depth of clearly herbaceous, melon and lime flavours." The CB website says: "Pale straw green in colour and mouth-wateringly fragrant, the 2003 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc is redolent of .... ripe passionfruit, yellow plums, juicy limes and freshly picked basil. The palate is pure and refreshing with all the hallmarks of a small but perfectly formed crop ... flavours that echo aromas, with piercing concentration, impeccably balanced acidity .... and a long crisp finish." My notes: The 2002 was cellared March 2003 and is every bit as described. An excellent full-flavoured sipper with aromas that enhance the pleasure. Serve with any seafood, cold shrimp or chicken salad, or assorted tropical fruit side-dishes.

FORREST ESTATES SAUVIGNON BLANC 2001 and 2002, Marlborough, New Zealand, 13.0% XD, #966820 $19.95

My notes: The 2001 vintage was from the winery and cellared May, 2003, the 2002 vintage from the LCBO in November same year. The 2003 vintage was released by Vintages January 8, 2005 for which the winemaker says: "Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc at its very best – pungent on the nose the flavours spring from the glass. Tropical fruits – paw paw, mango and passionfruit; berryfruit – blackcurrant, gooseberry; aromatic herbs rosemary, thyme and sage that engulf a room the instant the screwcap is removed....etc. I judge this wine as good as any we’ve made in 14 years, its just a pity there is so little." Beyond poetic license.... both 2001 and 2002: 'pungent etc.', no way; 'tropical fruits etc.' are minimal; 'crisp lingering finish', yes, the 2002 being more 'dry grassy' in nose and flavour. Medium-bodied, crisp with a soft lemon/lime finish. An unremarkable sipper.... the 2002 was barely OK with slices of cold ham and hard-boiled egg on greens.

HENRI BOURGEOIS SANCERRE LES BARONNES 2003, Loire, France, 12.5% XD, #542548 $23.95

Vintages says: "Sancerre is known for its racy, remarkably dry Sauvignon Blanc wines. [This is] one of Sancerre's best.... (D Lawrason, Dec. 1999)". " a pale straw colour with aromas of smoky pink grapefruit, melon, mineral, gooseberry and light lemon rind. Dry, crisp/herbal/citrus fruit tones with a light to medium body and structured, medium finish." The website says: " .... only the very ripest grapes are hand-picked and carefully transported to the cellar where they are gently pressed to release their aromas. The must is cold-racked to naturally clarify, and fermentation takes place in thermoregulated stainless steel tanks at 15 to 18°c. The wine is then allowed to slowly mature on ... its lees." My notes: An oakless apple grapefruit nose and the 'sur lie' treatment gives a light creamy texture to the crisp (XD) grapefruit, goosebery, lemon, melon - I guess I'm agreeing with the Vintages tasting notes. Should be great with crab cakes, selections from a shrimp ring, telapia musings, etc. As expected for an 'old world SB' this is not really a sipper without a suitable appetizer.

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