Friday, April 29, 2005

4 Whites: France, Chile

PIERRE SPARR GEWURZTRAMINER CARTE D'OR 2003, Alsace, France, 13.5% SC1, #373373 $16.05

LCBO note: "Medium gold in colour; very aromatic, perfumed nose with lychee, rose petal and light passion fruit character; dryish, medium bodied; sweet fruit centre, balanced with a long, warm finish. Serve with smoked salmon, Asian cuisine or pungent washed-rind cheese." Beppi's note: " .... very good value in a textbook, straightforward gewurz. A bouquet of rose petals follows through on the palate, ... pear, lychee, citrus peel and spice." My notes: No 'Carte D'Or' on the bottle nor rose in the nose. This is the entry level of Sparr wines called 'Selection'. Their website says it can be cellared two to four years - which should integrate the fruit and herbs more smoothly but not likely to improve overall. Pale straw, spicy citrus nose - for sure no floral bouquet (I'll have to get to know lychees!), some pear and light tarragon smoothness with a long bright finish continuing oily-smooth on the lips. For me, there are more interesting sippers. Pair with anything oriental, white fish, poultry and mild cheeses - not likely smoked salmon. This is a General listing.

PIERRE SPARR ALSACE ONE 2003, Alsace, France, 12.5% SC1, # 649830, $ 14.95

Website says: "This ... highlights the fruit of the grape varietal, combined with a more bodied style, due to riper grapes. During harvest these handpicked grapes come mostly from 20 to 35 year old vines, with a controlled yield, which guarantees outstanding ripeness and healthy grapes. Wines made from these grapes show outstanding quality of multi-dimensional flavors, well bodied with more weight, and a better aging potential: 3 to 6 years.floral, citrus and peach notes grace this gentle well balanced white, whose subtlety belies an underlying persistence, ending in a long, languid finish." Gord Stimmell rates it 89 saying " this white is an exotic blend of pinot blanc, pinot gris, muscat, riesling and gewurztraminer. avoids being overly floral, with lots of minerality, lime, citrus and a hint of lychee nut richness. The finish, while traditionally dry, has an engaging sweetness. Serve with Asian-fusion." My notes: One of eight 'Reserve' wines from Sparr, a collection of grapes that could hardly convey the ' highlights of grape varietal' unless a Pinot Blanc with a light spice, ie. a smoothe nothing. A pale straw colour, no nose, no distinct acid, no distinctive fruit but a distinctive label. Finish does have an 'engaging sweetness'. Quaff on a hot day on ice with a lime slice.

CAVE VINICOLE de HUNAWIHR GEWURZTRAMINER RESERVE 2000, Alsace, France, 13.5% SC1, Opimian $19.17

Opimian says: ".... the extravagant bouquet leads to a richly flavoured compote of tropical fruits, with mango and lychee charging alongside peach and mandarin. .... It will gain great elegance as it matures. Cellar six months to two years." My notes: Cellared May 2002 and tasted once since but this latest is showing full maturity. A pale straw and a similar but fruitier and less spicy nose than the Pierre Sparr Gewirz -this is where the similarity ends. A pear fullness with bright acid fills the mouth. A light oiliness to the finish but mainly a light pear and mango on the tongue. A pleasant full-bodied sipper with cheeses, pates, bruschetta. Very good with bbq'd chicken thighs and sweet potato.... could be paired with roasted chicken, salmon (iffy), garlic shrimp or mussels but never! pancakes and maple syrup, ie. sweet things.

SANTA RITA 'FLORESTA' SAUVIGNON BLANC 2002, Casablanca Valley, Chile, 13.0% D, #680959 $22.95

Vintages notes: "Lovely Rita. Floresta is the top-drawer range from Santa Rita. Wine Spectator rated this wine 89 points describing it as 'bright and crisp, with assertive lemon and grapefruit flavours'. Perfect match for a seafood salad or oysters." My notes: Contains 5% Semillon. Flavour is equal portions of passionfruit and grapefruit. Colour is a light straw and nose not as floral as the Reserva 2004 (#275677 $12.45) but pleasing with a lemon focus. Fuller in the mouth with more of a lemon zest impression and a long dry crisp finish. This is a tart sipper which should pair well with any seafood or poultry meal. Hard to justify the extra $10.50 or better still opt for the new vintage (2004) Kim Crawford SB instead (Vintages release April 30, 2005) This wine doesn't appear on the Santa Rita website - perhaps old inventory (or not updated website)? Likely excellent in 2003 but a lot of the expected fruit is gone. Vintages release April 2, 2005.

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