DOMAINE DU VIKING SPARKLING VOUVRAY, Loire, France, 12.0% D, #650739 $19.95 (Retasted January 23, 2006)
Vintages released on January 21, 2006 saying "This 100% Chenin Blanc sparkling wine exhibits stellar aromas of honeyed mushroom, freshly baked bread and ripe melon. It is dry, quite robust and intense with a lively seam of acidity. Enjoy with mildly spiced seafood dishes. (Vintages panel, May 2005)." Beppi describes it as: "...a terrific, complex sparkling wine. Crisp, clean and nicely balanced, ...flavours of melon, pear and honey, lifted by bubbly mousse." My notes: Last tasted Dec 30, 2004 and now a dollar more - my comment at the time was 'like licking a birthday cake... full-bodied with white chocolate and light vanilla touches.' Now a faint pear, melon and yeast nose from a clear light yellow liquid. Bubbles burst into the glass and quickly disperse dwindling to fine streams leaving a continuous bubble ring - no froth. Flavour is a refreshing blend of faint pear and melon with a light but long, smooth finish of honeydew. Not brut but crisp - easy to quaff. Have with oysters, grilled scallops, stuffed mushroom caps, chilled tuna salad or slightly spicy mussels. A nonvintage sparkler for social lunches.
STONEY RIDGE CHARLOTTE'S CHARDONNAY 2004, Stoney Ridge, Canada, 11.0% D, #497230 $19.95 (Tasted January 22, 2006)
A Vintages release on January 21, 2006 and described as: "This unoaked Chardonnay shows remarkable varietal character. Very pale straw in colour, the nose offers apple cinnamon, peach, pear and honey aromas. There's a 'fruit basket' of flavours on the crisp medium full-bodied palate and the fruit just keeps on coming on the long lingering finish. (Vintages panel, Nov. 2005)." My notes: A screwcap and a pale straw colour with honey apple aromas. The initial impression is of sweetness followed by crisp pear and apple flavours. A smooth texture with a long peach-pear finish. Went nicely with ham steak and roast sweet potato but the sweetness was distracting. An OK off-dry sipper. A drink-now house white or pair with chicken or dim sum or other oriental dishes, perhaps sushi?
CHALK HILL WITS END 'THE PROCRASTINATOR' SAUVIGNON BLANC 2004, South Australia, 13.0% XD, #661975 $15.95 (Tasted January 21, 2006)
A Vintages release on January 21, 2006 and described as: "Don't delay trying this wine! Australia's Chalk Hill Wines uses the moniker Wits End in North America to avoid confusion with the Californian winery of the same name. Wits End is also the name of one of the family's vineyards in the McLaren Vale. These wines are crafted by Emmanuelle Requin-Bekkers, a French winemaker with experience across three continents. Expect tropical fruit flavours and aromas to take center stage in this fresh, crisp and delicious wine." Gord Stimmell says: ".. tangy tropical pineapple, banana and guava aromas and flavours of ripe tangerine, apple and crushed pineapple, a crisp clean white." rating it an 89. Natalie MacLean says: "I didn't want to put off reviewing this wine: it's great. Classic herbal aromas and zesty refreshment. Drink with seafood, vegetarian dishes and pasta. Score: 89/100. Best Value White Wine." My notes: A screwcap. A light blond with a soft tropical fruit nose. A smooth texture with an acid edge and flavours of lemon and slight melon with an aftertaste of light lime and almond - and then the tangerine/pineapple mix comes thru'. A full-bodied european-style white with a tangerine peal finish, so have with salsa, seafood appetizers or light pasta or seafood dishes - for me, not a sipper but still interesting. A drink-now.
COLIO ESTATE VINEYARDS 'CEV LILY' BLANC DE NOIRS 2002, Harrow, Canada, 12.0% XD, #618512 $17.95 (Tasted January 19, 2006)
Vintages released on September 17, 2005 describing it as: "Made from mostly Pinot Noir grapes with a small percentage of Riesling, this is the perfect sparkling wine to toast Colio Estate's 25th Anniversary. It won 'The Tasting Rooms Restaurant Wine Cuve Close Award' Gold Medal at the 2004 Ontario Wine Awards. The new release shows pristine, charming pale salmon pink colour, nicely caught in the clear glass bottle. Fairly delicate bubbly overall, with a soft, fragrant nose of icing sugar and raspberry/strawberry jam. Lightweight, fresh, and tender with good acidity, and a bit of sweetness on the finish. Good length. Don't over chill. (David Lawrason, www.winerytohome.com, Feb. 2005)." The label says: "...pink grapefruit colour and offers a bouquet of fresh honeydew melon and toasted almonds. The taste is dry and full of ripe cherry tones with a frothy, fine mousse and gentle finish." My notes: A blush rather than a white, it's mousseux with a never ending stream of fine bubbles from a crystal, pale salmon colour. A light strawberry nose - 'icing sugar' describes it well. Brightly dry with flavours of almonds and light strawberry with a slightly creamy, moderate finish that could be crisper, ie. it's 'delicate' or 'gentle'. A festive quaffer or summer cooler and a nice tang comes thru with Scoops and salsa.
CAVE SPRING PINOT GRIS 2004, Jordan, Canada, 13.0% XD, #621086 $16.95 (Tasted January 18, 2006)
Vintages released January 7, 2006 and describes it as: "Made without oak ageing, Cave Spring sources their Pinot Gris from limestone-rich vineyards in the Beamsville Bench. This crisp, apple-melon Gris is an excellent match for battered seafood, such as calamari or shrimp, or a pork roast. Would also reward cellaring for one to two years." The website says: "Quite full in body and rich in texture, with ripe apple-melon flavours and a bright seam of acidity typical of the Beamsville Bench. Best consumed within the first 2 to 3 years, though capable of ageing well beyond this. etc." My notes: A faint but pleasant apple-lime nose from a light gold colour with a faint peach hue. Medium-bodied with flavours of spicy melon with a crisp but smooth creaminess - sounds contradictory but it describes it. There's an initial tartness that you quickly get accustomed to .... a great addition to seashell appetizers, shrimp rings, mushroom tarts, or cold lobster pieces. Have with seafood entrees, creamy pastas, jambalaya or spicy mussels. Cellaring for one or two years could integrate the fruit and spice for a smooth sociable white in the cellar - but there's no harm sipping right now.
BERINGER 'PRIVATE RESERVE' CHARDONNAY 2000, Napa Valley, USA, 14.5% D, #393926 $38.95 (Tasted January 17, 2006)
A Vintages release on October 1, 2005 and described as "Regular retail price is $49.95. Superrich, opulent style, with plush fig, apricot, spice and honeysuckle flavors that pick up anise and smoky nuances. Finishes with a burst of ultrarich flavors that saturate the palate. Drink now through 2006. Highly Recommended." My notes: A light golden with a light citrus nose. A medium-bodied buttery feel with a very light but balanced citrus, apricot and yellow fig, some smoke and anise and a moderate finish that warms the palate then slowly ebbs. A reasonable, dry sipper without much fruit to compete with mild cheeses, a shrimp ring or cold chicken or tuna salad. Pair with seafoods light to grilled salmon. Likely beyond best before date now but cellaring two to four years won't lessen present drinkability and may improve butter. Well overpriced at the reduced level.
NAUTILUS ESTATE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2004, Marlborough, NZ, 13.0% XD, #927525 $18.95 (Tasted January 17, 2006)
Vintages released the 2002 vintage March 6, 2004 saying "Sauvignon Blanc was the first wine released by Nautilus when they opened their doors and it continues to be their strongest offering. Intensely aromatic, a bit more restrained on the palate. Has a lovely balance of floral green berry, lime and grapefruit flavors, tangy with acidity on the finish. Drink now. Score - 90. (Harvey Steiman, www.winespectator.com, Nov. 15, 2002)" and hasn't updated for the current release. The label says: "... from premium grapes grown in specially selected sites in the Wairau and Awatere Valleys...." My notes: The 2004 vintage is a clear light straw with a faint off-straw nose with some grapefruit tones. Flavours include some grapefruit and lime and a light melon, all in a light medley. Uncharacteristic of popular Marlborough SBs: eg. Cloudy Bay, Kim Crawford, having no strong gooseberry presence. The creamy finish makes it a pleasant sipper but being light in flavour (but OK in acid) would be difficult to pair with anything but light seafood dishes. Not cellarable.
MONDEVILLE SAUVIGNON 2004, Languedoc, France, 12.5% XD, $10 range (Tasted January 14, 2006)
My notes: Paul Sapin wines, not offered by the LCBO but available through the Opimian Wine Society for many years, are sourced worldwide under various labels. The Louis Mondeville label features a wide range of generic French varietals. This vintage has a soft citrus and honey nose, just perceptible. A medium-bodied light blond colour with an underlaying grassy tartness predominating an undeveloped varietal fruit. Although well-balanced with a smooth texture the finish leaves a straw taste that lingers too long. Not a sipper unless with stuffed mushroom caps, richly cheesed bruscetta, grilled bacon wrapped scallops. Pair with grilled seafoods or pesto pastas. A drink-now but I'd skip it.