Wednesday, February 01, 2006

February Whites (10): Chile Chard, Spain Blend, France Gewurz, Australia Ries, Italy Prosecco, NZ SB(2), Australia ?, Australia SB, Australia Chard

VINA CARMEN CHARDONNAY 2004, Maipo, Chile, 13.5% XD, #235663 $9.95 (Tasted February 11, 2006)

The LCBO says "Pale straw colour; fresh pears on the nose with a hint of vanilla; medium-bodied, smooth and fruity; crisp citrus fruit in the finish. Serve with lobster; rich pasta dishes; lemon chicken." BBB recommends Carmen as the 'Best yummy white for ten bucks' of 2005. The website says: "This wine is a blend of grapes from four different valleys: Casablanca (15%), Maipo (60%), Rapel (10%) and Maule (15%). 100% of the grapes were handpicked and carefully selected before pressing." The label says: "....vibrant aromas of pineapple, peach and citrus. ... a small portion was oak fermented adding a hint of vanilla. .... light-bodied structure with pear, peach flavours that linger on the citrus finish." My notes: Sometimes reserved for restaurants, ie. not on the shelves so you have to ask for it. This is a pale gold with a greenish hue. Aromas of pear or peach and floral lime, flavours of citrus and almond, a full and smooth mouthfeel with some butter in the finish. A respectable 'house' white -sweetness isn't apparent, a good acid balance. Pair with any seafood, grilled or pastas, soups: ham and split pea, chicken noodle, etc. or mild cheese dishes. Price point also makes this great for occasions where there is a mixed crowd of white wine imbibers and a limited budget. A drink-now.. not for cellaring.

CODORNIU BRUT CLASICO NV, Penedes, Spain, 11.5% D, #503490 $10.95 (Tasted February 11, 2006)

The LCBO says "Pale straw colour, good sparkle; fresh apple aroma, round fruit flavour, crisp citrus finish. Serve chilled as an aperitif." My notes: A pale golden blond with lots of medium to large bubbles giving off faint aromas of yeasty apple blossom. Has a crisp apple flavour round in the mouth and with a firm spritz. The finish is light, moderate and smooth with a touch of oil. A pleasant drink-now, brut, bubbly value priced with an overall appeal for large crowds - not an extra brut and not a full-bodied Mumm's or Pelorus showing its price level. Have chilled with fresh oysters, a Belgian waffle and strawberries breakfast or just to toast the occasion.

CAVE VINICOLE A HUNAWIHR HAUT-RHIN GEWURZTRAMINER 2000, Alsace France, 13.5% XD, CP140-2072 (Retasted February 7, 2006)

My notes: Cellared in May 2002 and last tasted October, 2005 (see Archives) with the comment 'have at any excuse to sip a delicious white'. With grilled trout and romaine salad the body and flavours were a bit heavy but still enjoyable. Has a light lemon and wild honey nose and not as soft a texture still with a refreshing acid, tropical fruits and an offset herbal touch. As a sipper the nose and light tropical flavours are interesting. The finish is still tangy, filled with honey and long - but the better half didnt care for it with the trout. Pair with bbq'd scallops skewered with mushroom and vegetable pieces, salmon pinwheels stuffed with herbal treats, warmed wild mushroom tarts or shrimp basted in garlic, lemon juice and a few crushed chillie seeds. Still cellarable for a few more years.

CARDINHAM RIESLING 2003, Clare Valley, Australia, 12.5% XD, #694562 $15.95 (Tasted February 7, 2006)

Vintages released February 4, 2006 saying "This is a Silver-Medal winner from the prestigious International Wine and Spirits Competition 2004 in London. Aromatic and flowery lime blossom, spice and a hint of apple; a fresh and lively palate, and a long lingering finish. Screwcap. Drink [now until] 2013. Score - 93. (James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion 2005 Edition)". The label says "2003 was ideal year for the production of great Riesling. .. a fragrant nose of delicate perfume: citrus overtones with a lime juice background assisted by mineral characters and a fine thread of acid...cellar for years to come." My notes: A screwcap uncovers a light almost white blond and an enduring but soft petrol and lime zest nose, medium-bodied with flavours of spice then apple, crisp without pucker. The finish is long and clean, silky fading into the next sip. Great with seafood appetizers or shaved meats, anything slightly oily/fatty. Pair with mussels or grilled fishes. Should cellar very well increasing the nose and integrating the acids as part of an overall structure. Great value for a dry, not overly floral, riesling.

BORTOLOMIOL 'SELEZIONE BANDA ROSA' PROSECCO DI VALDOBBIADENE DOC, Veneto, Italy 11.5% XD, #664649 $17.95 (Tasted February 6, 2006)

Vintages released February 4, 2006 saying, "A terrific wine for toasting your sweetheart on Valentine's Day, Prosecco is frequently creamy and elegant with good fruit aromas and flavours." My notes: A light blond with a steady stream of fine bubbles and somewhat mousseux. A light yeast and fresh pear aroma in front of flavours of creamy pear and apple. The finish is tart with a creaminess that imitates a sweet edge - still extra dry, fading slowly into a smooth texture on the palate. A pleasant social bubbly or celibratory drink - and the bottle looks elegant on the table. Have with oysters on the half shell, a cold ring of shrimp or herring, with honeydew and cantelope slices, milk chocolate pieces, or a square of keylime pie. I think cellaring for two years or so would integrate the flavours and texture but sipping now is hard to avoid.

SEIFRIED ESTATE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2004, Nelson, NZ, 13.0% XD, #957670 $16.95 (Tasted February 6, 2006)

A Vintages release on September 3, 2005 and described as "Nelson-based Seifried Estate is possibly the best New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc producer not in Marlborough. They return with their much anticipated 2004 vintage featuring a newly designed label. Stylistically, the family-owned Seifried winery creates wines that are halfway between the legendary aggressive style and the more recent elegant interpretation. As a result, their Sauvignon is excellent as a sipper and an ideal partner with seafood, such as calamari, bivalves and even spicy shrimp dishes." The website says: "Fresh, lively and overflowing with flavour, the nose is intensely varietal and speaks straight from the vineyard. Clean fruit is overlaid with tropical passionfruit and pineapple on the palate. The citrusy acidity on the wines backbone gives a refreshing tang. A delicious Sauvignon Blanc with layers of fruit and minerality...." My notes: A handy screwcap and a light blond with a green tinge. The nose is a mixed pineapple/lime zest. Flavours of tangy citrus - no gooseberry, no passionfruit, but citrus with a bright finish long and slightly puckering. You gotta like crisp and dry as a sipper, better with appetizers not too spicy. Was OK with grilled chicken but the chipolte sauce tended to overpower the wine. Better with grilled seafood: prawns in a cream pasta, curried mussels, light ham with clove spikes, white fish to salmon. Not for cellaring, a drink-now with qualifications.

KIM CRAWFORD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2004, Marlborough, NZ, 12.5% XD, #975672 $19.95 (Retasted February 5, 2006)

The website says: "The wine displays classic Sauvignon characters of gooseberry, passionfruit, figs and a touch of herbaceousness. The palate is full bodied with rich, ripe fruit balanced with crisp acidity. A stylish wine with good fruit intensity. Cellar up to five years." My notes: Rated 90 to 93 by various tasters. I originally tasted the 2004 vintage May 2005 (see archive) with the comment "Not 'explosive' but still a pleasant gooseberry aroma. A subtle herbaceousness which distinguishes it from Cloudy Bay SB. etc." Vintages released the 2004 vintage April 30, 2005 and was cellared the same month. Now the nose is of gooseberries and passionfruit with their spicy edge. Medium-bodied and a flavour that is crisp, less fruit than originally but still round and ripe. Cellaring well - it may keep another three years. The finish is lean and crisp with some silkiness. Great as a social sipper or with any seafood appetizer, was OK with Swiss Chalet chicken and fries but better paired wih grilled fishes: sole to salmon. The 2005 vintage was released by Vintages December 20, 2005. Kim Crawford SB has been consistent so should be equivalent or better.

YELLOWGLEN 'YELLOW', Australia, 11.2% D, #592980* $11.95 (Retasted February 4, 2006)

A Vintages release June 25, 2005 (*no longer listed). My notes: Yellowglen specializes in bubbly and I sure wish Vintages would import more of the Yellow (and Yellowglen's Pink and Red to try). Cellared June 26, 2005 and originally rated an 89 by Gord Stimmell - still a high number now. Hasn't changed that much from last tasting (July 13, 2005 - see Archive). Colour still apple blond and a fine yeasty nose. Streams of bubbles forming a firm moussy froth rim and tingle on the tongue. Light lemon, honeydew, a brut but with some residual sugar. A pleasing round finish. Have on any social occasion or other excuse to sip, sip. Still refreshingly spritzy after several minutes. Have liberally in the summer with strong/mild cheeses, smoked oysters, salty nibbles or between seafood courses. Has cellared well so will continue to cellar - a drink-now value.

LINDEMANS BIN 95 SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005, South Eastern Australia, 13.0% D, #181388 $10.60 (Tasted February 2, 2006)

The LCBO describes as "Pale straw colour; complex aroma of pear, gooseberry herbs & grass; flavour follows nose, crisp acidity balances fruit, good quality. Serve chilled with grilled salmon and other seafood." Gord Stimmell rates it 87 saying "... bright, clean and sassy, this.... shows gooseberry, lime peel and kiwi fruit aromas, with flavours of lemon and white grapefruit ... Finish is green-edged and zesty." My notes: Everything GS says - very refreshing and comes with a screwcap. The nose is pronounced and aromatic.... flavours include gooseberry and lime with a long, crisp, citric finish. Thinner than needed for savoury seafood dishes but a good sipper in between and with lighter or asian fare. Cellaring a year may bring about some complexity but more of a drink-now and a good value SB for social occasions.

WOLF BLASS EAGLEHAWK CHARDONNAY 2005, South Eastern Australia, 13.5% D, #606392 $12.10 (Tasted February 1, 2006)

The LCBO says: "Bright yellow colour; bosc pear, pineapple and light spice aromas; medium-to-full bodied with fresh, fruity flavours and a creamy finish. Serve with grilled chicken breast with peach chutney." The website says: "The colour is mid straw with vibrant youthful notes. The aroma displays classic Chardonnay with peach and fig characters and subtle oak integration. The palate is medium weight with rich fruit flavours and supporting oak nuances. The finish is refreshing, crisp and dry." My notes: Both 2004 and 5 vintages were on the shelf - I chose 2005. This strikes me as a chardonnay that wouldn't be rejected by even a non-chardonnay drinker. I would call it 'unoaked' rather than 'subtle oak'. A crystal clear light blond with a hint of green and a soft floral and spice nose. A light- to medium-bodied fresh pineapple, melon and lime medley that warms the palate and lasts moderately long ending with a lingering sweet note. A good social white sipper, ie. should appeal to most at a banquet or reception. Good with seafood or light cheese appetizers or pair with mild seafood dishes, dim sum, sushi or bento boxes. Not for cellaring.

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