Sunday, February 12, 2006

More February Whites (9): Canada SB, Italy Pinot Grig, Chile Chard, Portugal Ribat., NZ Sauv Blanc, NZ Blend, France Blend (2), Australia Chard

JACKSON-TRIGGS PROPRIETOR'S SELECTION SAUVIGNON BLANC NV, Niagara, Canada, 12.5% D, #399410 $8.95 (Tasted February 21, 2006) CS

The LCBO says: "Pale straw colour; dry, light bodied with fresh apple and grapefruit aromas and flavours; light acidity with a soft pleasant finish. Serve with seafood; shellfish; light chicken dishes." The label says: "our SB has a distinctive floral bouquet complemented by notes of citrus fruit and dill.... an elegant finish." My notes: A nonvintage pale blond with a faint floral nose. Light-bodied with a light but tart crabapple flavour with distinct dryness. The finish is moderate, warm, lightly citric and an accumulated mineral dryness. To me, not unpleasant but an uninteresting sipper. With broiled crusted telapia it's a little lost. Not a cellarable wine, not a sipper .... what else?

SANTI PINOT GRIGIO DELLE VENEZIE 2004, SORTESELE, Alto Adige, Italy, 12.5% D, #637603 $13.00 (Tasted February 20, 2006) CS

BBB describes this as 'best nice Pinot Grigio of 2005'. The LCBO says: "Pale straw colour; apple, pear and lemon aromas and flavours; dry palate with a creamy texture, light to medium bodied with a spicy finish. Serve with shellfish, creamy pasta dishes or as a patio sipper." The Wine Enthusiast rates it 87 saying “An intensely fragrant and perfumy wine with fresh flowers, honey and apple.... Sweet and endearing with prominent acidity.” My notes: A light blond in the glass with a soft floral nose and honey overtone. Light-bodied, a hint of lemon with a nice acid nip fronts a moderate finish of citrus and honey. Was great with grilled chicken breasts with a ginger baste and creamed celeriac potatoes. Well chilled it's a pleasant almost-citrus cooler with a soft spiciness.... off-chill it's fuller for pairing with seafood appetizers: raw oysters or grilled scallops, aged cheeses or shaved meats (maybe) and white fish dishes. Cellaring a year, if any is leftover from sipping, may round it out further.

YVON MAU COLOMBARD/CHARDONNAY 2004, Casgone, France, 11.5% D, #627265 $7.80* (Tasted February 19, 2006) CS

The LCBO says: "Pale straw; delicate citrus, grassy and apple aromas; dry, light bodied with crisp acidity, candied citrus, pear and apple flavours. Serve as an apperitif; scallops with lemongrass; grilled pork; fish or mussels." Won a Gold at the Ottawa Wine and Food Show 2005, for Other Dry White Wine $8.50 to $11.99. My notes: (*reduced from $8.55) A soft citrus melon nose and soft blond in colour. A taste of creamy melon with a nicely balanced acid and a moderate finish of citrus and melon but leaving a grassy dryness. A disappointing sipper since flavours become so muted. Adequate pairing with a meal is also difficult - more of an aperitif, if that. A low price but Perrier is more refreshing. Not cellarable.

LAURA HARTWIG COLCHAGUA VALLEY CHARDONNAY 2000, Rapel, Chile, 13.5% D, CP135-1796 $17.33 (Retasted February 19, 2006)

Opimian describes this as "A beauty, this wine has all of the benefits of a 'Mendoza' chardonnay clone...etc." and recommended cellaring six months to two years. Last tasted in March 2005 with the comment 'Tasted 2003 and rated a 91'. Cellaring from January 2001 has steadily improved this chardonnay. Now a golden yellow with an aromatic citrus, buttery caramel nose it is full-bodied and rolls across the palate with a citrus zestiness leaving a long silky finish. Was great with lamb and creamed leeks and should be so with creamy mushroom or seafood pastas, grilled white fishes or salmons - or just sip. Last of the lot so will only have memories now.

QUINTA DE S. JOAO BATISTA FERNAO-PIRES RIBATEJO 2003, Rio Maior, Portugal, 12.0% XD, SO39-2605 $15.58 (Tasted February 15, 2006)

The label says: "This huge wine.... already won a gold medal and three silvers. .... colour is straw touched golden and on the nose the full grape vinosity is balanced by a deep oatmeal nuance. Complex, full-bodied and finishing with a hearty bite of alcohol, a partner for food." Opimian says: "..same as label.. Cellar six months to two years." My notes: Cellared August 2004. Has a light golden colour with a faint citrus nose and flavours of California honeydew with a tart edge. Serve off-chill and letting breathe improves texture. By itself not a sipper and pair with spicy tomato or red pepper salsas, tapas, seasoned rice dishes where the astringency becomes a partner with the meal - was OK with broiled bearded mussels in a garlic and wine sauce tho'. Finish has a lasting citrus zest with a touch of oil and a pucker. Don't know where the 'hearty bite of alcohol' comes in and the medals may have been in the year of release? A different white for sure... will cellar another year.

CLOUDY BAY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2004. Martlborough, NZ, 13.5%, XD, #304469* $31.95 (Retasted February 14, 2006) CS

My notes: Last tasted May 2005. *Not currently listed by Vintages - I suspect it'll be back. Still very pleasurable on three counts: as a sipper the nose is elegantly gooseberry and passionfruit with a sharp edge that sensitizes the nose, the flavours are well balanced gooseberry and passion fruit with a brightness that awakens the buds, the finish after the meal, in this case fresh lobster and roasted parisienne potatoes (it was Valentines after all), had a light creaminess and was as fresh as a citrus dessert. Once the price is paid then the pleasure is in the tasting. Still fresh after cellaring from April 2005 and likely will be after another year. We'll see. Good stuff!

CLOUDY BAY 'PELORUS' NV, Marlborough, NZ, 12.5% XD, #942417 $24.95 (Tasted February 14, 2006) CS

A Vintages release September 3, 2005 described as "Very attractive yeasty nose, followed by a lemony, nutty palate with breadth and creamy texture. It has freshness, too, and roundness, making it a good aperitif style. (Wine International, Dec. 2004)" The website says: "Chardonnay and pinot noir grapes are sourced from several grower and estate vineyards located within the Wairau Valley in Marlborough. The pale straw colour and aromas of ripe citrus fruits indicate the chardonnay origins of Pelorus nv. A bouquet of apple and lemon complements fresh bready notes derived from two years bottle ageing on lees. The deliciously crisp palate displays toasty, creamy complexity, enhanced by a lingering nutty finish." My notes: A light gold colour and a faint yeasty citrus nose. Lots of 'tiny bubbles' burst then edge the rim, not tart and not sweet - just comfortable for a sparkling aperitif. A touch of drying from a round, medium-bodied, crisp, nutty white although less fruit and creaminess than I remember from previous tastings, still with a firm spritz to tickle the palate. Just brut enough for fresh oysters or spicy NZ bearded mussels... and lots for white fish dishes but you can get this in others at a lower price. This wouldn't benefit from further cellaring - a drink-now.

GUINOT BRUT 'CUVEE RESERVE' BLANQUETTE DE LIMOUX NV, Midi, France, 12.0% D, #664656 $14.95 (Tasted February 13, 2006) CS

A Vintages release February 4, 2006 and described as ".. an excellent alternative to Champagne. It is price worthy and has quite a lot of the yeast/toast character from its prolonged lees contact. The result is frequently crisp and quite lively. A wonderful aperitif or with oysters." Beppi describes it as "affordable, elegant bubbly .... bone dry.... light, fresh and floral, with hints of apple, apricot and citrus." My notes: A blend of Mauzac, Chardonnay, and Chenin the mouthfeel is silky with some yeasty pear and apple on the nose and medium sized bubbles fill the glass. No frothy rim but flavours have a 'sur lie' fullness with mild pear and apple, brut dry - I didnt get the apricot. An appetizing sipper with firm spritz and a tartness that starts but ebbs quickly in the long 'oily' finish. Have with seafood finger foods, shaved italian meats and mild to nippy cheeses. Body may integrate further with cellaring but at the cost of the little fruit that's present. A drink-now bubbly that would satisfy a wide taste spectrum.

JINDALEE CHARDONNAY 2004, Victoria, Australia, 13.5% XD, #591800 $9.95 (Tasted February 12, 2006) CS

The LCBO says "Light yellow-gold colour; peach, citrus, creamy, cooked apple, tropical fruit and pineapple aromas overlaid by oak; dry, full bodied, creamy/velvety texture, with ripe apple, peach, spice, toast and vanilla flavours. Serve with grilled fish, seared tuna steaks with ginger sauce, roast capon, herb crusted chicken with creamy garlic mashed root vegetables." The website describes this as "The Murray Cod is Australia's largest freshwater fish. It plays an important role in the creation narratives of the Aboriginal Dreamtime. River culture mythology explains how the Great Cod formed the bends in the Murray and Darling Rivers by the sweeping action of its tail. Coming from our vineyards in the Murray Darling region near Mildura this medium bodied Chardonnay is full of fresh lively fruit. It has typical rich tropical fruit flavors that combine well with the soft French oak used to mature this wine. Vibrant straw gold. Fresh citrus characters, and peaches.... It shows rich Chardonnay flavors and a buttery French Oak finish." BBB recommends this and the Jindalee shiraz as the 'Best pair of animal labels' for 2005. My notes: One of four Jindalee wines, two of which are available in Ontario, they all have screwcaps for 2004. A light apple nose and a clear light blond, medium-bodied with a nice acid edge to a citrus apple flavour. The finish is moderate citrus lasting briefly leaving some oils. Good with chicken and lentils with currie. OK as a sipper although more fruit background would increase the appeal and likely the price. A drink-now and not recommended for cellaring.

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