Wednesday, March 01, 2006

March Whites (7): Canada Pinot Gris, Germany Riesling, USA Sauv Blanc, South Africa Chenin Blanc, Chile Chard, Canada Sauv Blanc, Italy Prosecco

FIELDING ESTATE PINOT GRIS 2004, Beamsville, Canada, 11.2% D, Winery $15.95* (Retasted March 21, 2006)

The winery describes this as: "an elegant pinkish hue - notes of red plums, candied fruits and tangerines.... fresh, well balanced. 180 cases produced (*$18.00 but sold out) " My notes: Much the same as when tasted August 5, 2005 (see Archives).... eight months cellaring hasn't harmed or improved the flavours or structure. More of a drink-now than for cellaring - best 8 to 12C. Does well as a sipper or paired with light seafood dishes and asian fare - grilled trout lost it tho'. The colour is still peach hued light blond, medium-bodied with a slight creaminess and flavours of tart apple and a light tangerine zest. Sweetness, as in 'candied fruits', isn't apparent. The finish carries well, crisp and creamy.

AUGUST KESSELER ‘R' RIESLING 2004, Germany, 11.5% MD, #674002 $16.95 (Tasted March 20, 2006)

A Vintages release on March 18, 2006 and described as "It has been some time since I tasted a German Riesling this good for the price. Apple blossom, lime and sweet clover rise from the glass, bringing to mind the Mosel. In the mouth, the exchange of slate and fruit acidity is positively shimmering. This sits delicately on the palate, yet saturates it with fruit, flowers, minerals in wet stone, and salt and quarry dust variations... The wine displays only a hint of sweetness ... Score - 90. (David Schildknecht,, Oct. 2005)." Natalie says "Refreshing and mouth-watering, with a lovely touch of sweetness that widens its range of food matches from seafood and medium-spiced dishes and Asian fare. Ripe aromas of pears and peaches. Score: 89/100." My notes: Aromas of wild flowers and honey come to mind... a clear almost white blond, medium-bodied with a touch of refreshing sweet pear and tart apple. An excellent off-dry, but not too much, sipper. Was flexible enough with crisp iceberg lettuce and caesar salad dressing and slices of cold chicken, a side dish of sweet pickles and red beets with the off-dryness working very well. A drink-now.

ROBERT MONDAVI FUME BLANC 2003, Napa, USA, 14.0% D, #221887 $23.95 (Tasted March 12, 2006)

A Vintages release October 15, 2005 and described as "A star is born. In 1966, Robert Mondavi originated his lightly-oaked Sauvignon Blanc and dubbed it Fumé Blanc. The aromas on display here include citrus, lemon grass, mineral and floral notes. It has a crisp, refreshing, fruity core and a soft, yet spicy finish that makes it a perfect partner for Mediterranean fare." The website describe their Fume Blanc as (the 2004) "A blend of 91% Sauvignon Blanc and 9% Semillon. Flavours are vibrant pineapple, tropical fruit and honeydew fruit character, with complex floral and mineral nuances. Beautiful balance of crisp acidity and creaminess from sur lie aging." My notes: A slight pineapple, lemon zest and spiciness in the nose from a faint blond, medium-bodied white wine. An acid brightness on the first taste with some citrus flavours, not well pronounced. The finish is well rounded. More of a european sauvignon blanc, no tropical fruit for it to be a sipper and the acid begins to clean the teeth without fingerfoods. Better paired with chicken, ham as a grilled steak or shaved cold on a garden salad, salmon steak, vegetarian pizza perhaps. Cellaring may mellow it and introduce some butterscotch but it's now three years old and none is showing. Personally, I'd skip the 2003.

EIKENDAL CHENIN BLANC 2004, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 14.0% D, #975128 $14.95 (Tasted March 5, 2006)

A Vintages release of March 4, 2006 and described as "Lightly oaked 04 promises peach & melon pleasure, green-fruit undertones; round, smoothly textured. Score - *** (out of 5). (Tim James, John Platter South African Wines 2005)." The label says "Delicious aroma assemblage of fresh melon, honeysuckle and hints of pineapple. Expansive mouth feel with butterscotch tones, saluting with a brisk citrus finish." The website says: "Eikendal Chenin Blanc is a soft elegant off-dry wine with an attractive fruitiness that reminds of peaches, apricots and litchi. It has a well-balanced acidity and the toasty flavours give the wine extra body and finish. Eikendal Chenin Blanc is best drunk young to enjoy its harmonious fresh, fruity flavours and clean finish." Rod Phillips says "This is a quite delicious Pinot Blanc, and quite different from the mainstream in its fruit intensity. Look for lovely flavours of ripe peach, apricot pit and under-ripe green melon, all cohabiting happily with a few warm spicy notes. Great stuff, and the style of wine you might think of for a really flavoursome, medium-spiced, Thai dish" and gives it four and a half stars (of 5). My notes: A golden blond with a touch of apple blossom and melon in a soft nose. Full-bodied with apple flavours, more like a granny smith with a slow, calculated acid bite and a grassy or herbal note. As a sipper the astringency can accumulate. Better with bite size lobster wraps or pair with bouillabaise, clam chowder, panfried white fish or sushi. A drink-now.

TABALI 'RESERVA ESPECIAL' CHARDONNAY 2004, Limari Valley, Chile, 13.5% D, #663005 $18.95 (Tasted March 4, 2006)

A Vintages release March 4, 2006 and described as: "Gold-Medal winner at the 2005 International Wine Challenge. Passion fruit, mangosteen, jackfruit and pineapple aromas scent this glorious offering. The tightly woven palate is a seamless mouthful of mandarin oranges, sweet juicy pears, bananas and vanilla pods. Technicolour and widescreen. (, May 2005)." The label says "... vines are from original French rootstock. .... complex and intense with subtle mineral tones elegantly complemented with a touch of citrus and honey. ... well integrated toasty and toffee notes together with an appealing and refreshing finish." Rod Phillips says "The Limarí Valley is one of Chile's newer and most northern wine regions, and its white is Chardonnay. This example has gorgeous fruit complexity with classic peach flavours leading the way, and tropical fruit and soft citrus in supporting roles. It's fine-grained and disciplined, with excellent structure and balance, and delightful from front to back. Pair this with pork tenderloin or chicken breast in a light, cream-based sauce." and gives it four and a half stars (out of 5). Beppi says: " of the best-priced wines of the release, juicy and tangy, with ripe mango-pineapple fruit and a toasty, toffee-like finish." My notes: Melon and kiwi nose from a pale yellow, medium-bodied white, round with flavours of melon and pear. A slight cream(toffee?) and a slight acid with a long, light pear and mandarin finish. Better as a sipper where flavours can build... even a non-chard drinker wouldn't object - serve at 12 degrees C. So delicate it's left behind with anything moderately seasoned. Have with grilled white fish or shrimp/mushroom casseroles. A drink-now.

LEGENDS ESTATES SAUVIGNON BLANC 2004 VQA, Niagara, Canada, 12.5% D, #675041 $16.95 (Tasted March 2, 2006)

A Vintages release of February 18, 2006 and described as "Brilliant golden straw in colour, this delightful Sauvignon Blanc features aromas of grapefruit, lemon zest and some of the typical grassy notes. Medium-bodied with lots of citrus flavours, it's crisp and refreshing with a good balance of acidity and a long finish. Enjoy it as an aperitif or serve it with raw oysters, steamed mussels or a simple spinach salad. (Vintages panel, Dec. 2005)." Their website says: "Medium-body, semi-dry, semi-aromatic with a nose of elderberry and grapefruit, peach, banana and a touch of citrus. A very soft wine with twelve grams of residual sugar that perfectly balance the acidity. Pair with asparagus, butter sauces, light creamy pastas, grilled chicken." My notes: A golden hue in the glass and a fragrant aroma of light gooseberry and grapefruit - not strong but apparent. The acids balance with the residual sugar for an overall 'dry' effect. Medium-bodied and flavours of citrus - didnt get the grassy notes, A finish that cleanses, tart without a pucker and long enough to delay the next sip. A good sipper by itself or with shellfish appetizers. Went nicely with grilled salmon - should do equally well with grilled whitefish, creamy pastas, sushi or asian foods. A drink-now.

VILLA SANDI PROSECCO NV, Veneto, Italy, 11.0% D, #249722 $13.15 (Tasted March 1, 2006)

The LCBO says: "Clear, pale lemon yellow colour; clean aromas with intense mineral and citrus notes; off-dry, light bodied, with citrus and herbs, with a vigorous mousse. Serve as an apperitif or with appetizers." The website says: "Crystal straw yellow with a fine and persistent perlage. Bouquet is intensely fruity with strong scents. Extra dry." My notes: A pale yellow for sure, and a birthday cake aroma - slight vanilla and soft lemon. Flows into the glass with a frothy rim and lots of fine bubbles. It flows on to the palate evenly with noticeable fullness balanced by citrus flavours, not tart but just right (for me) and finishes long and creamy. Villa Sandi knows how to put together a sparkler, this being one of several they produce - the bottle has that feeling of celebration. I'd try cellaring this for six months to a year then plan accordingly. A reasonable value for a sipper that goes with any occasion - especially after a drive home in summer rush hour.

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