Sunday, April 02, 2006

April Whites (14): Canada Pinot Gris(2), France Blend, Canada Chard(7), USA Symph, Canada Gewurz, Italy Pinot Grigio, Canada Blend

DANIEL LENKO OLD VINES CHARDONNAY (AMERICAN OAK) 1999, Beamsville, Canada, 13.0% XD, Winery $? (Tasted April 25, 2006)

The website says of the 2002 vintage ($19.95): "Toast, smoke and butterscotch flavours lead the way, with pineapple, peach and spice unfolding a deep and intense experience." My notes: The 1999 vintage was purchased from the winery on May 14, 2001 and cellared until now. The same golden hue as the 'French Oak' version but with aromas of mild ripe pineapple and wild flowers. Medium-bodied with flavours of apricot and apple with some creamy caramel, light lime and a balanced acid. A long finish carries light apricot, citrus and caramel evenly on the palate. Although the original fresh varietal flavours are gone the structure is more complex and very sippable. Have with any asian fare, cold salmon slices on greens, as an aperitif or with italian shaved meats. Cellaring has produced a unique and tasty chardonnay, for sure.

MALIVOIRE PINOT GRIS 2002 (and 2000), Beamsville, Canada, 12.0% XD, #591305 $18.00 (Retasted April 24, 2006)

My notes: The 2002 vintage was tasted January and June of last year. The 2002 is an appealing deep peach colour with very light aromas of peach fuzz with a touch of caramel. Purchased from the winery November 2003 because of its enormous fruit and creamy spice - the fruit has changed to a soft prune and caramel with no creamy spice. Finish is warm, short and somewhat bland. Should be OK with white fish dishes, but not chicken breast or pork tenderloin. Cellared too long. The 2000 was tasted last September with the comment "... Considerably different than the 2002 ... " Retasted April 27th, has the same deep peach hue, but now it has no fruit nor caramel, no creamy spice and this, the last bottle in the cellar, was discarded.

CHATEAU DE MONTGUERET CREMANT DE LOIRE BRUT NV, Loire, France, 12.5% D, #621896 $18.95 (Tasted April 24, 2006)

My notes: The label describes the blend as Chenin, Cabernet and Chardonnay. My notes: The LCBO stocks this on their bubbly shelf periodically. The colour is a light blond and aromas of vanilla and yeast (birthday cake to me), pleasant but light. Bubbles are slightly frothy at the rim with a continuous stream giving a tingle to the palate. Flavours include a citrus assortment with a finish that is clean, light and slightly creamy. This has a decent tang and went well will leftover cornish hens and salad - but there are fruitier and frothier for the money. Not for cellaring and not a value.

DANIEL LENKO OLD VINES CHARDONNAY (FRENCH OAK) 1999, Beamsville, Canada, 13.0% XD, Winery $24.95 (Tasted April 23, 2006)

The website says of the 2002 vintage - now $29.95: " Vanilla, toast, coconut and spice flavours balance beautifully with ripe pear and peach overtones. A rich, creamy texture engulfs the palate, showing the power and elegance of fruit from old vines." My notes: The 1999 was purchased from the winery on May 14, 2001 and cellared until now. A golden hue with faint aromas of wild clover and honey. Medium-bodied with delicate flavours of melon, some pear, some honey, some light acid - no cream in this one. The finish is soft on the palate and short. Perhaps past peak, was quickly lost with roast cornish hens with mapled squash and brussels.

'NCT' WINERY WARREN CLASSIC 'PIEKAN VINEYARD' CHARDONNAY 2004 VQA, Niagara, Canada, 14.2% XD, Winery $27.95 (Tasted April 15, 2006)

The College tasting sheet says "This wine is all about elegance and complexity. The nose is intense with vanilla, cantelope and caramellized pears. The palate is soft, dry and refined with pears, green apple and a long finish. Enjoy with lobster, game birds or veal." The label says: ".... barrel fermented/barrel aged in French oak... crafted by Jim Warren." My notes: The 2004 was purchased at the College on April 8th. A light blond white with a distinct wild clover nose. Medium- to full-bodied with flavours of light honey, melon, pear with a pronounced bite. Didn't show its high alcohol level. The finish is moderate with a lasting light butter and fresh varietal fruit. A dry sipper showing a subtle influence of fermentation in French oak. Cellaring at least two years should bring some caramel forward and form more of a silky structure. Went well with traditional halibut and chips.... and should with any seafood dish, especially lobster or scallops. Overpriced but the College warrants the support.

EASTDELL 'ESCARPMENT' BARREL FERMENTED CHARDONNAY 2003 VQA, Niagara, Canada, 13.0% XD, #651505 $18.95 (Tasted April 14, 2006)

The website says it won a Gold Medal at Cuvée 2005 (Niagara) and has a "A long mellow finish with very subtle oak." The label says: "... fermented in American, French and Hungarian oak. Notes of tropical fruit and vanilla are followed by a balanced finish." My notes: Purchased at the winery on April 8th. Colour is a light blond and the bouquet is a soft citrus and clover. Medium-bodied with lemon, some honey, some butter and, perhaps a trifle light, acid edge (comes across on the flabby side). A lemon and pear finish leaves a long, light cream impression on the palate. Should be great with Greek salad with lots of olives, a mushroom/red pepper and anchovy pizza, a green salad with salmon pieces - flexible enough for light seafood. Perhaps priced on the high side but a pleasant sipper and flexible meal white. Should be able to cellar a couple of years, likely no longer.

STONEY RIDGE 'FOUNDER'S SIGNATURE COLLECTION' CHARLOTTE'S CHARDONNAY 2004 VQA, Niagara, Canada, 11.0% D, #497230 $19.95 (Tasted April 13, 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)." The website 2004 vintage notes are brief, "A pale yellow with brilliant clarity, a moderate fruity intensity with a distinct bouquet and a pleasant first impression. This wine is soft from a sweetness perspective, balanced by a clean refreshing acidity level. Adequate alcohol. Finish medium to long. Serve with spicy foods: Thai, Szechwan, turkey and chicken, also soft to medium cheeses or shellfish." Also "In a unique return to his winemaking roots [Jim Warren left from Stoney Ridge in 1999], Jim Warren created a new Founder's Signature Collection for Stoney Ridge. Representing a creative partnership between [the current winemaker] Liubomir [Popovici] and Jim, this unique bottling reflects Jim's personal winemaking philosophy of producing the best wine possible from the best grapes grown." My notes: A convenient screwtop. An off-white with a soft wildflower bouquet. Medium- to light-bodied with flavours of melon, clover honey and a bright, well balanced acid. The finish is medium fading quickly as a dry, clean, clover honey. No butter or cream to support the delicate chardonnay fruit. Well made but not a 'Jim Warren' imho. Was just OK with a grilled salmon steak... no intrusive sweetness. Pair with mild cheeses, light fish dishes, or cold chicken slices on a green salad with a light dressing. A drink-now and not a value.

IRONSTONE 'OBSESSION' SYMPHONY 2004, Calif, USA, 12.0% MD, #355784 $14.95 (Tasted April 11, 2006)

A Vintages release April 1, 2006 and described as "The fruity and floral Symphony grape variety was created at the University of California-Davis by crossing Muscat of Alexandria with Grenache Gris. This popular version from Ironstone is refreshing and charming with a wonderfully aromatic nose and off-dry palate." The winecurrent newsletter gives it four stars and says: "... While this Ironstone product might not be an 'obsession', its release is always eagerly awaited. Similar in style to a Gewürztraminer, it offers rich, spicy aromas that replay in the flavours as spicy peach and apricot. With a crisp texture, it's a marvelous summer sipper, a shoulder-season aperitif, or a great partner to spicy Asian dishes. (RP)" Their website says: "....has youthful aromas that are markedly floral. Extremely drinkable, this lusciously brilliant and fanciful wine is full of fruit flavors, and finishes crisp and clean." My notes: A light straw with aromas of honeysuckle and apricot, light-bodied, off-dry but nicely balanced with natural acid and flavours close to pinot gris with less spice. The finish is moderate that is both warm and fruity. More of a summer sipper (one ice cube) or accompanied by a chilled shrimp ring or broiled reggiano and tomato bruschetta. Was a little light with grilled chicken breast with a ginger sauce and vinaigrette salad - likely OK with grilled white fish dishes or mushroom pastas. A drink-now.

KONZELMANN GEWÜRZTRAMINER RESERVE 2002 VQA, Niagara, Canada, 13.0% MD, #392357 $14.95 (Tasted April 10, 2006)

A Vintages release April 1, 2006 saying "Look for intense aromas of rose, lychee, honey, peach and cloves in this medium-bodied Gewürz from Niagara legend Herbert Konzelmann. An amazing value, it's just off-dry and would be a terrific match for butter chicken or spicy Thai cuisine." The winecurrent newsletter gives it four stars and says: "A well-made Gewürz that touches all the right bases. It has attractive aromas and off-dry flavours of spice, musk and peach-apricot, good medium weight, and a nice clean finish with a characteristic hint of bitterness. Pair it confidently with spicy Thai dishes. (RP)" My notes: A rich, crystal gold in colour and soft ripe apricot and honey aromas that build as the glass warms - perhaps slight oxidation. A full-bodied white with a strong creamy flavour of lychee nuts and spice - not a flavour for everyone. The fruit sugars are nicely balanced by bright acids leaving a long spicy finish. A drink-now. Have with Seshuan, spicy seafood or, marginally, with grilled ham steaks.

‘BORTOLUZZI' PINOT GRIGIO 2004 IGT, Veneto, Italy, 13.0% XD, #717330 $15.95 (Tasted April 9, 2006)

A Vintages release of April 4, 2006 and described as "Pretty apple, anise and apple blossom aromas dominate this fresh, balanced, structured wine. It has a personality all its own that is frequently missing from other northern Italian Pinot Grigios. Enjoy with freshwater fish or pasta in a cream sauce. (VINTAGES panel, Aug. 2005)." rates it four stars saying "A well-made Pinot Grigio at a very good price. It stands out from the mass of Italian Pinot Grigios. With quite elegant and delicate fruit flavours (in the apricot-peach zones) and good structure and balance, it's a great match for grilled white fish. (RP)" The website says "A crystalline straw yellow coloured wine with a scent of acacia flowers and exotic fruits. It is soft on the palate, persistent and full bodied. Serving temperature 12-14°C" My notes: Has a blond colour with a light lemon and lime nose. Medium-bodied, soft creaminess and mild acids support flavours of lemon and melon. The finish is long and warm citrus. Went well with grilled Atlantic salmon, rum soaked sweet potato and green salad. Should cellar well for a year but drinking well now - have with shaved ham, proscuitto, grilled chicken or seafood.

'NCT' RIESLINGTRAMINER 2004 VQA, Niagara, Canada, 11.0% D, Winery $12.95 (Tasted April 9, 2006)

College notes: "This wine shows intense aromas of peaches, oranges, rose petals and limestone. On the palate it has a pleasant sweetness and tones of candied apple and apricots." This is one of many wines crafted by Professor/Winemaker Jim Warren and students of the Winery and Viticulture Technician Program. My notes: First tasted as part of an evening dinner at the College in the fall of 2005, this bottle came from a Niagara wine trip this weekend. A light blond in colour and a fragrance of citrus and wild flowers. Medium-bodied, creamy with flavours of both varietals showing: a light spice and lime from the gewurz and a light pear from the riesling, a great combination for light seafood appetizers or main courses. The fruity sweetness and well balanced acid makes this a pleasing sipper with a citrus, almost orange, zest finish. Cellaring up to two years may integrate and smooth textures even more but try after a year so not to lose the fruit. A real value imho.

MIKE WEIR ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2004 VQA, Niagara, Canada, 13.0% D, #000026 $15.95 (Tasted April 3, 2006)

A Vintages release April 1, 2006 noting: "This ‘above par' Chard wonderfully integrates all the elements of fruit, acidity and oak. The nose has layered green apple, tropical fruit, citrus and cinnamon notes. Dry, medium-full bodied with a nice backbone of acidity, there is subtle oak spice on the long finish. It would make a delicious match for King Crab. (VINTAGES panel, Feb. 2006)" And the newsletter rates four stars describing: "The Product Code number that Mike Weir's wines wear make it look as if the LCBO has rolled the odometer back. The number after the dollar sign is more impressive, though, for a Chardonnay of this quality. It offers lovely fruit in the peach-apricot range, nuanced with sweet spicy notes and balanced with grapefruit crispness, and a smooth texture. It's a great partner to lobster or roast grain-fed chicken. (RP)." And Beppi says: "Medium-bodied and silky, this nicely balanced white offers up nuances of ripe melon, honey and hints of toasty oak and spice. It's attractively priced and should be a nice match for sea bass or roast chicken." My notes: A light blond, crystal clear, with a prominent nose of wild flowers and lime, an aromatic sniffer. Medium-bodied with flavours that are predominantly citrus, bright but not sharp, grapefruit and papaya - an unusually fresh and fruity chardonnay. A long citrus finish cleanses the palate. Perfect for lobster, crab, shrimp, scallops, then on to anything seafood in nature. Should be OK to cellar for a year but drinking well now.

TAWSE BEAMSVILLE BENCH RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2002 VQA, Beamsville, Canada, 14.1% XD, Winery $42.00 (Tasted April 2, 2006)

David Lawrason (Toronto Life, August 2005) rates it four and one-half stars saying "Chardonnay minimalists will find this opulent one overstated; hedonists will love it. Deborah Paskus's chardonnays have an oxidative, hot cashew and apple pie quality. This one is a sundae with finesse, fortitude and great length." Gord Stimmell rates it 91/100 "Here was that rich chard signature, butternut and hazelnut and lime peel, a blend of elegance and power." My notes: Purchased from the winery in July, 2005, now a golden yellow with full aromas of butterscotch, a touch of citrus and the smooth influence of French oak ageing. The flavours partnered well with grilled scallops wrapped in bacon - lots of warmth, nuttiness and the zest of limes in the long finish. Full-bodied, very smooth sipper - not a quaffer since time is needed to savour the flavours and butter texture. Better with a spicy bearded mussel appetizer or with light meat and seafood dishes. Will cellar several years but drinking well now.

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