Monday, May 01, 2006

May Whites (10): Spain Brut, NZ SB(2), Australia Ries, Germany Ries(2), NZ Ries, Australia Sauv Blanc, Australia Pinot Grigio, Chile Sauv Blanc

NINTH ISLAND SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005, Tasmania, Australia, 13.7% XD, #606897 $19.95 (Tasted May 27, 2006)

A Vintages release on May 27, 2006 noting that "Ninth Island is the second label of Pipers Brook (Kregliner Wine Estates). Tasmania's cool climate is ideal for crafting fresh and racy Sauvignon Blanc like this one. Expect complex aromas of tropical fruit, gooseberry, and sweet herbs in this medium-bodied delight. Enjoy with spring vegetables and seafood stir-fry or fresh oysters." The website says of the 2005 SB: "The colour is a pale yellow straw with a tinge of green. Bouquet is lifted, floral aromatic with bright fresh fruits such as gooseberry, pineapple, rock melon, and kiwifruit evident. Medium bodied with ripe lush tropical fruits balanced by savoury notes and a fresh crisp acid spine providing a tight, structured palate. The finish is delicate and lingering. Likely life span to 2007 with optimal year 2005/6." rates it four stars (of five) saying: "Aromas of passion fruit, mineral and grassy notes mark this a cool climate offering. On the beautifully textured palate there is a full fruit-forward attack of sweet melon, Bosc pear and mint. The finish is clean and well balanced. Pair this to lightly buttered and sautéed asparagus spears wrapped in prosciutto. (VH)." My notes: A light blond colour with a green hue, the nose is soft melon and kiwi - some passionfruit and light gooseberry came out in the flavours along with melon and banana. Texture is full and creamy with a long finish ending in a light oiliness on the palate. A superb drink-now - don't see it improving with cellaring and why would anyone delay sip, sip, sipping. A slightly different SB and equal with the best.

FREIXENET CARTA NEVADA BRUT, Penedes, Spain, 11.5% D, #074757 $11.25 (Tasted May 19, 2006)

A General listing described as "Pale straw colour; aroma of yellow apples with mineral and citrus notes; on the palate, citrusy/lime fruit with a crisp, clean finish. Serve with finger foods; light cheeses; aperitif; tapas. My notes: A pleasing light golden blond with medium to small bubbles and a clean effervescent 'chard-like' nose. The bubbles keep coming through flavours of melon, grapefruit and apple... tart but with a background of sweet fruit. The finish is long, some creaminess, some grassiness with a lasting green apple and melon. An impressive festive package with frosted glass, gold foil and clean graphics. The website offers 'dress-ups' for bottles for wedding receptions. Have with anything salted: crackers and hummous, mild cheeses, any shaved italian meat, sushi, fresh oysters, or just sip your way thru' dry speeches.

KIM CRAWFORD MARLBOROUGH SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005, Marlborough, New Zealand, 13.5% D, #975672 $19.95 (Tasted May 17, 2006)

Vintages released in December, 2005 saying "Light straw in colour, it shows quite intense aromas of passion fruit, lime leaf, guava, asparagus and grapefruit. Medium bodied, dry and crisp with the forceful fruit that fills in beautifully in the centre. Clean, long finish. A classic New Zealand-style Sauvignon that novices and connoisseurs will both love. Score - 91 (Harvey Steiman,, Oct. 15, 2004)." The Kim Crawford website describes this bottle, one of four SBs produced by KC, as 'Pale straw with touches of green, aromas that are 'classic Sauvignon characters of gooseberry, passionfruit, figs and a touch of herbaceousness, a palate that unfolds with flavours of passionfruit, gooseberry and subtle herbaceousness.... mouthfilling with good texture and finishes well with crisp acidity and great length. A wine to drink now and, with careful cellaring, will last up to five years.' My notes: The 2004 was tasted in February this year with the comment "KC has been consistent so [the 2005] should be equivalent or better" and it is. The KC website accurately describes this vintage so no need to elaborate except that five years cellaring seems long based on previous vintages which lost much of its fruit after the second year. But if the benefit is an integrated structure and smoother body it could be worthwhile. A super value for a well balanced, fruit forward sauvignon blanc.

D'ARENBERG 'THE DRY DAM' RIESLING 2005, McLaren Valley, Australia, 13.0% XD, #942953 $15.95 (Tasted May 16, 2006)

Part of Vintages release on May 13, 2006 - online description not available. The label claims that in good vintages the water source for d'Arenberg's riesling vines, Neil's Dam, goes dry causing concentrated riesling fruit with lots of flavour and acids. The website adds "As a young wine, the Dry Dam shows lime, citrus blossom and almost perfumed rose petal smells, and as an older wine, develops with tremendous structure and classic honey-toast bottle aged fruit flavours and lemon-lime acidity. Serve at 8C now or cellar for 2 – 15 years. Serve when young as an aperitif, or to accompany all sorts of seafood, including prawns and squid, as well as salads and Asian food. The older Riesling can be drunk with a wider range of foods including freshwater crayfish, chicken and lighter meat dishes." Winecurrent gives it four and one-half stars (of five) saying "From a winery noted for their outstanding reds, this is equally well made. Lemon and apricot aromatics waft from the glass and then the fun starts. Rich, complex and almost creamy on the palate, it bursts forth with layers of ripe fruit and tangy citrus flavours before the lengthy and luxurious finish kicks in. This deserves a place at your table alongside a scallop and shrimp ceviche. (VH)" My notes: A light blond colour with a citrus, apricot and nutty (pistacchio?) nose. Its tartness refreshes while light green apple and mineral flavours add interest for sipping or when paired with light seafood dishes. Has a long, dry, tart finish. Was OK with dilled and grilled rainbow trout. Right now it's young and light -perhaps cellaring a few years will bring about some body and complexity.

GEIL RIESLING SPATLESE 2004, Rheinhessen, Germany, 10.5% SC6, #994780 $15.95 (Tasted May 14, 2006)

Part of Vintages release on May 13, 2006 - online description not available. Beppi describes it as ".... on the medium-sweet side... brimming with canned peach and mandarin flavours, finishing with brisk acidity." Winecurrent rates it four and one-half stars (of five) saying "A really delicious, sweet, rich Riesling that would make a fine partner to seared foie gras. The dominant fruit is stewed pear, and it's accented with notes of peach, apricot and tropical fruit. It's smooth and luxurious with beautiful weight and balance and shows just how fabulous German sweet wines can be. (RP)" My notes: Everything RP says... a wonderful sipper as the sweetness is nicely balanced with fruit and acid similar to a good late harvest white. A fragrant soft apricot nose with mellow fullness and flavours of sweet pear, honeyed apricots and a long finish of succulent nectarines. Should be able to cellar for a few years but is drinking very well now, from chilled to not, either as an aperitif or an accompaniment to creme brule. Good value if looking for a sweetish sipper.

KENDERMANNS KALKSTEIN DRY RIESLING 2004, Pfalz, Germany, 13.0% XD, #678060 $15.95 (Tasted May 13, 2006)

Part of Vintages release on May 13, 2006 - English online description not available. Beppi describes this as "favourite of the three wines.. from Kendermanns [in Release]... medium-bodied and honey-like, lifted by fresh melon and zesty lime notes." Winecurrent gives it four stars (of five) saying "Off-dry with a good dose of sweet citrus acidity that complements the primary flavours of peach, apricot and tart and sweet apples. This is medium bodied and well balanced, and the crisp texture and bright flavours should lead you toward spicy (but not too hot) Asian cuisine. (RP)". My notes: One of Kendermann's (of Black Tower genre) 'Terroir Series' rieslings, light straw with a light wildflower nose, medium-bodied. Flavours are a medley of peach, pear, honey, lemongrass and balanced acid. The finish is moderate, bright with some roundness, and possibly a petrol hint. Was good with roasted chicken and chips... likely better with seafood pastas, light hors d'oeuvres and light meats: pork, ham. A drink-now but could cellar up to two years -more petrol may show

SEIFRIED NELSON RIESLING 2005, Nelson, New Zealand, 13.0% D, #989541 $16.95 (Tasted May 13, 2006)

Part of Vintages release on May 13, 2006 - an online description was not available. Winecurrent gives it four and one-half stars (of five) saying "...From the very inviting nose of green apple and passion fruit to the zesty citrussy finish, this is gorgeous. The flavours (quince, passion fruit and lemon zest) are racy, but the mouth feel is almost fleshy. It cleans up nicely and would stand proud beside your family's Sunday pork roast. (VH)" The Seifried website says: "... a blend of fruit from our Redwood Valley, and younger Brightwater vineyard. .... The fermentation of the Redwood Valley portion was stopped prematurely leaving a little sweetness... This was then blended with the Brightwater portion (...fermented to dryness), giving the wine a medium residual sugar. Deliciously perfumed and aromatic with deep apricot and citrus flavours. It is gently honeyed, has a touch of sweetness and a lively, long finish." My notes: Let some of the chill go for a nose of green apple and passion fruit, light but there. A light blond colour with a green tinge, medium-bodied. Flavours of passionfruit, lime and kiwi with some succulence that wash the palate leaving the remnants of light passionfruit and melon in a long finish. A great sipper - could be taken for a sauvignon blanc from neighbouring marlborough - great with chilled crab meat, a shrimp ring, asparagus spears, melon pieces or scallops. Should be cellarable several years. A different riesling for the cellar and good value imho.

DEAKIN ESTATE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005, Victoria, Australia, 12.0% XD, #560839 $9.10* (Tasted May 12, 2006)

A General listing, *a dollar off until May 21st and described as "Pale straw yellow; grassy, citrus, grapefruit and gooseberry nose; dry, light bodieid, zesty on the palate with grapefruit nuances; clean finish. Serve with oysters; chevre; herbed chicken; salads." The label has a generic marketing statement and Gord Stimmell rates it 88 saying "A sauvignon blanc with tropical licks thanks to sunny, hot-climate fruit. Aromas of ripe pear, spice, lemon oil and lime seem quite pinot grigio-like, and the flavours of pears and crushed pineapple are very appealing. The finish is almost lush, with lime and kiwi fruit notes." The Wingara website says: "Nose is fresh, pungent and green with feijoa, firm pear and a splash of lime. The palate is delicious, savoury and fruity with lemongrass, coriander, lime and feijoa. Light bodied and zingy." My notes: A light blond with fresh aromas of lime and light gooseberry. Light-bodied with an initial swallow of tropical fruits and citrus followed by a long finish building in grassiness and drying the palate. By itself not a sipper unless acclimated to very dry whites. Better with crab cakes, fish dishes, Thai, szechuan or Bento boxes. A drink now - cellaring a year or two is suggested by the vintner but ?

NINTH ISLAND PINOT GRIGIO 2005, Tasmania, Australia, 13.5% D, #683193 $19.95 (Tasted May 9, 2006)

A Vintages release on April 29, 2006 and described as "... the easy drinking second label for Pipers Brook and is named after a small private island that lies in the Bass Strait across from the Pipers River wine region. Pinot Grigio thrives in the cool climate of northern Tasmania and this fresh and fruity wine is an excellent match for steamed mussels or lemon risotto. Look for aromas of pear, exotic fruits and musk in this richly textured, food-friendly wine." The label says ".... a gently lifted bouquet of fresh pear, musk and apples and a full-bodied palate that is balanced by a refreshing acid spine. .... perfect for... fresh crayfish, oysters or scallops." The website describes the vintage season: "was characterised by almost perfect conditions for flowering and fruit set followed by a mild summer ripening season. As a result our Pinot Grigio achieved full flavour ripeness, soft delicate aromatics balanced by a well-integrated acid spine." Beppi recommended this saying " .... More corpulent than the lighter-styled PG's of northern Italy, .... medium-bodied and luscious, brimming with spicy pear and apple nuances... tight seam of acidity, etc." My notes: One of four brands from Kreglinger Wine Estates of Tasmania. Has a convenient screwtop. A light blond with almost a peach hue and a just-perceptible nose of wildflowers and lemon honey. Full-bodied with a nippy creaminess and flavours of lemon, pineapple, apple and pear. The finish is long, some cream, light spice and a citrus zest. A sipper but better with hors d'oeuvres: fresh oysters, crab on crackers, spicy mussels, scallop kebobs, lobster tails, a variety of seafood pastas. Should cellar well - up to two years and see where it goes. Even at $20 a good value imho.

VINA TARAPACA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005, Maipo Valley, Chile, 13.0% D, #414185 $8.45 (Tasted May 1, 2006)

A General listing described as "Light straw colour; dry, light- to medium-bodied with softer acidity; aromas and flavours of herbs and green apples with a soft finish", and "Serve with Seafood; shellfish; chicken." My notes: Tarapaca's 'Export Market' range includes six varietals including this Sauvignon Blanc and a Cab/Merlot blend. A pale straw colour, aromatic gooseberry nose and an initial tropical fruitiness, smooth with a dry edge. Medium- to light-bodied and a pleasant gooseberry finish with a grapefruit aftertaste and sharp succulence. Went well with bbq chicken, vegetables including baked potato. An economical drink-now. Cellar up to a year and see where it goes. A value white for an open house, a surprise party, or a summer patio luncheon.

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