Sunday, July 02, 2006

July Whites(8): Australia Chard, USA Chard, Australia Pinot Gris, Australia Sauv Blanc, Italy Chard, S. Africa Blend, France Sylvaner, Italy Prosecco

COOKOOTHAMA 'DARLINGTON POINT' CHARDONNAY 2004, New South Wales, Australia, 14.0% D, #619403 $13.85 (Tasted July 29, 2006)

Beppi's Pick of the Week posted July 29, 2006 saying "New to Ontario, this full-bodied white is luscious, buttery and toasty, with flavours reminiscent of pineapple and guava and a crisp, citrusy finish." The label says "Rich and generous bouquet of layered peach and melon. On the palate, these intense flavours are complimented by spicy French oak resulting in a well balanced and elegant wine....". David Lawrason (July 17th) rates it 2 1/2 stars saying "..... rather dull, sawdusty, spicy notes dominating the apple-like fruit. Its saving grace is a bright, lemony acidity and good length on the palate." My notes: A new LCBO release from Nugan Estate (website is just being developed) and winner of a Bronze medal at the 2004 Melbourne Wine Show and Gold at the 2005 Mundus Vini Deutschland. An intense golden colour with a nose of crisp, overripe pineapple. A full, round texture - a blend of straw and light guava flavours without fruity freshness and almost unpleasant. The finish is a well balanced flatness. Not a sipper, a meal wine for a suitably bland pasta dish..... otherwise, skip it is my recommendation.

MARTIN & WEYRICH CHARDONNAY 2002, Edna Valley, USA, 14.5% D, #686097 $18.95 (Tasted July 25, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 22, 2006 and described as "Martin & Weyrich aim to produce Chardonnay in a Burgundian style. To that end, they mature the wines on their lees (expired yeast cells) for 16 months in a combination of new and seasoned French barriques. The resulting wines are subtly tropical with a well-integrated toastiness. Enjoy with seafood or chicken dishes in a cream sauce." Winecurrent gives this four and one/half stars (five) saying A rich, layered Chardonnay reminiscent of Meursault. It delivers concentrated fruit (peach, tropical fruit) and hints of toasty oak in a smooth, verging-on-creamy texture. It's well balanced and finishes well, and pairs very successfully with rich seafood dishes like scallops or lobster. (RP)" My notes: A lovely light pineapple and lemon-lime aroma, and a light blond colour. Smooth thin legs, a medium-bodied chard with a pleasing bite with notes of lemon and pineapple flavours. Great even for non chard sippers. A soft tropical fruit finish. The 'sur lies' creaminess doesn't come through but there is a nice clean fullness. Was great with grilled chicken breast with melted gouda and couscous - should be better with scallops and lobster/crab. Will cellar well for a few years but drinking well now.

NEPENTHE PINOT GRIS 2004, Adelaide Hills, Australia, 14.0% D, #684266 $17.95 (Tasted July 24, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 22, 2006 and described as "A fast-maturing but flavoursome and varietal pinot gris with a dusty, earthy and spicy aroma of citrus and melon, over nutty undertones. There's almost an oily viscosity about its generous, soft and chalky palate, whose nutty, honeyed flavours culminate in a savoury, nougat-like finish. 89/100 (Jeremy Oliver, , Sept. 21, 2005)." Winecurrent gives this four stars (of five) saying A well-made Pinot Gris with the classic aromas and flavours of peach and apricot and, in this case, a finish that carries hints of roasted nuts. The fruit is sweet and ripe, the weight medium and the balance excellent. Pair it up with spicy Asian dishes. (RP)" My notes: An aroma of clover honey and wild flowers, a light yellow with a slight peach hue. Medium-bodied, smooth with flavours of lemon, apple and pear and a finish that is full of zesty lemon drying on the palate. A super subtle sipper with or without cold shrimp, shaved ham, pineapple spears. Great with bbq'd telapia and asparagus on greens. This will cellar for a few years but may lose its zest if longer.

NEPENTHE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005, Adelaide Hills, Australia, 13.0% XD, #684274 $16.95 (Tasted July 22, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 22, 2006 and described as "Nepenthe has managed to recreate the Kiwi style of Sauvignon Blanc in previous vintages, so look for more of the same with the 2005 vintage, a generally accepted to be an excellent vintage in Adelaide Hills. Look for gooseberry, citrus and passion fruit aromas and flavours with balanced racy acidity. Match it to crab cakes or grilled prawns." My notes: A Kiwi style SB except for the flavour - I'm still looking for the comparison. There is some gooseberries in the nose and flavours but it's balanced with stalkiness. It's as though the volume of stems could have been as large as the grapes. A nice roundness with pronounced grassiness against a gooseberry background, bright with well balanced acids. The finish has a mineral dominance before the pleasing but light fruit comes through. Not a sipper... goes with full flavoured seafood entrees, something tomato based or spicy. Much of the objectionable stalkiness was gone by the next day leaving a pleasing, round, lightly gooseberried SB - otherwise, not recommended.

MARCHESI ANTINORI ‘CASTELLO DELLA SALA' CHARDONNAY 2004, Umbria Italy, 13.0% D, #677310 $20.95 (Tasted July 9, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 8, 2006 and described as "Antinori's premier vineyard in Umbria, Castello della Sala, is ideally situated for growing Chardonnay. The wines are fermented and matured in French barriques, adding layers of complexity and flavour to the wine. Enjoy with rich fish and seafood dishes." Gord Stimmell gives it 91/100 saying "... a gorgeous white, with elegant lemon, peach and seductive floral notes and toasty lemony flavours." My notes: A light blond colour with a soft floral and pineapple nose - sipping slowly introduces 'seductive' notes promising more of what is there. Its roundness fills the mouth with delicate flavours that surround the palate with warmth and faint, buttery lemon and peach tones. The finish is long and smooth. Should be great with most seafood dishes - a modestly oaked chard.

DORNIER ‘DONATUS' WHITE 2004, Stellenbosch, S. Africa, 12.5% D, #597278 $17.95 (Tasted July 8, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 8, 2006 and described as "This was bottled an hour before my visit; a blend of 60% chenin blanc done in wood, 30% semillon in tank and 10% sauvignon blanc. Good pale color. High-pitched nose combines lime, white grapefruit, white flowers, snap pea and spearmint, plus hints of eucalyptus and banana. Fat and silky but zingy, with pungent flavors of gooseberry, eucalyptus and minerals. This offers terrific inner-mouth perfume and shows strong granitic character. Finishes quite long and brisk... the most intriguing bottle I sampled on my visit to Dornier. Rated 90/100 (Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, March/April 2005)" rates this four and one-half stars (of 5) saying "A plush, flavourful blend.... It delivers a layered profile of citrus, gooseberries and green apple with a slight honeyed note. The balancing acidity contributes a bracing texture and the finish is long. Pair this with seared scallops with a squeeze of fresh lemon. (RP)" My notes: Uses a convenient screwtop. The nose has a citrus zest with a slight grassiness and colour is a clear light yellow. Medium-bodied with flavours that includes bright grapefruit, gooseberry and lemon notes against a limestone background. The lengthy finish carries these flavours ending in a crisp citrus dryness. Should be super with mild creamy cheeses, fresh oysters, mussels in white wine or cream sauce or grilled scallops and whitefishes. Cellar up to a year.

RUHLMANN SYLVANER 'BOUQUET PRINTANIER' 2004, Alsace, France, 11.5% D, #686345 $11.95 (Tasted July 3, 2006)

A Vintages release June 24, 2006 and described as "This Sylvaner is appropriately named ‘Bouquet Printanier' or ‘spring bouquet' because floral aromas dominate along with melon, pear and apple. It is dry with good, gentle aroma replays on the palate. It is light-bodied, fresh and quite zippy. Enjoy it as a palate refresher on a hot summer's day. (VINTAGES panel, Dec. 2005)" gives it three and one-half stars (of 5) saying "Sweet honey and floral dominate the aromas while the flavours feature sweet apple and pear. This is dry with good balancing acidity for a clean, refreshing white. Sip it alone or pair it with grilled freshwater fish like trout. (RP)" Gord Stimmell rates it 88 (of 100) noting "with laid back apple, roses and lemon and pear flavours on the finish, a crisp very affordable summer sipper, great with cold cuts or shellfish appetizers." My notes: Labelling says it was a 2005 Gold medal winner at the Concours des Grands Vins de France. Has an artificial cork. Very faint aromas of wildflowers and pear, perhaps some lemon and a light yellow colour. Dry citrus flavours mixed with tart apple. The finish is quite long leaving a bright lemongrass tang. A refreshing sipper although sylvaner has a slightly different set of flavours - different enough to make sipping interesting or with cold shrimp, crabcakes, lobster chunks or grilled pickerel. Should be able to cellar this for a few years likely not longer.

VILLA SANDI 'CUVEE' PROSECCO DI VALDOBBIADENE, Veneto, Italy, 11.5% D, #738542 $17.95 (Tasted July 2, 2006)

A Vintages release on June 24, 2006 and described as "... traditionally enjoyed either as an aperitif or as a palate refresher between courses. The aromatics are fresh with hints of pear and citrus. Chill it down and check it out." My notes: The non 'Cuvee' label (#249722, $13.15) was tasted March, 2006 (see Archives). Villa Sandi describes their 'Cuvee' brand, one of seven sparklers, as 'Fruity and flowery with scents of ripe yellow apple, banana, melon, acacia flowers... lightly mouthfilling with a long fresh and fruity finish. Serve at 6/8 degrees C.' This is another pale yellow sparkler from VS with a rich birthday cake nose - vanilla, lemon and banana sets up flavours of the same with added pineapple hints. Lots of fine bubbles at the rim and in each sip. A full 'sur lies' creaminess rounds out the mouthfeel disguising this 'brut' and lasting through a strong fruity finish. Celibrate nuptials, a reunion of friends, a 'final cup' win or just sip on a warm patio. Should be able to cellar this several years - it definitely suits my taste for a bubbly and is worth the price difference!

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