Saturday, September 02, 2006

September Whites (8): S. Africa Blend, Australia Chard, Italy Prosecco, Australia Riesling, Italy Blend, France Muscadet, NZ Sauv Blanc. Canada Chard

DORNIER 'DONATUS' WHITE 2004, Stellenbosch, S. Africa, 12.5% D, #597278 $17.95 (Tasted September 25, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 8, 2006 and described as "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. .... 90/100 (Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, March/April 2005)." The website says "Besides Chenin Blanc (60%) and Semillon (30%) there is a small component of Sauvignon Blanc (10%) in this wine to add to its complexity. The blending of these three varieties has not often been attempted in South Africa; however, we believe that these varieties in unison offer a well-balanced and attractive wine..." Winecurrent gives it four and one half stars (of 5) saying "A plush, flavourful blend .... from a very reliable producer. 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: A pale yellow with a hint of green and aromas of mint, lime and a whiff of eucalyptus. The first sip is round quickly followed by a crisp lime zest, a very light gooseberry, a clean crabapple tang leading to a long, slightly acerb finish. Needs a pretzel, a potato chip or two, herring or anchovy spread on dry toasts as appetizers to be an interesting flavourful sipper. Pair with smoked salmon, spicy mussels, chicken wrap, Thai or Asian dishes. Worth cellaring for a few years.

WOLF BLASS 'BILYARA RESERVE' CHARDONNAY 2005, South Australia, 13.5% D, #008128 $14.95 (Tasted September 22, 2006)

A General listing - without description. The label says ".. displays classic melon and peach aromas. These fruit characteristics carry through to the palate which has integrated oak flavours and a creamy soft texture." My notes: Comes in a 750mL plastic bottle, shorter and lighter than glass but looks the same, and with a convenient screwcap. 'Bilyara Reserve' is not described on the website. A light blond colour with aromas of a melon and grapefruit blend. Has a creamy, round texture, - rounder than I'd expect for a barrel process - and a tartness balanced with fresh melon and grapefruit flavours. The aftertaste carries through the fresh fruit as well as a distinct sweetness and soft bite. Have with seafood appetizers, cold or hot, or not-too-spicy seafood dishes, a creamy risotto or chicken breast pieces on mixed greens. A commercial drink-now.

SANTA MARGHERITA PROSECCO DI VALDOBBIADENE BRUT, Veneto, Italy, 11.5% D, #687582 $17.95 (Tasted September 17, 2006)

A Vintages release on September 2, 2006 and described as ".... has some fruit definition and vitality going for it. Expect bright lemon-lime, grapefruit and floral aromas followed by a crisp, fruity and slightly spicy palate. The citrus fruit and acidity linger to make this an attractive aperitif or palate refresher. 87/100 (Jeff Davis, Wine Access, 'First In Line E-Report', May 27, 2006)." My notes: Lots of bubbles initially and slightly mousseux in the mouth at least initially, a light blond colour and medium-bodied. The nose is a pleasant lemon 'birthday cake' aroma with flavours of light lemon-lime, grapefruit seed, and a yeasty creaminess. Finishes smooth on the lips, nicely tart with a yeasty aftertaste lasting longer than the fresh fruit. An OK appetizer but better with melon slices, orange and grapefruit pieces with creme glacee. Perhaps a breakfast quencher with crepes or French toast. Cellaring a year may mellow out the yeast.... but then it may reduce the fruit.... a drink-now at any celibration or summer patio get-together.

PEWSEY VALE 'EDEN VALLEY' RIESLING 2004, Australia, 13.0% XD, #686600 $19.95 (Tasted September 16, 2006)

A Vintages release September 16, 2006 and described as "A pretty and delicate wine with a fusion of lemons, rose petals and bath salts on the nose and a pristine mineral lime palate. Tight acid and firm finish. (4 of 5). (Winestate, March/ April 2005)." Winecurrent gives it four and one half stars (of 5) saying "The planted vines are 35 years old, but all propagated from those brought to Australia by James Busby.... in 1839. An exuberant nose of floral notes and citrus forms the segue to this medium-bodied, cool climate dazzler. It provides a robust mouthful of fruit flavours with citrus and mango to the fore. This is dry, clean and well structured. Drink now to 2012 with light cheeses or smoked fish. (VH)" My notes: Pewsey bottles Gewurz, Pinot Gris and two Rieslings: 'Eden Valley' being the lower and 'Contours' the higher priced label (#686618 @ $24.95). A light blond, light- to medium-bodied with a distinct honey, ripe melon and faded wildclover nose. Flavours of succulent citrus including some peel pith or crushed seeds, lanolin and tartness. Has a long, oily, citrussy and pithy finish. Not an appealing sipper and was almost lost with Asian fare: noodles, beef and vegetable stir-fry, and chicken balls with soy sauce. It should pair better with a cheese tray or blander fish dishes, mussels in a light cream sauce. A few years cellaring may improve but not a value now.
FUGNANO VERNACCIA DI SAN GIMIGNANO 2005, Tuscany, Italy, 12.5% XD, #687202 $14.95 (Tasted September 6, 2006)

Released by Vintages on September 2, 2006 and described as "Besides its terrifically-refreshing white wines, San Gimignano's claim to fame is as the home of the first DOC. When the appellation system was created in 1966, Vernaccia di San Gimignano was the first DOC established. It is an amiable companion for simple pasta with pesto dishes. (VINTAGES panel, May 2006)." The website says "The white Vernaccia, soft and caressing like the silk gown of a young woman..." My notes: A light yellow colour and aromas of lemon/lime and wildrose. Light- to medium-bodied, crisp with a lemon tartness and a slight roundness. The finish is light but long and hedging toward a silky lemon aftertaste. 'Soft and caressing' isn't how I'd described this white - perhaps 'assertive and saucy'. Great with raw oysters, grilled scallop skewers, cheese melts or pair with grilled whitefish dishes, creamy seafood and mushroom pastas. A drink-now.... and an OK value as a 'seafood accompaniment'.

‘LE SOLEIL NANTAIS' MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE 2005, Nantais, France, 12.0% XD, #525162 $12.95 (Tasted September 4, 2006)

Released by Vintages on September 2, 2006 and described as "‘Le Soleil Nantais', or the sun of Nantes, indeed. The Nantais portion of the Muscadet AC is the most westerly wine region in all of France. Nantais simultaneously receives the heat of the summer sun and the strong cooling breeze of the nearby Atlantic. This leads to a fresh, fruity and citrusy wine that is the perfect match for steamed mussels or clams. The Guilbaud Freres website says "High expression wine, its delicacy and tasting lightness as well as its roundness in mouth are intimately linked with superb structure. Its nose both floral and rich is a promising indication of the quality of the Soleil Nantais. Drink cool around 8 to 10°c." My notes: An almost clear, blond colour with aromas of wildflowers. Light-bodied, crisp flavours of lime and slate finishing with a grapefruit and lime pucker. As a sipper an oiliness accumulates on the lips along with a slight grassiness on the palate. Have with fresh oysters, any cold shellfish appetizer or pair with crabcakes, steamed mussels, panfried sole, pickerel or halibut. Cellaring for a year or two will likely mature the pucker. A bargain Muscadet S et M.

UNITY CHARDONNAY 2003, Canada, 13.5% D, #606608 $19.95 (Tasted September 2, 2006)

Released by Vintages on September 2, 2006 and described as "This terrific Chardonnay is crafted with grapes from both Ontario's Niagara Peninsula and British Columbia's Okanagan Valley. The nose is slightly toasty with aromas of tropical fruit, cinnamon, apple and pear. The clean palate has layers of fruit and well-integrated oak leading to a long, creamy finish. Enjoy with stuffed pork tenderloin. (VINTAGES panel, July 2006)." Winecurrent gives it four stars (of 5) saying "Unity is a wine that falls between wine laws: a blend of Niagara and Okanagan grapes, it doesn't qualify for Ontario or British Columbia VQA status. It's a well made, medium-oaked Chardonnay that delivers quite intense flavours of tropical fruit and peach in a soft texture. It's ideal for roast pork and turkey. (RP)" Tony Aspler writes "Unity Chardonnay 2003... Chardonnay from BC and Ontario blended together. A terrific wine, rich, pineapple and citrus flavours, full-bodied with well integrated oak." My notes: A light blond colour and an oaked chard for sure with toasty, apple, pineapple and cinnamon aromas. Medium- to full-bodied tart roundness with lime, pear and apple flavours, in every way fuller than the 2001 tasted June 2005. Likely will increase in butter and even butterscotch, in their infancy now, as it ages.... cellaring for two years will give a return and is recommended. A fresh sipper, and good paired with chicken breast, turkey slices, butterflied pork chops or chicken souvlaki, rice and potatoes.

FAIRHALL DOWNS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005, Marlborough, NZ, 14.0% XD, #990580 $17.95 (Tasted September 2, 2006)

Released by Vintages on September 2, 2006 and described as "A whiff of refreshing sea air, mineral and white pepper hits the nose, leading to a surprisingly rich, full-bodied palate of lime, grapefruit and gooseberry. The long finish has hints of chalk and white pepper. 2 1/2 (of 4). (Linda Murphy)." Winecurrent gives it four stars (of 5) saying "Zesty acidity and rich, pungent fruit making a winning combination in this bottle. Sniff and taste lemon-lime, white grapefruit and gooseberry, with a seam of minerality. Pair it with the classic matches, like freshly-shucked oysters or goat cheese. (RP)" The website says "The 2005 vintage has resulted in a wine that is exuberantly ripe and intensely aromatic on the nose; with a broad spectrum of characters including passionfruit, pineapple, lime, melon and bell pepper which are enhanced by a refreshing mineral acidity that is typical of the vineyard. A long term plan to develop fruit flavours in the vineyard was put in place in 2004. This strategy included identifying areas in the vineyard and ideal fruit loads for the vines. The benefits of this effort in the vineyard are evident in this wine." Natalie gives it an 89/100 and the Best Value White, "Grassy, herbal, lime and grapefruit aromas. Refreshing and zesty." My notes: An interesting description by Linda Murphy that captures the nose very well... not a straight gooseberry but edged with minerals and white pepper. Full-bodied flavours: crisp citrus, gooseberry, minerals and a smoothness that reminds me of 'over the lips and over the gums, watch out palate here it comes'. The finish is long, full, tart, with oil traces on the lips then fading to a strong lemon grass. The Small family agronomy paid off. Stock up.... it's a bargain and should cellar for several years... but I'd try one year at a time to see where it's going.

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