Monday, October 02, 2006

October Whites(13): USA Blend, NZ Pinot Gris, Chile Chard, Italy Prosec, Italy Fiano, Can Blend, Can Pinot Gris, NZ Sauv Blanc(3), Italy Pinot Grig(3)

DOG POINT VINEYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005, Marlborough, NZ, 13.0% XD, #677450 $19.95 (Tasted October 28, 2006)

A Vintages release October 28, 2006 described as "Bright, juicy and almost lacy in texture, letting the lime, apple and pineapple flavors shine through against a refreshing zing of acidity. Appealing for its subtlety and harmony. Drink now. (91/100, Harvey Steiman, Aug. 31, 2006)." VH of winecurrent gives it five stars (of 5) saying " Wow! I invite you to try this crème de la crème of Kiwi SB. The herbaceous, lifted nose is a lovely segue to this tangy, medium to full-bodied offering. Gooseberry, lime and peach burst upon the palate whilst the texture is plush and silky smooth. The laser-like finish adds white grapefruit and is zesty clean. Wisely under screw cap to keep it fresh, try on its own, for the experience, then with a chèvre salad. Very well-priced." My notes: A faint yellow colour with a greenish tinge. Cooking apple, lime and straw dominate the nose anticipating flavours to come - improves with airing. Medium-bodied, unoaked, has a nicely balanced acid and roundness that surround disappointing tropical citrus flavours. Too little fresh fruit and little to no gooseberry for a Kiwi SB consequently the herbaceousness, ie. grassiness, dominates. The finish drops any fresh fruit leaving a somewhat dry crabapple edge. If you like a French SB you may like this but I found it unpleasant. Not a sipper - would be OK with seafood dishes. Not cellarable nor is it a value.

HEDGES CELLARS ‘CMS WHITE' CHARDONNAY/MARSANNE/ SAUVIGNON BLANC 2004, Washington, USA, 13.5% D, #008680 $16.95 (Tasted October 18, 2006)

A Vintages release on October 14, 2006 and described as "Smooth, polished and juicy with spicy nectarine, melon and grapefruit aromas and flavors, persisting appealingly on the long finish. ... Drink now through 2008. 89/100 (Harvey Steiman, July 31, 2006)." The website says "... fresh and vibrant .. that effortlessly balances body and depth from the Chardonnay, spicy aromatics from the Marsanne, and structured mineral flavors from the Sauvignon Blanc. ... perfect as a summer aperitif or as an accompaniment to a variety of seafood and shellfish." VH of Winecurrent gives it four and one half (of 5) saying "A unique blend for white wine lovers. The lifted nose offers vanilla and tropical fruit. There is an explosion of ripe sweet flavours on the palate that include spiced pear, apple and ripe peach. The lengthy and luxurious, fruit-driven finish shows deft balance with apple compote juxtaposed to cleansing zestiness. Well made, well priced, stock up." My notes: A soft blond colour and a soft nose of orange blossom and pear. Smooth texture, medium-bodied, nicely sharp on the tongue with flavours blending orange zest with fuji apple. The finish is quite long and lined with succulent citrus. A crisp style with the three varietals well balanced. There's enough there to cellar up to two years. A crisp sipper with enough fruit for interest - was great with grilled chicken breast, baked potato and greens with bonconcini.

GROVE MILL PINOT GRIS 2005, Marlborough, NZ, 14.0% XD*, #001693 $19.95 (Tasted October 16, 2006)

A Vintages release on October 14, 2006 and described as "Grove Mill is a key pioneer of Pinot Gris in Marlborough ... The 2005 vintage, partly French oak-fermented, is outstanding. Light straw, it is a distinctly Alsace-like wine, mouthfilling (14% alcohol), with peachy, citrusy, slightly spicy and honeyed flavours, beautifully ripe, rich and rounded. 5/5. (Michael Cooper, Buyer's Guide to New Zealand Wines 2006)." VH of Winecurrent gives it four and one half (of 5) saying "An idiosyncratic Pinot Gris .... Beguiling aromatics of nutmeg, honey and floral notes drift off the glass of this creamy, medium to full-bodied gem. The flavour profile is of honeyed and sweet tropical fruit with a sweet and tangy lengthy finish. This has beautiful balance. Spicy Asian cuisine would be a perfect match. Superb!" The website says "...concentrated and complex with beautiful balance and structure. A beautiful nose with soft musky aromas, Turkish delight with hints of candied ginger, white flesh of nectarine, fresh blossom and the merest hint of lime. ....succulent, medium style full of subtle complexities. Hints of Amaretto.... " My notes: A light golden colour with a honey and lemon aroma but faint. Carries a sweet seam with flavours of spiced honey... and it is "beautifully ripe, rich and rounded". The finish continues as a long, sweet (*not the XD as the Vintages listing shows - SC~1), honey coated citrus predominance. A wonderful off-dry sipper and would be great with a mixed fruit and cheese tray or pair with a bento box of tempura shrimp and yam slices and sushi, or with split pea soup with ham bits or a dim sum selection. Cellaring a dozen would keep some on hand whenever the mood strikes for an Alsatian pinot gris.

CARMEN ‘NATIVA' CHARDONNAY 2005, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14.0% D, #975219 $17.95 (Tasted October 15, 2006)

A Vintages release on October 14, 2006 and described as "The grapes are sourced from estate vineyards in Alto Jahuel... . Expect ripe peaches, melon and tropical fruit aromas and flavours with integrated acidity and toasty oak notes on the palate leading to a long creamy finish." The winemaker says "Pale gold. Lovely Chardonnay with aromas of ripe peaches, melon, pineapple and mango. Tastes nice integrated acidity, sweet apple and melon, white pepper and tropical creamy finish." My notes: A crisp gold colour with aromas of lemon oil and papaya - airing for twenty minutes increases the fruit in the nose slightly. Medium-bodied, smooth on the palate with an oaky presence and some dryness on a moderate warm finish. Some ripe peach, some pineapple and mango, all blended evenly. There's no butterscotch as yet. Imho, it's too early to drink and should be allowed to develop as a buttery sipper and a strong accompaniment with flavourful seafood to chicken dishes if cellared a few years.

FOSS MARAI PROSECCO EXTRA DRY 'BLUE BOTTLE', Veneto, Italy, 11.5% XD, #729392 $17.95 (Retasted October 14, 2006)

Last released by Vintages in May and re-released on October 14, 2006. Described as "A well made Prosecco with fruit depth and lively acidity that would work nicely as an aperitif. Fresh and enticing nose of lemon, grapefruit and a touch of spice. Sufficient fruit concentration for the money. Crisp, clean and dry with good balance and length. Score - 87. (Jeff Davis, Wine Access, 'First In Line E-Report', May 13, 2006)." The website says " presented with a variety of aromas, with a distinctive harmonious mingle of acacia and apple. The taste continues with a sensation of bitter fruit, where the acidity and residual sugar are splendidly harmonised, leaving a velvety sensation to the palate, stimulated by the co2, never too pungente, but stimulating to the right point." My notes: About the same as last reviewed.... not a lot of bubbles when first poured but they are fine and refreshing as one sips. Creamy, fruity apple on the nose and the taste with a light spice - not 'too pungente'. A finish that refreshes not competing with flavours of hors d'oeuvres, mild puree soups, light seafood pasta dishes or mild cheese or mushroom risotto. An 87 but considering the price it's worth keeping on hand as a crowd pleaser. Should be able cellar for several years.

TOMMASI 'VIGNETO LE ROSSE' PINOT GRIGIO 2005, Veneto, Italy, 12.0% XD, #910497 $14.95 (Tasted October 12, 2006)

A Vintages release on September 16, 2006 described as "Tommasi is one of Veneto's finest producers. Even with simple wines, such as this Pinot Grigio, they manage to create impactful, flavourful wines that are excellent for sipping or with dishes such as pan-seared sea scallops." My notes: A nose of citrus and white clover, a golden blond colour and flavours of citrus, pear and a roundness balanced with an acid seam that pulls everything together. The flavour and acid play nicely on the palate as the finish slowly softens. A pleasant pinot grigio sipper, not as spicy as some... better with hors d'oeuvres, anything from shaved Italian meats to a varied cheese tray and saltines. Or pair with linguine with black olives, shrimp aioli and grilled red pepper slices or similar pasta dish. Cellaring for several years may mellow some of the acid increasing its nuttiness. Good value.

INYCON FIANO 2004, Sicily, Italy, 12.8% XD, #670810 $11.95 (Tasted October 12, 2006)

A Vintages release on January 21, 2006 described as "A native of Campania, Fiano is a recent addition to the vineyards of Sicily. This strongly flavoured wine can mature into a rich and honeyed wine with spicy and nutty tones. Youthful ones, such as this, display mineral, citrus, plum and peach tones. Enjoy this round and intense wine with linguine and steamed clams." My notes: Produced in Sicily by the Settesoli Cooperative, approx. 2300 vineyard owners representing 6500 hectares of vineyards from which many grape varietals are available for Inycon branded wines, two from the LCBO are Fiano and Nero d'Avola. The Fiano is a rich golden colour with a floral and lemon nose. Medium-bodied, full flavoured, honey soaked lemon and yellow plum with a long finish of citrus and eucalypsus. A fresh sipper without pronounced nut or spice now but these will develop with two years cellaring and, for a special white, is recommended (try now and see what you think). Pair with steamed shellfish, pizza with fresh garlic, sun dried tomato and anchovie topping or grilled breaded telapia with asparagus spears.

SANTA MARGHERITA PINOT GRIGIO 2005, Alto Adige, Italy, 12.0% D, #106450 $16.95 (Tasted October 9, 2006)

In Vintages Essentials Collection and described as "Santa Margherita was the first to make Pinot Grigio as a purely white wine by ensuring that no pigment from the grape skins colours the juice. Pale straw colour with aromas of fresh green apple, and peach that replay on the crisp, dry palate. Our number one selling white wine makes an excellent aperitif, or serve it with antipasto or gnocchi." The website says "This dry white wine is pale straw-yellow in color. The clean, intense aroma and dry flavour with pleasant golden apple aftertaste make Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio a wine of great character and versatility." My notes: A pale straw colour with floral and green apple aromas - didn't get the peach. Light-bodied, a nip and flavours of green apple that carry through to a moderate grassy finish. If a sipper, a 'cleans your teeth' one - better paired with shellfish appetizers or seafood entrees. Was OK with leftover Thanksgiving turkey and vegetables although comes across as flabby when some interest is needed. A drink-now but not a value.

'OYSTER BAY' SAUVIGNON BLANC 2006, NZ, 13.0% XD, #316570, $17.95 (Tasted October 9, 2006)

In Vintages Essentials Collection and described as "...This perennial classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has aromas of gooseberry, grass, passion fruit and melon. Intense lively fruit on the palate, crisp acidity with a lingering, slightly minerally finish. Try with shellfish like steamed clams, pan-fried scallops, mussels and, oh yeah, oysters." My notes: A light blond with aromas of gooseberries and light lime, light-bodied and flavours of lighter gooseberries, lime, and grass well balanced with a natural tartness. The finish is long, dry and grassy. A passable commercial sipper and OK with a variety of seafood appetizers or entrees. Of the many kiwi SBs to choose from this is drier and has less fruit than most - for those that prefer a subdued Sauvignon Blanc. A drink-now.

COLIO ESTATES CEV 'LILY' SPARKLING WINE VQA (NV), Ontario, Canada, 12.2% D, #509083 $14.95 (Tasted October 6, 2006)

A Vintages release on September 16, 2006 and described as "Aromas of apple, spice, lemon zest and orange peel dominate this wine. It is dry, crisp and fresh with a light body and medium, lemony finish. This is a very attractive, palate-refreshing bubbly for before a meal. (Vintages panel, Aug. 2006)" The CEV website says "Subtle yeast & fruit. Dry with lively citrus fruit and toasted nut flavours wrapped in a generous mousse. A great match with oysters, crab salad and spicy entrees." My notes: A good head of fine bubbles form a thick rim long after the first pour. The nose is a yeasty crabapple, more yeast and crab than apple. Very tart on the palate with apple, citrus and a mineral, almost metallic like a carbonated overdose. A smooth finish never leaving remnants of tart crabapple far behind, and a very slight herbaceousness. Comes across as extra brut yet the website gives the sugar code as 1. Without sufficient natural fruit to be a festive sipper - pair as suggested .... or with a lobster tail or Alaskan King crab entree. A drink-now.

MALIVOIRE PINOT GRIS 2002, Beamsville, Canada, 12.0% XD, #591305 $18.00 (Retasted October 4, 2006)

Tasted last on April 24th this year with the comment "...Purchased from the winery in 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..." My notes: A rich golden hue with a peach edge, aromas of ripe apricot and toasty caramel, medium-bodied, flavours of burnt peach and a long grassy finish. Improved compared with the April 24th tasting although still not an enjoyable sipper. If I were rating I'd say an 82. If you happen to have a bottle pair with a cajun bouillabaisse, curried mussels or teriyaki chicken kebobs on a bed of basmati rice.

WITHER HILLS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5% XD, #919514 $19.95 (Tasted October 3, 2006)

A Vintages release on September 30, 2006 described as "In it's infancy, the 2005 vintage is beautifully scented, fleshy and zingy, with intense gooseberry, melon and green-capsicum flavours and a finely balanced, dry finish. Four and one half (of 5). (Michael Cooper, Buyer's Guide to New Zealand Wines 2006)" Winecurrent gives it four stars (of 5) saying "A quiet herbaceous (grass and nettles) nose opens this light to medium-bodied Kiwi. You will discover gooseberry and slate on the palate along with some zingy lemon-lime zest. This is dry, clean and refreshing suggesting a pairing with any manner of chèvre or pasta in a generous (pine nut, parsley, parmesan) pesto sauce. (VH)" Natalie MacLean gives it 90/100 saying "I've recommended this one several times. Stunning herbal aromas, refreshing and mouth-watering. Perfect for salad, vegetarian, pork, chicken and seafood. Favorite White Wine." My notes: A light blond with a greenish tinge and 'beautifully scented' for sure but a scent that wanes quickly until the next pour. A glycerine smoothness on the lips and full flavours of grapefruit, gooseberries and lime zest finishing moderately long , unctious with sweet fruit fading to a somewhat grassy smoothness. Was great with chicken breast stuffed with cheese and spinach and should be with shellfish or straight fish dishes, lightly spiced mussels and wok'd greens. Cellaring for a year should be OK but not longer without checking. Priced right given the number of good NZ SBs available.

DANZANTE 'DELLE VENEZIE' PINOT GRIGIO 2005, Veneto, Italy, 12.0% XD, #689794 $15.45 (Tasted October 2, 2006)

A Vintages release on August 5, 2006 and described as "The grape variety is key to the Danzante line of wines. The producer goes to whatever region can supply the absolute best grapes for the style of wine they wish to produce. This Pinot Grigio is made with grapes from Veneto. Expect apple and mineral tones and hints of citrus. Enjoy as an aperitif or with simple fish dishes." The website says "Danzante Pinot Grigio is a dry, white wine with golden reflections. The bouquet is intense with enticing fragrances of fresh citrus fruit and flowers. On the palate, its silky, well-balanced body is enhanced with hints of pineapple, grapefruit and spices that carry through to a crisp, dry finish. Enjoy it by itself as an apperitivo or with fish, seafood or poultry." My notes: A distinct golden hue with aromas of just perceptible wildflowers and citrus notes, medium-bodied, a dry crispness and light Granny Smith flavour. A pleasant roundness to a smooth texture with a long silky finish that carries a light citrus tang. A good sipper although better with a selection of mild cheeses, a herb and garlic dip with dry toasts, then on to mild seafood entrees or a mushroom based risotto. Should cellar up to two years although a good drink-now value.

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