Friday, December 01, 2006

December Whites(10): S Africa Chard, USA Viog, Italy Pin Grig, Italy Pros, Germany Blend, Canada Chard(2), USA Chard, Australia Chard, Canada Pin Bl

GRAHAM BECK BLANC DE BLANCS PREMIER CUVEE BRUT 2001, South Africa, 12.5% XD, #907568 $20.95 (Tasted December 15, 2006)

A Vintages release on December 9, 2006 described as "Long reputed to be amongst the Cape's finest fizzes, this 100% Chardonnay has a creamy mousse, fine acid core for balance and classic biscuit, apple pie and citrus tones. John Platter's South African Wines generally rates this bubbly 4 of 5." RP of Winecurrent gives it four stars (of 5) saying ".... this sparkling delivers good complexity in aromas and flavours. Dominated by apples and brioche, with well-integrated citrus (red grapefruit) acidity, this is well-enough balanced to make a pre-dinner aperitif or to serve with an appetizer like freshly-shucked oysters or grilled shrimp with a squeeze of lemon." My notes: We had Swiss Chalet at the time this was opened. Its 'brut'ness was appropriate and pouring the fine bubbles added an extra treat for a takeout supper. Light blond in colour with aromas of yeast and green apple. Flavours of crisp green apple leading to a clean, moderate, yeasty finish. Have as a refreshing aperitif but better with chilled or grilled, but not creamy, shellfish - fresh oysters for sure. A reasonably priced substitute for champagne.

RENWOOD SELECT SERIES VIOGNIER 2004, California, USA, 13.5% D, #018762 $19.95 (Tasted December 13, 2006)

A Vintages release on December 9, 2006 described as "A Gold-Medal winner at the 2006 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, this Rhône-style blend (89% Viognier, 10% Semillon, 1% Marsanne) offers up delicious aromas of tangerine, honeysuckle, pear and white peach. A rich and creamy textured white that will pair beautifully with "Spicy Scallops with Capellini." The website says "... displays aromas of tangerine, honeysuckle, pear, and white peach. On the palate the wine is rich, with a creamy texture of ripe pears, lemon citrus, peaches and apricots. A luscious finish, displaying layers of honeysuckle, citrus and a hint of vanilla, balances the wine...." Gord Stimmell rates it 89/100 saying "...aromatic white, ... hints of clover blossoms, jasmine, honeysuckle and rose petals with dry peachy flavours." My notes: A light blond colour and an interesting mixture of blossoms and fruit: honeysuckle, lemon and pear. The flavour starts with an orange zest highlight then followups with lemon and mandarin orange fruit beautifully balanced with natural acid. The finish begins with a light oil leading to clean citrus and ending dryly. An excellent sipper. Pair with seafood dishes: mussels, scallops shrimp, or grilled chicken, Thai or Asian. An excellent white to keep on hand and should cellar for up to two years.

SANDHILL 'BURROWING OWL VINEYARD' CHARDONNAY 2004, Okanagan Valley, Canada, 14.0% D, #541193 $17.95 (Tasted December 11, 2006)

A Vintages release on December 9, 2006 and described as "Hazelnut, spicy lees nose mixed with butter, vanilla, green apple skin and floral notes. Ripe, round, dry palate with buttery, spicy lees, baked apple and honey flavours and touch of citrus and nutty biscuit on the finish. Well made. A leaner, slightly more sophisticated style from Sandhill that we welcome. 88/100, Anthony Gismondi, July 8, 2005" My notes: A light fragrance of green apple and spicy lees and not much else discernible. The flavours are a light nippy apple and lemon with soft oak and a buttery texture. The finish is long with an edge of sweetness that balances the citrus and green apple leaving a tart dryness. This is a very delicate oaked chardonnay, definitely not flat, having flavours that make an interesting sipper, dry and crisp. Pairing with seafood (was wonderful with breaded arctic char filets), with chicken or pork wraps, tapas, or Thai would make the most of the flavours. A good value if 'delicate' fits the occasion.

CANTINA TRAMIN PINOT GRIGIO 2005, Alto Adige, Italy, 13.0% XD, #627059 $14.95 (Tasted December 10, 2006)

A Vintages release on December 09, 2006 described as "Delicate aromas of pears, honeysuckle, and lemons emerge from the 2005 Pinot Grigio. Light-bodied, with refreshing acidity, good fruit, and a clean, fresh finish, it will provide immense pleasure over the next 12 months. Score - 88. (Robert Parker Jr., June 2006). " VH of Winecurrent gives it three and 1/2 (of 5) saying "A subdued nose of floral and citrus notes opens up this light to medium-bodied white. This is dry on the palate, displaying well proportioned flavours of honeycomb and key lime zest. It provides a tangy taste treat that would marry well to grilled tuna under a drizzle of freshly-squeezed lemon." My notes: The aromas are delicate wild clover and honey and need a few minutes to develop as the chill goes. Flavours of bright citrus, a soft honey edge with the impression of sweetness. The finish carries the flavours well as they take time to fade until the next sip. A friendly sipper, easy to quaff with conversation. Pairs well with spicy mussels with a light or creamy sauce, or with grilled chicken breast pieces on lemon rice, or with mild meat dishes: ham, pork, veal with light sauces or with Asian dishes. Cellaring up to two years should increase mellowness but it's drinking well now. An excellent value.

NINO FRANCO PROSECCO DI VALDOBBIADENE BRUT NV, Veneto, Italy, 11.0% D, #349662 $16.95 (Tasted December 09, 2006)

A Vintages release on December 9, 2006 described as "Nino Franco is the consummate craftsman of Italy's most beloved sparkling wine. Very pale straw. Nose of mineral, pear, fresh apple. Taste is dry, light body, refreshing acidity, mineral, lime, green apple. Tony Aspler gives it four (of 5), Mar. 28, 2005." VH of Winecurrent gives it three (of 5) saying "Apple and citrus aromas and flavours flow through this light-bodied sparkler. The flavours are tight and tangy while the finish has oodles of cleansing citrus flavours that portend a gorgeous match to all manner of fish and sea food appetizers. Good, of course, to quaff on its own." My notes: Large bubbles effervesce in the glass subsiding quickly to a sparse stream. Aromas of yeast and green apple - no pear, green apple flavours with sharp acidity surrounding the fruit and finishing steely, tart with a straw edge. The aftertaste has an unpleasant mineral quality which is less apparent with hors d'hoevres: shaved meats on dry crisps, fresh oysters, crabmeat wraps, mussels in a garlic sauce or turkey slices over lightly sauced risotto. A commercial bubbly - a quaffer with meals and not a sipper. Not recommended

HENKELL TROCKEN FINE SEKT, Baden, Germany, 11.0% D, #122689 $11.95* (Tasted December 06, 2006)

A General listing described as "Pale yellow colour; light apple & melon with a hint of yeast; soft, off-dry fruit flavour with a crisp finish. Serve as an aperitif or with spicy foods." The website says "This dry, fully matured sparkling wine owes its elegant character to a unique Cuvée of excellent wines originating from such classic grape varieties as French Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Blanc de Noir from French Pinot Noir and Chenin from Saumur. Henkell Trocken sparkles with vivacious and long lasting effervescence. Thanks to the play of greenish reflections, the delicate light amber colour gains lively, expressive nuancing. The taste is fresh, tingling, with a lingering finish, while a subtle fragrance suggestive of tropical fruit develops in the bouquet. The finely blended, harmonious composition makes Henkell Trocken a well-balanced, consummate taste experience.." My notes: *Reduced from $12.95 until yearend. The LCBO description is accurate. The website gives the grape blend then waxes poetic. Bubbles are large and effervesce quickly then dissipate leaving some fine bubbles in the finish. Colour is a light blond, aroma is a yeasty green apple, flavours are a fresh apple with a natural sweetness finishing with yeastiness mixed with pear and apple, enough tartness to avoid being flat. A sociable sipper as an aperitif. Reasonably priced for a sizeable crowd. Nothing special is conveyed by this bubbly although the package is 'princely'. A commercial drink-now.

CAVE SPRING VINEYARD 'CSV' CHARDONNAY 1999, Niagara, Canada, 14.5% XD, #529941 $32.94 (Tasted December 05, 2006)

Vintages released the 2003 vintage ($30.00) from CSV on November 11, 2006 describing it as having "a heavy layer of oak, spice, hazelnut and caramel combined with honey and green apple flavours. ... creamy with citrus, apple and toasty ... crisp acid. Rated 88/100 by Evan Saviolidis." The website notes "Produced from CSV’s oldest, lowest-yielding vines, this wine gives full expression to the terroir of our site (Niagara's Beamsville Bench)." My notes: The 1999 vintage was purchased from the winery in June 2003 and cellared 'til now. The nose is a combination of a light citrus and pecan, the flavours blend delicate apple and toasty oak, medium-bodied, low in acid with some butter but not butterscotch. A butternut finish fairly long but leaving a smoothness on the palate, not drying nor is it tart. Was OK as a sipper and paired well with scallops and fettucini in a creamy mushroom sauce. Cellaring hasn't done much for this chard. Not a value.

J.LOHR ESTATES RIVERSTONE CHARDONNAY 2004, California, USA, 13.5% D, #258899 $19.00 (Tasted December 04, 2006)

A General release described as "Deep yellow colour; ripe apple, pear, melon & vanilla aromas; dry, medium to full-bodied; creamy texture & peachy, oaky notes on the palate; well-balanced with a long finish. Serve with grilled or roasted poultry dishes; pork with apple sauce." The label says "..has aromas of grapefruit and nectarine, and layers of rich, complex flavours. etc." My notes: A light lemon colour with delicate aromas of a pineapple and lemon blend. A light oil on the lips with an aggressive tart undeveloped citrus flavour and a finish that flattens into green straw on the palate. A reasonable nose but the 'clean your teeth' sharpness and straw finish makes this an unpleasant sipper. Pair with creamy mushroom pastas or soups, roasted chicken, vegetables and fries, seafood entrees. Cellaring isn't recommended. A 'commercial' white and not a value imo.

COOKOOTHAMA 'DARLINGTON POINT' CHARDONNAY 2005, New South Wales, Australia, 14.0% D, #619403 $14.00 (Tasted December 02, 2006)

A General listing described as "Pale straw yellow colour; aromas of citrus and vanilla; dry, medium bodied, crisp with apple, citrus flavours. Serve with grilled or roast poultry." The label says "...Rich and generous aromas of peach and melon. On the palate these flavours are complimented well by integrated french oak and citrus notes resulting in a well balanced and elegant wine. Cellar up to three years." My notes: A General listing produced by Nugan Estates (website being developed). Colour is a golden blond with aromas after airing ten minutes, of lemon drop softned by french oak, light-bodied with a buttery texture and flavours of mainly toasted apple, nippy and fresh. The finish is mainly a faint oak and faint lemon with a cleansing tartness. Too young to be a sipper and too early to pair with meals - but if you have to, should go well with grilled seafood, light fowl or Asian fare. Should be cellared to establish its full character and flavourings... has a potential that two years cellaring could reveal. At the price it's worth the investment imo.

GRAY MONK PINOT BLANC 2004, BC, Canada, 13.1% XD, #321612* $15.95 (Retasted December 01, 2006)

My notes: Last tasted January 2006. Vintages released the 2004 vintage on January 21, 2006 saying: "The 2004 is bursting with tropical fruit, textured gooseberry and melon notes on the palate and good acidity underneath. Perfect with barbecued salmon. (Tim Pawsey, North Shore News, August 29, 2005)". *The number is no longer listed. The nose bursts as soon as the cork is popped: gooseberry comes first then apple, pear and a sidelight of honey. The flavours share a solid bite with tastes of pear, apple and a touch of herbaceousness that wasn't evident before. Finishes dry and bright with green melon on the tongue and moderately succulent. A tasty sipper by itself or with mild cheeses and fruit selection. Pair with grilled telapia or scallops and asparagus tips. Drinking well now and won't improve with further cellaring, may actually develop straw tones.

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