Sunday, February 04, 2007

February Whites(10): Italy Prosecco, Australia Blend, Italy Pinot Grigio(2), Australia Riesling, Italy Blend(3), Spain Albarino, Argentina Chard

MONTRESOR CAPITEL ALTO SOAVE CLASSICO 2004, Veneto, Italy, 13.0% D, #531673 $12.85 (Tasted February 26, 2007)

A Vintages release on July 8, 2006 described as "A typically richly flavoured Soave with pronounced aromas of golden delicious apple, mirabelle plum, melon and floral notes. It is just off-dry, intense and ripe. Medium-bodied and medium finishing. Enjoy with seafood in a cream sauce. (Vintages panel, Dec. 2005)" The Montresor website says "Clear pale yellow in colour, with greenish reflections. Fresh and slightly fruity bouquet with delicate aromas of acacia and elder blossoms. Dry, with an almond and honey aftertaste." RP of Winecurrent gives it four stars (of 5) saying "This rises like an island from the lake of bland whites bearing the Soave appellation. Look for quite intense and interesting flavours of tropical fruit and sweet apple, all accented with spice and white pepper. It's on the dry side of off-dry, and makes a good partner for lightly spiced Asian dishes." My notes: A blend of garganega (80%) and trebbiano di soave (20%). Went well with grilled breaded telapia and asparagus spears. The nose is of light wildflowers and, yes, golden delicious apples and flavours that reflect apple, pear, spice, sweet honey and tart melon... leaving a warm and unctious roundness on the palate. I consider myself lucky to find the last bottle at a nearby outlet although there's a half dozen cases spread throughout Ontario. Should be able to cellar this several years. An interesting fruit and nutty sipper with the light sweetness balancing the tartness that goes well with most seafood appetizers. A light yellow and a fuller bodied soave worth the price.

CITRA TREBBIANO D'ABRUZZO 2005, Abruzzo, Italy, 12.0% D, #522144 $7.15 (Tasted February 23, 2007)

A General listing described as "Pale straw; rather neutral aroma light body and flavour with short crisp finish. Serve chilled as an aperitif with finger foods." My notes: If 'neutral' means 'none' then the nose is neutral. Flavours are a light lemon with a tartness that makes it different than chilled water although the lemon accumulates on the palate. As well, the finish has some warmth with a lemony, grassy tartness and distinct dryness on the lips - quite lengthy. A light-bodied, dry white for mushroom pastas, chilled seafood appetizers or grilled white fish entrees. A drink-now. Is priced so you can quaff liberally and have enough change for a halibut (instead of cod) and chip dinner.

FOSS MARAI PROSECCO EXTRA DRY 'BLUE BOTTLE', Italy, 11.5% XD, #729392 $17.95 (Retasted February 23, 2007)

My notes: A Vintages release on May 13, 2006, tasted the same month and in October.... rated an 87 by Jeff Davis (First Line E-Report, Sept. 2005). As before, lots of fine and large bubbles continue without froth. A full nose of toasty dough, apples and pears. Tart apple gives a 'very dry' presentation but has some softness showing a slight residual sugar and an unctious followthrough. Its brightness remains until the finish kicks in. The finish is long, light apple with some warmth on the palate. Perhaps not as creamy, given the extra time in the cellar, with more co2 dominance but still an excellent companion with fresh oysters or any cold shrimp/lobster pieces, crab cakes, shaved meats or mild cheeses.

PLACIDO PINOT GRIGIO DELLE VENEZIE 2005, Venezie, Italy, 12.0% D, #588897 $12.15 (Tasted February 21, 2007)

A General listing described as "Pale straw colour; steely, citrus aromas with hints of tropical fruit; crisp palate with lemony flavours and a long finish. Serve with fresh water fish, pork fried rice or poultry dishes." The Banfi Vintners (US distributors) website says "... a delightfully refreshing 100% varietal wine produced exclusively with Pinot Grigio grapes grown in the famed Veneto region of Italy and vinified on the Count Placido estate in Tuscany. ..a superb aperitif and a delicious accompaniment to light appetizers, hors d'oeuvres, seafood and simple veal and poultry dishes." My notes: Named after the Placidi family the owners of the estate where some of the grapes are still grown. Has a convenient screwtop. If a substitute for still water is wanted at the table this Pinot Grigio could be served - well chilled or with ice. An off white with a slight lemon hue and aromas of distant wildflowers, not enough to pause over. Light-bodied, a mild tartness and faint flavours of spice and lemon. The finish starts with some body and tartness ending in a pleasant lemon if left unmolested by appetizers. An innocuous sipper to serve at a 'block social', light in alcohol and not imposing. Too light for grilled Atlantic salmon and most other entrees. I'll skip it in future - not a value.

PETER LEHMANN 'WEIGHBRIDGE' SEMILLION-CHARDONNAY 2004, Barossa, Australia, 12.0% D, #610717* $12.15 (Tasted February 21, 2007)

A General listing (*delisted) described as "Light yellow green colour; aromas of citrus, green peach with lanolin notes; dry medium bodied, with flavours of lemon/lime, honey and pear; good length on finish. Serve with lemon chicken, lobster salad or shrimp stirfry." My notes: 'Weighbridge' is of Lehmann's 'International Collection' but this blend is not one of the eight on their website. A lightish yellow with aromas including passionfruit and a slight kiwi melon. Apple, cucumber and distant lemon combine for an unusual flavour blend. The finish maintains a light tartness with a light oily, grassy texture and some latent sweetness. An unusual sipper likely not for most. Should be able to cellar this for a few years but I don't think it'll improve. A 'commercial' white for grilled chicken with fries, mussels lightly sauced, oysters Rockerfeller, or other seafood entrees - perhaps a pork cutlet with apple sauce. A reasonable price but then I wouldn't serve it to guests.

CAVIT PINOT GRIGIO DELLE VENEZIE 2005, Venezie, Italy, 12.0% D, #99218 $11.20 (Tasted February 18, 2007)

A General listing described as "Pale straw; light lemon-apple aroma and flavour; light bodied with a clean finish. Serve as an aperitif." Their website says "The principal source of grapes... is Trentino’s Adige River Valley.... The grapes are carefully selected and then vinified utilizing... Cold fermentation in.. thermo-conditioned tanks to preserve the natural 100% Pinot Grigio fruit and inimitable freshness of the wine.... Dry, light and crisp, and highly versatile... a wonderful apéritif and equally splendid with pasta in cream sauces, risottos, veal, chicken and fresh seafood dishes. My notes: A clover honey fragrance and a pale yellow colour, light in body, flavours of light lemon, apple, honey and straw finishing with some smoothness on the lips and lemon straw on the palate. Should be well chilled as an aperitif to retain brightness. The finish faded quickly and was somewhat low in acid with sliced roasted turkey and vegetables but the flavours went well. An economical house white to pair with chicken, seafood dishes, or sliced ham.

CARDINHAM RIESLING 2003, Clare Valley, Australia, 12.5% XD, #694562 $15.95 (Retasted February 12, 2007)

My notes: Vintages released this riesling on February 4, 2006 with the note: "James Halliday gives it 93/100 and the label claims 2003 was an ideal vintage year... etc. My comments at the time were 'lasting soft petrol and lime zest nose. Medium-bodied with flavours of spice then apple, crisp without pucker..etc.' Little has changed in the last year, has more of a lemon and soft petrol nose with flavours that are lighter, spicier and more crabapple than apple, still with ample petrol and a finish that is bright, extra dry, and cleansing still without pucker though. If you enjoy a tart, petrol fused white this is a sipper. For me, it's more of a oysters-on-half-shell sipper, a chilled shrimp ring or grilled white fish. Was great with grilled telapia and stirfry veggies. Cellaring another year or two should be OK.

ANSELMI SAN VINCENZO VENETO IGT 2005, Veneto, Italy, 12.8% XD, #948158 $15.95 (Retasted February 8, 2007)

The Wineanorak says of the 2002 vintage "Nice soft, herby white which is quite beguiling with its soft texture. There’s a good concentration of fruit here with a straw-like character. Satisfying stuff." and gives it 89/100. My notes: Last tasted June, 2006 with the comment re: the 2004 '... retains the zesty fruit flavours of the previous vintages. Full aromas of lemon and floral honey build anticipation for the freshly tart flavours of soft lemon, a touch of passionfruit and pineapple. etc.' and then about the 2005 'If anything the 2005 has a stronger floral and honey lemon drop nose, a brilliant blond colour and distinct flavours of passionfruit, grapefruit and distant banana. The long finish carries full flavoured fruit including the banana edge along with a smooth mouthfeel. A great patio sipper when served by itself well chilled. A full-bodied white that could hold its own with cold ham, cold turkey or chicken on greens, sushi, asian dishes, fresh oysters, etc....' The 2005 hasn't lost anything since last June.... great stuff. Anselmi changes a simple white, soave, into a fuller, fruitier white each vintage by blending Garganega, Chardonnay and a little Trebbiano. Consistently a real value.

LAXAS ALBARIÑO 2005, Rias Baixas, Spain, 12.5% D, #021477 $19.75 (Tasted February 7, 2007)

A Vintages release on February 3, 2007 described as "Beguiling, ripe aromas of pineapple and citrus leading to ripe, fruity flavors of pineapple, peaches and citrus balanced by refreshing acidity and mouthwatering minerality through a lush, dry finish. Highly recommended. (Dave DeSimone, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Aug. 9, 2006)." My notes: A golden yellow colour with a crisp pineapple and honey, without sweetness but with a slight wildclover in the background, nose. The flavours are as bright as the nose with citrus and a round, full texture. The finish is of citrus, leaving some oil on the lips, and a slight tartness that fades into a faint grassy ending. An interesting change from a soave or pinot gris... on the fruitier and fuller side but just as dry. A sipper or with fresh oysters, grilled shrimp skewers with caramellized onions, stuffed mushrooms or with seafood entrees - a crab and shrimp omelette. This should cellar well for a few years. Priced right.

LA PUERTA CHARDONNAY 2005, Famatina Valley, Argentina, 13.9% D, #614693 $9.05 (Tasted February 4, 2007)

A General listing without description. The label says "...exalts aromas of tropical fruits, shows a bright greenish yellow colour with apple, pear and pineapple fragrances." The Frugal Oenophile names it Wine of the Week December 25, 2006 saying "The nose here shows a slight resemblance to a ripe gewurz, with a rich honey, mango, apricot and apple peel mix. The palate is finely textured with peach and citrus flavours atop a solid acid spine. A delight but not all that Chardonnay like -- perhaps they've tossed in a bit of Torrentes. For the gewurz lover, this is one terrific bargain, and it shows enough chardonnay character to work on that front as well. Could be a good match for that left-over turkey or perhaps a bit of ham roast." My notes: The one in the yellow label. A light yellow colour with mango and melon aromas followed by strawlined lemon and melon flavours. Definitely a lightly oaked chard. A smooth texture, medium-bodied with a finish starting with lemon straw and fading slowly into a pleasing thin lemon film. A house table wine where events won't demand a 'wine review' - a white match for the La Puerta Shiraz reviewed in January. Have with chips and fish, grilled telapia, sliced ham cold or hot - nothing too flavourful although it has a tart seam, or just sip. Not for cellaring - more of an economical drink-now.

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