Friday, March 02, 2007

March Whites(10): Chile Sauv Blanc, Chile Chard, Italy Verdicchio(2), France Chard, Spain Albarino(3), Italy Blend, Chile Chard

SANTA CAROLINA SAUVIGNON BLANC RESERVA 2006, Rapel Valley, Chile, 13.5% D, #337535 $12.20 (Retasted March 20, 2007)

Tasted last December with the comment "..aromas of sweet gooseberries, light-bodied, and a nice tang to go with fruity gooseberries and some nettles. ... clean finish.. not sweet... more of a commercial white. Not a NZ sauvignon blanc for sure." Toronto Life rates it four stars (of 5) saying "Has changed to a New Zealand–inspired direction. A blast of tangerine, grapefruit and passion fruit with a sweaty note. Zesty, crisp, almost tart. Solid. Very good length. ($11.05)" My notes: Keeps increasing in price so it must be selling well. NZ styled but more synthetic than true. The nose has a pond-scum edge to the gooseberry aroma which carries over to the flavours and finish... not pleasant when noticed... the combination of flavour components suggest various citric fruit but nothing distinct. Medium-bodied, texture is round and smooth, acids are firm and drying to the palate. Should be OK with most seafood or a cheddar souffle, and should be OK with white fish dishes, lightly spiced shrimp and crabcakes. Washed out with breaded chicken breast and cold potato salad. Not for cellaring - an economical sipper for unexpected visitors.

CONCHA y TORO MARQUES DE CASA CONCHA CHARDONNAY 2005, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14.0% D, #342857 $19.95 (Tasted March 18, 2007)

A Vintages release on March 17, 2007 described as " 'The Marques de Casa Concha range is always outstanding, and while no reviews for the 2005 Chardonnay were available at press time, the last four vintages have scored 89-91 points from Wine Spectator. ..etc.' Expect juicy tropical fruit, apple, and floral aromas and flavours with a lively seam of acid providing balance and a lengthy finish." The website says: "The grapes are manually harvested in March. The wine is fermented in new and used, medium-toasted French burgundian sur lie for 11 months then aged for a further 4 months after bottling. Colour is light, golden yellow with bouquet of white peach, papaya, mango and hazelnut, with surprising elegance. Medium-bodied, creamy on the palate, a core of peach-papaya accented flavours supported by refined oak. A long finish." My notes: A floral citrus and creamy peach aroma, clean with no yeastiness. A light gold colour and flavours that include citrus and cream, and a long finish with a touch of butter to balance the peach stone and firm acid, no distinct butterscotch but luscious just the same. Was OK with an SOS Teriyaki Sub sandwich... would have been in its element with grilled white fish, shelled seafood or a creamy chicken pasta dish. Will develop more complexity with a few years cellaring but may also compromise the delicate fruit there now. A pleasant drink-now - not a value.

FAZI-BATTAGLIA VERDICCHIO DEI CASTELLI DI JESI 2005, Marche, Italy, 12.0% XD, #024422 $10.15 (Tasted March 13, 2007)

A General listing described as "Pale lemon yellow with green tint, green apple & mineral aroma & taste; slight spritz, light body clean, slightly tart grapefruit finish. Serve chilled as an aperitif or with fresh oysters." My notes: A classic bottle shape with scroll attached - 3 million bottled yearly. The website is under construction at this point (English not available). A pale blond colour with faint aroma of honey and green apple. A brisk tartness precedes flavours of eucalypsis and lime zest - not enough spritz to notice. A medium long finish of bright but tame lime zest, a slight oil and leaving a slight chalk on the palate. This wine went well as a before dinner picker upper, then with varied meals of chicken with tuscan vegetables, telapia stuffed with shrimp and lightly seasoned rice, and, although a stretch, fettucine with shrimp and tenderloin pieces done in a wild mushroom sauce. A drink-now that is welcome anytime a heftier or traditional wine isn't appropriate or just for a change from a pinot grigio or soave. Also a good patio sipper on a warm summer day. Not for cellaring.

CASA FOSCA 'SOTTO LE QUERCE' VERDICCHIO DI MATELICA 2005, Marche, Italy, 13.0% XD, #531723 $12.90 (Tasted March 12, 2007)

A Vintages release on August 5, 2006 described as " 'Sotto le Querce' translates as 'under the oaks', which refers to the location of the vineyard not to oak ageing (there is none). This fresh, ripe Verdicchio is allowed to age seven months in bottle before it is released onto the market. The wine may be enjoyed with grilled prawns, lobster tail or shrimp stir-fry." VH of Winecurrent rates it three and one half stars (of 5) saying "An interesting and lifted nose of quince jelly and apple compote drifts from the glass of this medium-bodied white. The flavour profile offers intense spice box, green apple and a mélange of tropical fruit. The medium length finish is dry and crisp. Would be nicely paired to tzatziky and German pumpernickel." My notes: A light blond colour with no discernible nose. The round texture and balance is the only worthwhile element of the taste - faint flavours are of overripe lime and unripe melon. The finish is dry, with slight oil and no fruit. This last bottle on the local Vintages shelf may have sat without suitable conditions for seven months. At this point: not a sipper, not cellarable, and would add no interest paired with a meal.

PAUL SAPIN CUVEE PRESTIGE BEAUJOLAIS BLANC 2001, Macon, France, 12.0% XD, CP141-2124 $16.33 (Tasted March 9, 2007)

Purchased March 15, 2002 from Opimian based on their description: "This has to be the best value white from anywhere in Burgundy today. The aroma and palate are clearly all Chardonnay with a superb intensity and balanced flavour. A stunning, fruit driven, non-oaked beauty with heaps of ripe fruit. Look for banana, guava and mango and a deliciously creamy length. Drink in year." My notes: Not impressive in the initial years and this last bottle was to see of longer cellaring was appropriate - it wasn't. A strong golden colour with no discernible nose, chardonnay or otherwise. The flavour is buttery with a faint caramel and banana note. The finish is smooth with a delicate acid with no carry over fruit. Have with soft cheeses or delicate grilled seafood or quiche.

AGRO DE BAZAN 'GRANBAZAN' ALBARINO 2004, Rias Baixas, Spain, 12.5% XD, #673152 $14.70 (Tasted March 8, 2007)

A Vintages release on April 1, 2006. The wine type is generally described: "Albariño is gradually emerging on our market as one of the most exciting Spanish white wines. It is one of those perfect spring/summer crisply refreshing wines to sip after a long day or to awaken the palate before a fine meal." The website says "The fine aroma and delicacy of the tears embraces the strength to create the Granbazan Verde, a perfect combination where the personality of the albariño grape is expressed with its classic strength. A medium straw colour, good intensity with a citric touch and an influence of aromas of tropical fruits: green apples, mango and lemon. Its balanced acidity makes it sparkly and very refreshing." My notes: A light golden colour with a delicate nose of crushed seedless grapes. The texture is full, smooth with bright acid and a slight citrus, green apple and melon flavour. The citrus and apple fade quickly leaving some oil on the lips, a muted melon aftertaste with a reasonable tartness. Should be a good but neutral sipper on a hot summer day - one ice cube - add a touch of Sprite or soda for a spritzer. Or have with light entrees, was OK with a breaded chicken breast, snow peas and greens. A drink-now - not for cellaring.

ESENCIA DIVINA ALBARINO 2005, Rias Baixas, Spain, 12.5% XD, #581900 $17.15 (Tasted March 6, 2007)

A Vintages release September 30, 2006 described as "Quite an aromatic nose of hawthorn, guava, peach and mineral. It is dry, fresh/zesty with vibrant fruit around. This solidly-structured wine has a good, persistent finish. This wine would be a fine match for a variety of shellfish, tapas dishes, sushi or even your Thanksgiving dinner. (Vintages panel, April 2006)" RP of Winecurrent gives it four stars (of 5) saying "I wish the LCBO/Vintages would carry Albariño more consistently, because it's so often a delicious, refreshing wine that complements grilled seafood and fish. This one has attractive soft flavours of white peach and apricot pit, with hints of white pepper. It has good, refreshing acidity that's in great balance with the fruit. This is a very good buy." My notes: A bright golden yellow with a faint aroma of lemondrops, nothing much else is discernible. A bright but not sharp lemon with some 'apricot pit' blending together then following through and fading slowly into a smooth finish. Quite a nice social sipper with enough fruit, perhaps some residual sugar, and balanced acids to cleanse the palate if hors d'oevres - shaved meats, a shrimp ring, brocoli flowers and dip, a tasty pate, or tapas - are handy but somewhat flat as a meal wine. An appropriately priced drink-now rather than for cellaring.

ADEGAS D'ALTAMIRA SELECCION ALBARINO 2004, Rias Baixas, Spain, 12.5% XD, #015032 $18.15 (Tasted March 5, 2007)

A Vintages release January 20, 2007 with the comment: "Rias Baixas is quickly developing a reputation as Spain's best cool-climate winegrowing region. Grapes, such as Albariño, thrive in this environment. A plethora of aromas come to the fore here, including mango, passion fruit, lemon zest and floral tones. Dry and light-bodied, it is beautifully balanced between the fruit and the acid. The finish is quite substantial. Match it to ratatouille or grilled chicken with roasted vegetables. (Vintages panel, May 2006)" My notes: The website is a mystery and so is the nose... first some clover honey and lemon, then honeydew as the light yellow liquid warms slightly in the glass - but hardly a 'plethora'. Each sip is clean and bright with some tang developing on the sides of the mouth and flavours that are also light and well blended. A touch of oil on the lips and the lemon blend fades slowly on a long finish. Should be great with any seafood - the acid partnering well with grilled halibut filets, lobster with butter pots, crabcakes - a meal wine mainly although enjoyable if you like a white that comes close to 'crab apple' sharp... great with grilled arctic char. I'd cellar up to two years for some mellowing rather than drinking now.

ANSELMI SAN VINCENZO 2006, Veneto, Italy, 12.8% XD, #948158 $15.95 (Tasted March 3, 2007)

A Vintages Essentials released on October 14, 2006 and March 3, 2007 described as "Super Fresh! This is a light, fresh wine that will grab your attention as ripe citrus and tropical fruit dance across your palate. It's crisp with a backbone of acidity and a medium finish. A concentrated blend of Garganega, Chardonnay and a little Trebbiano, enjoy with pasta with pesto sauce, or cannelloni stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach." My notes: A honey, lemon and wildflower aroma pops from the cork and flows into the glass. A light yellow with flavours of bright lemon and lanolin - less round or supple, less fruity than previous vintages but full-bodied. The finish is tart and dry and the limited fruit fades quickly and leaving a buttery texture. Not as enticing a sipper as previous vintages and disappointing for an Anselmi - more of a seafood white but nevertheless its fairly unctious. Have with fresh oysters, shrimp skewers, lobster pieces, grilled white fish entrees or Thai and chinese foods. Not recommended as a drink-now.. cellar for at least a year before tasting then possibly another year.... has potential for cellaring.

SANTA ALICIA RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2005, Maipo Valley, Chile, 13.5% D, #414474* $10.85 (Tasted March 2, 2007)

A General listing (*delisted) describe as "Pale yellow; tropical fruit, melon, green apple, citrus and toasted oak/vanilla aromas; dry, full bodied, with zingy acidity and fruity citrus flavours and buttery notes; a soft, long finish. Serve with boiled stone crab claws; veal cutlet; lobster and other rich seafood; poultry with a creamy mushroom sauce." The website says "[A] pale yellowish color, with golden tones, brilliant [with an] aroma [that is] complex, ripe fruits such as pineapple and bananas, with honey enhanced by the vanilla and toasted wood character. [The] flavour is concentrated, intense in flavors, full of tropical citric notes and minerals." Gord Stimmell gives it 88/100 saying "A perfect house white to complement an evening with friends. Aromas and flavours hint of pear, vanilla, lime and hazelnuts, with crushed pineapple on the finish. A slight sweetness lingers, with tropical tones. This is really mellow, with not too much oak, and lots of friendly fruit...." My notes: Quite a few cases still remain in Ontario but as of delisting they may be in the back - but read on.... A light yellow colour with a distinctive chardonnay fragrance, pleasingly light. However, the flavour contradicts the nose with an objectionable leesy-ness on top of faint melon, lime and straw notes, not pleasurable. Not a sipper... Decanting removed much of the leesy flavour and paired with Swiss Chalet and fries this chard was OK... but I can't recommend this vintage.

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