Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Whites(14): NZ SB: Chile SB; France Pin Blan; Italy Chard, Pin Grig, Prosec, Muscat; Canada Chard, PB, Ries; Australia Ries, Semill, SB, Blend

CAVE SPRING CHARDONNAY MUSQUÉ 2005 VQA, Niagara, Canada, 13.5% D, #246579 $16.15 (Tasted May 19, 2007)

A Vintages release on May 12, 2007 described as "... This aromatic clone of the Chardonnay grape is a refreshing alternative to conventional Chardonnay. Gorgeous aromas of flowers, musk, grapes, spice and citrus aromas burst from the glass. Medium-bodied, richly flavoured but balanced with a gentle crispness and a lengthy finish... " Toronto Life gives it three and one half stars saying "Generous tropical fruit, grapefruit, licorice and a hint of white pepper. Mid-weight, rich, warm with a touch of exotic spice. Very good length. Asian recipes." The website describes this as "Full bodied with intensely aromatic spice and orange blossom character, a viscous mouth-feel and plenty of acidity for balance." My notes: The 2004 was tasted January 2006. Gord Stimmell in his column had given it 90/100. My comment was "Don't serve chilled - just cooled... flavours range from lemon to pineapple offset with a balanced tartness.... citrus peal overtone... " The 2005 has a golden colour and a wild floral nose that fades quickly. Has a sharp citrus peal flavour going to a firm grassiness, some creaminess, and medium-bodied. There's no residual sweetness - anticipated from the Musque strain - nor more than a hint of Musque itself in the nose and flavour. Nothing but lemon pith ends up in the long finish making this a non-sipper. Have chilled with seafood appetizers, steamed spicy mussels or with sliced chicken on toasted panini. A dollar more this vintage and not as enjoyable. Will go downhill from here so cellaring isn't recommended. OK but not a value.

CANTINE MEZZACORONA CHARDONNAY TRENTINO DOC 2005,
Trentino, Italy, 12.5% D, #016451 $11.15 (Tasted May 16, 2007)


A General listing not described on the LCBO website. The website describes it as "Traditional vinification of white wine at controlled temperatures of around 18-20°C; straw-yellow in color, pleasant fragrance, fruity, fine, distinctive, dry flavor, harmonic, lightly aromatic." My notes: This chard doesn't have much going for it: a light blond colour, a light wildflower fragrance, light flavours of lime, lemon, straw in equal amounts and a slight roundness with no discernible sweetness but a good dose of tart - quite 'commercial'. The finish is short and bright of mostly citrus and straw. Not meant to be a sipper... and I wouldn't plan it for a social occasion. That leaves having one brought by a guest or trying the 'house white' at a 'family' restaurant and unknowingly receiving this. Not so bad to be flushed and should be OK with a light pasta... just not cellarable, not a value, not recommended.

CLIFFORD BAY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2006,
Marlborough, NZ, 13.5% XD, #734095 $19.95 (Tasted May 15, 2007)


A Vintages release on May 12, 2007 described as "A completely satisfying wine, mouthfilling and flavour packed. Intense bouquet and rich, ripe flavours of currants and gooseberries, fresh and tangy (Cuisine Magazine (New Zealand), Dec. 2006)" Natalie MacLean calls it the 'Favourite White' of the Release rating it 90/100 and noting "Terrific and refreshing herbal aromas with some citrus notes. Not too grassy. Pair with: seafood, salads, vegetarian dishes." VH of Winecurrent gives it four and one half (of 5) saying "This is full-bore, no holds barred, Sauvignon Blanc. The pungent nose bristles with cut grass, asparagus and nettles. The flavours explode on the palate - citrus, peach and gooseberry - while the finish layers on more of the same in its tangy and zesty attack... ". My notes: A light straw colour and if you like gooseberries, while they're still plump, firm and tart, this is full both in aroma and in flavour. Tantalizingly tart, amply round, a long finish of tangy melon, nettles and some oils. Sip the aroma away then savour the flavours with any seafood hors d'oeuvre or entree, nothing creamy. This needs some garlic and oils for the acids to fully work on behalf of the palate. Cellaring for two years should be OK.... check every month just to make sure ;-).

MARGAN SEMILLON 2004,
Hunter Valley, Australia, 11.0% D, #961516 $17.95 (Tasted May 12, 2007)


A Vintages release on May 12, 2007 described as "Light gold. Fresh and explosively floral on the nose, with aromas of fresh melon, peach, dried pear, apricot and floral honey. At once lush and focused, with vivid flavors of ripe peach, watermelon and papaya. Dry, firm and structured, with a lightness of touch that stands in contrast to the wine's richness of flavor. Sappy and almost salty on the long finish, which is energetic and pungently mineral. 90/100 (Josh Raynolds, Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar, July/Aug. 2006)". VH of Winecurrent gives it four and one half (of 5) saying "... racy, fresh and zippy (Sauvignon Blanc-like) with lovely peach and nectarine flavours entwined. The effect is a clean summer sipper with flavour and texture. As it ages, it will lose some of the acidity developing into a more substantial and fleshy white... ". My notes: Hasn't achieved the breadth of aromas and flavours of the 2001 (@$13.95) yet the price continues to rise. Has a light gold colour and a fresh aroma of wild flowers, apricot, banana and squeezed lemon. The texture is crisp with some silky threads carrying bright flavours of lemon and green apple - the tangerine aroma and zest of 2001 is missing and I didn't get 'peach' or 'nectarine'. Finishes with a cleansing tartness, a slight oil on the lips, some straw, and builds with successive sips. A sipper only if you like 'tart'. Better with seafood dishes or hors d'oeuvres of crab pieces, oysters, bacon wrapped scallop skewers. This was likely fruitier in 2006 rating the 90/100, and cellaring for a year or two may mellow the acids and reveal more of the natural fruit flavours. Short term I don't believe it's a value and long term is questionable.

CANTINE MEZZACORONA PINOT GRIGIO DOC 2005,
Trentino, Italy, 12.5% D, #302380 $13.15 (Tasted May 13, 2007)

A General listing described as "Pale straw colour; crisp mineral and floral nose with a touch of fennel and almond; light, clean and crisp with green apple flavours and almond in the finish. Serve as an aperitif or with seafood or pasta in cream sauce." The website describes it as a 'Traditional white wine vinification at controlled temperatures of around 18-20°C; modern taste, straw-yellow in color, pleasant bouquet, delicate, fruity, dry in flavor, elegant, and well balanced." My notes: A pale straw colour with faint aromas of honey, lemon and wild flowers. Light-bodied with a tartness balanced with ample fruit: apple then lemon and melon, a slightly smooth texture and an almond note. A quiet finish of citrus, apple and almond, sweetness isn't apparent and just a slight tartness. By itself, not aggressive: well chilled, it's an aperitif. Sharing flavours with mild cheeses, light pastas, or seafood dishes it would be a quiet complement easily quaffed. Not for cellaring - a white you could take anywhere.

NINO FRANCO PROSECCO DI VALDOBBIADENE BRUT NV,
Veneto, Italy, 11.0% D, #349662 $16.95 (Retasted May 10, 2007)


My notes: Last tasted in December, 2006 after its release by Vintages on the 9th. If as Vintages stated "Nino Franco is the consummate craftsman of Italy's most beloved sparkling wine... " then many other Italian sparkling winemakers are being undermined or at least neglected. Tony Aspler of Radio 680 notoriety gives this brut four (of 5), Mar. 28, 2005 and Winecurrent gives it three (of 5) (or 83-86/100) so from a rating perspective I'm more in line with Winecurrent although I lean to the 83 end. What can I expect for the price? and it depends on the accompaniments. There is an abundance of bubbles, large and miniscule with fine effervescence lasting throughout. Some pear in the nose would be an improvement... along with 'birthday cake' and green apple which mitigate any pear that may exist. Green apple flavours with sharp acidity surround the fruit and the finish is quite steely, tart with a dry straw edge. Quaffing of any bubbly should be a pleasing sensation rather than a tonsil tensing exercise... This is much better paired with flavours of a favourite hors d'oeuvre: fresh oysters, crabmeat pieces, bacon wrapped scallops, etc. Obviously still not recommended.

VINA TARAPACA EX ZAVALA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2006,
Maipo Valley, Chile, 12.5% D. #414185 $9.20 (Tasted May 08, 2007)


A General listing described as "Light yellow straw colour; aromas and flavours of gooseberry, herbs and green apples; dry, light- to medium-bodied with softer acidity; with a soft finish. Serve with seafood; shellfish, chicken, white meat with herb stuffings." Notes from the Tarapaca website are "Shining yellow with greenish hues. Intense citric, white flowers and pineapple aromas. Well balanced, fresh, fruity, pleasant and light sweety finish. Easy drinking wine." My notes: A light nose of gooseberry and apple. Flavours of gooseberries and a well developed creamy texture smoothing the tart edge then finishing quickly with some citrus, some oiliness and some straw on the palate. A commercial drink-now, quite quaffable and was OK with grilled chicken breast, yams and mashed potatoes - a one dimensional white to go with the price. There shouldn't be any objection to a few soaking in a tub of ice at a house warming or summer block party.

'LA CUVEE RENE DOPFF'
DOPFF & IRION PINOT BLANC 2003,
Alsace, France, 12.5% D, #021550 $17.95 (Tasted May 6, 2007)


A Vintages release on February 17, 2007 described as "René Dopff, for whom this wine is named, originated Dopff & Irion's dry, crisp house style. This 2003 Pinot Blanc is a fine, flavourful example of that vision. The aromas here suggest pear and apple. Dry with a good balance and heft to the lengthy finish. Enjoy this white with stuffed pork tenderloin." My notes: The Dopff & Irion website lacks descriptions of their wines or of vintage years and it appears to be a traditional family that's gone commercial (imho). The nose, though almost nonexistent, is a honeyed lemon-pineapple. A straw yellow colour with straw, apple and fresh citrus on the first sip with remnants of dry lemon and straw, some may say mineral, in the finish. Light-bodied, a soft creaminess and a just detectable sweetness masked by a light tartness. It's little wonder this is still on the Vintages shelf.... although an OK but commercial drink-now, it's not cellarable and not a value. Personally, I think it was past its best-before date when it was released by Vintages. If you already have a bottle pair with something sweet and sour or delicately flavoured: asian chicken, a bento box of tempura yams, brocoli flowers and shrimp, coconut shrimp, etc.

MISSION HILL FIVE VINEYARDS PINOT BLANC 2006 VQA,
BC Canada, 12.0% D, #300301 $17.15 (Tasted May 06, 2007)


Listed as 'Grand Reserve' on the LCBO website and described as "Pale golden straw colour; green peach, melon and herbal aromas; lively lemon and apple fruit on the palate with a clean, crisp finish. Serve as an aperitif or with fresh water fish; tapas." The website says "Crisp and refreshing with lively ruby grapefruit and pineapple flavours that combine for a fresh clean finish. To highlight these vibrant fruit flavours, we chose not to age in oak." My notes: 'Five Vineyards' is the entry level brand and 'Reserve' is one up. There is no mention of 'Grand Reserve' on the Mission Hill website. This has a lemon and apple fragrance with equal parts fruit blossom florals. The colour is a light yellow and the initial sip wakes up the taste buds. A slight roundness with mostly lemon and white peach flavours finishing with some crushed seeds with equal pith, clean tartness and a hint of fruit sugar. This is a pleasant sipper although the finish may benefit from an appetizer or two: a cocktail sausage, a shrimp ring selection, or cheesy bruschetta. It was great with grilled chicken breast kebobs, salad and lightly broiled foccacia. A full flavoured pinot blanc and primarily a drink-now - but it would be interesting to see where it goes after twelve months cellaring. Do the acids start to smooth out? Does the floral remain with the fruit? I think they all could. A good value.

FONTANAFREDDA 'MONCUCCO' MOSCATO D'ASTI 2005, Piedmont, Italy, 5.5% M, #673277 $19.95 (Tasted May 04, 2007)


A Vintages release on April 28, 2007 and described as "Light and lively, this gently sweet frizzante wine is filled with perfumed aromas and tropical fruit flavours. Enjoy it chilled (or on ice as the Italians do) as an aperitif or dessert wine. The website says "... lovely straw-yellow colouring with golden highlights, but above-all in the explosion of aromas that are strongly reminiscent of the smell of the muscat grapes... hints of ripe pear, white peach, honey, locust tree, linden and orange blossom, sage and lemon. Thickness shows mainly on the palate, with a mouth-filling sensation that nicely balances the sharp freshness and remaining pétillant prickle of the fermentation. Highly persistent, it clearly conjures up the light and warmth of just-picked bunches of ripe muscat grapes. Very enjoyable on its own, it is also a perfect match for many types of dessert, including elaborate sweets." My notes: A crisp lemon birthday cake icing nose and a light straw colour with spritzy texture. A full pear, apple flavour like munching cool muscato grapes where sweetness is perfectly balanced with a tart tingle. An off-dry with a finish fading slowly waiting for the next sip. A refreshing sipper for the summertime. by itself or as an introduction to a tray of chocolate wafers. Splash some over orange and peach slices with a lime sorbet. For this type of quaffer, a good value.

NCT WINERY RIESLING 2005 VQA, Niagara, Canada, 11.3% MD, #040683 $14.95 (Tasted May 03, 2007)

A Vintages release on April 28, 2007 described as "Pale straw, lime tint. Nose is minerally, spicy, mint leaf, lime with a taste that is off-dry, lime, peach flavours – unusual for Riesling but intriguing; good length. Drinkability: now to 2009. (Tony Aspler, Oct. 2006)" The website says "Riesling (85%) with a touch of pinot gris and muscat. Harmonious, off dry, with a delicate nose of citrus, almond and subtle ginger. The flavour is full with lots of fruit and a subtle flinty minerality. Lots of lingering flavour with a lovely lemondrop finish. " My notes: A soft yellow with an almost imperceptible 'lime tint'. Aromas of apple and lime, as in the flavours. Light-bodied with fresh acidity, a natural apple sweetness and a finish buoyed by a light green apple tartness. I didn't get petrol nor floral in the nose although there is an overall delicate naturalness in the nose, body and flavour - as I find in most NCT wines. A less aggressive, off-dry riesling drink-now. Not for cellaring. My recommendation is to save a few for a hot summer day with a slice of lime or lemon and an ice cube.

ANGOVE'S VINEYARD SELECT RIESLING 2005, Clare Valley, Australia, 13.0% XD, #597054 $18.95 (Tasted May 03, 2007)

A Vintages release on March 3, 2007 described as "Well made Riesling from Australia's Clare Valley is one of the world's most versatile, food-friendly wines, and this is certainly a well made rendition. Based on vivid fruit with green apple and lime notes, it is dry but very expressive in aroma and flavor. Zesty acidity lifts and freshens the fruit and greatly prolongs the finish, making this a great warm weather sipper but also a promising partner for a very wide range of foods. 88/100 (Michael Franz, April 26 2006)" The website describes this vintage as "2005 looks set to rival the great wines of the recent 2002 vintage" - and the wine "... pale yellow with green hues, and the aroma displays lime and lemon characters combined with floral undertones. On the palate the crisp acidity for which Clare is renowned shines and frames the clean, vibrant fruit flavours to their best. This wine will age gracefully over coming years. Enjoy with grilled octopus, antipasto or tapas." My notes: A nose of strong petrol, air for twenty minutes for a milder whiff, with mixed citrus florals and a touch of spice. Flavours of green apple and limon leading to a lip smacking finish. Tart without being a tooth-cleaner, higher in alcohol than a German riesling and leaves warmth, dryness and astringency on the palate. I preferred it with nibbles than by itself... better still with salmon pieces in risotto. Cellaring for a year or two should smoothe out its ascerbic nature and integrate flavours, textures and aromas - seems disconnected right now.

REDBANK 'THE LONG PADDOCK' SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005,
Victoria, Australia, 12.5% D, #635714 $13.00 (Tasted May 02, 2007)


A General listing described as "Pale straw colour; passionfruit, gooseberry, citrus, asparagus and herbal notes on the nose; dry, medium bodied on palate with soft fruit, creamy mouthfeel and melon notes, a medium finish; an easy drinking wine. Serve with vegetarian dishes, green bean salad, herbed dishes, or chicken pasta in a cream sauce." The winery says "2005 was excellent for Sauvignon Blanc in Victoria. Long cool ripening led to highly aromatic fruit, with great depth of flavour... [The] 2005 has a lifted nose of tropical fruits, spice and gooseberry. It has a layered rich palate of gooseberry, citrus and passionfruit. The weight of fruit on the mid palate is balanced by crisp zingy acid, which gives freshness. It has lovely length and finishes with spice and tropical fruits." My notes: Has an 'off' aroma something like sewage along with an equal scent of gooseberries. The colour is light blond and flavours of lemon lime, a soft roundness and leaving a distinct dryness on the palate. Finishes with a light lime lemon. Flavours and acids are not firm enough for most entrees... was marginal with pancakes, bacon and blueberries - should be OK with a mild seafood risotto. A drink-now ... not for cellaring and, even at the price, not a value.

HEATH 'LIZARD FLAT' CHARDONNAY VERDELHO TETRA PAK 2005,
South Australia, 13.2% D, #020610 $13.15 1000mL (Tasted May 01, 2007)


A General listing not described on the LCBO nor winery websites. David Lawrason's Wine of the Week (Toronto Life, March 19, 2007) rates it three (of 5) or 83-85/100 saying "What I expect from a Tetra Pak—a lively, fresh and simple white wine to take on a summer picnic or fishing expedition. The high acid verdelho grape is key to its vitality. Shows clean, almost floral lemony, kiwi and pineapple fruit in a light, crisp yet slightly sweet texture. Finishes thin but it is appealing. I have tasted this twice; impressed both times." My notes: Nothing for this blend on the Heath website and 'lizard flat' appears to be the entry level brand - likely even amounts of chard and verdelho. A mid straw colour bright in the glass and a nose that reflects fresh lemon and pineapple. A very bright edge sets up the palate for deep battered fish and chips, grilled chicken or pork souvlaki, even bacon on a bun. Flavours of lemon-lime, green apple and a finish of lemon and peach stones with a round mouthfeel. Could be a waker-upper as a patio sipper served well chilled or 50 50 mix with soda. An almost dry drink-now - the packaging makes for interesting conversation while skinning your fingers on the tiny plastic cap removing it the first time. An economical summer refresher.

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