MACULAN PINOT GRIGIO 2006, Breganze, Italy, 12.0% XD, #734921 $14.95 (Tasted May 29, 2007)
A Vintages release on May 26, 2007 described as "... Maculan... wines are appreciated for their elegance and finesse. Enjoy this Pinot Grigio with flavourful fish dishes or pasta with a simple sauce and a few slivers of black truffle or a drizzle of truffle oil." My notes: Not much description from Vintages and none on the website makes me think this brand is made for the North American market or for other reasons not marketable to indigenous imbibers. A light lemon colour with a green tinge - serving well chilled slows an aroma of lemon, lime and wild flowers although you have to sniff hard to detect it, but it needs chilling. The first swallow is welcomed with a stiff nip on the taste buds - the flavour and finish is of lemon, sour apple and crushed stems - not unpleasant if you have a cheese selection nearby... or are having a seafood appetizer or entree. Pair with chicken paella, pork souvlaki, chorizo sausage pieces and wild mushroom pasta. Not for cellaring, not a sipper and a bargain only if you are looking for a very dry, steely textured - like my next door neighbour made each Fall - white. For elegance and finesse I'd go with the Sileni . Not a value.
SILENI CELLAR SELECTION PINOT GRIS 2006, Hawkes Bay, NZ, 12.5% XD, #032393 $15.95 (Tasted May 27, 2007)
A Vintages release on May 26, 2007 described as "The 2006 is mostly handled in tanks, but 7% of the blend was barrel-fermented. It’s a ripe-tasting wine, off dry with a slightly oily texture and pear and spice flavours showing very good depth. Three and one half (of 5), (Michael Cooper, Buyer’s Guide to New Zealand Wines 2007)." The website says "The Cellar Selection has a classic peach stonefruit characters, with concentrated fruit on the palate and a soft finish. It is a mouthfilling wine, just off-dry, and well suited to seafood, white meats and Asian food styles. Drink it young or cellar up to three years. The 2006 vintage won the Bronze Medal - Royal Easter Wine Show, 2007 (NZ)." Beppi Crosariol's column (May 26) says "Yet another grape not commonly associated with New Zealand is pinot gris... [this] doesn't disappoint, especially not at the price. It's light to medium-bodied, with a silky texture and hints of pear, peach and flowers." My notes: The Cellar Selection is the entry or 'everyday drinking' level of four Sileni wine brands. Has a pleasing spicy aroma with a delicate grapefruit edge. A very light straw colour, light-bodied, a citric tartness balanced with flavours of crisp grapefruit, stone fruit and a sparse creaminess giving some depth and masking any natural sweetness. The finish has a light grapefruit tang fading quickly but leaving that spice and some warmth. It was excellent with pieces of rotisserie chicken and roasted yam cubes - and should be great with any seafood or Asian fare. Keep lots on hand as a drink-now for summer days on the patio. Cellaring a year should be OK but it's a great sipper now. It's almost an Italian style Pinot Grigio and a very good value.
MOUNT RILEY SAVÉE SPARKLING SAUVIGNON BLANC 2006, Marlborbough, NZ, 14.0% XD, #032326 $22.95 (Tasted May 26, 2007)
A Vintages release on May 26 described as "Sparkling wine made from Sauvignon Blanc is very rare. Now in its second vintage, Mount Riley’s unique Savée is made using the traditional method. It’s bottle fermented, but only for a few months before disgorgement. The result is a bubbly with a racy, aromatic Sauvignon character expertly balanced by a hint of bready/toastiness. A great fizz for seafood dishes." The website notes "Pale lemon, straw with a fine bead. Powerful and fresh with aromas of gooseberry and capsicum with underlying heraceousness. Has a fresh and lively palate with a fine mousse. Full flavoured and finely balanced with zesty acidity. Good length and a crisp clean finish. Have within 18 months of vintage." Beppi Crosariol's column (May 26) lists it as a NZ pick saying "Grapefruit is the predominant flavour... a refreshing bubbly, with a creamy texture, delicate mousse and hints of pear, toasty bread and flowers." My notes: A light golden straw colour, lots of large bubbles settling to a regular burst and a firm, fine spritz throughout. A gooseberry and nettles nose, a gooseberry tang with tart white grapefruit, a clean, dry, crisp body, with a steely edge. The gooseberry sets up a luscious finish, long with the faint scent of wildflowers. 'Creamy' or 'toasty bread' it's not. Should be great with fresh oysters on the half shell, or with seafood appetizers, eg. butter brushed halibut skewers or scallops generously wrapped in side bacon. A different varietal bubbly and if you like NZ sauvignon blanc you'd love this as a shift from the regular champagne. A real value given these provisos.
TAWSE 'ROBYN'S BLOCK' CHARDONNAY 2003 VQA, Vineland, Canada, 14.1% D, #Winery $48.00 (Retasted May 25, 2007)
My notes: Last tasted June, 2006. Now is a deep golden colour and a toasty butterscotch nose, balanced with lemon, melon and pineapple. Full-bodied, a pleasing tart edge, very smooth and flavours of a light lemondrop, mango, butter and caramel. The finish is moderately long leaving the silky taste of butter on the tongue. This can be served off-chill although has more sparkle if kept icy. Expensive for an old style chardonnay but doesn't have the burnt straw taste of overoaking. My preference is for a lightier and fruitier approach although once in awhile 'old' is elegant which this is. Sip as a chilled aperitif - perhaps one ice cube? - it's full enough. Pair with spicy mussels, seafood paella, or bouillibaise - a special chard for the right occasion. It's difficult to imagine this improving with additional cellaring - caramel may go treackly, silkiness may migrate to oil, and the remaining fruit may be lost. Not all at once... and which comes first is a guess. Sipping well now and it's my last bottle.
MUMM CARTE CLASSIQUE NV, Champagne, France, 12.3% D, #308064 $53.15 (Tasted May 20, 2007)
A General listing described as "Medium straw colour; buttery, candied lemon nose; rich citrus flavours with a clean, fruity finish. Serve as an aperitif or with smoked salmon; creamy soups." Sparkling Direct (Online distributor) describes the Classique as "Deep golden yellow, with amber tints... dense, lively bubbles form a generous foam. A rich fruity flavour develops, with sweet aromas of peach, pear and exotic fruit, combined with discreet hints of honey and vanilla. Remains smooth and well-rounded throughout, with the harmonious presence of a fresh acidity. A fruity blend of mature reserve wines in generous dosages gives this Demi-Sec champagne all its variety and character." My notes: A blend of pinot meunier (50%), pinot noir (35%) and chardonnay (15%). A toasted peach colour with aromas of toast, peach and green apple from a burst of large bubbles settling into a steady fine stream. Full in the mouth with a flavour blend of peach and pear, tart and creamy and strained through a fine mousse leaving the mouth with the smooth texture of a fizzy fuzzy peach building with each taste. A welcomed sipper if you like an almost dry bubbly. A drink-now... not likely to change much with cellaring and a value only if you are convinced 'champagne' is the way to celebrate. Have with fresh oysters.
JACKSON-TRIGGS DELAINE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2004 VQA, Niagara, Canada, 13.5% D, #623454 $21.15 (Tasted May 20, 2007)
A Vintages release on October 28, 2006 described as "[the] Delaine vineyard produces some of the finest fruit in Niagara. Located on the Niagara Parkway, this 41-hectare site grows limited production, low yield Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer and Semillion. This Chardonnay underwent 100% barrel fermentation and partial acid-softening malolactic fermentation followed by 8 months of barrel aging in new and 1-year-old French oak barriques. The producer recommends enjoying this wine with cedar-planked salmon, steamed mussels with saffron or pork tenderloin." The winemaker, Tom Seaver, says "Brilliant gold in colour, this elegant wine displays rich tropical aromas of ripe grapefruit, fresh green apples and citrus underscored with nuances of toasted oak. Full flavours of pineapple, grapefruit and lemon delicately fold into a creamy, biscuity finish." My notes: The Vintages writeup describes the vineyard and process but nothing about the wine. A light blond colour with a very faint nose of sweet pea floral. The flavours take time to develop - a delicate grapefruit and wet straw with a slippery citrus and mineral finish. Has a moderate tang as a sipper but nothing varietally interesting to anticipate with each sip. Pair with grilled salmon or telapia. However, I would refuse this at a restaurant - not a partner for an 'eat-out' meal. Perhaps this bottle went stale on Vintages' shelf. It's well past cellaring and not a value.