Thursday, November 01, 2007

November Whites(10): Australia Chard; Canada Chard, Ries(2); Chile Blend; France Pin Noir; Italy Prosecco, Soave; NZ Sauv Blanc; S Africa Chard;

VILLA MARIA PRIVATE BIN SAUVIGNON BLANC 2007, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5% D, #426601 $16.95 (Tasted November 25, 2007)
A General listing described as "Pale straw colour; intense aromas of gooseberry, lime, grass and asparagus; dry, medium bodied, crisp acidity, and flavours of bell pepper, gooseberry citrus; clean, crisp finish. Serve with goat cheese dishes, vegetarian fare or herb roasted poultry." VH of Winecurrent gives it four and one half (of 5) saying "The '07 vintage is fabulous, and so is this wine. It delivers pungent aromas of passion fruit, nettles and hints of tropical fruit. The fruit-forward flavours are quite racy with gooseberry, pineapple and lemon-lime to the fore. The texture is fabulous, oily and medium-bodied, while the finish is full of vim and verve—loads of citrus and herbaceous flavours." My notes: A prominent gooseberry and nettles nose, delectable, fills the glass and a crystal clear, light straw colour. Silky smooth, round on the palate and an unctuous tartness from the first swallow. Flavours of grapefruit, ripe melon, gooseberries well balanced and lasting awhile with the fruit fading very slowly. Its freshness invigorates the taste buds. Have with any seafood from raw oysters, spicy mussels, whitefish to salmon, sushi, asian or thai. Served chilled, a super sipper as well as a meal white. Priced for serving frequently rather than saving for those special occasions. Should be able to cellar a year without losing anything. Ww91

Limari Valley, Chile, 12.5% SC6, #046292 500mL $13.95 (Tasted November 21, 2007)
A Vintages release on November 10, 2007 described as "This unique sweet wine is a blend of two explosively aromatic grapes, Muscat of Alexander and Viognier with about 60% of the grapes botrytis-affected. Botrytis is the benevolent 'noble rot' that extracts water from the grapes, leaving the concentrated sugars behind. The result is a complex and elegant nectar that exhibits a mix of honey, floral, and apricot characteristics along with notes of almonds and walnuts. Popular as an aperitif or dessert wine, it would go very well with apple pie and cheese." The website features only the 2007 vintage Late Harvest with grapes from the Rapel Valley and adds some Sauvignon Blanc in the blend. Serve chilled. My notes: The nose has a honey caramel blended with a light spice of wildflowers. The texture is well rounded and familiar to anyone having sipped a Niagara Late Harvest. Has a citric tartness, some orange zest, butterscotch and burnt toast evenly balanced to provide a very sippable flavour mix and finishes somewhat long ending on a sweet note of burnt caramel. Would be great paired with creme brulee, pumpkin cheesecake or poured over pear halves and lemon glace, even better with a mixed cheese tray including goat and Rosenberg blue. A good value. Ww84

Niagara, Canada, 11.5% D, #233635 $14.15 (Tasted November 20, 2007)
A General listing described as "Pale yellow colour; fresh grapefruit and pineapple on the nose with floral notes; dry, light to medium bodied, clean, citrus flavours with refreshing acidity and a crisp; a sense of sweetness on the finish. Serve with fish or seafood, pork tenderloin, smoked salmon, creamy dishes." The winery sources riesling grapes from Twenty Mile Bench (36%), Beamsville Bench (23%), Lincoln Lakeshore (24%) and Creek Shores (10%) and is described as "dry with citrus fruit (lime/grapefruit), rich texture and a steely seam of acidity." My notes: A light gold with a greenish tint and aromas of grassy green apple peel. A strong nip to the first sip, light-bodied with dry unripened grapefruit and light crab apple flavours. Not a sipper unless with fresh oysters or shaved meats. Somewhat lightly flavoured paired with bbq'd chicken breast and veggies... would be better with white fish or scampi and greens. Finishes very DRY overcoming any sweetness and with a tart crab apple edge. I would not repurchase as a social riesling. Perhaps as an aperitif on a hot summer day with a cube and slice of lemon or lime. Not a value. Ww80

Niagara, Canada, 12.0% D, #200501 $11.45 (Tasted November 20, 2007)
A General listing described as "Straw yellow colour; floral, peach, apricot and pear fruit aromas; dry, medium bodied with mineral and light petrol notes; refreshing acidity. Serve with turkey dinner, smoked salmon or shellfish; schnitzel, youthful creamy cheese or veal." My notes: A light blond colour with aromas of green apple, nectarine, slight lime and soft wildflowers. A nice nip on the first sip, medium-bodied, and a slight mineral edge to an apple peel flavour. Comes across as a dry sipper. Finishes with a suspicion of sweetness that, without nibbles, grows to a soft texture then fades to that interesting mineral edge, perhaps a touch of orange zest. Should be great with fresh oysters or a cooled shrimp ring and sauce or paired with seafood entrees: mussels in a garlic and herb sauce, telapia in an orange sauce, arctic char with herbed rice... or even sliced chicken breast and orzo. Could be a staple riesling for any occasion - the petrol isn't distinct which may be a plus for some imbibers. Ww88

Adelaide, Australia, 13.5% XD, #606186 $19.95 (Tasted November 12, 2007)

A Vintages release on November 10, 2007 described as "Slightly edgy aromas of lime and lemon rind with lightly reductive and funky undertones of pear and apple. Fine and chalky, it's vibrant and minerally, with suppleness and layers of texture wrapped in a slightly chalky grip. Focused and funky, with a core of vibrant citrusy fruit, it's restrained and stylish, ready for drinking now or cellaring. 94/100 (Jeremy Oliver, Feb. 19, 2005)." Harvey Steiman of The Wine Spectator (May 15, 2005) gives it 89/100 saying "Aims for delicacy and harmony instead of power, achieving a seductive balance of creamy pear and apple flavors with a deft touch of oak as the finish lingers. Drink now through 2007." Daryna Tobey of The Wine Enthusiast (August 01, 2005) gives it 88/100 with the comment "A buttoned up, classy wine offering peach and fresh corn aromas and flavors. Medium-weight, the palate also has floral hints. 3,000 cases produced." My notes: Quite a range among the quoted reviews in 2005. I often wonder why ratings either aren't more current or where and why the bottles Vintages releases have sat in the meantime. Better served offchill to allow the nose to set up and the flavours to come forward. A light golden colour with peach fuzz and apple fragrances, almost indiscernible. A delicate creaminess and very slight flavours of apple and pear with a faint stalkiness that's equally prominant. The finish has a stemmy streak that takes away from any delicate fruit that may have been... disappointing as a sipper. This didn't hold up well with thai noodles, salmon fillet and veggies. If this were a 94/100 in 2005 it has decayed quickly in the two years. Definitely not a value and not recommended... I should never go by old ratings... wine is a living thing! Ww72

Soave, Italy, 12.5% XD, #626952 $14.95 (Tasted November 11, 2007)
A Vintages release on November 10, 2007 described as "The Soave Borgoletto is... a lean, clearly defined wine with apple and pear fruit alongside the vegetal aromas on the nose and a balance of fresh acidity and tangy flavour on the palate. 2 (out of 3). (Gambero Rosso Italian Wines, 2007)." A UK website describes it as "... the grapes... sourced from several vineyards. Each lot of grapes are vinified separately and then tasted before the final blend is made. This means that the best possible wine is made every year! Super-fresh with a slight spritz, this is top-notch Soave." My notes: Certified as from organically grown grapes and suitable for Vegans and Vegetarians. The website says it's made from 100% Garganega grapes and is to be served at 10C. Cellar up to two years. A clover honey nose and the colour of buttercups but crystal clear, a smooth taste of lemon and light apple comes with a bright nip and finishes dry with a mineral edge, perhaps the 'slight spritz' showing its effect. This makes for a refreshing sipper that cleanses the palate in between nibbles... went well with roasted telapia fillets coated lightly with seasoned bread crumbs and likely would with fresh oysters, mussels in a spicy broth or between bites of bbq'd garlic scampi or honeyed chicken wings. I'd serve to friends or family without hestitation. Ww88

Alsace, France, 12.0% XD, #047258 $16.95 (Tasted November 09, 2007)
A Vintages release on September 29, 2007 described as "The name Blanc de Noirs... refers to the black-skinned grape with white pulp used to make this sparkling wine. In this case, it is made with 100% Pinot Noir. It is a white sparkling wine because the juice is separated before the skins can impart colour to the liquid. This wine would be a great beginning to a social event or will pair well with dark chocolate truffles." My notes: The nose is a light yeast with some dry straw or stalkiness. The colour is a light yellow and there's a burst of bubbles large and small filling the glass on the first pour then subsiding to a steady stream to the rim. Mousseux on each sip and flavours of tart apple and faint citrus leaving a freshening tang on the palate, extra dry with a long finish. Would be great as an aperitif with fresh oysters, shrimp ring with sauce, toasting endlessly or just to sip on a hot summer day. Have with dark chocolate or mascarpone cheesecake with red berry coulis. Anyone liking an economical champagne or a spanish bubbly, Segura Viudas or Freixenet style, will like this. Ww86
MIKE WEIR ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2006, Niagara, Canada, 13.0% D, #000026 $15.95 (Tasted November 07, 2007)
Released by Vintages on October 27, 2007 with a description similar to the 2005 vintage tasted in June. Beppi Crosariol, Nov 17, 2007, describes the 2006 as "Chablis-like... has a firm seam of acid supporting flavours of citrus and pineapple, with a slightly smoky-matchstick note, possibly from bottling... Very nice, lean-style effort." My notes: For the 2005 vintage I noted "A light blond colour and a nose that has the sweetness of pineapple along with the aromas of fresh crabapples. A pleasing buttery texture and mild citrus, apple and honey flavours finishing well balanced between tart and flavourful... I don't see it as 'robust'... " Still produced by Creekside Estates for the Mike Weir Estate the 2006 has a slightly stronger grassiness in the nose that follows through to the flavour tending to override the delicate fruit that may be there. In a side by side comparison there is less cream in the body making the 2006 less of a 'sipper' but still plenty to carry through a meal. The differences between the vintages are subtle. Both have a balanced tartness that pairs well with grilled seafoods or creamy seafood pastas. Cellaring for a few years is likely.... longer, iffy. Not the vintage to invest but for friends and family a definite maybe. Ww84

Italy, 11.5% D, #053215 $19.95 (Tasted November 04, 2007)

A General listing. The website says "A spumante wine produced from Prosecco grapes grown in the vineyards of Valdobbiandene where, agreed together with the local winemakers, a number of agronomic measures have been adopted which have reduced the yield per acre to favor a greater concentration of nose-taste... This spumante wine with its unique consistency, greater underlining structure and distinct complex bouquet is aimed at becoming the symbol of this winemaking territory and not of the vine... a high-quality product the number of bottles produced are limited. Serve at 6-8° C." My notes: The Belcanto line is produced by Bellussi of Italy. A light, crystal clear yellow with greenish tinge colour and aromas of a birthday cake with lemon-lime icing. The bubbles burst into the glass but subside quickly then continue to stream to form a full rim. The balance between natural fruit sugars and tart apple flavour makes sipping a pleasure the sugars being almost unnoticeable, just there to give a smooth creaminess. Apple and pear flavours continue into the long finish, bright on the palate and citrus edged throughout. This would make a wonderful companion on a warm summer patio visit. Share liberally with friends while chatting over snacks of italian meats and breads. Smear liver pate on crackers, salsa on cold shrimp, or rolled ham slices with pickles. My BH says the bottle is gaudy... I say it's italian rococo... its contents go quickly as we debate. Ww91

Coastal Region, S Africa, 14.5% D, #328559 $14.95 (Tasted November 01, 2007)
A Vintages release on October 27, 2007 described as "Fat, round and easygoing, with exotic flavors of sweet peach and tropical fruits; plenty of volume here. Essentially soft chardonnay with lots of smoky, nutty, vanillin oak from start to persistent finish. 87/100 (Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, March 2007)." RP of Winecurrent gives it four (of 5) saying "This is a plush, generously-textured Chardonnay that has bold flavours to match. Look for rich peach and tropical fruit to the fore, with a nice stream of acidity for balance. It needs fairly dense food, so pair it with roast turkey or pork tenderloin, served with a sweet fruit condiment or stuffing." The website says " Ripe fruit and oak flavours integrating well with complex citrus, pear, peach and woody flavours that add depth and dimension. A creamy texture, which holds its fruitiness through to the finish. May be kept for 12 to 18 months." My notes: A light golden colour and a soft oaked nose with highlights of sugary butter. The flavours follow an oaked chardonnay theme with bright caramelized apple and faint lemon. The finish is dry, full, a touch sweet but with lots of butterscotch. A subtle sweetness along with the citric tartness gives this some appeal as a commercial sipper. With bbq'd roasted chicken and lingonberry sauce the flavours fell away when combined food then came back after the meal. Not for cellaring and, personally, although a good price point I wouldn't get it in for friends or family. Ww84

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