Saturday, December 01, 2007

December Whites (12): Australia Chard; Canada Pinot Blanc, Sauv Blanc(2), Ries; Italy Blend; NZ Sauv Blanc(2); Spain Blend(2), Pin Noir; USA Chard

HENRY OF PELHAM PINOT BLANC 2005 VQA, Niagara, Canada, 12.5% XD, #618827 $14.95 (Tasted December 28, 2007)

A Vintages release on May 12, 2007 described as "Pale water white in colour, this refreshing Pinot Blanc is summer in a glass. Leading with ripe pear aromas on the nose, it?s dry and crisp with fresh pear, green apple and tangerine flavours balanced by a racy seam of acidity leading to a spritzy, clean." My notes: A light straw colour with a green cast and aromas of honey and pear, lightly floral. A nice nip with apple and pear flavours with some crabapple showing in the finish and leaving a slight tang on the teeth. As is it's a refreshing sipper, although a slice of lemon or lime may help this in the summer months. Would pair well with whitefish entrees, lobster pieces, shrimp, or creamy pastas dishes. Not for cellaring. 82

Marlborough, NZ, 13.0% D, #129528 $14.95 (Tasted December 24, 2007)

A General listing described as "Pale straw yellow colour; intense aromas of grass, pear, gooseberry, fresh herbs, with notes of passion fruit; dry, light and clean palate with a zesty, fresh, pink grapefruit, lime; mouth-watering finish. Serve with hors d'oeuvres, oysters, goat cheese dishes, or poached salmon topped with steamed asparagus and hollandaise sauce." The website says of the 2006 "Light straw with green highlights. Gooseberry, ripe capsicum and lemongrass with tropical fruit notes. This wine displays real fruit intensity. The gooseberry flavours meld well with fresh capsicum and underlying nectarine and passion fruit flavours. A well-balanced wine showing the lively, crisp acidity associated with this style... Though made to drink while young and vivacious, this wine may be cellared for up to three years to develop further complexity." VH of Winecurrent gave this four and one half (of 5) saying "The '07 wines are receiving incredible accolades... Savoury notes and herbaceous nettle aromas form the pungent nose of the medium-bodied and gorgeously-textured gem. The robust and focused flavours include herbs (dill and lemon grass), pink grapefruit and passion fruit. The finish is clean and refreshing... " My notes: Listed as 'Montana' but bottled under the Brancott brand for some years. A pale golden with full gooseberry nose, a touch of cream with the first sip which carries the gooseberry, grapefruit and slight nettles well. The finish stays nicely tart, full of fruit leaving a pleasing reminder. This has a reserve that blends well with social sips, light chicken or salmon on greens or grilled whitefish dinners. Cellaring for a few years should be OK. A super value for a well balanced NZ sauvignon blanc. 91

Venezie, Italy, 12.0% D, #530451 $9.85 (Tasted December 22, 2007)

A General listing described as "Pale straw colour; Soft pineapple, green apple with a touch of gooseberry in aroma; good acid, nice weight, slight fruit sweetness in finish. Serve as a great backyard wine; apéritif; appetizers." My notes: A clear light blond colour with faint aromas of lanolin, not much else. The flavour carries a light lime and crabapple with some tartness finishing with a dry tartness on the tongue and a fading lemon edge. Either the vineyard is quite young, the grapes not yet fully mature or 2006 was a cold growing season. I didn't find this interesting as a sipper. Pairing with a lemon and mushroom linguine and grilled trout could help this wine, other combinations may as well but it's a stretch in any case. If chilled well it could be served with a slice of lime as a 'backyard wine' however I wouldn't serve to friends or family. 74

RESERVA RAVENTOS BRUT SPARKLING WINE NV (11.5%) & BRUT CAVA PINOT NOIR ROSE NV (12.0%), Penedes, Spain, #006379 (Duo Pack) $29.95 (Tasted December 22, 2007)

A Vintages release for the holiday season described as "... This gift pack includes two premium Cavas: a complex, full-bodied and sophisticated Reserva Raventós, and a gorgeous pink 100% Pinot Noir, that is bursting with the flavours of ripe summer berries." The Rose (#665372 @$16.95) and the Raventos (#521773 @$10.80) were available locally only in the Gift Pack. When Vintages released the Rose it was described as "... delicious rosé fizz.. brimming with luscious cherry and strawberry aromas and flavours. It is easy to like... " and the Raventos, "... Grapefruit, lemon, herbal tea and floral nuances make for an inviting nose. Mostly citrus fruit in the mouth with good acidity and mousse. Nicely proportioned overall with a consistency of citrus fruit from start to finish... 88/100 (Jeff Davis, Wine Access, Nov. 2004)" My notes: The Rose is a light salmon pink with a sharp nose of leasy cherries. The large and small bubbles subside quickly leaving a minor rim, not frothy. Light-bodied with a good sharpness across the palate, there's a faint red cherry-berry and a slight creaminess making this a bright brut sipper. The finish is clean, dry, and citric. With grilled garlic shrimp and lemon pasta this cut the flavours well refreshing the palate with each sip. Also have well chilled with fresh oysters or cheddar cheese nibbles. An OK value. Ww85
The Raventos is a blend of 25% Macabeo, 50% Chardonnay and 25% Xarel·lo. Lots of large to medium size bubbles subsiding quickly to a steady stream and no froth. The nose shows crisp crabapple against a leasy background. A bright golden colour, light-bodied with flavours of grapefruit peel and crabapple, mostly crab, some grassiness and finishing of faint apple with a steely edge, no sweetness and very little cream. A sipper if you expect a dry sparkler... better with hors d'oeuvres, a shrimp ring with sauce, fresh oysters, a cheese tray or shaved italian meats. Have with seafood entrees or cold chicken on greens. 82

Penedes, Spain, 11.5% D, #053660 $20.95 (Tasted December 16, 2007)

A General listing described on the label as a "Blend of Chardonnay(50%), Macabeo(20%), Parellada(20%) and Xarello(10%). Brut, Pale gold with fine, persistent bubbles. Fresh and elegant aromas with floral notes, in the palate is smooth, intense and balanced. Serve 6 - 8C." A product from the Group Codorniu described as "... launched in honour of the Regent Queen María Cristina of Austria who in 1897 granted Codorníu with the title of “Official Provider of the Royal House”. In addition to the traditional blend of the Non Plus Ultra, this cava has a touch of Chardonnay, which gives it a more modern, balanced and sparkling style." My notes: A crisp light golden colour, every size of bubble foams but doesn't froth. The full aroma smacks of grapefruit and fresh green apple, with just a little yeast to sniff. The grape blend provides flavours of green apple, peach and pear with a noticeable creaminess - the more than a 'touch' of chardonnay behaves very well. A dry sipper that leaves a long finish of creamy flavours making this an interesting addition to a party or celebration... and the bell shaped bottle adds more. An excellent aperitif with fresh oysters or with fish fillets, scampi or shrimp, or after dessert refreshener. I'd imagine this could cellar several years mellowing without losing cream or fruit. A value for a brut of a bubbly. 91

Okanagan, Canada, 13.0% D, #593111 $13.50 (Tasted December 16, 2007)

A General listing described as "Very pale straw colour; aromas of grass, herbs and gooseberries; medium bodied with lively acidity and a crisp finish. Serve with fresh seafood or mixed green salad topped with warm chevre." The winemaker claims of this vintage, "Lush passion fruit, grapefruit, and melon on the palate highlighted with fresh cut green grass notes lead to a crisp lingering finish." My notes: A subdued gooseberry and nettles nose, a lanolin note and a blanc blond colour, crisp, clean, a touch of green. The initial taste portrays a commercial texture, a light oiliness, a faint almond against a background of gooseberry tang. For me, too sharp for a sipper, better with saltine crackers and a pate or with a delicate seafood meal, flavourful but not too spicy. The acid went well with grilled telapia but flavours didn't carry. A drink-now and not recommended. 79

VINELAND ESTATES RIESLING DRY 2006 VQA, Niagara, Canada, 10.4% D, #167551 $13.85 (Tasted December 16, 2007)

A General listing described as "Straw yellow colour; peach, melon, citrus and apple/mineral aromas and flavours; dry, medium bodied, crisp with racy acidity and clean, zesty lemon finish. Serve with grilled chicken breast in a mango salsa, poached salmon or shellfish; spinach salad; goat cheese." My notes: A golden straw colour with a green tint with mixed aromas of mango, peach and lemon - has a zingy dryness from the first taste, and finishes with a citrus crabapple flavour, a soft layer under the lemon coating making this somewhat lip-smacking and refreshing. Have with fresh oysters, cold chicken breast slices on greens, mussels in a curry sauce or pork cutlets and herbed rice. Serve as an aperitif or with a meal. An OK value for a dry riesling - a 'get in for friends and family' type of white. 84

BONTERRA CHARDONNAY 2005, Mendocino, USA, 13.5% D, #342436 $16.95 (Tasted December 15, 2007)

A Vintages release on October 13, 2007 described as "Bonterra uses only organically grown grapes in all of their wines. The nose shows attractive aromas of banana, melon and peaches along with hints of vanilla oak. It's dry, vibrant and packed with fruit and is a 'natural' selection for stuffed red peppers or eggplant dishes." The website says: "An initial impression of rich, buttery cream quickly turns to aromas of honey and lightly toasted almonds, followed quickly by tropical aromas of pineapple and citrusy lemon. The wine is refreshing on the palate with a vibrant tartness and lemon zest... " My notes: A Fetzer Vineyards label... there's almost no nose on the first sip, a colour of light nothing and follow-on flavours of bland melon, bright citrus and a touch of almond, nicely rounded with a luscious follow through. The finish develops further into an abundance of melon, citrus and almond, naturally off dry. Serve off chill, 10 - 12C. Combined with a thin crust mushroom, sundried tomatoes and mild cheese pizza the synergy was excellent. I believe this could cellar a few years to introduce some caramel. A drink-now and an OK value for an almost unoaked commercial off dry chard to be served to anyone, anywhere. 86

Niagara, Canada, 11.3% XD, #067553 $16.95 (Tasted December 10, 2007)

A Vintages release on December 8, 2007 described as "John Howard, former owner of Vineland Estates, has opened a new winery, Megalomaniac.... the aromas are classic Savvy, including gooseberry, grass, passion fruit and fresh basil. Dry and crisp and very refreshing, this is an excellent choice for grilled seafood or with an herb-encrusted chicken breast." VH of Winecurrent gives it three and one half (of 5) saying "This opens with the grassy and herbal notes... The flavour profile of this small production white includes those grassy and herbal ones along with a good dollop of citrus in the white grapefruit and lemon zones. Medium bodied with a brief finish, this is a good match with a green salad under light vinaigrette and crumbled goat cheese." My notes: A Fragrant nose of gooseberry, grapefruit and melon and a colour that is crystal clear blond white. Very dry on the first sip, light-bodied with some cream on the edge, flavours almost unnoticeable of gooseberry, citrus and peach and a finish that leaves the lips and palate slightly parched, definitely extra dry - the flavours build with a few sips then fall away quickly. The main characteristic is its acerbity and if you like dry, is a passable sipper. Have with fresh oysters or with dinner, not too spicy or highly flavoured but moderately so... a telapia filet with mildly curried orzo, asian fried rice and chicken balls, sushi and battered shrimp. A drink-now, not for cellaring. 84

South Eastern Australia, 13.0% D, #093401 $11.95 (Tasted December 09, 2007)

A General listing described as "Lemon yellow colour; fragrant aromas of tropical fruit, pineapple, peach and vanilla oak; dry, medium-bodied with soft fruit flavours; citrus and spice on the finish. Serve with grilled chicken, pork chops; shrimp dishes." My notes: A pale blond colour and aromas of faint honey, straw and pineapple developing slowly as the chill goes - must be offchill to be fully appreciated (10 - 14C), definitely chardonnay in character. Medium-bodied, very lightly flavoured lemon and grapefruit and a smoothness that wraps everything in a creamy texture. Finishes dry, a light oil on the lips and a refreshing citrus. Well worth the price as a House chardonnay. Have with anything chicken from barbecued to creamy pasta, or grilled or baked whitefish, scampi or pork cutlet lightly seasoned. A drink-now with a commercial bent but nevertheless a good value. 85

Marlborough, NZ, 13.0% D, #293043 $15.95 (Tasted December 01, 2007)

A General listing remaining to be described as "Pale straw colour; gooseberry, herbs and a hint of tropical fruit on the nose; dry and medium-bodied with a crisp finish. Serve with smoked salmon, asparagus risotto or herbed chicken." VH of Winecurrent gives it four (of 5) saying "Peach and citrus aromas provide segue to this light- to medium-bodied SB from the famed Marlborough region. You'll enjoy good balance with the flavours of citrus, mineral and white peach perfectly in synch with the moderate weight, hints of melon, and tanginess on the finish. Pair this with mussels steamed in herbs and white wine." My notes: The 2006 was tasted in July this year summarized as '... full NZ flavour and consistency, ... a value for an everyday SB.' The 2007 has a gooseberry nose with a touch of nettles and straw, a pale blond colour and firm nip on the first sip with the tang persisting along side flavours of lemon, gooseberry and lime. The finish is strong on tart, enough to detract from the slight cream and light citrus fruit. Would be great as an aperitif with fresh oysters... or with grilled scallops or garlic prawns... not a sipper by itself. Likely could cellar a year perhaps mellowing the acids, likely not longer. If you like 'sharp' and are having food it's an OK value - although an increase of 70 cents... I preferred previous vintages which had less tart, less nettles and were truly sippable. 82

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