Wednesday, January 02, 2008

January 2008 Whites(10): Australia Chard; Canada Blend, Chard, Riesling(4); Italy Soave; USA Sauv Blanc, Pinot Gris

STONECHURCH RIESLING 2006 VQA, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada, 12.0% D, #065714 $12.85 (Tasted January 28, 2008)
A straight forward statement on the back label is the only information available, "... committed to producing lifestyle wines with quality and integrity in mind. Enjoy... with cuisine of your choice." Billy Munnelly says " The Riesling is a yummy, off-dry, anytime or party sipper. A cheerful partner for the months ahead... My only word of caution is that... may not appeal to the purist. The ripe, smooth character is more in keeping with something from a much warmer climate. Shades of Yellow Tail!" My notes: A light, clean and clear blond with a tint of green and aromas of melon and tart apple. The first sip has elements of caramel apple and citrus zest neither lemon or lime, the sweetness trying to balance the tartness. The finish has a lingering fading tart fruit and a metallic, almost clean the teeth ending. The texture combined with flavours is a reminder of Yellow Tail but a few dollars less. Serve well chilled as a summer refresher - add a slice of orange or lime and crushed ice. Should be OK with a shrimp ring and most seafood dishes. Not for cellaring - a drink-now. The bottle shape is appealing for a social mix - for me, the lipstick sticker is a turn-off - and for a purist it's a commercial 'cooler'. Ww80

REIF RIESLING 2006 VQA, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada, 11.5% D, #111799 $10.40 (Tasted January 28, 2008)

A General listing described as "Pale straw colour; Aromas and flavours of citrus, lime, ripe pear and apple fruit: Dry, light - medium-bodied. Serve with roast pork and apple sauce; ham; chicken; Asian foods." Toronto Life gives it an 84 saying "There is some freshness and charm in this slightly sweet riesling. Typical pear-apple fruit on the nose, plus a squeeze of lemon and youthful wet wool character that should evaporate within a few months. Light to medium bodied, loose and juicy with good length." My notes: A perfumed aroma of honeysuckle, apple and apricot from a clean and clear slight blond colour riesling. Served between 8C and 12C it is light-bodied with a nip on the first swallow an apple flavour blended with slight pear, no petrol and no wet wool nor sweetness present but nicely balanced. The nip and apple carry through to the finish, quite long and refreshing to the palate but with a flabby side. Not imposing as a sipper adding delicate flavours and aroma, dry without being overbearingly tart. Went well with a Thai red curry chicken and jasmine rice. A bargain white. Ww86

Various, Canada, 12.0% D, #223230 $7.70 (Tasted January 26, 2008)

A General listing described as "pale golden straw colour. Ripe pear aromas. Light to medium-bodied with crisp lemon and pear fruit on the palate. Serve chilled with white meats, cheeses or cold cuts." The website claims "... an elegant blend of popular grape varieties giving this wine a complex bouquet highlighted by herbal and fig characters. The taste is full-bodied with hints of green apples. A smooth, long finish is highlighted by an appealing touch of oak aging." My notes: A Vincor International product, one of fourteen Barrel Select labels, made from juices or grapes from anywhere and any vintage, ie. a ' *Cellared in Canada' product. A light yellow colour with an aroma of overripe pear and a hint of lemon - faint enough to be overlooked if kept well chilled. The flavours are artificial pear and apple with a flabby chemical finish, a taste of chewed grapefruit seeds. A light medium-body and a slight oiliness without a tart side arriving flat on the palate. Not recommended as a sipper nor as a meal white. I found it 'flawed to undrinkable' and would avoid this, and likely the other labels in this 'stable' of drinks. Ww68

Sonoma, USA, 13.8% D, #047787 $19.95 (Tasted January 11, 2008)

A Vintages release on December 8, 2007 described as "The talented, Tasmanian-born Susan Doyle cut her teeth on viticulture in Australia's Yarra Valley. She brings her skill and expertise to the creation of this expressive, fruit-forward Pinot Gris. Displaying rich aromas of fig, peach, spicy pear, citrus and tropical fruit, this white will pair beautifully with sautéed scallops." The website says "... possesses an expressive fruit-forward character, exhibiting rich aromas of fig and white peach. The bright aromas and complex varietal characters of citrus and elements of spice add both weight and interest to the wine. The flavors of peach, spicy pear and citrus are melded together in a rich core, resulting in a round mouthfeel which compliments it crisp, clean finish." My notes: Formally the home of actor Fred MacMurray it is now an E&J Gallo winery not referred to on the website which makes the most of the actor's popularity. A light golden colour and after airing briefly has aromas of stone peach and pear. The body is smooth with long legs showing on the glass and flavours of a light tart apple and pear mix. At 12 - 15c the flavours, texture and aromas develop nicely for a pleasing sipper. Soft and round, and for a pinot gris it's quite full in the mouth. The finish is long, fruit persisting now with a spicy edge taking over. Pairing with seafood dishes, mushroom pastas or cold chicken slices on greens... planked salmon or bacon wrapped scallops. Fruit could fade quickly with cellaring but one more year could be an initial period to see where it's going. Ww88

Margaret River, Australia, 14.0% XD, #048561 $18.80 (Tasted January 11, 2008)

A Vintages release on January 5, 2008 described as "Dubbed 'Margaret River's sexiest new brand', this is the first vintage of the X&Y Chardonnay. X&Y was created to capture a new expression of Margaret River and celebrate what the younger generation loves about the region - the culture, art, surf and great wineries. Flavoursome melon, nectarine and grapefruit give plenty of depth and power; little or no oak. Drink [to] 2010. 90/100 (James Halliday, Sept. 2006)." My notes: A light blond with a faint green hue and delectable aroma of melon, kiwi and grass. The flavours are delivered with a light cream full on the palate with tart grapefruit and butter leaving a nice pucker as a finish, young and fresh. An interesting sipper, perhaps a touch of honey would have topped the sensations but as an XD this is appropriately dry. Have with fresh oysters, a shrimp ring with sauce, spicy mussels or a meal of lobster, halibut, tuna steak, arctic char, or any moderately flavoured seafood. Cellaring for a few years should be OK even mellowing a slight raw edge. Serve to anyone not ABC. This doesn't need sex to sell. Ww90
PIEROPAN SOAVE CLASSICO 2006, Veneto, Italy, 12.0% XD, #946848 $17.95 (Tasted January 8, 2008)
A Vintages release on October 13, 2007 described as "... Owner/winemaker Leonildo 'Nino' Pieropan works magic, vintage after vintage, with his blending of Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave. The Garganega gives structure and acidity to the wine, but it is the Trebbiano di Soave that gives it perfume and richness. Trebbiano di Soave bears little relation of the rather bland, unloved, basic Trebbiano grape and, in fact, is also rather rare. Try this wine with a variety of seafood dishes or fall salads." My notes: A light golden colour with faint aromas of crisp pear and honey citrus. A silkiness on the first sip is counterbalanced by a dry nip, medium-bodied with flavours of stone fruit and crab apple. The finish is long carrying mostly the crabapple including some crushed stems. After a few sips it becomes not a sipper. Must-have appetizers are oysters, mild cheeses, bacon on a bun, shrimp or scallop skewers, spicy mussels. Was great with grilled telapia and teriyaki noodles. Cellaring isn't there for this white - a drink-now. Ww84

Niagara, Canada, 12.9% D, #053520 $13.85 (Tasted January 7, 2008)
A Vintages release on January 5, 2008 described as "This is a ready-to-drink, crowd-pleasing Chardonnay with juicy fruit flavours balanced by crisp acidity. There's no oak here, so the pure pear and apple flavours shine through. Enjoy as an aperitif or serve it with poached salmon in a creamy cucumber sauce." My notes: A distinct golden colour with aromas of lemon drops and pear. Long legs give away the full creaminess and a tart edge leads into faint flavours of apple. Finishes long and silky with mostly citrus flavourings and somewhat flat. Can be a sipper, not toasty nor caramel-ly as an oaked chard but clean and full. Pairing with seafoods, salmon steaks, shrimp skewers well garlic'd and roasted, roast chicken legs with a lemon risotto, etc. Cellaring for a few years should reveal where it's going - I don't think longer - and for an unoaked the release seems a few years too late. An OK value - but not recommended. Ww82

Sonoma, USA, 13.5% XD, #036558 $20.95 (Tasted January 6, 2008)
A Vintages release on July 21, 2007 described as "This Sauvignon Blanc is made in a modern style reminiscent of the Kiwi versions. Its aromas of asparagus, fresh cut grass, lime peel, lemongrass and sweet pea are matched with flavours of grapefruit and passion fruit. Try this with steamed mussels, grilled pork chops, summer salads or swordfish." My notes: An E&J Gallo winery. A mid golden colour, bright and clean in the glass. Aromas of faint pineapple, nettles and dry grass with a nice nip, a firm roundness and flavours of lemon mellowed by stone peach and melon. Finishes refreshingly with remnants of lemon and stone peach - didn't get the 'passionfruit'. The Kiwi richness of the past may have slipped by with this one although it has an appealing texture and body for sipping. Pair with seafood dishes, chicken slices on green salad or cold pork. Not for cellaring. Ww82

Niagara, Canada, 11.5% MD, #557165 $14.95 (Tasted January 3, 2008)
A Vintages release on September 15, 2007 described as "The grapes for Pelham's Reserve Riesling are sourced from select vineyards with vines that are, at a minimum, 15 years old. The grapes are left on the vine well into October to allow them to achieve maximum ripeness. The wine shows flavours of ripe grapefruit with floral accents and balanced acidity. A great match for a thick, pan-seared pork chop topped with caramelized apples or pears." The website quotes Gord Stimmel of the Toronto Star, September 26, 2007, "Love the regular Pelham dry, but this Off-Dry shows a lingering lushness from late-harvested grapes. Aromas and flavours of beeswax, lime and cling peaches with a hint of clementines. Ripe summer peach comes to the fore on the finish. Think turkey or glazed ham, but also sweet potatoes due to this winter's natural sugars. 89/100". My notes: A faint straw tone and aromas of light peach and straw mix. Light-bodied with a nip to balance the sweetness, a slight flavour of lime and peach blend almost interesting - rather just there. Finishes with a dry and light clementine aftertaste building with each sip. Overall this is an OK sipper and the extra body of this versus the HofP dry riesling (#283291) works better with mild seafood dishes. However, I wouldn't get it in for guests. Ww84

Niagara, Canada, 12.0% D, #283291 $14.95 (Tasted January 2, 2008)

A General listing described as "Mid-yellow/straw colour; melon, apple and grapefruit with a hint of spice; grapefruit, apple and spice on the palate; intense yet refreshing acidity followed by a clean finish. Serve with shellfish; smoked salmon; creamy pasta." The website quotes the Wine Enthusiast Magazine, September 2007, "A soft and elegant nose of apple and citrus, followed by a dry and spicy palate, recommend this reserve wine from Pelham. 84/100" My notes: A light golden colour with aromas of nettles, spring apple and grapefruit. Light-bodied, dry with flavours of delicate citrus and not much else. The finish lasts awhile but starts with a light acid, a dryness and fades from there. An uninteresting sipper and insufficient fruit, acid or body as an accompaniment for even mild seafood dishes. Not for cellaring. Ww78

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