Tuesday, March 04, 2008

March Whites, 2008: 9 Tasted of 9

The following whites have been set aside for tasting this month. 'Taste along' if you want.... or wait for my biased view. Completed tastings are in bold. Cheers, Ww

 (V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other)

  • Malivoire Chardonnay VQA Beamsville Bench 2006, (89-1) - V, Niagara, Canada, #573147 $21.95
  • d'Arenberg 'The Dry Dam' McLaren Vale Riesling 2007, (89-1) - V, Australia, #942953 $16.95
  • Wynns Coonawarra Estate Riesling 2005, (87-1) - V, South Australia, #528216 $14.95
  • Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2006 VQA Okanagan Valley, (87) - V, BC, Canada, #057430 $21.95
  • Valdivieso Chardonnay 2006, (85) - V, Central Valley, Chile, #059691 $11.95
  • d'Arenberg 'The Hermit Crab' McLaren Vale Viognier Marsanne 2006, (82) - V, Australia, #662775 $16.95
  • Terraze Della Luna Trentino Pinot Grigio 2006, (82) - G, Trentino-Adige, Italy, #065417 $15.70
  • Santa Margherita Valdavige Pinot Grigio 2006, (82) - V, Trentino-Adige, Italy, #106450 $16.85
  • Bodegas Navarro Correas Extra Brut, (80) - G, Mendoza, Argentina, #066563 $15.95

EXTRA BRUT, Godoy Cruz, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.0% D, #066563 $15.95 (Tasted March 24, 2008)

A General listing not described on the LCBO website. The Navarro Correas website gives the blend as 60% chardonnay and 50% pinot noir (good trick if you can do it!)... "fruity aromas or pears, apples and citric notes on a bed of toasty almonds and biscuits." My notes: A nose of almond and pear, a mix of large and small bubbles settling to a spritz level and a light blond colour. A nicely shaped bottle and a flavour of apple and pear with a mineral edge, light-bodied, no cream, leaving a brut sharpness with flavours fading quickly. An OK sipper with oysters or shrimp ring. As a bubbly it's priced right and passable in a congenial crowd but not meant to impress. 80

WYNNS COONAWARRA ESTATE RIESLING 2005, South Australia, 12.5% XD, #528216 $14.95 (Tasted March 28, 2008)

A Vintages release on March 29, 2008 described as "A year ago I wrote 'simply needing time to flower and garner higher points' (then 89 points). Over the ensuing year it has done precisely that; while still very fresh and delicate, it has that unique Coonawarra apple blossom and flavour profile, with a long dry finish. Gold medal Sydney Wine Show '07. Drink [to] 2013. 94/100 (James Halliday, March 2007). The back label describes the soil in Coonawarra as "a thin layer of rich, red .. topsoil overlying porous limestone, provides ideal drainage... ' and 'February and March .. 2005 were the coolest ... in ten years. As a result ... a crisp mineral like texture and lifted citrus flavours." My notes: A distinct petrol aroma and a very light blond colour - flavours of light mineral or cold tea and citrus peel complex, the citrus being faint. Has a faint apple floral and grapefruit finish ending with a mineral aspect on the palate. A riesling sipper - not as tart as expected but very dry - better with fresh oysters or a shrimp ring. Paired with chicken breast and roasted mushrooms it stayed in the background so I'd limit this to grilled white fish filets or grilled scallops or steamed mussels. Good value, OK as a drink-now but cellaring for several years may improve. 87

Central Valley, Chile, 13.5% D, #059691 $11.95 (Tasted March 19, 2008)

A Vintages release on March 15, 2008 described as "This mostly unoaked Chardonnay emphasizes pure fruit characteristics with ripe melon and apple flavours as well as notes of cinnamon. Plump, soft and juicy with medium acidity, this generous wine will complement pasta in oil with sautéed shrimp and fresh herbs." My notes: I rated their Reserva Syrah 2005 (#045153, $17.95) 90/100 (October 15, 2007) so thought this a good gamble and, for the price, it was. A clear faint blond with subtle aromas of floral butter... likely needs another year cellaring, not quite developed. Unoaked for sure so might appeal to ABC drinkers if they're not told. As expected no butterscotch but some lees creaminess. These anonymous writeups annoy me - no cinnamon that I could detect... but some melon and apple. Not overly plump, a lightish medium-bodied, juicy with a good acid level that goes well into the finish along with a fresh delicate fruitiness. A refreshing sipper if served chilled. Have with any seafood, sushi, lightly grilled halibut or cod, pea soup with ham pieces even. Cellar for two years but no more. A bargain for a summer quaffer. 85

Australia, 13.5% D, #662775 $16.95 (Tasted March 17, 2008)

A Vintages release on March 15, 2008 described as "Not only did Wine Spectator designate this wine as a 'Smart Buy', it ranked it number 84 on its list of the Top 100 wines of 2007!" and "Soft and charming. A beguiling mouthful of spicy pear and grapefruit flavors that linger with focus on the open-textured finish. Not as rich as pure Viognier, but better balanced. Drink now through 2010. 90/100 (Harvey Steiman, Nov. 30 2007)" Robert Parker gave it 88/100 saying "The 2006 The Hermit Crab is a blend of 70% Viognier and 30% Marsanne. ... delivers floral aromas along with honeysuckle, peach, and apricot. Smooth-textured, ripe, and balanced, this userfriendly wine can be enjoyed over the next 1-2 years." My notes: Airing ten minutes dissipates a wet sock tinge leaving a light almond and soft floral nose. A faint blond colour with flavours of pear and unripe pineapple somewhat refreshing the palate and leaving a long round dry finish. The marsanne has diluted the floral and fruit of a young viognier giving this white, except for its finish, less appeal as a solo sipper. Have with hummus and rye crisps or with a shrimp ring and sauce. Paired with grilled arctic char it held it's own but just. Not for cellaring, a drink-now. 82

D'ARENBERG 'THE DRY DAM' McLAREN VALE RIESLING 2007, Australia, 11.5% D, #942953 $16.95 (Tasted March 19, 2008)

A Vintages release on March 15, 2008 described as "... fresh, floral and citrusy wine is named for d'Arenberg's original Riesling vineyard that is located next to a dam with a history of drying up in particularly hot summers. The extra stress on the vines during these hot, dry years usually meant a very concentrated Riesling with lots of flavour and intensity. Enjoy this refreshing white with Thai food, sushi or crab cakes." My notes: A soft straw colour clear in the glass with fragrant honey and green apple including a spicy twinge for each sniff. Served well chilled there is the bright fruit of a green apple-pear combo, medium-bodied, with a smooth texture overall. Some fullness in the finish tapering off to an appealing fresh fruit ending. An interesting youthful sipper with the dryness and zest for fresh oysters or grilled seafood snacks. As well have with any seafood entree. Should be able to cellar up to two years then see where it wants to go. 89

VALDADIGE PINOT GRIGIO 2006, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy, 12.0% D, #106450 $16.85 (Tasted March 15, 2008)

A Vintages release on October 13, 2007 described as "Santa Margherita was the first to make Pinot Grigio as a purely white wine by ensuring that no pigment from the grape's light pink skin coloured the juice. Pale straw colour with aromas of fresh green apple, and peach that replay on the crisp, dry palate. Our number one selling white wine makes an excellent aperitif, or serve it with antipasto or gnocchi." My notes: A light blond colour perhaps with a green tint and with a soft grassy floral nose. A sharp bite makes this a refreshing sipper better with nibbles of proscuitto and mild cheeses, with bruschetta or with fresh oysters. Medium-bodied with a tart almost oily texture finishing with an almost apple flavour. More appropriately a meal white, have with creamy pastas: mushroom or tomato sauces and clams or scallop pieces, ham or bacon omelette. A commercial drink-now. 82

CHARDONNAY VQA BEAMSVILLE BENCH 2006, Niagara, Canada, 12.5% D, #573147 $21.95 (Tasted March 13, 2008)

A Vintages release on October 13, 2007 described as "This soft and creamy Chardonnay is sourced from Malivoire's Estate and Moira vineyards. Martin Malivoire and his team believe in working in harmony with nature and do not use chemical insecticides, herbicides or fertilizers in their vineyard practices. This wine possesses complex aromas of apple, pineapple, spice and toast. It's dry and well-balanced with luscious fruit flavours and mineral notes with a toasty finish. It matches beautifully with wild salmon or pork tenderloin in a Dijon mustard sauce." My notes: A delicate floral note on the nose from a light blond colour in the glass. I preferred to let the chill ease to 12C+. Flavours of tart apple, pear and a pleasant creaminess builds closer to the finish as an extra dry crispness starts from the first sip. (Could be the basis for an exceptional bubbly - methode traditionale). I found it too lightly flavoured with blueberry pancakes smeared with butter, covered in maple syrup and accompanied by sundried tomato sausage pieces. Should be better with grilled or pan-fried whitefish or creamy mussels - pork cutlet and apple sauce, likely... dijon? don't think so. This may develop into a creamier version with two years in the cellar... not longer imho. 89

RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2006 VQA OKANAGAN VALLEY, Canada, 12.0% XD, #057430 $21.95 (Tasted March 11, 2008)

A Vintages release on March 1, 2008 described as "Mission Hill Family Estate was recently named 2007 Winery of the Year at the Canadian Wine Awards after its wines earned a whopping 16 medals including a Silver for this tantalizing Sauvignon Blanc. Ripe, round and dry, this grassy, citrus infused Sauvignon Blanc is lively on the palate, filling the mouth with pink grapefruit and green apple notes. The mid palate is both rich and mouth watering, revealing a hint of praline and finishing with a zesty lime-mandarin burst (Mark Davidson, Oct. 8, 2007)" My notes: A light gold colour with full but delicate aromas of tropical fruits: gooseberry and melon. Served chilled, 8C, gives the sipper the opportunity for aromas and flavours to change as the glass warms. Medium-bodied, a nip on the first sip with firm fruit and a freshening tang finishing warm, fruity, dry and eventually grassy on the palate. Not quite a NZ but a good sipper. Have with seafood on toasted breads, bacon wrapped scallops, stuffed artichokes or pair with pan-fried whitefish, shrimp or breaded veal with creamy pasta side dish. Cellaring up to two years may give the cream more prominence. 87

Alto Adige/Trentino, Italy, 12.5% XD, #065417 $15.70 (Tasted March 01, 2008)

A General listing described in the WINES 101 pamphlet as "Tastes like green apples." My notes: The scent of granny smiths and a light golden colour with a greenish tint. Served chilled it's very dry on the first sip with slight lemondrop stalkiness. Finishes dry and tart with some roundness as the chill lessens and cleanses the palate. This needs some italian cheese for balance, shaved italian meats or perhaps snack pepper colbassa then quite enjoyable.. For meals, have with creamy seafood pastas, spicy mussels, grilled scallops or shrimp. By itself, not a sipper - a drink-now. 82

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