Up for Canada Day!
is ABC time (anything but Chardonnay)
in today’s first of summer Vintages release.
Increasingly, this means Sauvignon Blanc. Meanwhile, it seems that many wine
writers classify this wine into two types: pricey stuff for connoisseurs and
cheap stuff for the unwashed. As fond as I am of the refreshing nature of
this grape, some simply don’t like the extremely dry, tart, often bitter,
herbaceous style of well-respected labels, which they say taste like “the screeching sound of chalk on a blackboard.”
those looking for a mellower style will not find it in today’s Vintages
release – nary a single “must buy” Sauvignon Blanc! I had great
expectations after last year’s stunning Peninsula Ridge 2003 Sauvignon Blanc,
but the just-released 2004 ($18.95) is just too tart for comfort!
a recent Sauvignon Blanc blind tasting revealed a trilogy of excellent “grass
free” best buys on the General List. Starting
with California, Turning
Leaf 2003 Sauvignon Blanc (409839)
at $10.95 shows an abundance of fresh, ripe melon fruit. It is dry,
harmonious and perfectly accessible – no sounds of screeching sound of
freshness is essential, the current bottling lot number (LQ251004CC) appears
on the glass about 10 cm above the base and is very hard to see! This is
important because the current shipment of 2003 is even better than what I
tasted some 8 months ago!
on the General List, this time from Chile, is another great destination
del Diablo 2004 Sauvignon Blanc
(578641) at $10.95. This “look
no grassiness” charmer is the
brightest of the three with lots of tangy, white peach and yellow grapefruit
flavours. It comes in a fancy, shiny, black metal tube.
British Colombia, check out Jackson-Triggs
2004 Okanagan Sauvignon Blanc (593111) at $11.95.
This new listing is the biggest with 13.7% alcohol. It is full-bodied and
very zesty with tangerine-citrus-grapefruit flavours and a solid, slightly
peppery finish. For additional information on Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate
back to today’s Vintages ABCs, perhaps the most interesting release today
comes from the sandy vineyards adjoining the French Mediterranean from a
grape called Picpoul.
by local crowds, it is served with overflowing platters of fresh local
seafood. While there is no question that Domaine
La Grangette 2003 Picpoul de Pinet
(653196) at $12.95 would taste
better on the spot, it’s still pretty good here. When freshly opened, the
subtle nose has gently honeyed floral aromas. It is dry, medium-light bodied
and very tangy with ripe lemon-apricot-melon flavours and a slightly bitter,
refreshing finish. Drink soon upon opening, as the fruit tends to dissipate,
as the bottle remains open.
terms of quality, today’s best value white is d’Arenberg
2004 ‘The Money Spider’ Roussanne (656710) at
$18.95 from South Australia’s McLaren Vale. At 14.5%, it stands up and
says hello with its spicy, honeyed, melon-lime-lemon purée nose. On the
palate it is harmonious and mouthfilling with ripe lemon-melon flavours and
a lingering, dried pear-tangerine finish. Perfect with seafood or poultry -
drink it today or let it age for 12-18 months.
it is slim pickings in today’s reds. From Burgundy, I had great hopes for 2002 La Buxynoise Bourgogne
at only $16.95, but found it slightly sour and light-bodied. It
isn’t a destination. Despite this vintage’s reputation, none of
today’s four 2002 Burgundies (from $44.95 to $68.95 range) are worth
drinking at the moment. They are closed and tight! If I had one to buy, it
would be the well-structured Frederic
Magnien 2002 Nuits-Saint-Georges Vieilles Vignes
(586826) at $49.95 with its deep intense purple colour. The complex, spicy,
plummy, red cherry driven, red pepper flavours need time to evolve –
perhaps 2-3 years.
that upcoming Canada Day BBQ, two local reds caught my eye.
The first is Nk’Mip
Cellars 2002 Merlot Okanagan Valley (626416) at
$16.95 would be best with steak. Behind the very deep intense purple colour
is a bright, pomegranate-plum nose. It is very dry, solid and slightly
peppery with plum, persimmon and dried cherry flavours with a cedary finish.
For additional information on Nk’Mip Cellars click
to home is the very fine Jackson-Triggs
Delaine Vineyard 2002 Cabernet/Merlot (989269) at
$29.95. This blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 25% Cabernet
Franc has a very attractive, complex, slightly earthy, plumy nose. Although
still youthful, it is quite rich with ripe plum and red pepper purée
flavours along with a lingering, lime-tinged, chocolate finish. It would be
best with a BBQ steak.
for the best buy red of the release? It is the Vintages
2001 Abadia (935460) at $13.95 from Spain’s
Costers del Segre region. This blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot,
25% Tempranillo and 5% Syrah was matured for 12 months in American oak (50%
new) and a further 6 months in French barrels. The delicious, gently cedary,
bright, ripe plum and cherry flavours would be perfection with juicy, smoky
dessert, a half bottle of Château
des Charmes 2000 Late Harvest Riesling (432930) at
$17.95 hits the spot. This almost mini icewine is a perfect after dinner
sipper or perhaps with foie gras. It has a sweet, honeyed, candied
lemon-grapefruit peel nose. On the palate, the tangy, sweet, ripe grapefruit
flavours are followed up with a spicy, lingering, candied pineapple finish.
June edition of my Vintage Assessments newsletter is now available to
National Post readers for free on my website (click
here to see)
- happy Canada Day!
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