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New Zealand, Familiar and Not

May 15, 2015 8 comments

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc TastingHere is your motivational quote of the day: “open your mind, and discovery will follow”. If you are wondering what the heck is wrong with this Talkavino guy starting the wine post with motivational quote, read on, I will explain.

Today we will be talking about the wines of New Zealand. What is the first wine which comes to mind when you think “New Zealand”? Don’t know about you, but for me it is a Sauvignon Blanc. Closely followed by Pinot Noir. But then there is beautiful Chardonnay, and Bordeaux blends, and Riesling – please, don’t forget the Riesling!

Two weeks ago I attended the New Zealand wine tasting event in New York. The event consisted of the seminar and the tasting, so below you will find my notes from both. But before I will inundate you with the wines and the tasting notes, let me share some general thoughts.

New Zealand wine industry is relatively young. First Sauvignon Blanc was planted in 1973, and first commercial release took place in 1979. [However, the first vines were planted in New Zealand in 1819, and in 1881 Pinot Noir from Central Otago got gold medal in the “Burgundy” category at the wine show in Sydney – but let’s leave it aside for now]. Through the 1980s, Cloudy Bay found its magic, and New Zealand wines spread out throughout the world (definitely in US). The New Zealand wine export had been growing steadily for many years, from 30M gallons of wine in 2009 to the 44M gallons in 2013, also reaching almost US $1B in revenues in 2013. Also, a lot of New Zealand wineries utilize sustainable winemaking methods and use organic grapes (you can read more here).

What I also sense from reading the blogs and listening to the experts is that the New Zealand winemakers are feeling constrained by what they already achieved and are trying to break the boundaries. Few simple facts for you. There are 11 defined wine regions in New Zealand. However, many winemakers believe that this is not enough, and want to define the sub-regions with much smaller boundaries. Such sub-regions are not yet official [I might stand corrected here – according to the New Zealand wine web site, the sub-regions are defined, but I still don’t know how widespread or how official those designations are], but on many labels you can already see designations for the sub-regions, such as Awatere or Waihopai in Marlborough, or Pisa in Central Otago. Different soils, different micro-climates, different terroirs, if you will – all lead to production of stylistically different wines coming from the different areas of the same bigger region.

There is more to this “breaking the boundaries”. New Zealand wine is not only a Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. There are Syrah, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and even Grüner Veltliner and Chenin Blanc wines which are shining. And even familiar Sauvignon Blanc is taking to the totally new territories, by using oak and not only – which leads us to the seminar, so we can finally talk wines.

The seminar was very interesting. It was done in the unusual format. There was no classroom with a head table and presenters. There was a big roundtable (well, it was actually a square), with presenters and winemakers sitting around the room among the participants. But this was not the most unique characteristic of the event. There were 9 Sauvignon Blanc wines presented in the event. And all 9 were … oaked. With the various degree, but yes, all Sauvignon Blanc wines went through some oak ageing process. There was also a 7 years old Sauvignon Blanc wine, which was quite unique for me. All in all, it was very different and interesting. Was it successful? I will defer you to my notes below. Here we go.

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2014 Amisfield Sauvignon Blanc Central Otago (SRP $20)
C: pale straw
N: fresh cut grass, very restrained, lemon notes, minerality, touch of sapidity, interesting complexity.
P: tremendous acidity, more of a Muscadet style, lots of minerality, food wine (oysters!)
V: nice and restrained, Drinkability: 8-

2014 Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc Marlboro (SRP $17.99)
C: light straw, greenish
N: concentrated green notes, more of a fresh vegetables greens in the garden than grass. Touch of sweetness after swirling the glass.
P: very restrained, complex, salinity, white stone fruit, acidity on the finish.
V: Drinkability: 7+

2014 Huia Sauvignon Blanc Marlboro (SRP $19)
C: pale straw
N: hint of gasoline – disappeared after intense swirling. Touch of white fruit, restrained. Hint of lemon. Overall, nose is not very pronounced.
P: tremendous acidity, hint of Granny Smith apples
V: wine finishes nowhere, lacking conclusion. Drinkability: 7-

2014 Neudorf Sauvignon Blanc Nelson (SRP $17.95)
C: light straw yellow
N: non-typical. But may be a distant hint of grass.
P: lemon, fresh, supple, good acidity, nice textural presence. Still, tremendous amount of acidity is coming through, plus tannins in the finish!
V: Drinkability: 7+, okay wine

2014 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Sauvignon Blanc Marlboro (SRP $28.99)
C: pale yellow
N: touch of vanilla, touch of tropical fruit, hint of grapefruit
P: great complexity, restrained, guava, lemon, minerality, grass, touch of tannins, but it is well integrated.
V: Drinkability: 7+

2013 Seresin Marama Sauvignon Blanc Marlboro (SRP $40)
C: light yellow
N: butter, vanilla, butterscotch- wow, is this is a Chard? Pronounced, concentrated flavors!
P: vanilla, butter, more akin to a butterscotch candy, fresh and exuberant! The clearest expression of butterscotch candy of any wines I ever had (bold, I know)
V: it gets 8 (or even 8+) as a Chardonnay and 6 as Sauvignon Blanc. I would be glad to drink this wine – just don’t tell me what it is.

2013 Trinity Hill Sauvignon Blanc Hawke’s Bay (SRP $16.99)
C: light straw yellow
N: very inexpressive. Whatever I think I smell, is a product of my imagination. After 5 minutes of swirling, grass showed up, more of a typical expected SB. Still Very restrained.
P: nice acidity, good with oysters, nice touch of white fruit, fresh and clean
V: Drinkability: 7

2012 Pegasus Bay Sauvignon Blanc Waipara Valley (SRP $28)
C: pale straw yellow
N: complex aromatics, touch of oak, elevated white fruit (apples, hint of tropical fruit). One of the best on the nose so far. Distant hint of grass
P: Elegant, fresh, well integrated acidity, apples
V: one of the best in the tasting. Drinkability: 8-

2008 Mahi Ballot Block Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough (SRP $24)
C: light yellow, doesn’t show the age at all
N: some vegetative notes and fresh salami (yes, you can unfollow me if you want). Some distant resemblance of fruit. On a second thought, it has a Chablis-like minerality. The sausage is off, Chablis is in.
P: most elegant palate in the tasting. Acidity definitely wore off, but the wine is elegant, complex, mellow, just an interesting wine in the style of nicely aged white Rhône.
V: best of the tasting. Very round and elegant. Drinkability: 8.

And then there was a tasting. I didn’t get an opportunity to taste all the wines. Also, as you would expect, I liked some wines more than the others. Thus below are the wines which I liked the most from what I tasted. Oh wait, I still have to explain myself with that “open your mind” intro. Let me do it now, the story is rather simple.

What flavors do you typically associate with the Sauvignon Blanc? Grass? Check. Lemon? Check. Grapefruit? Check. Gooseberry? As Chris Kassel mentioned recently, most of the people who didn’t live in Europe have no idea how Gooseberry smells or tastes, but okay. Check. Some white tropical fruit? Possible and Check. But what about Black Currant? I don’t know about you, but I don’t associate red or black berry aromas with Sauvignon Blanc. But – black currant is one of the main characteristic aromas of Cabernet Sauvignon. And Sauvignon Blanc is a parent of Cabernet Sauvignon. Thus when I heard from one of the hosts talking about the wine “beautiful black currant aroma”, that was a nail on the head! Yes – exactly – the revelation – forget the damn Gooseberry, just open your mind (talking to myself) and understand that black fruit can be associated with white wine (I’m sure the opposite is true). I would honestly say this was my main discovery of the tasting, the revelation.

Now let’s get back to wines. My absolute favorites where Sophora Sparkling wines (simply a wow and an incredible QPR), Syrah from Elephant Hill, Chenin Blanc from Astrolabe, Sauvignon Blanc from Saint Clair, Doctors Grüner Veltliner and Lake Chalis lightly fizzed Sauvignon Blanc – all shown in blue below. But all in all, lots of delicious wines in the tasting. All prices are suggested retail as listed in the brochure. Let’s go:

2014 Amisfield Sauvignon Blanc Pisa, Otago ($20) – +++, clean, restrained
2013 Amisfield Pinot Gris Pisa, Otago ($25) – +++, nice touch of oak
2011 Amisfied Pinot Noir Pisa, Otago ($35) – ++1/2, nice balance, still needs time
2012 Amisfied Pinot Noir Pisa, Otago ($35) – +++, elegant, round, touch of green notes

2014 Ara Pathway Sauvignon Blanc Waihopai, Marlborough ($16.99) – +++, very good, traditional
2013 Ara Pathway Pinot Noir Waihopai, Marlborough ($18.99) – ++1/2, nice, clean
2014 Ara Single Estate Sauvignon Blanc Waihopai, Marlborough ($19.99) – +++, clean, balanced
2013 Ara Single Estate Pinot Noir Waihopai, Marlborough ($23.99) – ++1/2, very good, tannins, needs time

2012 Astrolabe Province Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough ($23) – +++, excellent, black currant, perfect balance
2014 Astrolabe Province Pinot Gris Marlborough ($23) – +++, beautiful aromatics
2012 Astrolabe Province Pinot Noir Marlborough ($28) – +++1/2, excellent!! Best of tatsing?
2013 Astrolabe Vineyards Chenin Blanc Wrekin Vineyard Southern Valleys, Marlborough ($22) – +++, concentrated, Vouvray-like, excellent, creamy

NV Sophora Sparkling Rosé Hawke’s Bay ($16) – +++, wow! beautiful – aromatics and structure of the classic Chgampagne. Outstanding QPR
NV Sophora Sparkling Cuvée Hawke’s Bay ($16) – +++, equally excellent as the previous wine

2012 Domaine-Thomson Surveyor Thomson Single Vineyard Pinot Noir Lowburn, Otago ($44) – ++1/2
2011 Domaine-Thomson Surveyor Thomson Single Vineyard Pinot Noir Lowburn, Otago ($44) – +++, excellent!

2013 Elephant Hill Syrah Hawke’s Bay ($28) – ++++, spectacular! An absolute precision of Syrah with peppery profile

2014 Fire Road Sauvignon Blanc Marlboro ($13) – ++1/2, nice, simple, balanced
2013 Fire Road Pinot Noir Marlboro ($15) – ++1/2, probably best QPR at the tasting

2013 Doctors Grüner Veltliner Marlborough ($18) – +++, touch of petrol, nice
2014 Doctors Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough ($18) – +++, nice, clean, good acidity
2013 Seifried Pinot Gris Nelson ($18) – ++1/2, clean, nice
2012 Seifried Riesling Nelson ($18) – +++, petrol, beautiful
2013 Maimai Syrah Hawke’s Bay ($20) – +++, excellent, dark
2014 Lake Chalis Cracklin’ Savie Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough ($18) – +++1/2, beautiful, fresh, lightly fizzed, very unique. Similar to Moscato in creaminess, but dry
2014 Lake Chalis Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough ($18) – +++, perfect, black currant, beautiful!

2014 Saint Clair Family Estate Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough ($17.99) – +++, beautiful balance
2014 Saint Clair Pioneer Block 18 Snap Block Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough ($26.99) – +++, interesting complexity
2012 Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Wairau, Marlborough ($31.99) – +++1/2, very complex, very unusual
2012 Saint Clair Pioneer Block 16 Pinot Noir Awatere, Marlborough ($17.99) – +++, Oregon-like, very elegant

And we are done here. What do you think of New Zealand wines? What are your favorites? Did you ever associated Sauvignon Blanc aromas with black currant? Until the next time – cheers!

What Do You Think Of Sauvignon Blanc? Take a Poll!

April 24, 2015 17 comments
Sauvignon Blanc grapes, as presented in Wikipedia

Sauvignon Blanc grapes, as presented in Wikipedia

Today we are celebrating 6th annual Sauvignon Blanc Day (#SauvBlanc Day). Sauvignon Blanc, one of the parents of the ever so popular Cabernet Sauvignon, is one of the most popular, noble  and widespread white grapes in the world – it is an equal member of the “Royal Trifecta”, if you will – together with Riesling and Chardonnay.

Sauvignon Blanc originated in France (Loire Valley and Bordeaux), and from there, it spread all over the world. In addition to France, Sauvignon Blanc wines are successfully produced in New Zealand, Chile, South Africa, Italy, Canada, California, Washington and many other places (for example, I recently had Sauvignon Blanc from North Carolina in US which was outstanding).

Sauvignon Blanc is capable of a wide range of expression, depending on where it comes from – from the grassy Sancerre, the acidic Touraine, to the fresh and plump Napa renditions, back to the minerally, thought provoking goodness of Italian wines and to the tropical paradise of New Zealand and Chile – and, of course, everything in between. It can be made into a bone dry wine; but it is equally successful in the form of late harvest, dessert or even an Icewine.

Whether you will be celebrating the Sauvignon Blanc Day by opening your favorite bottle or you have some other wine plans doesn’t really matter. What I want to do here is to take you on the trip down your own memory lane, and ask you to share your favorite Sauvignon Blanc wines with the world. Not necessarily the exact vintage, but at least the producer and the wine. It can be one or five – this is up to you.

Sure, I can go first, if you insist. Not in any particular order – Cloudy Bay from New Zealand, Mara White Grass and Honig from Napa Valley, Jermann, Gaja Alteni di Brassica and Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia from Italy, Anakena Indo from Chile. Your turn now!

Lastly, I want to run a simple poll, just for fun. Below is the list of some of the most popular regions for the Sauvignon Blanc wines – I want you to chose your favorite(s). It is a multiple choice, but I would ask you to limit your answers to 3. If you think 3 is not enough, use the comments section. And if your regions is not listed, please use the same comments section below so I would know what I’m missing.

Happy Sauvignon Blanc Day and Cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage – #MWWC16 Vote, #SauvBlanc Day, WTSO Marathon, Chianti in New York

April 22, 2015 2 comments

Meritage Time!

Don’t have a lot today – but a few things are worth mentioning.

First – Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #MWWC16, “Finish”  concluded with a very modest 7 entrees. All of you, who were busy (or lazy) – and you know who you are – think about it, this is not cool. I really hope you will eagerly fix that behavior for the next time around, or the whole MWWC will be finished. Nevertheless, it is time to vote note – you can do it here.

Last time I reminded you about whole bunch of coming and going wine and grape holidays, so here I will focus only on one – Sauvignon Blanc Day (known in the social media as #SauvBlanc Day), which will be celebrated this coming Friday, April 24th, [hopefully] right in your glass. Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most delicious wines, showing a great range of expression from Sancerre in France to Marlboro in New Zealand to Chile and on to California – it is somewhat similar and ohh so different. One thing in common, no matter where the wine would come from – Sauvignon Blanc always means fun! Festivities will take place all over the world, both on April 24th and onward. On April 30th, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc will be celebrated in New York – information about this event can be found on the New Zealand Wine web site. If you will scroll down, on the same page to the right you will see information about various events taking place on April 24th in New Zealand, Australia, UK and Canada. You should check Twitter and Facebook (look for #SauvBlanc tag) – I’m sure there will be celebrations all over the world, no matter where you are. Most importantly  – pour yourself a glass of delicious Sauvignon Blanc – this is all you need to join the festivities.

Wine Til Sold Out (WTSO), one of the finest purveyors on the great wines at the value prices, is doing “it” again. What “it”? Of course the Marathon! This time it is Magnum Marathon, which will take place on Tuesday, April 28th. WTSO went extra step and created a great information page about all of their Marathons, so now it is easy to learn about what, when and how (and I don’t need to repeat the rules every time) – here is the link.

The last one for today – Chianti anyone? If you like Chianti, and live in a close proximity to New York, you are in luck, as Consorzio Vino Chianti will be hosting Taste of Italy Chianti tasting event in New York on Monday, April 27th at the High Line Hotel. The event will be open to the public – you can find all the information here.

And we are done here. The glass is empty, but the refill is on the way. Cheers!

 

Wine On The Go, Spectacular Pairing, and Some Life Ramblings

January 28, 2015 14 comments

Charlotte airportLife is an interesting thing (wow, what a deep opening thought, huh?). I was supposed to depart at 6 am on a direct flight from New York to Miami to attend the conference. Thanks to much-hyphed-but-never-really-happened blizzard, my flight was cancelled and I was automatically re-booked, now on the flight with the stop, connecting through Charlotte, North Carolina.

Charlotte. You know, there are some strong emotional words which I’m striving to avoid, whether conversing or writing. One of such words is “hate” – and I will explain the connection in a second.

Weekly Wine Quiz #65: Grape Trivia – Sauvignon Blanc

July 13, 2013 24 comments
Sauvignon Blanc grapes, as presented in Wikipedia

Sauvignon Blanc grapes, as presented in Wikipedia

Welcome to the weekend!

We are continuing our white grapes explorations with this new wine quiz. In the spotlight – Sauvignon Blanc.

Sauvignon Blanc is definitely one of the major white grapes in the world. Literally every wine-producing country is making wines out of the Sauvignon Blanc – France, New Zealand, Chile, California, Italy and many others produce wine in variety of style – from unoaked, light, perfectly summery wines to the barrel-aged, round wines with lots of substance and going all the way to some of the best in the world dessert wines.

Sauvignon Blanc originated in Bordeaux, and spread out around the world in the 19th and mostly in the 20th century. The interesting fact is that while Sauvignon Blanc universally retains its acidity and some fresh cut grass notes, the resulting wines are definitely unique based on the region where the wine is made. French Sauvignon Blanc boast fresh cut grass and acidity, both Chile and New Zealand have lemon/lime/grapefruit as cornerstone of their flavor profile. Sauvignon Blanc wines in US typically show those fresh cut grass notes, but have a lot more fruit all around. Italy at the same time is taking Sauvignon Blanc to the totally new level of expression which have to be experienced. All in all, Sauvignon Blanc produces wines worthy every bit of attention.

Now, to the quiz!

Q1: Name the characteristic smell of (usually French) Sauvignon Blanc wine (hint – it is not the fresh cut grass)

Q2: Name [probably] the most famous wine in the world which contains Sauvignon Blanc as part of the blend.

Q3: Which one doesn’t belong and why?

a. Graves

b. Pouilly Fuisse

c. Pouilly Fumé

d. Sancerre

e. Touraine

Q4: One person played a crucial role in making Sauvignon Blanc one of the major California white wines. Can you name that person?

Q5: Below is the list of great Sauvignon Blanc wines and equally great producers. Do you know which producer made which wine?

1. Alteni di Brassica a. Mara
2. Poggio alle Gazze b. Peter Michael
3. White Grass c. Campo di Sasso
4. L Apres Midi d. Ornellaia
5. Mount Nelson e. Gaja

Good luck, have a great weekend and cheers!

Special Tasting Report: Trione Winery

March 19, 2013 13 comments

A few month ago I got an email from Trione winery offering me a gift. Not just any gift – wine. Free wine. Words “free” and “wine” put together sound almost magical for the anyone who drinks wine daily (I refuse to take the calculator out – don’t ask). But the word “free” in the email usually means danger. After careful consideration, and actually looking at the winery web site, I decided that it was not a scam or phishing attempt, so I answered that I would be happy to get a free wine. The only caveat in the follow up response was that they can only ship wine to the limited number of states. Connecticut not included (of course). But New York was. And so my friend Emil became a recipient for the wine.

When Emil called me that he got the wine, he mentioned that the box looks very small. Well, okay – it is what it is – free wine, whatever the package is. And then some time later, the package made it to my house. A small black box, probably half of the shoebox in size. But there was actually wine inside. And this is how it looked like:

DSC_0137 Trione Tasting Set

Trione Winery, which I never heard of before, is a new venture of Trione family who was growing grapes in Sonoma for 35 years. Here is what you can read on the front page of their web site:

For over three decades, the Trione family has raised premium grapes that have been the foundation of many award-winning wines. Now we bring our grapes to you in wines bottled under our own label, Trione Vineyards & Winery. It is the culmination of our family’s long commitment to Sonoma County.”

Here are few more views for you (just trying to build up the anticipation here):

DSC_0143 Trione Tasting set bottles

DSC_0148 Bottles for size

Another interesting detail – it appears that this tasting set consisting of the tiny bottles is actually a concept called Tasting Room. While web site provide literally no information, the card enclosed with the package explained the concept:

DSC_0150 tasting Room concept

The wines are bottled in the small bottles using special technology which preserves all specifics of the wine, so it is exact same wine which will go into the regular bottles. The only exception – the wine in small bottles is not intended for aging (as you can imagine), so as the card says – drink up!

And with this, let me share my tasting notes. Well, not only mine – in majority of the cases we drink wine together with my wife, especially when we are looking at the interesting and unusual experience – so I’m including her tasting notes too.

2010 Trione Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc (14% ABV) – “Pear Grove” my wife said. Some fresh grass on the nose with a bit of grapefruit, but mostly earthy and herbaceous, Earthy and herbaceous on the palate as well, lots of residual acidity, but not “in-your-face”. Food friendly. Interesting. Drinkability: 7+

2010 Trione Russian River Valley Chardonnay(14.3% ABV)  – nice butter on the nose, vanilla. Nose is very promising, but palate is not good, very acidic, no fruit, kind of flat. I’m sure it needs time or at least different serving temperature, therefore it is not rated.

2008 Trione Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (14.2% ABV) – Nice nose of dark fruit, tobacco, touch of roasted meat flavor. Nice palate of dark fruit, raspberries, plums, tobacco, pencil and sage undertones. Good palate, good balance. Very good overall. Drinkability: 8-

2008 Trione Russian River Valley Syrah (14.8% ABV) – Wow color – very dark, intense, almost black. My wife’s notes were “oh, this is good” , “great potential”, “very promising” (disclaimer – my wife loves Syrah, probably her favorite wines). Dark roasted fruit, silky smooth, perfect balance, perfect acidity, cherries, earthy notes. Definitely very promising. Very good overall. Drinkability: 8-

2007 Trione Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (14.5% ABV) – absolutely beautiful nose – perfectly classic, with mint and blackcurrant – textbook flavors. Coffee showed up later on the nose. Wife’s notes: “overpowering , but very yummy”. Big, powerful, silky smooth, noticeable tannins – but excellent balance. Touch over-extracted on the palate, but only in terms of power, not sweetness. Needs time. Drinkability: 8

2007 Trione Alexander Valley Red Wine (14.5% ABV)  – Dark chocolate, coffee, blackberries on the palate, nice complexity. Beautiful, round and open fruit. Needs time. Drinkability: 8-

As you can see, it was a very enjoyable experience (it’s too bad that the bottles were that small) – next time you see Trione wine in the store, don’t just stand there, grab a bottle…

That concludes my special tasting report, folks. Until the next time (hopefully someone will send me good and free wine soon) – cheers!

Disclaimer: the wine was provided by Trione Vineyards and Winery free of charge. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Vines and Music, and not much else…

October 3, 2012 5 comments

Meritage time!

I don’t have much news for you for today – but let me at least give you the answers for the Wine Quiz #31 – A Guessing Game, Ultimate Challenge. In that quiz, you were supposed to match 5 white wine grapes with the 5 reviews. I have to admit – I was not very inventive, and most of the wines I referred to were from France. But it also seems that I got it over the top, as there was only one answer to that quiz – come on, people – this is only a game, there are absolutely no bad consequences, whether you answer it right or wrong! I sure hope to see more answers for the second part of the Ultimate Challenge, which will be about red wines. So the right answers are: A2, B3, C1, D5, E4. Here are the wines and reviews for you:

Chardonnay:

“An enticing, lemony white that is both aromatic and rich on the palate. Apple and mineral notes combine with the lemon flavors that glide to a lingering finish” – Domaine Michel & Fils Mâcon-Villages à Clessé 2011, WS90

Chenin Blanc:

“This has weight and depth but remains stylish, with ginger and glazed pear notes in reserve while persimmon, green almond and piecrust notes lead the way. Lovely cut on the finish keeps the ginger edge echoing. Should develop nicely in the cellar” – Guy Saget Vouvray Marie de Beauregard 2010, WS92

Sauvignon Blanc:

“Gently kissed with toast, giving the core of white peach, lemon and chamomile a broader frame of lightly toasted brioche and paraffin. A suave echo of flint chimes through the finish in this lovely rendering of the toasty style” – Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Étienne Henri 2009, WS93

Savagnin:

“Intensely minerally and smoky, with a blanket of acidity behind the apple, sea salt and anise flavors. The long finish is bracing and powerful” – Andre & Mireille Tissot Arbois Vin Jaune 2000, WS90

Viognier:

“Extremely rich and generous, with ripe, opulent peach, nectarine, apricot and tangerine flavors that are woven together on a full, lush body with smoke, spice, cedar and mineral details and a juicy acidity.” – DuMol Viognier Russian River Valley Lia 2007, WS93

As you can see, first four wines were from France, and the last one was from California. I will try to offer a higher geographic variety with the red wines quiz.

Going for the interesting news, I found one article from Dr. Vino which I wanted to share with you – it is about use of the music in the vineyard – what do you think, can the music affect the vines and lead to better (or worse) wines?

In a kind of “local news” update, I’m in Texas this week, where I will attend the GUSTO Tastings event, called “Texas versus the World”. GUSTO Tastings (which is effectively a meetup group) runs a lot of very interesting wine events here in Austin (lucky for you, people of Austin), and every first Wednesday of the month they conduct a special event where they compare Texas wines with the wines from other regions and countries. Today’s event will be all about Viognier, and I’m definitely looking forward attending it (and meeting  fellow wine blogger @SAHMMelier, who told me about this event) – for all of you who will not be able to attend it, I promise the blog post with all of the details.

That’s all for today’s Meritage – enjoy your Wednesday, folks, and make sure there will be wine in your glass (definitely will be in mine). Cheers!

 

 

 

 

Weekly Wine Quiz #31 – A Guessing Game: Ultimate Challenge, Part 1

September 29, 2012 11 comments

To finish off the wine reviews quiz series, today we are following the steps of the previous two wine quizzes (#29 and #30), only now going to the next level: you will need to match 5 reviews and 5 wines. Actually, that “finishing off” will separate into two separate quizzes – one for white wines and one for reds.

Here are your grape choices:

A. Chardonnay

B. Chenin Blanc

C. Sauvignon Blanc

D. Savagnin

E. Viognier

Here are the reviews. Just to make it a bit easier, note that all the reviews are for single-grape wines.

1. “Gently kissed with toast, giving the core of white peach, lemon and chamomile a broader frame of lightly toasted brioche and paraffin. A suave echo of flint chimes through the finish in this lovely rendering of the toasty style.”

2. “An enticing, lemony white that is both aromatic and rich on the palate. Apple and mineral notes combine with the lemon flavors that glide to a lingering finish”

3. “This has weight and depth but remains stylish, with ginger and glazed pear notes in reserve while persimmon, green almond and piecrust notes lead the way. Lovely cut on the finish keeps the ginger edge echoing. Should develop nicely in the cellar”

4. “Extremely rich and generous, with ripe, opulent peach, nectarine, apricot and tangerine flavors that are woven together on a full, lush body with smoke, spice, cedar and mineral details and a juicy acidity.”

5. “Intensely minerally and smoky, with a blanket of acidity behind the apple, sea salt and anise flavors. The long finish is bracing and powerful.”

Please provide the answers in the form of A1, B2 etc. Bonus question – provide country of origin for each grape/review combination. Double bonus – in addition to country, provide more precise appellation, like Finger Lakes, Oregon, etc (doesn’t have be exact, but it should be more narrow that the whole country).

Have fun, good luck and have a great weekend! Cheers!

Craving Acidity

August 7, 2012 2 comments

I’m not complaining – complaining is futile, as things always can be worse than they are. I’m just stating – this is not my kind of weather. I don’t like it. I don’t like this stuffed hot air, so dense that it can be cut with the knife.

Don’t think cutting air with knife would be very effective. I guess there are better tools for making that hot stuffy air less noticeable. One of the best ones I know is acidity. No, I don’t mean rubbing myself all over with the slice of lemon, or drinking copious amounts of the lime juice. Of course I’m slowly nudging towards the main subject of this blog – wine. And one of the wines which possesses this refreshing, “hot-air-cutting”  acidity is Muscadet from Loire.

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Sauvignon Blanc For Sauvignon Blanc Day #SauvBlanc

June 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Turns out that yesterday was an [International] Sauvignon Blanc Day, as I learned from the post on Bottle Notes. I wouldn’t call this quite “International” yet – it was originated in 2009 by St. Supéry winery in California, to celebrate one of the main wine-making  grapes in the world, Sauvignon Blanc. While St. Supéry run the whole program of seminars and tastings on June 24th, all dedicated to Sauvignon Blanc, this was also a social media event which anyone could join in using Twitter or any other social media outlets.

Sauvignon Blanc is a white grape used in many regions throughout the world. With all due respect to California, I would like to first mention Loire Valley in France, which brings us Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé wines. French Sauvignon Blanc wines typically very dry, with pronounced herbaceous flavors and expressive minerality. The same Sauvignon Blanc grape takes on totally different expression in New Zealand and Chile – very bright, zinging acidity, lots of fresh citrus flavors and some hint of fresh cut grass. Then comes California with yet another take on the popular grape – California Sauvignon Blanc typically much fuller bodied than their counterparts from France or New Zealand, much fruitier and with lesser acidity.

I talked about Sauvignon Blanc wines already a few times on this blog (you can find those posts here and here). This time, I want to talk about some special (and totally unexpected) experience with California Sauvignon Blanc. In general, Sauvignon Blanc wines are not expected to age. They are typically consumed young, may be within 3-4 years of age. When we opened a bottle of 2000 Flora Springs Soliloquy from Napa Valley, a Sauvignon Blanc wine, we didn’t have much [good] expectations – it was more of an experiment – hey, let’s see if this is even drinkable. To our complete surprise, this wine was perfect! Yes, it showed signs of maturity, definitely in the dense dark yellow color of aged white wine,  but otherwise, it was fresh, complex, with lots of white fruit and hint of earthiness on the palate, good acidity. 2009 Soliloquy was one of my favorite wines of last year, it was number 9  in my 2010 Top Dozen list, but still I didn’t expect that 11 years old Sauvignon Blanc will taste so good. Drinkability: 8+.

Sauvignon Blanc is perfect summer wine. You really don’t need to wait for 11 years to enjoy it – and even that we are already past Sauvignon Blanc Day, go get a bottle today and toast summer day and great discoveries. Cheers!