Sat 16 Aug 2008
Just to show you that we’re not only about wines that cost $200 a bottle, as we wrote about yesterday. These will be more in tune with the pocketbooks of real people, like you and me.
*Oak Grove “Reserve” Sauvignon Blanc 2007, California. This is fresh, clean, delicate and dry; peach and pear flavors are mildly herbal and grassy, faintly floral, all set into a pleasing texture that balances moderate lushness with crisp acid. A touch of bitterness buoys the finish. A nice aperitif or to serve with light picnic fare. Good+, and certainly worth about $8.
*Kendall-Jackson Vintners Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2007, California. Though the designation is California, 93 percent of the fruit for K-J’s Vintners Reserve Sauvignon Blanc ’07 comes from Lake County, the rest from Mendocino and Sonoma counties. And it’s a blend of 95 percent sauvignon blanc grapes, 4.4 percent semillon, and 0.3 percent each viognier and muscat canelli. And, 8 percent of the wine was fermented and aged in new oak, though we are not told what kind or for how long. I don’t mean to overwhelm readers with technical information, but I want to point out that K-J winemaker Randy Ullom spends considerable amount of time working on the details of the Vintners Reserve wines, trying to give them personality as well as a soupcon of character. The result here is a wine that’s incredibly clean and bright and refreshing, bursting with snappy grapefruit, lime zest and gooseberry scents and flavors with a touch of melon and pear. Dried thyme and tarragon (and a hint of honeysuckle) weave their way through the wine, which finishes with an explosion of spice and limestone. Very Good, and A Bargain at about $11.
*Nobilo Pinot Gris 2007, East Coast, New Zealand. About $13. Nobilo’s Pinot Gris ’07 spends three months in oak, and you feel it in your mouth like a soft burr (yielding a lovely texture), in the way (if we can use a metaphor from a vastly different medium) that ink spreads delicately yet irrevocably through the lines on an etching plate. I don’t mean to make the wine sound dark and heavy; it is, rather, clean and fresh and delightful, with bright lemon-lime and lemon curd flavors permeated by dried Provencal herbs and potpourri and, on the finish, hints of spice and limestone. This is a bit more serious than most people are prepared for in a pinot gris (or pinot grigio), but it’s definitely worth trying. Very good+ and A Bargain at about $13.
*Climbing Chardonnay 2007, Orange, Australia. The high-elevation Orange region is about three-and-a-half hours drive west of Sydney. This is an extremely attractive chardonnay. Partially barrel-fermented and then aged six months in new French barrels, the wine bears its oak lightly, in the form of spice and smoke and a suave texture leavened by crisp acid and mineral elements. It’s clean and crisp, well-balanced and tasty with grapefruit and pineapple flavors that open to hints of roasted lemon and mango. Bottled with a screw-cap for easy opening. Very good+. About $15.
*Morgan Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Monterey. Always one of the best. Fifteen percent semillon grapes give the wine’s bright lemon, lime and grapefruit flavors a touch of leafiness and spiced fig. It’s notably clean and crisp, deftly balanced between ripe fruit and tartness; there’s a definite new-mown-grass quality, but the wine avoids overt “grassiness.” Hints of peach and melon come up after a few minutes in the glass; the finish is dense with grapefruit and limestone. A large portion of the wine, 85 percent, spends three months in French oak, but only 8 percent of the barrels are new, so the wood influence is almost subliminal. Excellent, and Great Value. About $15.
*Lee Family Farm Silvaspoons Vineyard Verdelho 2007, Alta Mesa. The Lee Family Farm is a pet project of Dan Lee, long-time owner and winemaker for Morgan. Alta Mesa is a subregion of the Lodi AVA (American Viticultural Area); it’s a warm growing area with cool late afternoons, well-suited to the Portuguese verdelho grape. Ron Silva, owner of Silvaspoons Vineyard, was the first person to plant the grape in California. This version of verdelho is absolutely irresistible. It’s a cool, crisp, almost elegant wine, with lemon curd and lemon balm scents and flavors highlighted by melon and grapefruit. And it’s snappy and a bit sassy, with the fresh attack of green apple and white pepper tapering to pear and gentle spice in the finish. Gentle also is the oak, which is like a soft burgeoning that brings moderate lushness to a lovely texture. Excellent, and Great Value at about $15. Production was 350 cases, so mark it Worth a Search.