Sat 30 May 2009
Ever full of surprises, LL brought home a container of squid from the grocery store, already cleaned and ready to be sliced or scored and prepared. She found a recipe on the Internet, and this incredibly delicious, succulent dish — squid cooked with tomatoes, onions and garlic, thyme, saffron and bay leaf, with some black olives and flat-leaf parsley — was the result. We slurped this great stuff up last night and scoured the bowls with pieces of the bread I made yesterday.
I wanted a wine, specifically a chardonnay, that would match the flavorful dish, but I didn’t want a lot of oak; like, when do I ever in a white wine, right? So I opened a bottle of the Ad Lib “Tree Hugger” No Oak Chardonnay 2008, from the Pemberton region of Western Australia. Winemaker is Larry Cherubino — “Little Angel” — one of the best winemakers in Australia today. In addition to his winery, The Yard and the Ad Lib brand, he was until recently winemaker for Merryvale Vineyards in Napa Valley.
Anyway, while the whimsical label and the motto on the back — “No trees were harmed in the making of this wine” — are attractive, the wine in the bottle is even more compelling. The color is pale straw; aromas of roasted lemon and lemon balm, ginger and spice waft from the glass. The wine radiates purity and intensity, offering amazing body, density and character while maintaining a crystalline edge of vibrant acidity and a resonant mineral element that rivals the White Cliffs of Dover. The finish hints at white flowers and orange zest. A beautiful chardonnay. Excellent. About $17, a Great Value. We enjoyed it with the squid tremendously.
Cherubino also makes, in this series, the Ad Lib “Hen & Chicken” Oaked Chardonnay 2008, Pemberton, Western Australia, and though it’s a carefully crafted wine, I didn’t like it as much as the Tree Hugger Chardonnay. The wine sees eight months in new and two-year-old French oak barrels and goes through 80 percent malolactic process. At first, I thought that the wine was fairly Burgundian, with its touches of bacon fat and Parmesan rind, its vivid, ripe pineapple-grapefruit flavors; after a few minutes, it displayed marked smoke and spiciness, with flavors of buttered and roasted peach and grapefruit, and in the end, the oak became a little pushy and strident, where in the beginning I had perceived it as more subtle. If you like a chardonnay with oak that comes to the forefront, you will probably think that this one is Excellent. For me, though, I’ll go with Very Good+, because it’s my palate and my blog and I can do that. About $17.
These wines were imported by Vintage New World, Shandon, Cal.
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