Wine Picks July 8, 2006
By Natalie MacLean
American White Wine
KENWOOD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005 Sonoma County VC: Kenwood is consistently ranked among California's top Sauvignon Blanc producers and this is their most popular wine. Always crisp and vibrant, look for intense lemon/lime, grapefruit and gooseberry characteristics. Serve as a refreshing aperitif or with grilled asparagus. My note: A wonderful example of Californian sauvignon blanc: crisp, refreshing, not over-oaked. Fantastic price. 971754 (XD = extra dry) 750 mL $16.95 Score: 89/100.
New Zealand White Wine
ISABEL ESTATE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005 Marlborough, South Island VC: The exuberant nose features aromas of grapefruit, green grass and a touch of tropical fruit. Dry and racy with ripe fruit flavors it's very refreshing now and should develop with some short term cellaring (1 to 3 years). My note: classic NZ SB with refreshing herbal notes and a smoky undertow that floats you into a lazy summer evening. Drink with salad, seafood, shellfish, quiche and vegetarian dishes. 554881 (XD) 750 mL $19.95 Score: 90/100. Favorite White Wine
VIDAL SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005 Marlborough, South Island: Zesty lime and lemon aromas. Vibrant and mouth-watering. Pair the same dishes as mentioned above for the sauvignon blancs. 694851 (XD) 750 mL $17.95 Score: 89.5/100.
South African White Wine
SPIER SAUVIGNON BLANC 2005 WO Western Cape (Winecorp Stellenbosch) VC: A terrific, light-bodied Sauvignon for summer sipping. Expect herbal, mineral and summer meadow aromas and flavors. My note: Light and refreshing. A simple summer wine. Terrific price. 710962 (XD) 750 mL $12.95 Score: 86/100. Best Value White Wine
French Red Wine
ROMANESCA MOULIN-A-VENT 2004 AC (Guy et Ferréole Chastel) Beaujolais VC: This is a great barbecue wine with its pretty raspberry, floral and spice notes. It's dry with a very good structure and supple tannins. You could even lay this down for a couple of years to see how well quality Gamay can improve in a cellar. Medium-bodied with a long finish. My note: Not all beaujolais is nouveau, the simple red released in November. This is one of my favorite producers from Beaujolais who consistently makes lovely wines. Aromas of juicy red fruit and medium-body. Drink with salmon, chicken, pork and grilled vegetables. 687228 (D = dry) 750 mL $21.95 Score: 88/100.
'BARON DE LYSSART' ROUGE 2003 AC Gaillac (Vignerons de Rabastens) VC: A blend of Duras, Syrah and Braucol. Light ruby color leads to an intriguing nose including elderberry, currant, coffee, mustard greens and vanilla. It is dry, ripe, supple and very creamy. Enjoy with grilled gourmet sausages or chicken burgers on the BBQ. My note: Great red for the money. Juicy and full bodied.
682740 (D) 750 mL $13.95 Score: 88/100. Best Value Red Wine
DOMAINE DELAUNAY MERLOT 2003 Vin de Pays Charentais VC: A ripe, round and fruity Merlot from the incredibly hot 2003 vintage. Fire up the barbecue, roll out the portobello mushrooms, steaks or chicken. Yes, it's that versatile. My note: Dark notes of chocolate and very oaky. 684886 (D) 750 mL $15.45 Score: 86/100.
French Rosé Wine
MAS DES BRESSADES 'CUVÉE TRADITION' ROSÉ 2005 AC Costières de Nîmes
(Cyril Marès, Prop.-Récolt.) Rhone Valley VC: Mas des Bressades uses the superior saignée method here. Partway through the process of making a fully red wine, a portion of the juice is 'bled off' for this rosé. What we get is a wine with more impactful flavors than conventional versions. Enjoy with grilled prawns or steamed mussels. MY note: Gorgeous for the money. One of the best rosés year after year. Redolent of strawberries and raspberries and summer dreams. 950576 (D) 750 mL $11.95 Score: 89/100. Favorite Red/Rosé Wine
German White Wine
JOSEF LEITZ RIESLING KABINETT 2004 QmP Rheingau, Estate Btld. VC: A lively, zesty, moderately sweet Riesling that is an excellent summer sipper. Floral, hawthorn and nectarine aromas dominate. Light-bodied, this wine has an abundance of flavor on its long finish. My note: Soft and sprightly like a pixie. Aromas of ripe peach. 662189 (M = medium) 750 mL $15.45 Score: 87/100.
Nat Decants 100-Point Scale
95-100 Brilliant, Exceptional
90-94 Excellent, Superb
89.5 Hovering on the doorstep of excellence, better than very good
85-89 Very Good
80-84 Good (still worth buying and drinking)
79 and below Average to poor (I don't include these in the newsletter due to space constraints)
This isn't necessarily the wine with the highest score, as high scores go to the wines that best typify their region and style. Rather my favorite wines are just that: the ones that appeal to me most personally and to my own taste.
Best Value Wines:
Not necessarily the cheapest wine, but the one that maximizes the price-quality ratio. (Although I don't always go by strict mathematical ratios on this either, but rather what seems to me to represent tremendous value.)
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Copyright © 2006 by Natalie MacLean. All rights reserved. Please ask permission of the author before copying or using this material.