Archive for ‘Sauvignon Blanc’

March 14, 2019

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc, 2017

Knot, knotty, knotted.  Any tighter and this could winch up the Titanic.  Think SB in a straight-jacket.  Slick in its near perfection of that green, hay, gooseberry Sauv Blanc predominant down under Kiwi style, and with the Decanter scores to prove it.  Sure they have, I don’t know, perfected the classic New Zealand Sauv Bl; but is it just really good Sauv Bl or a true pleasure to drink?  In our household the jury is out on that.

 

There was a time when NZ was cutting edge for their forward, acidic and deeply complex Sauv Blanc.  I really couldn’t get enough.  Nowadays, it’s as though they’re just making the same thing over and over; highs and lows of a repetitive theme.  Halloween 12 anyone?  Some of us have gone back to the muted, floral notes of Sancerre.  Others are reveling in the newbie upstarts; try the gray label Haywire for starters.

 

Price: A rather hefty $35 at BC Liquor before taxes.

 

Market Liquidity: Good (but predictably good).

January 18, 2019

Mission Hill Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, 2017 & La Frenz Sauvignon Blanc, 2017

Anthony Gismondi loved the Mission Hill.  But then, he tends to give a hall pass to Mission Hill and Robert Mondavi.  How he found this pale, plain and rather banal white a 90 pointer is anyone’s guess.  If you really like the grassy, gooseberry, aggressive SB of New Zealand, you will be disappointed and have spent $10 more than a straightforward Brancott.  If you like the tight restraint of a refined Sancerre, you will be baffled by the simplicity.  If you are interested in what’s interesting in the Okanagan, what sort of incredible Sauv Blanc is coming off the vines, you are drinking what is invariably our Tuesday night white: The Haywire Waters & Banks Sauvignon Blanc (and if you buy it at Save On, you can save yourself $10 all in).

 

But if you like SB just in general, and if you want hints of New Zealand with a slightly more fruit forward and tropical fruit flair, you are far and away much better off down at La Frenz, where they bottle something clean, juicy, crisp and gorgeously palatable, which, unfortunately, sells out in a heartbeat.  Only one of these wines is memorable.

 

Price: Mission Hill and La Frenz both sell in Vancouver in the mid-20s at private wine shops.

 

Market Liquidity: The arch mediocrity of Mission Hill and the consistent virtue of La Frenz never ceases to surprise.

 

 

 

March 16, 2018

Haywire Waters & Banks Sauvignon Blanc, 2015

It has a little bit of the flint of Sancerre but not much.  It has a bit of the grassy wet hay of a Kiwi SB, but only in passing.  Blind it doesn’t even really resemble Sauvignon Blanc, at least the way it typically present, and on this some will have a deflated set of expectations on the screw top.  I disagree with a few of the high profile critics who called it typical.  Of what exactly? BC? Surely not SB.  All that aside, good God is this delicious.

 

The malolactic fermentation is, I think, a driver of the unique and distinct flavour; maybe not to everyone’s taste but I could drink this by the truckload. Very herby, like the dry, sagebrush of the south Okanagan, all scent, no oak, some stone fruit on the palate and finishing with an acidity that makes you reach for another glass.  Very hard to sip (meaning you want to drink and drink).  Wonderful with food.  Not as brutal on the budget as other “grey label” Haywire bottles.  Difficult-ish to find.  A high pointer from Gismondi.

 

The crushpad (in our experience) turns out wine that’s all over the map.  But sometimes they score big time.  If you see it, buy it.  It’s opioid-esque in its attractiveness.

 

Price: $25 from the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: Crisp, clean, incredible.

August 23, 2017

Haywire Waters and Banks Sauvignon Blanc, 2014

Like a Jamaican steel drum band; it really is that assertive. Without any of the dry hay or dewy green of New Zealand classics, and zero oak.  A really appealing floral nose belies a spicy, acidic and invigorating flourish on the palate.  Tangy, zesty, piquant finish.

 

Although there’s no oak, the malolactic fermentation gives it a funky charge that is either greatly appealing (us) or not what you’re expecting (probably a lot of New Zealand SB purists).  Gismondi said this should “scare the Kiwis” and gave it a 90 point nod but I think for $10 less the masses will likely stick with Brancott, and be happy with that decision.

 

Price: The 2015 is out, $25 at the vineyard, but you can source the enormously drinkable last year’s vintage for $27.75, before taxes, at Marquis.

 

Market Liquidity: Oak shmoak.

May 8, 2017

Burrowing Owl Sauvignon Blanc, 2015

Is the love affair over?

 

Light, lively, a citrus zest while not weighted down with green grass or herbs, and an oak note almost indiscernible.  Lax on the palate.  Hard to think of this as an accomplished wine in any sense despite many accolades but it’s certainly drinkable.  Glass half full, it makes a nice change from the sometimes oppressive new world SB’s but doesn’t have the layers of a fine Sancerre if, in fact, that’s what they’re trying to mimic.

 

Day was when Burrowing Owl set the Okanagan bar.  There is something satisfactory but not brilliant about their wines lately, even their more than stellar Chardonnay seems predictable.  Of course I could drink BO all the time but they lack significance, comparatively.  Or so it seems to us.  Still, no year goes by without getting a mixed case.  The SB is currently available online or, believe it or not, at BC Liquor.  There is no way it is a 90 or more point wine.  But its drinkability, a la a decent Pinot Grigio pre-dinner, is unmatched.

 

Price: $25 at the vineyard, $27 on the Vancouver shelves.

 

Market Liquidity: Standard issue.

July 27, 2016

Burrowing Owl Sauvignon Blanc, 2015

Burrowing Owl Sauvignon Blanc, 2015

The acidity will stop you in your tracks.  The strident Kiwi SB grassiness is nowhere to be seen, instead we have a doff of the hat to the purity of the French style, an austere, highly charged blast of melon and citrus.  The assertiveness is either enchanting and captivating or off-putting.  Are you looking for Sancerre or Cloudy Bay? (I am looking for Cape Mentelle, but BCL “wisely” decided to delist those fine wines from Western A.  Oh, sorry for the barb, the digression…)  Regardless, this is less than subtle but also a tad sanitized.  Ever order a beer or glass of wine in a restaurant and the first thing to hit your nose is the light aroma of bleach?  That to me was the first sip of this wine.  A big (big, big) fan of Burrowing O, I could nevertheless pass on this without regret.

 

Price: $27 plus taxes at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

 

Market Liquidity: What’s the old pop song?  “Sometimes you’re gonna hit the mark, sometimes you’re gonna take the next best thing.”

June 30, 2016

La Frenz Vivant, 2013 & La Frenz Ensemble, 2013

La Frenz Vivant

La Frenz Vivant, 2013

So close.  I mean look at the label, what a gorgeous blend, it’s whet-your-wine appetite enticing.  Viognier, a touch of sweetness, Chardonnay, a touch of class, Rousanne, a touch of herbal tea.  It makes you want to buy three bottles, one of each viaretal, take an eye dropper, and experiment in blends.  I had such high expectations.  But, while not a dud, it reaches for the stars and only gets two points from within the three point line.  All the way through we kept thinking about how the flavour tried, but couldn’t.  It touched on moments of interest but never got there.  It was like a roller coaster rolling backwards rather than cresting the hill.  If there was Rousanne, the Rousanne you associate with the Rhone, we were too inept to decipher it.  We did not get the potpourri or spice or complexity we expected; peaches and papaya, yes, although nothing to write much of a review about.

 

Price: $25 from the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: Lewis Hamilton on the label, but the wine inside 12th on the grid.

La Frenz Ensemble

La Frenz Ensemble, 2013

A big surprise.  We put the bottle on the table and the next thing you know it was empty.  And we only had the one!  Extremely food friendly, enough acid and citrus Sauvignon style to wash down Asian or fish and chips.  Enough Semillon to have more interest in plain old SB.  Not as austere, striking or noteworthy as some of the noble Hunter Valley Sem/Sauv blends, but really lovely, approachable, and, as I said, easy to drink.  The citrus floral aspects counter a lingering creamy finish which leads to just one more sip. A keeper, by which I mean I should have cellared it.

 

Price: $25 from the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: Nico Rosberg quietly slips into first place.

mercedes crash

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April 14, 2016

Nichol Pinot Gris, 2014 & Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc, 2013

For the past few weeks we’ve been drinking wine we like, rather than new bottles, hence the lack of reviews.

 

Bubbles at lunch

Look at this, bubbles at lunch…

 

For a special occasion last weekend we popped some bubbles including Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, a “base model” in BC which is dry and appealing with a butterscotch note at the end that, although pales to say, a Perrier-Jouët, is nevertheless delectable.  It used to be easy to find, under $60, at BC Liquor, but has for whatever reason disappeared.  It was for a while my go-to special occasion champers.

 

We bought a bottle of an Italian red, the Verso Rosso Salenta, which was our favorite value red a while back, review here.  What a bomb.  Thank god I wasn’t corking it for guests.  Hugely disappointing; it had that prune juice funk that leads one to believe it had been stored in a too hot container or left to sit on a loading bay long before it ever got unloaded into a temperature controlled environment.  VRS, yah burnt.

 

Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwiches on homemade bread

Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwiches on homemade bread

 

We finished up some of our case lots from Blue Mountain.  Last March I gave, well, a rather savage review of their “regular” Chardonnay.  See my disappointment and roundabout way of calling it crap, here.  Wait a minute: A year in the “cellar” had transformed this forgettable plonk completely; peach and lemon notes on the palate, opening to reveal an intriguing filbert/maraschino pop that left us no option but to drink it pronto.  So, note to self: Order by the case, sock it away for a rainy day.

 

Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc, 2013

 

It’s been a few years since we drank Nautilus.  It was gifted on a weekend lately and, for better or worse, we opened it with some foodie BLTs on home-made bread.  It was a killer.  If you think of the “severity” of SB on a ten point scale, with a lot of Sancerre hovering under 3.5, and most NZ SB, like, say Brancott, at an 8.5 or higher, the Nautilus hovers around 7; it has some restraint that’s often missing down under.  Bracing but very food friendly.

 

Price: $28.50 before taxes at Everything Wine.

 

Market Liquidity: You pay for the refinement.

 

Halibut in parchment

Halibut & spring vegetables in parchment packets

 

On an evening of spectacular fresh halibut steamed with baby vegetables in parchment, we opened a Nichol Pinot Gris.  (This is not the more expensive, harder to source, “two barrels” PG.  But, that said, let’s go apples and apples and hold it up to, say, the eloquent and much loved Blue Mountain base model, to which iy doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance against.)  Anyone surfing the blog will know we like our PG, particularly the variety of West Coast PG.  The colour of  PG in BC, covers a wide swath on the Pantone scale.  As for Pinot Gris and its myriad hues, I’ll leave that to another blogger, with an interesting take, and a reference to a vintner making seven different types of PG (!) in almost as many colours: Link here.

 

 

While we’ve “oohed” and “ahhed” about many Nichols in the past—witness us fawning over the Cab Franc here and praising the value of the Nine Mile Red here, (but finding no love for a Gewurtz here,)—this was a tad rough; even if drinking PG is nothing more than the amusement of having a pink hue in your glass, you’re better off with Kettle Valley.  Still, it drank well with fish.

Nichol Pinot Gris, 2014

Price: $22 or thereabouts.

 

Market Liquidity: Competition in the marketplace shames this everyday white.

 

 

March 17, 2016

Cuvée Domaine du Bouchot, Pouilly-Fumé, 2014

Cuvée Domaine du Bouchot, Pouilly-Fumé, 2014The most balanced, exquisite and nuanced Sauvignon Blanc I’ve drunk in years. Astonishingly pleasurable; no hard herby knocks or jolting hay, clean and smooth like a manicured field, bare hints of the barnyard, much more mineral than grass, stone and flint without the acid, pure satisfaction. Could not, however, stand up to a well-spiced dinner or saffron scented Provencal stew.

 

Price: $17 USD in 2015.

 

Market Liquidity: A rare bird in a flock of New World SB mediocrity.

January 28, 2016

Château Les Charmes-Godard, 2013

Like air-dried linen, crisp, sharp—sushi knife sharp—but comforting nonetheless. The deep rusty metallic Semillon has superb balance with a muted and peppery green Sauvignon Blanc; we felt the Semillon was front and centre, although many punters disagree. The briny finish is long with touches of preserved lemon, orange blossom and, believe it or not, heat. None of the hay you associate with New Zealand. For those who appreciate Bordeaux Blanc (more please Nicolas Thienpont), stellar.

Château Les Charmes-Godard, 2013

Hugh Johnson called Bordeaux, three years ago, a luxury item; rightly so. The “emerging markets” have not made a decent claret any more affordable. And we’re not in the market for Hermes or Prada, so decent Bordeaux is in fact a treat. But for those with the deep pockets we can be thankful they consider Bordeaux Blanc a lesser wine. Thank Jesus. It may be a lesser wine to the aficionados, but the craft is pure Bordeaux.

 

Intellectual aside: This wine reminded us of a 1921 poem Nabokov wrote to his mother which included the quote “…my mood is as radiant as ever. If I live to be a hundred, my spirit will still go around in short trousers.”

 

Price: $18.75 USD sometime in 2015.

 

Market Liquidity: Fortunately not in fashion.