As it’s holiday time and I’m going to be celebrating with friends and family on whom I want to focus my attention, I’m sharing another archival tasting note here now. I thought this wine was interesting enough to save these notes, and I hope you find them worth a read.
Before I post the notes, though, please accept my warmest wishes to all of my friends and fellow bloggers for a VERY MERRY HOLIDAY SEASON!!
Varietal: Chenin Blanc
Appellation: Western Cape, South Africa
Price: $9.99 at Whole Foods
Notes: This Chenin Blanc was unexpectedly dry at 13.5% alcohol. What a nice surprise! It was pale yellow with scents of nectarine, honey and dusty floral notes. Acidity was good, and it was light-bodied. On the palate I found nectarine, lemon grass and hints of spice.
In my house we always start our tree decoration with the lights. And this year, because our schedules have been surprisingly full – mostly due to end-of-the-year deadlines at work – we have approached tree decoration in a three-stage process.
First, of course, we bought the tree and set it in it’s stand. Then we decided to give it a bit of time for it’s branches to relax before attempting to shove light strands and decorations onto it. The second step, then, was to put on strands of tree lights. As this year’s tree was a tad smaller than previous years, we first applied one strand of white lights. Once we were happy with the placement of the whites, we moved on to a strand of colored lights. Again, only one strand was needed. And, of course, our tree topper star (which is lit from the inside) finished the lighting ceremony.
As always, we had celebratory vino to enjoy as we engaged in this part of our holiday tradition. Don’t get the wrong idea. It isn’t as though all our holidays follow this kind of planning. I remember a rainy and frenzied Xmas Eve on which we bought our tree and decorations then decorated it. But that is a story for another time. Anyway, in this case, we observed the lighting ceremony with a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.
Winemaker: Sauvignon Republic
Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc
Appellation: Marlborough, NZ
Price: $7.99 at Trader Joe’s
Notes: This NZ wine from “Latitude 42° South” was very pungent, presenting tropical scents in the bouquet. Acidity was high in a typically light-bodied Sauvignon Blanc with alcohol at 13%. Flavors my tongue experienced included guava, starfruit, grass and white pepper. I found it started out gently sweet on the palate and ended nicely tart. I thought it was an enjoyable glass of inexpensive white wine.
Seems I haven’t yet exhausted my archival notes. So while it appears that Joel Gott Wines is now selling it’s 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, please step into my time machine for a trip back into the not-so-distant past. Can we find a bottle of the 2013 on our store shelves? Probably not. Does the quality of this vintage provide a sense of what may lie waiting for us in the 2015? Well, it can certainly give us an idea of the quality we can expect. You can also click on the link above and see what the vintner has to say about his new Sauvignon Blanc. In the meantime ….
Winemaker: Joel Gott
Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc
Notes: Aromas of tropical fruit and citrus rose from the glass of this pale golden-hued wine. On the tongue, the heft was light with a definite coat-the-tongue sensation. Acidity was brisk, and alcohol was at 13.9%. As far as flavor, my palate found Meyer lemon, grass, a hint of hot pepper (from the acidity, no doubt), and a saline note. I certainly enjoyed this Joel Gott selection quite a bit, and I think it would have been a great pairing with scallops or a light fish stew. Perhaps I need to cook up some scallops and grab the current release for an awesome meal.
While I don’t speak Spanish (but wish I did as I mentioned in a previous post), I do speak German at a conversational level. I’ve lived in Germany a couple of times and studied the German language both in the country and at college. In fact, it was almost my minor. I had the credits for it. But book German, or Hochdeutsch, is not the same as the daily spoken language or vernacular. And then you have the variations by region and country. Hochdeutsch is different than Bavarian German which is different that Swiss German which is different than Austrian German, etc. So when I tell you that it took me awhile to work out that Gmörk or Ried Gmörk on this Anton Bauer label means Gmörk Vineyard, please don’t judge me too harshly.
Winemaker: Anton Bauer
Wine: Grüner Veltliner Ried Gmörk
Varietal: Grüner Veltliner
Appellation: Wagram, Austria
Notes: This Austrian sent aromas of zingy green apple and citrus to my olfactory nerves. Color was a light but intense yellow. Acidity was bright and lively in this characteristically effervescent and light-bodied selection. Alcohol was at 12%. When I opened the bottle, the screwtop liner remained affixed to the lip of the bottle until it popped off of its own accord with a sound as satisfying as any champagne cork. Flavors I detected were green apple and lime zest with touches of almond. Pretty tasty and entertaining to boot.
So … here’s the question. Do you think California Pinot Grigio’s are generally as good as their Italian counterparts?
I took the time to look back and review my tasting notes of PGs to see if they might give me a clue as to my own thinking. Remembering that I focus on inexpensive wines on this blog, it seems my experience suggests that the Californians still have some catching up to do. That isn’t to say California wineries don’t make good Pinot Grigios. In the value priced selections, however, I have evidently preferred the Italians.
Of course, that’s just one man’s limited experience. If you have some suggestions for me as to Pinot Grigios I should sample, I’d be more than happy to hear about them.
Winemaker: Top Hat
Varietal: Pinot Grigio
Notes: The wine was an extremely pale straw color with good acidity and 13.9% alcohol. On the nose I encountered scents of citrus with warm spice notes. It was very light-bodied, almost thin. On the palate I tasted citrus, grass and touches of warm spice. It was an okay PG, but I think there are less expensive options that are equal to this Top Hat and much more interesting selections in the same price range.
Some time ago I shared a little story of my sojourns through France when I was a young boy. In that instance, we had stopped on the south coast of France (Mediterranean) and spent a day at the beach. At the time, we were living in Germany, so that was not the only trip we made into France. We also made our way to Paris.
Although I was only 6 years old at the time. Paris left a lasting mark on my soul. While my father did his best to herd the family from museum to museum, some of the most vivid memories are from the city itself. For instance, I was fascinated by the hotel we stayed in because it wasn’t at all like the American hotels and motels we had stayed in. It was a small pension hotel in a bustling residential neighborhood. Not far from our hotel, there was an outdoor market where people where produce of every kind straight from the farm was available. We bought some cherries at the market that I can still taste by memory today. They were SO amazing. And although I was very impressed with the art works in the Louvre, I found the Arc de Triomphe infinitely more appealing.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been back since that trip. Yup, more travel for my bucket list. I really would like to experience the City of Light as an adult. Know what I mean? I didn’t have a single sip of wine when I was in Paris last!
Winemaker: La Vieille Ferme
Varietal: White Blend
Price: $7.99 at Whole Foods
Notes: This French white was medium yellow in color with lots of yellow (golden delicous) apple along with citrus notes in the nose. Acidity was good in this medium-bodied blend which had a slight coat-the-tongue quotient. Flavors I detected were kiwi, cream, and hints of toasty oak. I liked it. I have had other vintages that I didn’t enjoy as well, but this bottle was fine by me.
Where does the term headsnapper come from? What does it mean? Does anybody know?
I’ve come upon three possible meanings thus far. 1. something so shocking, unexpected or interesting that it makes you whip your head around to look at it; 2. something that is too expensive or a bad deal (perhaps surprisingly so); 3. fish bait (red snapper heads are evidently often used as bait).
If the label art is any clue as to what the folks at It’s A Headsnapper mean when they use the term, it is likely to be something akin to the first definition. Then again, there is a fourth possibility that occurs to me. The woman on the label looks as though she might be dancing while squeezing the juice from grapes into a glass. So maybe she’s a dancer who likes to whip her head about.
Winemaker: It’s A Headsnapper
Appellation: Sonoma County, California
Notes: This Sonoma Chardonnay brought citrus, grass and turpentine to the nose. With bright acidity, it’s heft on the palate was on the light side of medium. Alcohol at 13.9%, the flavor profile I found included citrus (lemon turning to grapefruit), grass, and chalk with some turpentine and woody notes. Speaking of the label once again, my tasting notes bear almost no resemblance to the description of this wine on the back of the bottle. All I can do is share what I tasted!
Some wines are refined and well-behaved. Others are a bold mouthful of flavors sometimes striking out in unexpected directions. Still others are one-dimensional and boring. Then you have what I’ll call the pinballers that bounce around on your taste buds like a rabbit with it’s tail on fire. The last was my experience with this white from down under.
Winemaker: Yellow Tail
Appellation: South Eastern Australia
Notes: In the glass this Aussie Chardonnay was a pretty light shade of gold. Scents that rose from the glass were pineapple, oak and pepper. Alcohol was at 13% in this medium-bodied wine. Acidity was moving toward high, and there was a definite sense of viscosity on the tongue. I thought it was an unsophisticated white with flavors of sweet pineapple, grass, oak, and a note of hot peppers. It is, of course, a very inexpensive bottle of wine. Maybe I shouldn’t be so critical.
My family has an interesting story about butter. My grandfather grew up on a farm, and they did, indeed, churn their own butter. One day when he was a young fellow, my grandfather and his siblings decided it would be fun to see who could eat the most butter in one sitting. Can you believe it? What seems to a level-headed adult a questionable pursuit at best was to my future grandfather a grand dare. Until, of course, he had ingested as much of the butter as he could handle. Unfortunately, all that buttery goodness at one time was truly too much of a good thing. It left a lasting impression because, after that day, my grandfather never ate another pad of butter. But my mother and her siblings came up with their own butter dare. Just to tease my grandfather, they would sneakily pass the butter around the table during dinner until they managed to have it sitting right in front of him. Once he noticed, of course, he would insist on it’s immediate removal from his close proximity. Ah, kids!
Winemaker: Big Churn
Price: $6.99 at Trader Joe’s
Notes: This inexpensive California white was light yellow with scents of lemon verbena and butterscotch on the nose. Dry at 14.5% alcohol, the Big Churn was medium-bodied with what I would describe as perky acidity. Flavors I tasted were lemon pudding, oak, hints of butterscotch and lingering grass. With a name like Big Churn – not to mention the label art – you would expect a big buttery Chardonnay. I don’t think it quite lived up to it’s moniker, but I thought it was still a respectable glass of white wine for the price.
For my return to the trenches, I decided to start with a celebratory Chardonnay. Honestly, any glass of wine would have been a joyous experience. Of course, after over half a year as a teetotaler, I knew I wasn’t ready for a big chewy red.
Winemaker: Nine Points
Appellation: Napa Valley
Notes: This Napa Chardonnay was a pretty light yellow in the glass with scents of citrus, grass and warm spices. It was medium bodied with a decent amount of viscosity to it. Acidity was quite high and alcohol was at 14.2%. As for flavors, I found apple, citrus, grass, hot pepper, hints of warm spices and lanolin. Not a bad pick at all for my first glass back.