Posts Tagged ‘ Grass

White–Bianco–Blanc. SPRING.

Well hello there!  It’s been a while since we’ve had a real review.  It’s April, now, and it’s spring.  It might be 40 degrees outside right now in Chicago, but those days are numbered.  After wandering around Binny’s for 45 minutes this evening, I came home with 5 wines.  Three Sauvignon Blanc, one Pinot Grigio, and one Beaujolais Villages.  It’s clearly time for whites (and reds that act like whites).  Today I’m bringing you a Marlborough sauv, Churton 2009,  and the Italian grigio, Maso Canali 2009.

I’m a huge Marlborough fan. Since I was 22, I’ve been sucking Marlborough’s dick, and with good reason.  Their gooseberry, tobacco, dry, crisp, FRESH flavors have been a summertime pal for two years.  If I’m in sweltering heat and humidity, or even on a nice 70 degree porch night, I’m most likely downing a Marlborough sauvignon blanc.

Churton is a step in a different direction, however. They are claiming an “old world meets new world” sauvignon blanc, and boy are they right.  The Loire features on this wine are non-trivial.  It’s musky, it’s bone dry, it’s lemon and lime (mostly lime, in my opinion), and it’s a Hell of a spring wine.  Churton boasts that it has a terroir “not dissimilar” to central Sancerre, and I believe that to be totally true.  There are helpings of grass on the nose, and the finish leaves me feeling more like I’ve drank something with a bit of syrup in it.  I don’t want you to think that this is anything like the thickness on a riesling or gewuerztraminer.  No, this is just a light syrup that leads to an overall satisfyingly bigger mouth feel than your typical Marlborough sauvignon blanc.

The second wine I’ve tasted tonight is the Maso Canali 2009 Pinot Grigio. I had this earlier this week, and it paired perfectly with a vodka sauce penne at Tre Cugini.  But that was then, and this is now.  First, the bottle is corked, which I don’t really have an opinion on since this is one of my first forays into Pinot Grigio, but I get the feeling most of the wines are meant to be consumed young.  And I feel like this is one of those wines.  Although, interestingly enough, I was reading about how corks are made the other day, and apparently Portugal is the #1 producer of cork in the world, and while wine corks are only 15% of sales by weight, they account for 66% of cork revenue.  But I digress! I believe that Grigios are supposed to be fruit-forward and contain citrus and tropical fruit-like flavors.  Something like fruit cocktail, eh? I could be wrong, but that’s been my only experience with them.  This wine has a very subtle bouquet and an equally subtle palate.  I am not saying that it lacks structure or balance, but the mouth is small to medium and it takes time to enjoy the green pear, the lime, and everything else going into this wine. Overall a nice wine to pair with a spaghetti and white sauce dish, or perhaps with scallops.

Churton 2009 Malborough Sauvignon Blanc
I’m going to give this one an 87.  It’s good, it’s different.  It’s neither Marlborough nor Loire.
750ml - $16.99 @ Binny’s
Maso Canali 2009 Pinot Grigio
I’m not going to rate this wine because I don’t have enough experience with this grape yet.
750ml – $14.99 @ Binny’s

Savage, at least in principle.

Well, it seems tonight is going to be a two-for.

As I apparently find myself continually crossing things like “flour”, “meat” and “sanitary drinking water” off my grocery list in place of wines I’ve always wanted to try, I’m currently sitting in my apartment with my very first bottle of Sancerre (one of the mainstays of the Loire Valley in France, and pretty much THE prime example of how the French feel sauvignon blanc should be made) and a bowl of boiled water with some ketchup in it for dinner.

Having had many different sauvignon blancs from around the world (mostly New Zealand, with a few Napa and Chilean sauv’s thrown in) I’ve seen everything from the “isn’t this chardonnay? It’s not, oh well let’s keep aging it in oak because well, that’s what we do with white wine here in California” to the passion-fruit-bomb-with-a-side-of-lawn examples coming out of the southern hemisphere.

This sauv, however, immediately strikes me as being a great example of what the word “sauvignon” originally meant, or at least where it originally came from: savage. This 2009 Domaine Daulny Etienne from the Loire is loaded with gunflint, and grass on the nose, with just the faintest hint of something I can only describe as the way a pumpkin smells when you first cut into it on halloween. Hauntingly high in acidity and tremendously dry, the mouthfeel of this wine is light and sharp, with the classic gooseberry, grass, gunflint and lime coming through after a few sips. The French, it seems, are doing with sauvignon blanc what they do best with all their wines; namely creating something that is by no means in your face or overbearing, but more a complex and subtle expression of the soil in which the grapes came from, and the climate of that year.

This particular Sancerre is fermented and aged entirely in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, from grapes that come from several of the 50 acres that Etienne Daulny owns throughout the eastern Loire valley.

With a plain loaf of bread and a soft but yet still bitter goat’s cheese this region is also known for, the savage can be tamed into a delightfully refreshing and simple experience without having to pad the walls of your living room.