Trimbach 2001 Gewurztraminer (Alsace) – Light on the lychee, showing more peach and apricot with firm acidity. If a “deft” Alsatian gewurztraminer is even possible, this is a candidate. But one might wish for a little more intensity…which it has shown in the past. A bit closed, then. (8/06)
Most gewurztraminer is made in a huge, upfront style and never really shuts down or ages in any useful way. The really sweet stuff – represented by the vendange tardive and sélection des grains nobles designation in Alsace – often lasts more than it ages. But occasionally, one finds a gewurztraminer with the structure and balance to age…which it does by developing its bacon fat and spice characteristics. I’m not sure this is a long-term ager, but it should be better in a few years. Alcohol: 13%. Closure: cork. Importer: Diageo Web: http://www.maison-trimbach.fr/.
Kanu 2005 Sauvignon Blanc (Stellenbosch) – Fruity, semi-zippy and light, with an intensely green-fruited character feathered by grass. It’s fairly monotone, but it’s a nice enough quaff. (8/06)
95% sauvignon blanc, 5% chenin blanc. Sauvignon is a very insistent grape; it tastes what it tastes like, and only the most remarkable terroir or winemaking can wrench it from this varietal consistency. Since most sauvignon blancs are fairly identical, the question is: what is one willing to pay for that flavor profile? The Kanu is a fairly good value, but no better than certain mass-market New Zealand sauvignons. If it and other South African versions are going to compete on the marketplace, they’ll have to find something interesting to say. Alcohol: 12.5%. Closure: cork. Importer: Cape Classics. Web: http://www.kanu.co.za/.
La Puerta 2005 Torrontes (Famatina Valley) – A mélange of fruit flowers and meadow-derived perfumes, with a sticky and somewhat heavy texture. Lightly off-dry. More fun to smell than to drink. (8/06)
A fairly new winery, producing in a dramatically beautiful valley. Torrontes is the Argentine analogue to muscat, in that its principal quality is its heady aromatic presence. But, like muscat, what it also needs is freshening acidity and an eye towards lightness, something this wine doesn’t quite achieve. Alcohol: 13.3%. Closure: extruded synthetic. Importer: Ecosur. Web: http://www.valledelapuerta.com/.
Fèlsina “Berardenga” 2000 Chianti Classico Riserva (Tuscany) – Sweet wild cherries and wind-blown organic soil, lightening and then firming up again on the finish to show structure and balance. Not everything is in sync – the fruit is a little too forward, the tannin is a little too hard – but it’s a worthy and expressive wine. (8/06)
100% sangiovese, done as traditionally as one can expect these days, from old vines. It’s almost remarkable that a producer as solid as Fèlsina gets such wide distribution, and sells for such reasonable prices. Alcohol: 13.5%. Closure: cork. Importer: Domaine Select. Web: http://www.felsina.it/.