Kanu 2004 Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch) – Softly enticing, with hints of chalk dusting subdued pineapple, apricot and Meyer lemon flavors. A lovely, simple summer sipper. Just a bit off-dry, but it comes off as more of a softening element, rather than actual sweetness. (6/06)
This is the point where wine writers inevitably say something like “chenin blanc is traditionally known as ‘steen’ in South Africa.” Well, it’s not untrue, but in reality almost no one actually calls it that anymore. Why do we keep repeating this cliché? Inertia, most likely. Anyway, there’s a teensy bit of chardonnay in this wine, but not enough to notice. Alcohol: 13.5%. Closure: cork. Importer: Cape Classics. Web: http://www.kanu.co.za/.
Easton 2004 Zinfandel (Amador County) – A hefty lumberjack of a wine (not to suggest overwooding, though wood is definitely present), showing thick and somewhat feral dark fruit lightened by sticky red cherries and then counter-weighted with a dense, intensely “winy” texture. Nice, and a good value, but not for the faint of heart. (6/06)
Winemaker Bill Easton is a great guy, I’ve played golf with him, and I like both him and his wines a lot…but when he calls this “cru Beaujolais-styled” (as he does on his web site), I have to wonder if he’s been in Amador – where the wines are men and the sheep are nervous – a little too long. Beaujolais on anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, and a ten year weight training regimen, maybe. In any case, this retains classic wild-vine Amador character without the rough edges exhibited by so many other wineries in the region; the tradeoffs are a little less fiery exuberance and a little more slickness, but that’s a fair price to pay. Alcohol: 14.5%. Closure: cork. Web: http://www.terrerougewines.com/.
Tohu 2004 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) – Second note, same as the first. (Does anyone remember Herman’s Hermits?) (6/06)
Ditto the write-up. This is a remarkably consistent wine. The screwcap undoubtedly helps that: a reliable wine presented exactly the way the winemaker intended, without all the inevitable cork-induced variability. Alcohol: 13%. Closure: screwcap. Importer: Davies & Co. Web: http://www.tohuwines.co.nz/.
Bonny Doon “Ca’ del Solo” 2003 “Big House Red” (California) – And again with the reliability. This is a good wine that’s just not worth extensive re-notation, especially when all the notes start to read the same. (6/06)
This would make a good “house wine,” especially for the budget-conscious, but one of its strengths is that it’s just a little bit better than that. Alcohol: 13.5%. Closure: screwcap. Web: http://www.bonnydoonvineyard.com/.