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Another "under $20 Pinot" Uncorked!

Seven Terraces Pinot Noir 2007We set the bar high for our Fall ‘09 Under $20 Pinot Noir Series a couple of weeks ago with an exploration of the wow-worthy 2007 Becker Pinot Noir, a German offering (and a lovely, rare treat). This week it seemed prudent to continue our search for solid, under $20 Pinot by continuing to look in places that seem to play hide and seek in the American market. Head on over to Wicked Local to head down er-yonder, to the Southern Hemisphere's Pinot capitol: New Zealand!

Have you noticed New Zealand Pinot is starting to take off, too? Do you have a favorite?



Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc

Mid-bottle enjoyment... Kim Crawford Sauvignon BlancIt's not often I talk about what I consider "main stream" wine: wine you can get just about anywhere, no matter how large or small the shop.  In our case, we are so small every wine slot counts. We have to be even more choosey when it comes to our selection. We are equally careful not to pack our shelves with things you CAN, in fact, get anywhere; our brand is built around finding unique, harder to find, boutique selections. Except when it comes to the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. This is a wine I have no issue 'giving up' a slot to. I think it is absolutely delicious. The fact that the price came down a couple of dollars this year makes me even more gleeful about it - it was pushing my limits previously at $19.99.

I had the pleasure of meeting the man behind the magic, Mr. Crawford himself, just about a year ago. I tasted through every wine available in the MA market. And there are a LOT. I could appreciate and enjoy most, with a couple of rare exceptions that were just a bit too weird, honestly. Yet at the end of the day, for the value, I still think the basic level Sauvi is the way to go.

It offers up a beautiful bouquet of gooseberries, sunflowers and freshly cut grass. The palate is rich for a Saugivnon Blanc - maybe at a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being water and 10 being a glass milk. The gooseberry, pink grapefruit, lemon-lime and grassy flavors coalesce in your mouth. I particularly enjoy the somewhat briney, sea-like and deliciously long finish.

Try pairing this bad boy with any kind of fish, summer salad or... grilled chicken. Just a couple of days ago I whipped up a quick, off-the-cuff recipe of grilled chicken (marinated in plain yogurt, paprika and a dash of red pepper), topped with a soft nectarine salsa. Stupendous.

This is a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with flare. Lots of it.

How does the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc stack up in your wine world?



Wine Blogging Wednesday: Sileni all-star summer

Yes, it's Wine Blogging Wednesday again! Since I knew it was coming up right after my fourth of July getaway, I sneakily packed a few wines in my Survival Kit that fit with this month's theme: Wines Brought to you by the Letter 'S'. I also packed two wines which have come to mean Amazing Summer Sipping as far as I'm concerned - and both have an 'S' component. I've decided to share my thoughts today on the one I realized I just barely favor over the other. (It is only fair I share in the greatest goodness with those who come to read my musings!) Enter the 2007 Sileni Estates Sauvignon Blanc.

I wasn't much of a white wine drinker even as little as two years ago. I had been burned one too many times by (oaky) Chardonnay or overly tart (to my taste some years ago) Sauvignon Blanc, arguably the two white varietals you come across most often here in the US. I was only experimenting with half the possibilities and a true wine adventurer needs to at least know what the heck white is all about. So I solicited a little help from my local wine shop. Whenever I wanted a case of wine in the warmer months, I asked the wine manager to throw in a few whites, too. Soon enough I was hooked! The summer months became a fun time to focus on finding new white varietals to beat the heat; the winter could be reserved for my red addiction. Fair is fair.

Why this side story now? Well, the Sileni Sauvignon Blanc is one of those amazing wines I find many palates (red and white drinkers alike) can appreciate, or as in my case, saddle right on up to with an empty glass. Sauvignon Blanc from warmer climates can take on more tropical flavors of banana and pineapple - of course backed by characteristically citrus (lemon/lime) goodness. Sauvignon Blanc from cooler climates (e.g. New Zealand) errs on the grassier, super zesty grapefruit side. Either way it is an intense, lively, herbal, often zippy little number with great acidity to quench thirst on the hottest of summer days. What can I say, cheesy as it may sound, an image of a tall reed of grass blowing in the sea breeze now comes to mind when I find myself sipping Sauvignon Blanc.

Semillon on its own can take on fuller, rich, almost honeyed flavors. It is widely produced in France, particularly in Bordeaux and used in Sauternes. Australia is also becoming a big producer of the grape. When it is blended with the lean, zesty-tart Sauvignon Blanc, this varietal works some serious magic. The best winemakers know just a little bit goes a long way. Without strong-arming, a drop or two of semillon produces lovely, fleshy and refreshing white wines.

What about the Sileni offering, you ask urgently now that I've wet your whistle??

I'm always amazed by the color of the Sileni. It is a fairly light, almost star-bright color - when I always anticipate it being more honeyed in color, because of it's gorgeous richness on the palate. Indeed, while the label doesn't indicate as much, the winemaker blends in just a touch of tasty Semillon. The result is a fuller bodied Sauvignon Blanc. I find nice tropical fruits, gooseberry freshness and some minerality leap from the glass and similar flavors emerge on the midpalate. Its more typically New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc grapefruit flavors show on the finish. It is so well integrated, the wine's components dance together harmoniously. We paired it with fresh Swordfish steak, corn on the cob and an apple-cider vinegar coleslaw. The weight of the wine complemented the steakier fish perfectly, and the sweetness of the corn and slaw were brilliantly off-set by the fresh acidity of the wine. Yum, indeed!

What wine with the Letter 'S' tickled your tastebuds and fancy this holiday weekend?