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Slurping Around with P.D.W. March 2012

March 2012

Hi all. I know I am late. Blame it on NIH grant reviews. Got the chance to compare a few New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs (NZ SB) recently. Rather than waste your time with enobabble about each, I will just list them in order of goodness. Basically to appear here they must be a) clean b) herbal-gooseberry-lime flavored c) not watery thin d) possessed of good acidity but not astringent

White Wines

Really good:

  • 2011 Spy Valley, Marlborough $11
  • 2011 Cloudy Bay, Marlborough $22
  • 2011 Kim Crawford, Marlborough $13
  • 2011 Villa Maria, Marlborough $10


  • 2011 The Crossings, Marlborough $8
  • 2011 Dashwood, Marlborough $12
  • 2011 Babich, Marlborough $9

NZ SB’s I would suggest not buying (dirty, lack of flavor, thin, too tart):

  • 2009 Kumeu River, Kumeu $13
  • 2011 Oyster Bay, Marlborough $13
  • 2011 Brancott, Marlborough $10
  • 2011 Saint Clair, Marlborough $12

Try this SB from South Africa:

2009 Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc, Western Cape $12. This wine is very grassy, with an interesting citrus-herbal palate. It is clean, not too tart, with medium light body.

And this California Chardonnay

2010 Foxglove Chardonnay, Central Coast, $11. A nice nose of baked apples and spice. The palate is full bodied, but also crisp and tart with mostly apple flavors. There is almost no oak. Refreshing, and not too expensive.

Red Wines

As threatened last month, the $3/bottle Crane Lake repertoire now follows. Recall, in my January column I praised their Petite Sirah, which was really tasty stuff. Alas, the other reds are not of the same quality.

2011 Crane Lake Pinot Noir, California $3. This is actually OK, and at the price, a worthy party wine. Quite dark for a Pinot, it has a varietal cherry nose and not too much oak. The palate is similar with good acidity and light oak/tannin and some cola.

2010 Crane Lake Shiraz, California $3. This has a simple, light bodied, red cherry and vanilla taste, with a touch of oak char (aka burnt newspaper). There is slight cashew nuttiness, it is almost sweet. The best I can suggest is as a cheap party wine for folks who don’t really care about wine.

2010 Crane Lake Cabernet Sauvignon, California $3. This is actually drinkable, but comes over more as a Zinfandel because of its stemmy, briary nose and palate, medium to light body and tannin and medium high acid. The fruit is “red berry-ish”. Again, a party wine, perhaps.

2010 Crane Lake Malbec, California $3. Interesting nose of forest floor, dark plums and tobacco. The palate is a bit herbaceous with lots of cedary oak and tobacco with the plum fruit. Again, a barely OK party wine.

2009 Crane Lake white Zinfandel, California $3. Light strawberry nose and palate, and very, very sweet. Simple, a bit thin, in need of more acid to balance the sweetness.

Now for some real wines

2009 Clos du Bois Red Blend, California $9. This is a blend of Merlot, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon in undisclosed proportions. The nose has lots of red berry fruit, dry herbs and dill. The palate has fresh, forward slightly sweet/ripe red and dark cherries, slight coffee, dry herbs, and is clean with a fairly light body. Tannins are soft, and length is good. This would be a very good party wine.

2008 Two-Up Shiraz, South Australia $8. Another good deal from Oz. Forward nose of plums, spice and very evident eucalyptus. The palate is velvety smooth, with fresh dark fruit (plums and cherries), definite eucalyptus and spice. Tannins are soft; acidity is just right. Lush and long, this is a great pork ribs BBQ wine.

After several years of doing this column, it struck me that letting you know about wines to steer clear of might also be useful, so in case you wondered why in the preceding there are admonishments to avoid, that is the reason.

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