The Bot­tle

The Craw­ford fam­ily’s wines hit the spot on bright, sunny days The Bot­tle Kur­tis Kolt

The Georgia Straight - - Contents -

Ipopped into a wines of New Zealand tast­ing at the Van­cou­ver Club a few days ago and many of the wines hit the spot now that we’re into bright, sunny days.

I con­tinue to be charmed by Erica and Kim Craw­ford’s Love­block wines. The fam­ily project that started af­ter the duo sold their iconic Kim Craw­ford brand to Vin­cor In­ter­na­tional more than a decade ago is fo­cused on pure ex­pres­sion of New Zealand ter­roir.

Sauvi­gnon Blanc is a flag­ship wine of theirs, of course. It’s a va­ri­ety I strug­gle with from time to time, no mat­ter where on the planet it is grown. When they’re cit­rusy, fresh, and clean, with lofty acid­ity and min­er­al­ity, what’s when I’m in my happy place. They don’t have to go too far in other di­rec­tions, mind you, for me to take a pass. When they’re ul­tra­ripe or heav­ily oaked, I just can’t get with the sweet­ness that usu­ally re­sults. And then there are the pyrazines. Pyrazines are those com­pounds found in cer­tain wine grapes—par­tic­u­larly Caber­net Sauvi­gnon, Caber­net Franc, and Sauvi­gnon Blanc— that ex­press a par­tic­u­lar veg­e­tal note both in aro­mat­ics and on the palate. They can be herbal as well, but one of the more com­mon de­scrip­tors is green bell pep­per. Not even nicely grilled or sautéed green bell pep­per that may of­fer a touch of a zippy sweet and savoury note to your pizza. I’m talk­ing fresh, raw green pep­pers that are bit­ter and as­trin­gent, of­ten over­whelm­ing any other flavours that may be rid­ing sidesad­dle.

My tol­er­ance for these notes in wine is low, even if they’re not too in­tense. This can likely be at­trib­uted to the fact that I’m not a fan of green bell pep­pers to be­gin with, so it makes sense I don’t want ’em show­ing up in my wine.

There are nu­mer­ous ex­am­ples of Sauvi­gnon Blanc out there that don’t ex­hibit these char­ac­ter­is­tics in any off-putting way, and Love­block Sauvi­gnon Blanc 2017 (Marl­bor­ough, New Zealand; $26.99, B.C. Liquor Stores) is one of them. Huz­zah!

Let’s start with the fruit, which is grown or­gan­i­cally in the Marl­bor­ough re­gion’s Awa­tere and Wai­hopai val­leys in al­lu­vial loam, silt, and stone. Yields are pretty low, about three tonnes per acre, har­vested in small lots when each of them was at op­ti­mal ripeness, with the soil type of each lot be­ing a key fac­tor. There was oak-barrel fer­men­ta­tion, but they were neu­tral bar­rels, so their in­put is more adding struc­ture to the fi­nal wines rather than drench­ing them in gobs of co­conut, vanilla, or spice.

Af­ter mal­o­lac­tic fer­men­ta­tion— the con­ver­sion of malic acid to lac­tic acid to ease up any se­vere acid­ity— the lots that showed best were the ones that went into the fi­nal blend.

That fi­nal blend, the one that’s in bot­tles all around Van­cou­ver, jumps out of the glass with jas­mine, el­der­flower, a burst of lime, and fresh­picked, sun-warmed peaches. The first sip of the wine is a good bite into one of those juicy peaches, with mud­dled le­mon, grilled pink grape­fruit, and even a few Rainier cher­ries to­ward the fin­ish. The acid is vi­brant, and it car­ries bright and shiny min­er­als, re­sult­ing in a gleam­ing wine that is also op­u­lent and juicy.

It is at once a wine with many com­plex lay­ers that can be stud­ied and pon­dered with each swirl and sip and a wine that is, frankly, pretty smash­able out of a Solo cup while your bar­be­cue smoul­ders with hal­ibut or salmon on the grill.

When look­ing to our own back­yard, a per­sonal favourite take on the va­ri­ety comes from the Sim­ilka­meen Val­ley’s Clos du Soleil win­ery. Their 2016 Capella ($27.90, clos­du­soleil.ca/) rounds out the Sauvi­gnon Blanc Bordeaux-style, with the Sémil­lon grape. The re­gion’s lime­stone-rich soils and epic sunny days treat the grapes well. A cav­al­cade of cit­rus fruit in­cludes le­mon, pink and yel­low grape­fruit, pomelo, and key limes, rounded out with hon­eyed apri­cots and a lit­tle pinch of tar­ragon.

The win­ery does well across the board, from sturdy Caber­nets to meaty Syrahs and a par­tic­u­larly lively, ap­ple-laden Pinot Blanc. A great op­por­tu­nity to give ’em a whirl is when they do a free in-store tast­ing at Davie Street’s Mar­quis Wine Cel­lars on Satur­day (May 19) be­tween 5 and 7 p.m.

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