May 22, 2009

NZ Sauvignon and a Rhone

I found the 2008 Isabel Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand's Marlborough region at a local store and bought one to try. What a delicious wine. Screwcapped and fresh, with a fragrant vegetal aroma of green peas and a bit of stinky reduction notes that unwinds to a more golden fruited, leesy but still pleasantly vegetal fragrance. It's hard to explain but I really enjoyed the changes and overall complexity this wine showed. In the mouth, it's a bit fat from lees aging and maybe some barrel time, but crisp and focused too. I suppose "well balanced" would be the right thing to say here. Just delicious, and a search of internet notes suggests this wine can age. I don't usually think of NZ sauvignon as something for the cellar, but who knows, maybe this has some potential to last.

Then another excellent Cotes du Rhones from Domaine Milliere. This, the 2006, is darker colored, more extracted and intense than I remember older bottlings (going back to the stunning 1996), with a bit of a gummy, fruity syrah/shiraz aroma. Still, this is all southern Rhone wine with minerality, pepper and a sense of savor to the aroma that more modern, purely new world wines just don't usually show. In the mouth, there's rich berry flavors with chewy tannin balanced by a fresh, sweet impression. There's a bit of alcoholic warmth here, in a good way. This is wine for a cool, sunny evening when you're out back, feeling the need for a sweatshirt at dusk but still enjoying some grilled food and hopefully your friendly neighbors. If this was from California, people would be drooling over the mix of complexity, intensity and finesse, and paying a handsome price. From the lowly Cotes du Rhone appellation, this is inexpensive, somewhat ageworthy and unquestionably interesting red wine. Hard to go wrong here.

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