February 18, 2010

Thirsty Thursdays (2)

Welcome to the second installment of Thirsty Thursdays! Every week I will select a wine and review it. (There will be no consistent rhyme or reason for picking the wine; presume I chose each bottle on a whim. And, no, I am not receiving compensation for these reviews). I will rate the wine on a four glass rubric because a properly poured glass of wine is 6.25 oz, ensuring that each 750 ml bottle fills four glasses. (This haphazard logic makes sense, right?!)…

This week's wine was a J.B. selection, 2008 Reif Chardonnay Sauvingnon Blanc, a VQA Niagara Region wine from the Reif Estate Winery in Niagara Falls Ontario, Canada.

Below is a description from the April 11th 2009 Ontario Wine Awards Judging:

Appearance: Light white gold.
Nose: Baked apple with light butter, vanilla and spicy oak.
Palate: Dry with good acidity, mid-weight. Palate exceeds the nose. Midpalate has some fat then a spicy astringency which lasts through the long clean dry finish.
Conclusions: Good now and for three years, good general purpose white food wine. Should soften a bit more with a couple of years in the bottle.

The Reif Wine Producers describe the wine as “light straw in colour with a broad range of aromas and flavours: from crisp apple and pineapple to subtle notes of banana and gooseberry. The finish is clean and defined by its crisp acidity.”

Okay. A brief review of a proper tasting -- :-)

A proper Wine Tasting starts with smelling the wine. This process looks ridiculous! You take a brief first sniff, then pull the glass away and swirl it like a snob, (look for legs, viscosity, colour, etc.) then stick your big noggin right in there and inhale like it’s your last breath. And THEN you take the first sip, and pull it through your teeth. Also looks ridiculous! Swallow. (Sounds obvious I know…).Take your second sip. During this sip, you swoosh the wine like it is toothpaste you’re trying to wash out of your mouth. Please don’t spit it out, though, unless there’s a bucket and you’re expected to! Finally, that third sip you hold on to and savor – and finally…swallow. It is this final sip that tells for sure if the wine is going to be good.

To be honest, I am not much of a white wine drinker. However, I do love to share a glass of Chardonnay with my mother-in-law in the summer. Also, white wines become much more attractive in the summer, enjoyed outside on a patio somewhere. They are a perfect aperitif. This wine is no exception. My first sip had me daydreaming of my summer on the Lake Huron shore, enjoying the sunset before dinner. Sigh.

During my very first taste of this Reif wine, I notice an apple flavour: sharp and crisp. There is a sweetness to this dry wine. However, it is a nice, not too sweet taste, like a Granny Smith apple. And, like a Granny Smith, the finish is also a bit tart. There’s a bite. It is crisp but tart; refreshing, but a bit tangy. 

I’ve never had a Chardonnay Sauvignon blend before last night. A Chardonnay has a fuller body and bolder flavour than the Sauvignon Blanc. Because of its distinct flavour, people either love or hate the Chardonnay. It is rare to find someone on the fence regarding their opinion on this wine variety. I do enjoy it. In the summer I associate it with happy days at the cottage. 

Although Niagara is more infamous for its Rieslings, I prefer a good Niagara Chardonnay. It is a green skinned grape variety that originated likely in the Burgundy wine regions of France (Wikipedia). It is described as a variety that either emphasizes a ‘high-toned, steely, fruitlike qualities of the wine with little or no use of oak’ or ‘emphasizes barrel and malolactic fermentation in addition to the fruit characteristic, which lends the wine a rounder, buttery taste’ (http://www.novusvinum.com/education/varietals/chardonnay.html). They are either oaked or not. I enjoy the oaked wines the best: they have a bolder, more oaky flavour (of course;-)!). The Reif Chardonnay Sauvignon Blanc is more like the first description and is more fruity and high-toned – sharp, not quite savory.

Unlike the Chardonnay, a Sauvignon Blanc is a lighter bodied white wine, though it is also a green skinned grape variety. It originates from the Bordeaux regions of France. Its flavour ranges from grassy to fruity depending on the region (Wikipedia). I would say that Niagara produces a more fruity, acidic flavoured Sauvignon Blanc.

The marriage of the Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay create a buttery golden colour, and a fruity, light tasting white wine. It has a light and clean taste, though has a tart, bitter finish. The Sauvignon Blanc tames the Chardonnay, but there is still that yummy rounder Chardonnay taste. In fact, now that I think a bit more on it, there is a bit of a buttery flavour at first, but the fruitiness of the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc combination really dominates and cuts through the creaminess.

This wine would taste good with a provolone, mild cheddar or gruyere cheese. It is also yummy with olives, oysters, or smoked salmon. And it would taste great with lighter meats and fishes, such as chicken or tilapia. It would also taste good with any cream sauce – cutting the fattiness with its clean taste. Because of its fruity taste, it would also taste great with many Caribbean fruits. However, avoid highly acidic foods, as the pairing is not complimentary. And, heavy meats will overwhelm the lightness of the wine.

I would recommend this wine to anyone who plans to be out in the sun and on a patio. It is an awesome sipping wine – great to split with a friend (or mother-in-law), while casually watching the sun-set shore-side anywhere warm! For all of us who are still ‘enjoying’ the winter grey and gloomy snow, the wine can be a bit of an escape…Put on your favourite summer dress, grab a glass, turn on the fire, and pretend…It will portal you to a tropical place – and provide you an hour or more of escape from the chilly realities of life. Enjoy – responsibly.

I would give this wine a two point five Chablis-Chardonnay shaped glasses out of four. It's good -- not great.


  1. This is a great feature. We are always looking for new recommendations with wine. Thanks for this feature/

  2. Anonymous18.2.10

    Do you enjoy the wine (for the Thursday review) on Wednesday evening? Part of me likes to imagine you sipping it in the middle of Thursday afternoon! Also, do you travel to the liquor store with the intention of choosing a wine for Thirsty Thursday or are you choosing from a selection that was previously purchased??
    p.s. I have been checking your blog all day.. like 5 times..
    p.p.s. Will you bring that favourite vino of yours when we have front room chatter? I will supply snacks and more vino!
    ~ Anonimo

  3. Chardonnay is perfection...this sounds so good! :)

  4. I have never been able to find a wine I like. I guess I will have to stick to the cheap way of enjoying a drink, Do you have a bud?

  5. Anonymous19.2.10

    Pass the vino! Love the post. It gets me even more excited about an upcoming vacation that includes full days on the slopes and evenings by the fire. And Lots of Wine.

    I love your idea of opening a white in funky February, pulling out your favourite sundress, and cranking the heat. Sounds very fun. Did someone say Sangria?


  6. I have been doing "Thirsty Thursdays" for about a year now, its great fun! Mostly I do cocktails, though, not wine. This one sounds lovely ... I wish I were planning to be on a sunny patio ... but at this point in the winter I'm wondering if we'll ever see the sun again! LOL


Thanks for your thoughts!


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