2012 event theme focuses on 35 Southern hemisphere wines

New Zealand vineyard. Photo courtesy of Whitehaven Wine Company.

Wayne on Wine
By Wayne Crawford

Wayne Crawford
Wayne Crawford

Wine aficionados love to pair a good cause with good drink.

The Big Canoe Wine Group, with the support of the Homeowners Association, led a highly fruitful wine tasting and fundraiser for the Big Canoe Fire Department at The Clubhouse at Lake Sconti April 13. The Clubhouse staff’s professionalism and the Big Canoe Wine Groups’ convivial and educational style resonated with the 150 vino lovers attending.

The 2012 event theme focused on 35 Southern hemisphere wines with high Quality Point Ratio (QPR) and a pleasant white and red wine mix. This third-year event was well attended by event veterans who again appreciated the time and energy vital to host a quality wine tasting.

The down-under theme encouraged seasoned and new tasters alike to savor unfamiliar wines from South Africa, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia. Since all the wines for this testing were under $20 and well rated, it was a challenge to select the best of the best. With wine group pourers as guides and through observation and input from tasters, seven wines were selected as best of show.

The four white wines in the mix represented two diverse approaches to Sauvignon Blanc, a delightful Viognier and a well-crafted Chardonnay. All are highly approachable wines that will complement diverse summer menus.

The three reds, two blends and a Shiraz, are strikingly flavorful on the palate and are first-rate summer food-pairing wines for dishes ranging from grilled lobster to juicy steaks. All seven wines are “Best Buys” and are available for sale at POP’s on Highway 141 in Johns Creek, which provided all the wines for the tasting.

Wines drinking well now

Southern hemisphere wines featured at the Big Canoe Wine Group's third annual fund-raising event. Photo courtesy of Wayne Crawford.

Southern Right 2011; Sauvignon Blanc; Walker Bay, South Africa; priced $13.79. Pale yellow wine with fruit forward aromas and hints of lemon. On the palate, a delicious crisp minerality with a pleasing mouthfeel. Hints of gooseberry, pineapple and strawberries give a lingering fruit finish. Enjoy with most seafood, Thai dishes, chicken, turkey, fresh salads and most fresh vegetables. Southern Right is the second label of the Hamilton Russell Vineyards, well-known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Only 3 kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean.

Drylands Marlborough 2010; Sauvignon Blanc; New Zealand; priced at $15.99. Straw color with green hues and aromas of passion fruit, melon and citrus, zesty lime flavors on the palate, an excellent example of why New Zealand increasingly makes exceptional Sauvignon Blanc. In 2011, 65 percent of the wine produced in New Zealand was drawn from this grape. Drylands Home Block Vineyards is one of the original Sauvignon Blanc vineyards in the Marlborough wine region on the South Island. The winemaker is Darryl Woolley.

Tahbilk 2010, Viognier, Victoria, Australia, priced at $19.99. This Viognier is un-wooded with aromatic floral and citrus fruits on the palate, low acidity but pleasing fruit flavors that linger on the finish. A great all-purpose white wine that pairs well with lightly spiced foods, Indian dishes, chicken, crab, scallops, lobster and pork. Drink as an aperitif. The central Victoria winery, established in 1860, is integrated with the wetlands essential to the Tahbilk region.

      Hamilton Russell Vineyards in New Zealand.

Casa Lapostolle 2008; “Cuvee Alexandre” Chardonnay Chile; priced at $19.99. Brilliant light yellow color with juicy lime flavors complemented by apple and fig fruit. A long, persistent finish provides a nice touch to a first-class wine. Pair with white meats, chicken, turkey, pork and favorite creamy dishes and seafood. Lapostolle was founded by Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle and her husband in 1994. The Marnier family is famous for producing the well-known French liqueur Grand Marnier.
Pargua Anka Pargua II 2007; Maipo Valley, Chile; priced at $19.99. Bright red, blended wine 30 percent Cabernet Franc, 27 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 24 percent Merlot, 11 percent Syrah, 6 percent Petit Verdot and 2 percent Carmenere. Mineral and berry aromas on the nose with hints of spice. Sweet red berry flavors in a well-structured wine with softer tannins. This is a very drinkable wine with a sweet lasting finish, an outstanding companion to grilled meats, eggplant and spicy sauces. Pargua means “full moon” in the Mapuche language native to the region.

Tikal 2009; Patriota; Argentina; priced at $17.99. A deep reddish-purple wine with berry and cherry fruit aromas in a blend of 60 percent Bonarda, 40 percent Malbec. Full-bodied red with flavors of blackberry, floral violet and coffee on the palate. A great red wine with a long finish. Pairs well with grilled meats such as beef and pork, smoked ham and pizza with meat toppings. The winemaker is Ernesto Catena, the son of celebrated Argentine winemaker Nicolas Catena Zapata. His wines are aged in small barrels of new French and American oak.

Barrel Monkeys 2009; Shiraz; McLaren Vale region, Australia; priced at $18.99. Bright ruby-red colors with plum, violet and oak aromas. On the palate the wine showcases red berry flavors with a long finish. The striking label will help locate this delightful Shiraz that pairs nicely with almost any barbecue dish, hamburgers, ribs, wild game, pork and aged cheese.

Drink what you like!

The next issue will highlight Canadian and American wines not from California.

Crawford is a certified specialist of Wine CSW, a member of the Society of Wine Educators and the American Wine Society.


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