Well this past weekend was a wonderful learning experience for me. We had a quiet dinner of roasted chicken, accompanied by a nice brown rice pilaf and a fresh green salad. I thought a nice wine to match that would be a bright wine, and went fishing around the wine cellar for a Sauvignon Blanc. I pulled out a 2007 Ella Valley Sauvignon Blanc, and what a surprise I had. To start the cork was sopping wet and almost to its end, though no leaks. I warn ALL readers to check this vintage, as the cork was not damaged or poor quality, it just looks like that cork was soaked. Of course cork is differs from bottle to bottle, but just take a look at your Ella Valley SB and check. I have never had a problem from any of their other wines, so this could have been nothing more than bad luck, but it is always safe to check.
Upon opening the bottle, I was greeted by a horrific smell, and almost barnyard or pee smell. Yes, Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand, was made famous by British wine critic Oz Clarke, when he stated that The Sauvignon Blanc tasted like: “cat’s pee on a gooseberry bush”. Still, I do not associate that flavor with Sauvignon Blanc wines from Israel, but once I poured the wine the reason for the “odor” was clear. When I poured the wine, I greeted with bubbles in the wine and a clear flavor and nose of yeast. I am almost sure that the wine (at least for my bottle) went through ML (MaloLactic Fermentation) in my bottle, and so bubbles formed from the ML fermentation. I can only guess that my batch was not successfully filtered to rid the wine of any left over malic acid. The process of ML in a bottle, can create odors and bubbles, as the malic acid is “chowed down on” by Malolactic bacteria that are ubiquitous in the environment (you’re probably breathing some in right now). Once all of these wondrous additions blew off the wine became more than acceptable, but the overall presentation was lacking – to say the least. Again, check your bottles and enjoy!
For a special treat above and beyond some wine, I opened a bottle of Lindemans Raspberry Lambic. It can be purchased at most local area alcohol shops. My friend explained to me that Lambic beers are meant to be sour, and when I tasted this particular beverage, I understood that to mean – tart, but not sour. In many ways, the beer tasted like a tart and refreshing raspberry version of a Sauvignon Blanc. Of course, after more thought I realized that it was a totally fallacy. What I was tasting was the extreme brightness, but the beer was so sweet and almost cloyingly tart, that nobody would compare the beer to any wine. Moreover, folks at the table, thought the beer was spoiled or had gone to vinegar, but once I explained it was just sour beer, they liked it. I guess I found it refreshing after a while, but it is more enjoyable (at least to start) accompanied by some chocolate dessert.
The wine notes follow below:
2007 Ella Valley Sauvignon Blanc – Score: B – B+
The nose on this light straw colored wine was very weird initially. First came a nasty and funky pee smell that was a byproduct of the wine’s ML transformation in the bottle. Once that blew off the wine turned somewhat hot – wild! Luckily they both blew off within an hour of opening the bottle. Soon enough the nose turned to lychee, fresh cut grass, lemon, and grapefruit. The mouth on this light to medium bodied wine was refreshing but not rich, complex, or concentrated, and initially had bubbles in the glass. The mouth starts with lemon, lychee, and a fair amount of vegetal flavors. The mid palate is packed with bright acidity that flows into a nice finish of tart lemon and thick grass. The wine was not overwhelming and was a bit more green that I was expecting, but nice none the less, albeit the presentation.