Sunday, December 5, 2010

*** $ Santa Ana Chardonnay Viognier Cuyo, 2008, Argentina - Wine Review and Rating (BEST VALUE)

Find prices and availability for Zagat Wine introductory mixed case.

By way of background: Hailing from the western Argentina region of Cuyo, this is a blend of 70% chardonnay and 30% viognier. Finished in oak, Santa Ana shows a potent 13.5% alcohol.

It was acquired as part of the introductory Zagat Wine Club selection. It also seems to be a regular component of other wine club offerings, including such as WSJWine (Wall Street Journal Wine) and 4seasonswine.

"ZagatWine" - part of the broad Laithwaites Wine group from the UK - is promoted by the well known Zagat Survey group, offered by founders Nina and Tim Zagat. This collection included a case of 12 wines, with four reds and four whites each. The initial shipment arrives with a promotional pitch to have your friends join the club, along with one-pagers on each of the delivered wines.

Original Review, November, 2010:

In the glass: This is transparent, clear with yellow and light vanilla overtones.

On the nose: Strong mineral and slate aromas of sweet stainless steel and cut grass.

On the palate: Light, somewhat lemonade-y first impression, combining slight sweetness with crisp citrus tang. Perhaps a touch of fresh peach comes through in the background.

And the finish: Driven by the high, acid notes - fades fast with no second wind.

In summary: Decent, but not compelling experience. Two stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale. Not a particularly strong value, even at the discounted introductory price.

Updated Review, one year later, December, 2010:  Color has moved slightly towards honey.  Aromas are more tropical and peachy now, rather than crisp and slate-y.  A bright tropicality comes through on the palate now ahead of the still-present lemonade,  bringing it a much more pleasant balance.  The slight honeyed element from the bit of age better offset the finishing acids, which are still apparent.  Merits a plus now for its lushness and improved balance.  Now a good value at the bargain price, but don't drink it too young.

Following long decant, one day kept cool in partially filled bottle under vacuum:   Aromas are somewhat faded.  But the balance on the palate is improved still more, bringing lush concentration with the acids simply bringing a muscular lift.  Moves to three stars, and a best value.  Very good migration in the palate with time and air.  I will try an even longer decant without vacuum.

Even longer decant, kept cool two more days without vacuum:  Creamy and mild aromas.  Still lush and sweet on the palate.  Not improved over the shorter decant, but has held together remarkably well.  

Find prices and availability for Zagat Wine introductory mixed case.

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