Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spirit of Wine Review & Rating: ***+ $$ Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand, 2008 (GOOD VALUE)

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Original Tasting and Review:

By way of background:  Here we are tasting a popular New Zealand sauvignon blanc over a period of more than a year, to examine its charactistics while fresh, as as it ages in the bottle.  Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc comes from the Marlborough region of New Zealand, from low-yielding vines. The 2008 vintage is finished at 13% alcohol.  Should be an interesting experience on a cold winter day.

In the glass: Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc shows as clear with deep vanilla overtones in the glass.

On the nose: Poured cool with no decant and swirled vigorously, this Kiwi sauvignon blanc shows a primary green grass on the nose, seems to have stainless steel lightning bolts piercing through it.  

On the palate: The first element on the palate is sandy-sweet grass; interesting, this is less astringent than I might have expected.  Actually, there is almost a roundness to the palate that complements the razor-sharp grassiness.  It glides with sweet focus across your tongue and situates in your consciousness with a balance of roundness and intense acidity.  Cool.

And the wrap-up: The finish is lengthy, defined by the lemony-crisp acidity, but it doesn't curl your cheeks entirely.

In summary: Overall, intensely intriguing and varied experience. Rates three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, because I'd definitely come back for another visit, with a plus because of its intriguing intensity. Excellent value.

Wine Spectator provided an equally enthusiastic reception, awarding 91 points, with this report: "Fragrant and complex, with a refreshing burst of lime, guava, grapefruit and grass flavors. Wet stone, passion fruit and oyster shell accents add interest, with bright acidity highlighting the vivid finish. Another outstanding Sauvignon from a perennial success. Drink now."

Following a five-day decant under vacuum in a partially-filled bottle:  On the nose, the green grass smells even greener, and the lightning bolts have become more like "sheet" lightning.  The balanced, rounded palate is still there. The acidity on the finish has softened, more like lemonade than lemons now.  Still a strong offering.

Updated review, approximately one year later, April, 2010:  The color still shows the deep yellow tone.  On the nose, the grass is potent, green, and deeper now.  Not as piercing, but now bold.  Some deep citrus or mango coming across as well.  Still a remarkably balanced palate, with very round acids bringing together the sweet citrus, the grasses and a clear minerality.  The finish glides sweetly, and lasts... Shows a touch of cloying sweetness as it wraps up - but a minor flaw.  Holds its strong 3+ score.  Still a good value.  I appreciate the extra year in bottle.  

Following long decant, two days kept cool in partially filled bottle:  Still the deep, bold nose.  The palate is luxurious now, it comes so precariously close to a fourth star.  The slightly sweet, sticky finish still holds it just a hair's breadth below that threshold, however.

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