Friday, January 28, 2011

Scotch and wait... How do you say that? (Bruichladdich)

Although it pains me to say it sometimes I’m wrong, sometimes I make false assumptions. I was recently given the opportunity to attained a Scotch tasting, I was quite excited and even changed a shift at work so I could attend. It was not my first industry tasting, I’ve been to a few, maybe 5 or so. I learned that having experienced 5 of anything is not sufficient data collection to hypothesize about experience number 6. I assumed that like all previous tastings I had been to this one would be an open event with a lot of people milling around going table to table sampling various libations. I learned at roughly 2:20 pm that if an invitation says the event starts at 2 you should hedge your bets and show up at 2. Luckily things had just gotten under way and I managed to quietly sneak a seat at the far end of the table, the opposite end from the presenter, with only the smallest of disturbances to those in my immediate vicinity.

Aside from my embarrassing entry the tasting was quite interesting. Scotch is whiskey, specifically whiskey from Scotland, there are other rules set out to ensure quality amongst bottles branding themselves as scotch but for all intents and purposes scotch is simply Scottish Whiskey*. While most drinkers probably realize this, I was a bit slower to learn, this tid bit of knowledge is something I only arrived upon about a year or two ago.

What is often distinctive about Scotch whiskey is it’s a noticeable smokey flavour and aroma, this is especially true of scotch from the island of Islay (pronounced with a silent s). The smokeyness is derived from the manner in which the barley is malted.

What is malting? I’m glad you asked. In order to create alcohol sugar is needed. As anyone who has eaten raw barley will tell you it doesn’t taste terribly sweet, and that’s because it isn’t. Barley is starchy, the starch is meant as a stored reserve of energy for when the grain has to start growing into a stalk. When barley is soaked in water, telling it’s little barley brain to start germinating, then left to dry, a small green shoot starts to develop. This is the barely starting to use up its reserve of energy providing starch. Luckily for early Scandinavians** humans are smarter than grains and can use and interrupt this process to create sugar and then alcohol.

The grain mustn’t be allowed to keep growing, it is baked/malted to stop the process of growth. Once the malting is complete the grain is thrown into hot water. This part is what makes barley so magical, when the partially developed, starchy, cooked malt is thrown into hot water naturally present enzymes start converting the starches to sugars. The reason barley is so awesome is that it has enough of these enzymes to convert the starches into sugars all on it’s own, all it needs is warm water, most grains are somewhat deficient in the helpful enzyme department. This leaves the brewer with sweet wort (pronounced wert) which can then be transformed into beer (sorry Aaron) or whiskey.

Thankfully there are lazy and sleepy people in the world, if you know one thank him/her, their laze may help mankind one day. The smokey flavour in Islay scotch is accredited to a sleepy malter. Whilst malting up a batch of barley, using peat as a heat source, the man fell asleep on the job. The barely got super cooked, burned one could say. Being both cheap and lazy, he decided to try making some scotch from it anyway. The result: delicious smokey flavours! The style caught on and is now a very sought after flavour in both scotch and beer to some extent.

If you are rich and lucky you may be able to pick up one (or two if you’re really rich) of my favorite, very smokey scotches from the tasting…

Producer: Bruichladdich (pronounced Brook laddie, I don't quite understand it either)
Scotch: Port Charlotte 7
Region: Islay, Scotland
Alc: 62%
Price: ~$150

Notes: The malt is peated to 40 ppm of peatyness, this takes a full day. Not chill filtered, meaning it may be hazy if you dilute it to under 46% but it will still taste awesome, also there is no colour adjustment the colour is all natural, I feel like this is a good choice of scotch for wealthy yet rustic hippies. I found it to be very peaty(smokey) with some mineral stoneyness and oddly enough a slight hamburger flavour, with a nice long finish to tied you over. This is an Awesome scotch. Limited Release so get one if you can!

Producer: Bruichladdich (it was a Bruichladdich tasting)
Scotch: Octomore 3/152
Region: Islay, Scotland
Alc: Not sure I didn't write it down, but a minimum of 46%
Price: ~$200 

Notes: This one is really peaty with a peatyness content of 152 ppm and malted for 5 days. I actually preferred this scotch but both were awesome and I have no higher ranking, just thought I'd point that out. The best way to describe the experience is roundness in the mouth with floral, caramel, smoke, and dried fig flavours. My note from the tasting reads "The finish literally never ends!" and it's true I still taste it and the tasting was 4 days ago!  Truly Awesome! Unfortunately also limited release.

After listening to the presentation I was very impressed with Bruichladdich, both because I like their scotch and because I like the way they do things. None of their scotches are chill filtered, this means they retain more oil which adds to the mouth feel but also means the scotch can go slightly cloudy in certain conditions which is why most companies do chill filter. They seems to be very socially responsible and concerned with the environment, I was won over as you may be able to tell. I think what I liked most was their devil may care attitude about marketing, they want to make a good product without bending to marketing pressures to manipulate their product to create a standard (bland) taste that everyone will be able to palate. Visit them here Bruichladdich

*During my fact checking I discovered that I really should be spelling whiskey without an e. Whisky is the Scottish spelling derived from gaelic, whiskey is the Irish spelling derived from being drunk and misreading the Scottish spelling. In all seriousness whiskey is the Irish spelling. 

**There is very little fruit in the winter in the northern regions of our globe, luckily people discovered early on that certain grains could be stored and turned into alcohol in the winter. This was a huge boon for the booze industry in the early years of scandinavian civilization, circa 5000 BC? hopefully Aaron can clear this up for us.

Josh Cormier

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bartender, Two Beers Please

[For beer posts I have decided to enlist the help of a man who has literally traveled the world in search of a good pint, I present to you my dear friend and trusted drinking companion (when we find ourselves in the same area of the globe) Mr. Aaron Brown]

Ladies and Gentlemen, how are you? I hope you are well.

My name is Aaron Brown and Josh has asked me to contribute to his blog. Josh loves wine, as you know. But dare I say his first love was beer. These are two subjects that are often held in contrast. Each has their diehard adherents, each has its charms, quirks, traditions and insanities. However you feel, whichever was your first love, no matter. Disagree where they do, one thing that is for sure is that writing about both of these ancient drinks is too large a task for one man. Somebody trying to write with the same quality as Josh does about both beer and wine is bound to do both a disservice.

You already know Josh but here is a little about how Josh and I know each other. We originally met in high school. We hung out in the same circles and have dozens of mutual friends. I finished high school, left Ontario and went to Halifax for university. One day during my third year in Halifax, Josh and I spied each other behind the King’s College rez buildings. This was an absolutely mindblowing chance meeting and we immediately reconnected.

The following year we were roommates. Josh’s knowledge of homebrewing and winemaking were fascinating to me. The fact that he worked for The Noble Grape (an excellent supply shop for wine and beer equipment) was an even bigger boost to my newfound hobby. It had a location behind our house and this made it especially easy to brew up batches.

Josh is to blame, directly or indirectly, for most of the dollars I’ve spent spent on beer since somtime in 2007. Once you get a taste for the good stuff there is no going back. One thing I loved about Josh was that he was willing to teach and debate but he never nominated himself as the final authority. He was happy to hear my thoughts and opinions as I learned and my interests developed. Almost immediately the brewing was a joint responsibility. He was not going to pull the load on his own to brew for 4 thirsty university students(and their friends).

He was willing to give pointers but once he got me comfortable brewing it was all on me to develop recipes and do the dirty work. Partly, this was a case of fairness. Why should he do all he work? But I suspect that this was his way of letting me learn on my own and become my own beer geek. It’s no fun unless you can argue sometimes. Josh and I both enjoy a good argument, though I prefer having them face-to-face rather than online. Call me old fashioned.

So there is my relationship with Josh in a nutshell. I’m sure some more stories will come out of the nutshell as the blog goes on ;)

Now, here is a little about what to expect in the beer posts:

• Tasting notes – I will be digging out some old notebooks from my travels & adding pictures where possible. It will be fun to see what I think now, looking back on those beers.
• Travel notes and stories related to beer. I have been lucky to travel. And as a beer lover you are lucky that beer offers you so many excuses to travel and drink good stuff while you do so. I love to drink amazing things and to see amazing things and I will be sharing some of my adventures with you.
• Beer history, beer stories, tall tales etc. I am not the be-all end-all authority on beer styles and beer history but I like to cut through the crap where it exists and celebrate the mysteries of
beer’s history where it ought to be.
• I won’t be writing about beer news so much unless it is truly significant and I have access to the relevant product. What the US micros are up to is really cool but I don’t keep my finger on that pulse so much because many of the beers are unavailable to me. I will try to talk about beer I have actually drank. Lots of Canadian beer and whatever decent foreign stuff I can get hold of. I am lucky to live 4 blocks from the best beer bar in over an hour's drive. So that helps.
• Occasionally I will do some interviews or coverage of beer events (ie. Tasting events). In fact, I am going to one tomorrow from Muskoka Cottage Brewery

If you’d like, follow me on Twitter where I say whatever I feel like with no guiding theme or control >> @aaron_j_brown

Or visit my *ahem* ‘personal brand’ website if you want to hear me write like you might want to hire me. It's actually kinda cool. Come on now!

ok, i'm done. Cheers, people :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

From Croatia we Commeth (Windmill Zinfandel)

Imagine you were adopted. Not only were you adopted but it’s clear you were adopted because you are the only blue skinned person on an island called Kaliphornea, you were adopted from half a world away where the only blue skinned people exist. 200 years later blue skinned people become the norm in Kaliphornea, and most of the blue skinned people from your native land have been killed off to the point of obscurity. History books are written and blue skinned people are said to be native to the island of Kaliphornea because no one can find blue skinned people anywhere else.

One day, maybe around 1994, a bold adventurer named Indiana ventures off to Croatia and finds a small group of blue skins. On his trip home he stops in the heel of Italy only to find more blue skins, the history books have to be re-written!

This is more or less the story of Zinfandel. The grape has long been associated with California but as it turns out is a native of Croatia where it is known as the more easily pronounced Crljenak Kastelanski. Italy too houses the grape, known as Primitivo, that has enjoyed a recent spike in popularity greatly thanks to the efforts of Californian wine makers.

Not what most would consider a ‘Noble Gape’, it did gain its success largely from the efforts of the colonies after all, it is unabashedly delicious despite its less than noble lineage. Aristocracy might not be a ‘thing’ in the New World but Zinfandel definitely is, and with good reason too. Try and pinpoint the flavours of Zinfandel and you may have some trouble, this grape makes wine that runs the gamut, from sweet, pink and fruity to dark, rich and spicy. No matter what part of the gamut it runs it will entice and enchant.*

A true varietal wine that can hide in and amongst great blends. The grape on its own has a unique ability to produce an astounding array of flavours, the one I am currently sipping runs from red fruit to mocha, it’s hard not to love every minutes of it. So as to not be greedy I will share this delectable treat with you…

Producer: Windmill
Wine: Old Vine Zinfandel
Region: Lodi, California (just outside San Fran)
Grape: Zinfandel a.k.a Primitivo a.k.a Crljenak Kastelanski pronounced: difficultly!
Vintage: 2007
Alc: 15% 
Price: $20

Notes: This is a wine that will satisfy alone or with the company of a nice steak. Easy to drink yet full of complexity be careful though with 15% you'll get drunk if you allow the enticing flavours to convince you to have 'one last glass'. Look for Raspberry, Blackberry, Coffee, Pepper, Vanilla and Mocha. Acid, tannin, and intensity are all around the medium range which is what makes this wine so easy to drink. The alcohol does run a little hot but all in all this wine is Very Nice!

*Okay this one might be a hard sell, most who enjoy a white zinfandel, or zinfandel blush probably won't like a red zinfandel and vise versa. This is pure conjecture on my part though, I could be wrong.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bigger is Better (Pacific Breeze, Killer Cab)

A break was required after Christmas. As some of you may have noticed I have not been posting nearly as frequently as I did in the latter part of 2010. You will have to excuse my absence, Christmas is expensive, I have barely been buying wine since the start of the new year. With my finances seemingly back on track the dedicated few will once again have access to my musings about wine and other alcoholic beverages.*

Handsome Devil
Wine: often considered to be a beverage that will improve with age. But wine, much like humans, is varied in its response to age. There are the lucky few that age as well as Clint Eastwood, who has certainly developed more complex and salt of the earth features which is exactly what a wine meant for ageing should do. Many a wine are more like the rest of us, our youthful lively character slowly turning to a drab expressionless visage.**

The problem that most of us face both in picking a mate and in picking a wine is determining which are the Clint Eastwood’s and which are the drab masses. There are a few easy rules to follow if you are considering saving a wine for a few years, hoping to pop it open during graduation, a special anniversary, or the death of an espoused enemy.***

When selecting a wine to save for a special occasion you will have to consider some of it’s characteristics. In general reds are going to age much better than whites, which is to say if you were to grab a random red and a random white off the shelf of your local liquor store there is a much better chance the red will stand up to the test of time. The reason this is the case is, very generally speaking, reds have more alcohol, more intense flavour, and way way more tannin, all of which act as preservatives. The advantage some whites have is high levels of sugar and acid which also helps preserve the wine.

Think of the most intense wine you’ve had in the last month, think of how it tasted and what it felt like in your mouth. Did the tannins suck all the moisture from your mouth? Were the fruit flavours overwhelmingly powerful? Was the acid high enough to balance out the wine? These are all things that need to be considered. Essentially you want bold fruit flavours, high tannin, medium to high acid and substantial alcohol for an ageable red. White can be a little tricky, unless you have your heart set on saving a white just avoid it, otherwise ask someone who is knowledgeable and you trust.

You’ve found a wine that is over the top and can’t wait to drink it in 20 – 30 years. That’s great! But in all likelihood that is far too long, if you find a wine that is truly over the top a safer ageing time will be around 5-10 years after the vintage date. Ageing is always somewhat of a guessing game, you never know what the future holds so be prepared to be wrong, but don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back when your predictions hold true.

Now for a wine that is very nice now and will only improve with a few years under its belt.

Producer: Pacific Breeze
Wine: Killer Cab
Region: Grapes are from the USA, probably California, the wine was made in BC.
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon
Vintage: 2008
Alc: 14.7%
Price: $23

Notes: This wine is intense and deliciously complex. All sorts of flavours and aromas are to be found, look for blackberry, cassis, cassis leaf, some herbal and spice notes, coffee, and a slight dustiness. This wine is big in pretty much every sense of the word, you probably want to have this one with some food. I was slightly hesitant to rate this wine as Awesome because it is so big, it's not just a saturday night sipper, you'll definitely like it by itself, but you'll love it with a nice steak or maybe just a snack of smoked gouda and crackers.

*I’ve been getting more into scotch look forward to more posts on scotches and maybe some other whiskeys too.

**Yes I am trying to be pretentious.

***Planning to age a wine until someone’s death does present a few problems, the wine may not be at its peak should the person die too early or last several years longer than you had predicted.  Of course if you happen to know the exact date the person will expire you have a certain advantage.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Wrought with Flavour (Sauternes)

Today was a beautiful day in the winter rain capital of Canada. The unusual presence of sun encouraged me to go on a stroll outside my normal stomping grounds. Several blocks west of my house a few wine shops can be found, knowing this I left my house, wallet in hand, hoping to discover a few new wines. Specifically I was hoping to find a Sauternes. If you have not had the pleasure of trying this luxurious, sweet golden liquor I highly recommend you perform a quick internet search to find the nearest liquor store that carries a bottle.

It is often thought that sweet wines are for the inexperienced palate, something that can bring a novice wine drinker to appreciate the flavours of wine in a very approachable way. Sweet wine should not be relegated simply to the palates of the inexperienced. Port has been drunk by English professors for centuries, and with their penchant for often imbibing more than their fair share I would be hard pressed to call them novice wine drinkers. Port may be one of the most familiar sweet wines, but there are several that many self proclaimed wine aficionados will find most pleasing, a fine Sauternes will be at the top of the list.

Deliciously complex, with rather unusual flavours of nuts and petrol along side more common flavours of tropical fruit, Sauternes stands out as probably one of the strangest wines that can be had.

The process of making a Sauternes is similar to the makings of any white wine, what truly sets it apart is what is allowed, and encouraged, to happened to the grapes before they are fermented. Botrytis cinerea, known as either Noble Rot or Grey Rot depending on whether it is desired or not, is a mold that attacks grapes when the conditions are right. The rot has the effect of bursting the grape skins leading to the evaporation of water and concentration of sugars and acids. The sugar content of the grapes goes through the roof, they become so sweet that yeast can’t ferment the wine fully leaving residual sweetness.

Just because it’s sweet doesn’t mean its bad. The rot not only leads to the production of a very sweet and acidic wine (the acid and sugar have a balancing effect on one another so the wine remains well balanced) it also produces the strange nutty and petrol like flavours associated with Sauternes. There are other wines produced from grapes that are affected by Noble Rot. Sauternes is the name of a district within Bordeaux and is by far the most famous nobly rotted wine.

Unfortunately, because Sauternes need fairly specific conditions to be made and because the overall juice that can be extracted is greatly reduced, the wine isn’t cheap. A 375ml bottle, half the size of a standard bottle, starts at about $20 but it is well worth it. Because of it’s price and because I have other plans I’m not going to dip into the wine I bought today, but I promise when I do drink it I will post tasting notes for it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Patient Cook (Wynns Cab/Shiraz/Merlot)

Patience and thought are key in creating a delicious dinner. It took me about 10 minutes to grate close to a kilo of broccoli, about five to chop the ginger and garlic so fine they were almost liquid.  Lacking the modern tools to puree ingredients effort must be exerted to dice veggies till they are so small they are puree like, patience pays off in lieu of technology. Patience and determination will make a good soup, it may take quite a bit longer without a blender or food processor, the soup may be a little more like your chunky fat cousin than it otherwise would be but the soup will still taste awesome. Why as humans to we have the patience and determination to put so much effort into creating food we love, but lack the patience to wait for it to cool down before tasting? 

I made a delicious broccoli soup, before putting all the ingredients into the pot to cook up I cracked open an equally delicious bottle of wine. I didn’t expect the food and wine to pair all that well, but sometimes you have food and you have wine, you need to drink and you need to eat, the flavours at your disposal won’t necessarily match, such is life. As it turns out the flavours went surprisingly well together, the soup brought out a nice peppery flavour to the wine that was otherwise absent.

My disappointment laid not in the pairing of food with wine but rather with my lack of patience and the price I had to pay because of it. Soup gets really hot, the human tongue is not terribly well equipped to deal with boiling liquids. In my rush to taste and adjust my soup recipe I neglected to allow the soup to cool to a reasonable temperature before tasting.  The result: an inability to taste anything, including a very tasty wine that I had thankfully already opened and written tasting notes for.

To be honest I can still taste but my burnt tongue is nowhere near as responsive as it usually is. Burnt tongue be damned my broccoli soup (I can’t speak to the quality or pairing ability of your broccoli soup) goes surprisingly well with my wine of the night.

All this burnt tongue business and inability to taste got me thinking about an often over emphasized topic in wine: flavours. Does a wine taste of blackberry or is it closer to black cherry? Is that a hint of white or black pepper I detect? The more I learn about wine and converse with wine types, the more I realize the specific flavour attributes of a wine are not only highly subjective, they are also largely unimportant.

It is true that there are certain flavours that will often be agreed upon by most people drinking a given wine. But it is also true that a lot of the flavours wine professionals attribute to a wine are not necessarily because the wine actually tastes like tar, but rather the wine community has agreed as a whole that a given flavour will be described as tasting like tar. Really who the hell has eaten tar?

A lot of things are done by convention in the wine world. Convention be damned! If you want to take notes on wine you have drunk just write down what you taste, don’t worry too much about being accurate because no one is, and even if they were no one could confirm it because taste is fairly subjective.

What is more important than specific flavours are the attributes, i.e. acid, tannin, body, intensity of flavour etc., of a wine. There is much more agreement on tannin, acid and body than there is on flavours.  If you read the back of a label and what you taste doesn’t remotely match up with what it describes worry not, a good wine is a good wine regardless of whether it tastes more like blackberry or black cherry.

Producer: Wynns
Wine: Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Shiraz Merlot
Region: Coonawarra, Australia
Grapes: Cab Sauv 52%, Shiraz 38%, Merlot 10%
Vintage: 2007
Alc: 14.5%
Price: $23

Notes: This is a powerful wine but it is well balanced which makes it well suited to eating with food (my delicious broccoli soup) or by itself. A luxurious texture with mostly Blackberry but hints of red cherry there is also eucalyptus, and tree resin. A fairly long finish, this wine is well balanced and has a lot to offer it's pretty Awesome!

Creepy side note:
As I was copying the text of this essay to post I noticed it has exactly 666 words.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wine? Maybe something else... (McClelland's Islay Single Malt Scotch)

I’ve already gone on one or two diatribes about how your mood can affect the way you perceive wine (as in such post as this one) as such I will refrain from redundancy. I am tired tonight. I brought home a bottle of Wynns 2007 Cab/Shiraz/Merlot from Coonawarra, Australia. Were I to indulge myself in a redundant diatribe I would rationalize and justify my decision to forgo the $23 flavours of Australia in favor of the $40 flavours of the isle of Islay, but as I said I will go on no such diatribe.

The Wynns will have to wait. Although I know next to nothing about scotch I have a plethora of reference books related to wine, and I’m sure within the pages of one of those books is at least a short, if admittedly modest, paragraph on scotch…

I have managed to find some information that I may pass along. I’ve often thought that single malt scotch, that is to say single malt whiskey that is produced in Scotland, meant either that there was only one type of malt used and or the bottle contained only one specific batch of whiskey. As it turns out, as a great surprise to me, single malt refers to the distillery(ies) in which the whiskey was made, not to the batch or the malt used. Single malt means that one and only one distillery was responsible for the production of the whiskey, it may have been blended but only with other batches that the same distillery produced.

It seems that in the days gone by and in the days of present there were and are distilleries that specialize(d) in producing specific flavours in a whiskey. Different whiskeys from various distilleries, each with their distinct characteristics, can then be blended together to make a whiskey that is greater than the sum of its parts, this is what is called a blended whiskey.

The scotch that I am enjoying in lieu of the Wynns red wine is a single malt scotch, with a nice smoky character – something which is common amongst scotch whiskey. More on where the smoky character comes from in weeks to come, but for now, I present to you…

Drink: McClelland's Islay Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

Price: $40

Notes: A tasty scotch that has nice flavours of smoke, caramel, cedar, and BBQ spices. It's fairly smooth and enjoyable to drink, for $40 I would buy this again.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Celebrating the Past (Oyster Bay, Sauvignon Blanc)

Okay so I lied a little.  I did have every intention of posting yesterday but like much of the world I was busy nursing a hangover from the night before.  Given that most people were probably feeling as bad or worse than I was I'm sure forgiveness will be forthcoming.  Apologies to all who were looking for some lighthearted reading to wile away the hours of the day.

With apologies dealt with I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year, I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday season as much as I did.  I'm sure most of us managed to pack on a few extra pounds, decrease our livers' life span by a few weeks and plunge ourselves a little further into debt, but it's worth it.  There is no other time where we get to mix relaxing, celebration and stress in a bizarre cocktail of booze and food induced exhaustion.  People have been celebrating or mourning in this fashion for millennia.  China set the drunken precedent about 10 000 years ago if not more.  The funerary rites were such that the next of kin to the deceased would fast for 7 days, on the 7th day the deceased was buried and the next of kin would would eat and drink for the two of them, this would encourage a meeting of the two so the next of kin could pass on messages to loved ones.*

Admittedly funerals and Christmas are on the opposite end of human emotion but ceremonies between celebration and mourning are much the same; we eat and drink to mask the pain or bring forth the excitement.  I'm sure the early Chinese mourners were conducting themselves much in the same way during times of celebration.

Drinking and eating to excess dates back to the origins of civilization, people were busy concerning themselves with how to get drunk before they had figured out how to farm, one theory I have heard even suggests the reason humans went from nomadic to agriculture based societies is so they would have a steady supply of grains, not to make bread as many believe but to make beer.**  So if you are feeling a little guilty about over indulging remember it's what humans do, we've been doing it since time immemorial, just remember not to celebrate every day.

Here is one of the wines I celebrated with over the Holidays...

Producer: Oyster Bay
Wine: Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Marlborough, New Zealand
Grape: Sauvignon Blanc
Vintage: 2010
Alc: 13%
Price: ~$20

Notes: Beautiful and powerful aroma displays green apple, grass, citrus, gooseberry, and cat pee(a good thing in sauv blanc).  Flavours are much the same, hopefully no one would describe its flavours as cat pee-esque, there is some nice pear flavour too it as well.  This wine is Awesome and I highly recommend trying it as a great example of a New Zealand Sauv Blanc.

*This little tidbit of information came from Patrick E. Mcgrovern's book Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages.

**This theory was presented to me by a prof. I had in university, it was probably 1 of 2 interesting things I learned in that class.