This article was published in The 30 Second Wine Advisor on Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2008 and can be found at http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20080423.php.
Wild white blend
When it comes to bagel toppings, I'd rather have something simple like onion or poppy rather than one of those wacky "everything" blends, where so many flavors compete that it's hard to sort them all out.
Generally speaking, I'm pretty much the same way about wine. If I don't have a single-varietal wine in my glass, I want a blend that works - a Bordeaux blend, for example, or a Chianti or Cotes-du-Rhone - its carefully chosen components coming together to create a whole that's more than the sum of its parts.
In wine as in cooking, if you throw in too many disparate flavors, you mess up the recipe, or so it seems to me.
Accordingly, you might expect that I wouldn't be smitten by today's featured wine, a wild Santa Barbara County blend of 47 percent Chardonnay, 34 percent Sauvignon Blanc, 7 percent Muscat Canelli, 5 percent Malvasia Bianca, 4 percent Semillon and 3 percent Gewürtztraminer.
Surprisingly, Hayman & Hill gets it right with this white blend called "Interchange." Hayman & Hill is one of several labels under the corporate umbrella of Cellar Door, in turn a component of Constellation Wines (formerly Canandaigua), a giant wine corporation that recently blew past Gallo to become the largest wine company on Earth.
Hayman and Hill, a partnership of wine makers David Hayman and Dennis Hill of California's Blackstone Winery, has built a reputation for impressive wines in the affordable range of $10 to $15 in most markets.
Frankly, I haven't been overwhelmed with their reds, which are made in a heavily oaked, "fruit-bomb" style that wins critical points but doesn't particularly appeal to me. Their 2002 Monterey County "Reserve Selection" Shiraz-Viognier, for instance, earned my less-than-admiring comments, "spoiled by a whack of new oak that brings to the nose an unfortunate impression of freshly sanded wooden floors. ... the wine's woody, almost resinous oak aromas are less than appealing."
Happily, the "Interchange" white merits no such disdain. It's fruity, all right, with plenty of fresh, juicy pineapple. But the fruit is cut by tart, mouth-watering acidity, and oak, if any, is restrained and subtle. It's tempting to compare it with the highly popular and much more expensive Caymus Conundrum; but to its credit, the Interchange doesn't come across nearly as sweet. My tasting notes are below.
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Hayman & Hill 2006 "Interchange" Santa Barbara County "Reserve No. 22" White Blend ($12.99)
Transparent straw color. Fresh pineapple aroma, clean and true, like cutting into a ripe, juicy fruit. Medium body, rich but dry, more pineapple with a tart lemon overtone. Textured and fresh, no lightweight on the palate at 13.5% alcohol, but acidic cut and balance make it an outstanding match with fresh seafood. (March 7, 2008)
FOOD MATCH: A fine partner with seafood and fish. It made a great match with fresh halibut simply pan-seared with garlic and Meyer lemon.
VALUE: Good value in the lower teens.
WHEN TO DRINK: Its tutti-frutti style is probably best enjoyed within two or three years after the vintage, although it could be interesting to cellar one just to see what happens with a little time.
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