© Copyright 1999 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.
The first pairing below matches two Chenin Blancs from opposite sides of the world in a side-by-side "shootout." The second examines an Old World and New World Barbera tasted on separate occasions.
The dark-blue glass bottle seemed a little ominous, being the kind of package that I'd instinctively associate with "industrial wine" aimed at a mass-market audience in the U.S. The contents were a revelation, however, demonstrating why South Africa has a considerable reputation for producing fine dry Chenin Blanc (a grape that the locals sometimes call "Steen"). Pale greenish-gold in color, it boasts an appetizing fresh melon scent; crisp, tart and just barely off-dry flavors follow the nose and dry out completely in a long, fresh-fruit finish. U.S. importer: Whyte Wine Corp., Indianapolis. (April 15, 1999)
Hogue Cellars 1997 Columbia Valley (Washington) Chenin Blanc ($7.49)
FOOD MATCH: Shrimp with lobster sauce (not containing lobster, but shrimp stir-fried with the same chopped-pork, black-bean and egg sauce traditionally used with Lobster Cantonese) made a surprisingly good match with both of these wines, subject to the Hogue's stated limitations as a beverage of interest with or without food.
Very dark reddish-purple. Plum and spice aromas, almost like a plum pudding. Full, juicy fruit, forward and jamlike, over a sturdy acidic framework. Dark fruit and spice and astringent but palatable tannins linger in a long finish. Balance and structure make it the better of the two Barberas. U.S. importer: Pellegrini Brothers Wines Inc., South San Francisco, Calif. (April 23, 1999)
FOOD MATCH: A delight with a simple, aromatic Madagascar-style chicken dish, breasts and thighs sauteed with quantities of ginger and garlic.
Boeger 1994 El Dorado (California) Vineyard Select Barbera ($12.99)
FOOD MATCH: Fine with oven-fried chicken.
These wines and a somewhat more detailed discussion of comparative tasting were featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor, my free weekly E-mail bulletin of quick wine tips, advice and tasting notes. Click here to join the E-mail list!
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