It’s red and hearty for Wolf Blass, soft white for Müller

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      Australian megaproducer Wolf Blass has sent us three new vintages of Cab-based wines, ranging in price from $15 to $37. All three are lovely for any meals you’re planning as we slide into fall. All should be readily available in the B.C. LDB system and other stores.

      Check ’em out (and a few others) with hearty fare this week.

      Wolf Blass Red Label Shiraz Cabernet 2011 ($14.99)
      Hey! It won a bronze medal at the recent Shanghai International Wine Challenge. (Everybody’s getting into the act, eh?) The finish is very short, but the entry is very clean, rich, and ripe. It’s soft and smooth as it slides along the palate. An excellent any-day, all-day sipping red and casual dinner companion: it makes no demands and offers all-around satisfaction.

      Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($17.99)
      Leaner and tighter than the Red Label. They claim it is “Canada’s best-selling Cabernet Sauvignon”. Certainly, I’ve served enough of it, with cheese especially. It’s sturdy, rich, and hearty; loves spiced Gouda, aged Manchego, or extra-old Cheddar. A nice, full, in-your-face robust red for all occasions.

      Wolf Blass Grey Label Cabernet Shiraz 2009 ($36.99)
      This wine won accolades as the Best Australian Style at the 2011 Melbourne Wine Show—and so it should have, at that price! Fabulous ripe fruit; full and forward, with intriguing hints of spice. A keeper for special dinners and celebratory occasions. All three come screw-capped. Your corkscrew is becoming an antique.

      They are Bishop, Bunny, and Blue Bottle—and they’re all Rieslings. (At least, two of them are; the third might be a blend.) The price range is $10 to $12, and two are easily-found general listings. (Check your local specialty shop for the Bunny Riesling.) Müller is another megaproducer and specializes in soft, low-alcohol German whites.

      Rudolf Muller Liebfraumilch (blue bottle) 2011 ($9.99)
      This is Germany’s most exported wine, probably composed of Riesling, although the quirky German wine laws insist it be “a wine of pleasant character” and allow it to be produced from Müller-Thurgau, Sylvaner, Kerner, or blends thereof. The pleasant-character part is the most important, and how do you adjudge that, then? This low-alcohol gulper (11 percent) is on the sweetish side and welcomes chunks of fruit dropped in or something spritzy; makes a good punch. A good sipper you can stay with all day long. Much food will go well with it. Or none at all.

      Rudolf Muller Bunny Riesling 2011 ($11.49)
      This one gets its nickname from the image of the rabbit on the label; the producer calls it “a modern style Riesling, with aromas and flavours of peaches and pears”. It’s very easy to drink or match with food. The fruit is full and abundant, with the gentle sweetness of good Riesling that you either love or hate. I’m loving it! Whoops; I think that line has been taken. But by all means try it with a McSomething. It can only make it better.

      Rudolf Muller Bishop of Riesling 2011 ($11.99) To my palate, this is the best of the three, and the price spread between them is minimal. Fruity, herby, a little bit tart, but rich and full-flavoured; not at all sweet. For my modest money, it’s the best of the RM food-matching wines.

      It wasn’t all that long ago we were happily awash in oceans of oaky Chardonnays, splinters caught in the dental work. Then the tide turned, and the new focus for the still-favourite white-wine grape is the unoaked style. Trust the megaproducer of the wine universe (Yellow Tail) to come up with the name “tree-free wine” for its new vintage Chardonnay. (Although the little slug that says “no oak/no joke” is not one of the ad department’s most inspired slogans.) Here are a few new ones:

      Township 7 Unoaked Chardonnay 2011 ($17.99; 388 cases made)
      Get it from either of the two T7 wineries (located in Langley and Naramata) or a good indie store. Quote from the label: “the aromas and palate jump with crisp apple and pear and citrus flavours.” Does all that, too. The taste of fresh-cut fruit is redolent; it’s hearty and soft at the same time. Fish and chicken love it. Makes a nice benchmark for comparing other unoaked Chards.

      Yellow tail Tree-Free Chardonnay n/v ($11.99)
      Made from 88 percent Australian wine and 12 percent New Zealand. Lots of lime and similar citrus in a light, fresh mix of flavours. Goes with cold barbecued chicken or chicken diablo with a peppery sauce. Or salt-and-vinegar chips, Debreciner sausage, veggie casserole, avocado with lime and rock salt; you can think of a dozen more without even trying. Good price, too.

      Harper’s Trail Riesling 2011 ($19.99)
      One of the terrific new wines from the first winery based in Kamloops. Doesn’t say it’s unoaked, but sure tastes like it: steely, flinty, limy, mineral-y, and nicely acidic. For chili-heat seafood. Dry, crisp, big—but no flowers; not your average B.C. Riesling, but highly recommended as a special treat to your palate. Hide the label and make your know-it-all wine friend guess what it is!

      White Bear Unoaked Riesling 2011 ($11.99) One of the many Oliver post-office wines out there and one of the better ones. Very dry, with lots of lime. It’s not really Riesling as many of us know (and love) it, but super refreshing on a hot day. Will we get any more of those?

      I’m sure I have others squirrelled away in my drawer full of tasting notes, but that’s kept me busy this week and I hope it has you, too. Cheers.