17 July 2009

Third Time's the Charm

I had to purchase this wine three times before I got to try it.

The first bottle (an '07) sat in the cellar until Christmas, when someone stopped by with an unexpected gift and I needed something quick to give in return. The second bottle was passed off to a friend--she was on her way to a dinner on a Sunday night when it's illegal to purchase wine here in Tennessee. Finally, I picked up a third and vowed to enjoy it, come hell or high water.

This is the 2008 Starborough Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. $10, 13.5% abv. Grapefruit, green apple, aroma of green apple peels and lime zest. A pretty standard profile for a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, but the apple peels were an intriguing element. I served it with a very simple dinner: little 4 oz. filet of salmon and a wedge of butter lettuce with bleu cheese dressing, bacon, and tomatoes. Excellent for a hot summer evening.

Kudos to them on an efficiently designed and easy to read website. Why should you have to fiddle around with a dozen pages of Flash animation to find out basic information? Now, I don't want to get off on a rant here, but...

Flash is great for YouTube and other video applications, but otherwise is the bane of my existence if I'm actually trying to get information. Wine websites are particularly bad about this, and many attempt to convert their sites into interpretive art experiences. "OK, I spent fifteen minutes taking the psychology profile and my spirit animal is the raccoon. Now, am I supposed to click on the rabbit or the fox? Let's try the fox... Now I'm seeing a baby carriage full of strawberries and the looping music has changed from New Age to Zydeco. I really just want to know what kind of grapes are in this bottle... Oh wait, now I have to compose a Spenserian sonnet without using the letter E."

But that's just me, I could be wrong.


Nicholas said...

Entire meal looks great. I need to get over my habit of always substituting ranch for blue cheese dressing.

I'm always on the prowl for a great sav blanc under $10. Darn shame my local wine store does not carry this one. I've become particularly fond of Monkey Bay Sav Blanc. For $8bucks, really cannot beat it.

Tommaso said...

I have found that many Italian winery web sites rely heavily on Flash animation. I guess they are into it, but I'm not. Fortunately some sites allow you to go directly to what you are looking for.

Benito said...


The Monkey Bay is a good one. Also check out Kim Crawford and Brancott if you like the style.


É vero... Spain seems to be big into it as well, while French wine producers often have websites that look like they were built in 1997 and never updated.

US wineries are all over the place, though it seems to be related to how big the winery is. If you've got a 20,000 a case winery, you tend to have a simple HTML website. If you produce enough wine each year to fill Lake Michigan, then it's time for the music and tweening and floating menus.


Michael Hughes said...

Starborough is another perfect example of how Gallo is a "good" multi-national conglomerate as opposed to an "evil" one (Constellation, anyone?)

fredric koeppel said...

Benito, ditto on the "flashy" winery websites. Bonny Doon is one of the worst offenders. when all i want is to get a solid price and download a label image... please spare the theatrics.

Michael, though I'm no fan of Constellation, I would need a firmer definition of a good as opposed to evil multinational wine conglomerate to agree with you. Gallo has its share of superfluous labels.

Benito said...


Thanks for the background--I tend to completely ignore the ownership and corporate parentage of the wines I taste.


Good call on Bonny Doon. I used to admire their Ralph Steadman labels and some of the other creative marketing, but lately they seem to have gone off the rails design-wise.


Samantha Dugan said...

As a French Wine buyer I have given up on even checking those websites, many of which are in French only, (especailly with the smaller growers I tend to buy from) I rely on importer's websites and even those are mostly way out of date...seems like with all the talk about blogs and social media, that these guys would get up to speed, remove the dancing cork and stupid music, just give us information.