The Penniless Pensioner Drinks Cheap White Juice


By Robert K Stephen (CSW)

(TORONTO, ON) – We have nosed around a few reds under $15 so, why not see what we can do with whites under $15, to save your valuable pensioner dollars.

The Featherstone 4 Feathers is medium gold in colour. Relaxing blend based notes on the nose of apple, pear, pineapple and baby powder. A bit sterner on the palate with gentle acidity, bacon, almonds, pear, pineapple, and white chocolate. Short finish with a nice warm edge.

Very skilful blending exhibited here.

As there is a 4 in the name, perhaps that’s indicative of the number of grapes involved. I’d take a guess the off-dry part of the wine with pineapple and peach notes indicate both a Chardonnay and a Gewürztraminer. The stern notes and hint of acidity are contributed by Riesling. The acidity may also be a result of Sauvignon Blanc.

By golly am I right on the button?

As to the blending percentages I’d think we are looking at 60% Riesling, 20% Gewürztraminer, with 10% each of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The website for Featherstone refuses to disclose the blending percentages.

(Featherstone Four Feathers 2012, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Featherstone Estate Winery, Vineland, Ontario, 750 mL, 11%, $14.95, LCBO #341589, Square Media Group Rating 88/100) 771 cases produced. Drink now. Great sipping wine and a great accompaniment to beer can chicken.

The Jarre Sente Falanghina from Italy is a bit exciting as I have yet to try wine from this particular D.O.P.

Pale gold in colour, it exhibits some smokey pear on the nose, charcoal almost. It also has some pineapple, quince, and orange marmalade. On the palate, smoke and pineapple with a very light acidity. Very tight and secretive wine. Not complex. Not flabby or raw. Nicely done and dry.

I’d say for simply prepared broiled fish or Ceviche this is the right wine. Best with food as so many Italian wines are.

(Janare Falanghina de Sannio 2012, DOP, La Guardiense, Sanframondi, Benevento, Italy, 13.5%, 750 mL, LCBO, $14.95, Square Media Group Rating 86/100). With Falanghina you may be penniless, but far ahead of the crowd with this vitis vinifera grape that grows on the coast of Campania, north of Naples. As the wine warms, a bit of liquorice sneaks in on the palate. It might also go well with grilled pork chops marinated in a nice hot Jamaican sauce.

Fairview makes the well known, well made red Goats do Roam a play on the French wines from Cotes de Rhone. I have tried the red but never the white, so here we go.

Really enticing aromas of peach and apricot hint at Viognier as a grape in the mix. On the palate, loads of peach and apricot. A short finish, but it’s a solid one with a mouth coating presence. A tad of liquorice lingers in a defensive pose. Perhaps a cheap imitation of a Cote Rotie but, at this price point, open up the taps.

This wine outperforms its price, and with relatively unknown grapes for the North American palate. Viognier 67%, Rousanne 19%, and Grenache Blanc 14%. This potential penniless pensioner is beaming and looking forward to his penniless pensioner seafood bash on New Year’s Eve.

This is a go to wine with lobster drenched in butter garlic sauce of course, consumed at home with loved ones and Blade Runner ready to run at the stroke of midnight.

Speaking of New Year’s Eve coming in at less than $15 for a sparkling white wine to ring in the New Year will be coming up soon. It is possible; just look to Spain. (Goats do Roam 2013, Fairview Winery, Coastal Region Wine of Origin, 750 mL, 13.5%, LBCO #237313, 11.95, Square Media Group Rating 88/100).

The Creekside 2012 Sauvignon Blanc from Ontario is almost white in colour. Rich aromas of peach, apricot and marzipan. A non threatening Sauvignon Blanc. I wonder if there is a tad of Riesling in this to take the stark and acidic edge off the Sauvignon Blanc?

The sharp acidity of Sauvignon Blanc has somehow been neutered here so, while there is a good bit of acid, there is some other grape running interference and no complaints on my part.

This is a very skilful blend.

There is some other grape that softens the Sauvignon Blanc. I am thinking small dosages of Riesling/Chardonnay/Gewürztraminer, but I can’t quite figure out what is blunting out the Sauvignon Blanc. The website and an LCBO product search reveal no clues.

Short finish and on the palate lots of peach, grapefruit, and pear. Great sipper. Great party wine, and also good with Greek Lemon Chicken, roasted potatoes, and field Red Sheppard Peppers, and perhaps a pickle too. (Creekside 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, VQA Ontario, Creekside Estate Winery Inc, Jordan, Ontario, 750 mL, 12.5%, $13.95, LCBO #620724, Square Media Group Rating 87/100).

Let’s see what those Yanks can do with a Big House White. It’s a 2012 California white wine which means, if I remember my rules correctly, that it is not from any American Viticultural Area. Its grapes must be entirely Californian.

There are tons of good grapes in California, so if you care about a Californian wine hopefully you know your growers or your motive is to move plonk at supermarket prices.

While light gold in colour, positively tropical on its nose with loads of pineapple and mango, pear and baked apple pie, this is obviously a blend. And it’s off dry for sure with loads of that baked apple pie, peach, and pear on the palate.

Not much of a finish but inoffensive and it goes down smooth. Great for dinking as is and I’m struggling to match the wine with food. I have to make a stretch here and say chicken with a homemade mango or papaya salsa. (Big House White 2012 California Wine, Big House Wine Co, Livermore & Ripon, California, USA, 750 mL, LCBO #173286, $12.95, Square Media Group Rating 87/100). I’d bet my liver there is some healthy dose of Muscat in this wine as well as Chardonnay to avoid a fruit freak out. Gewürztraminer too. Blend not indicated on label nor on their cute penitentiary themed website.

Off to Chile to try the Veramonte 2013 Chardonnay.

Medium gold in colour, it promises some richness. Strong notes of rich pineapple and a lighter degree of smoke. There is also some pear and quince. Good chalky minerality on the palate. Lurking acidity just on the edge of excess. Not much of any fruit and the palate. Sometimes I say a wine loses itself on the palate. Seems like there is no fruit to get lost in on the palate here.

Although a promising nose, there is nothing much more than that. Stick with food on this one. Grilled sausage on a bun. (Veramonte Chardonnay 2013, Casablanca Valley, Chile, Alto de Casablanca S.A. Casablanca, Chile, 750 mL, 14%, $12.95, LCBO #320788, Square Media Group Rating 82/100). This wine hides its alcohol very well.

Back to Canada now with a Trius Riesling.

I am no great fan of Ontario Riesling, but this is an affordable $13.95 wine. I suppose you may say I can afford to be disappointed.

Pale gold in colour. On the nose extremely vibrant and lively peach, apricot, and marzipan coming at you like a 105 mile an hour fastball. Deep, clear, clean, and precise like a surgeon’s knife. The acidity is perfect. No sourness on the palate or, as critics love to say, tart and citrony.

Peach and some flint on the palate with a hint of dried Turkish apricots. The acidity sneaks up and weaves in and out on the finish. A very well crafted Riesling that would be a stunner if it only had some more depth on the palate. (Trius 2013 Riesling, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Trius Winery, Niagara-on-the Lake, VQA Niagara Peninsula, 750 mL, 11%, $13.95, LCBO #303792, Square Media Group Rating 88/100). Almost, and I say almost, Germanic with the wonderful rich nose and low alcohol. Niagara Rieslings are getting there. It may take a generation or two, but Trius is heading in the right direction.

Might as well continue the Canadian theme here with an Angel’s Gate 2012 Pinot Gris.

Alexsander Estates in Lake Erie North Shore produces one of Ontario’s best Pinot Grigios (Pinot Gris in French terms).

Many of the British Columbia Pinot Gris are sour and not terribly pleasant, so my experiences with Ontario Pinot Gris has been more positive. Yes, it is white wine but as a grape is almost purplish so the white is usually quite dark, often with shades of brown in colour.

This wine is a rich golden colour. Pear, pineapple, and quince predominate on the nose with a streak of honey. It creates the impression of a relaxed wine, not buzzing with acidity. Indeed some excellent acidity control yet still delivers with a discrete power.

On the palate, loads of pear and some pineapple. Thick and solid, this is no high strung and nervous Ontario Riesling. It’s just relaxing and easy going. Lazily delightful. (Angel’s Gate Winery, 2012 Pinot Gris, Angel’s Gate Winery, Beamsville, Ontario, 750 mL, 14.5%, LCBO #331215, $14.95, Square Media Group Rating 89/100). Pinot Gris has an interesting future in Ontario but the buzz is all about Chardonnay and Riesling. Buck the trend and try this Pinot Gris.

Union White wineTired from a gruelling day and a trip on a Greyhound bus from Toronto to Kitchener-Waterloo, I remember sitting down in my room at the eclectic Walper Hotel to one of the best glasses of white wine I have had. It was a Union White.

A cheap ‘n cheerful from virtual winery Generations Wine. It’s amazing how travel can put a bit of perspective on wine.

The 2013 Union White is a cheerful blend. It’s got dollops of peach, mango, apple, pear, talcum powder, a touch of lime, honey, and pineapple. Just enough Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc in the mix to keep it on the honest side.

Loads of pear, apple, and some muted pineapple on the palate with enough complexity to keep you thinking about how to describe it. Short finish. Tender acidity.

I can only say this is a tremendously underrated and a skilful blend.

I can pick out the influence of all the grapes in the blend, ie: Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Riesling, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc. (Union 2013 White, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Generations Wine Co Ltd, St Catherines Ontario, 750 mL, 12%, LCBO #197145, $13.95, Square Media Group Rating 89/100).

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC.

Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden.

Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, “Have Story, Will Write.”

Email Robert Stephen

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