Brett happens

All wine, most of the time

MWG February 19th tasting: Kung Fu fighting

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One evening late last spring, friends and I were downtown and in the mood for good East Asian fare but not for waiting in line. We decided they would drop by Kazu for takeout while I’d hit an SAQ Express for wine. Predictably, the selection of compatible bottles at the store was pitiful. After much dithering, I ended up with a 2012 Kung Fu Girl Riesling and a crémant de Bourgogne. It was our first experience with the KFG and we were not impressed. In fact, I’ve never heard the end of it.

Yet KFG regularly gets rave reviews from local and international critics: “Mid-priced marvel … great job” (Bill Zacharkiw in The Gazette); “91 points … Top 100 Wines … Best Value” (Wine Spectator); “clean, fresh, incredibly pure … rock star effort … 90 points” (Wine Advocate); “flat out delicious … 91 points … Best Buy” (Wine Enthusiast); “shows Riesling’s fun and funky side … 16.75/20 points” (Decanter); etc. Such praise seemed hard to reconcile with our impressions of the 2012.

Obviously a double-blind test was in order. And that was the idea behind this flight.

Okanagan Valley 2012, Riesling, Tantalus ($29.80, 12456726)
100% Riesling from five- to 35-year-old vines grown in several parcels. Fermented in small lots over two months, more or less. Blended and bottled in the spring following harvest. Screwcapped. 15 g/l residual sugar, 10.5 g/l total acidity, 2.85 pH, 12.8% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Fetching nose of creamy lemon-lime, quartz and flint. Smooth, fluid even rainwatery at first though turning richer as it breathed. Sweet-tart and fruity (“green apple Jolly Rancher” noted one taster) with lots of chalk and a long finish with some petrolly retro-nasal action. The sweetest (bordering on off-sweet) and most overtly Riesling of the three. The weightiest too, though not at the expense of liveliness. The exuberant fruit lasts through the finish while the acidity just zings. Minerals are there if you look for them. Initially winsome but coming across as a little slutty by the end. Several around the table said they’d buy it if, like the other wines in the flight, it were priced in the $20-$22 range. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Nahe 2013, Fröhlich Trocken, Weingut Schäfer-Fröhlich ($21.25, 11897159)
In my flu-induced fog, I assumed this, like Schäfer-Fröhlich’s other wines at the SAQ, was a Riesling but it’s actually 100% Rivaner (aka Müller-Thurgau), not that the variety is mentioned anywhere on the bottle or the winery’s website. My bad. The grapes come from several parcels and the wine is made entirely in stainless steel tanks. 7.3 g/l residual sugar, 11% ABV. Quebec agent: Avant-Garde.
A nose more Sauvignon Blanc than Riesling: cat pee with the lime and apple relegated to the background. Definite sulphur aromas too that more or less blew off. In the mouth, it’s light-bodied and as minerally as fruity. While there’s not a lot of depth, a spritzy tingle lends height. The residual sugar is effectively neutralized by the brisk acidity. My initial reaction was meh but the wine grew on me until I quite liked it by the end. Would make a credible aperitif or summer evening deck wine and might accompany Thai food quite well. (Buy again? Sure.)

Washington State 2013, Riesling, Kung Fu Girl, Charles Smith Wines ($20.05, 11629787)
100% Riesling from vines planted in 1998 and now in the new Ancient Lakes AVA bordering the Columbia River. Given a long, cool fermentation. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. Screwcapped. 13 g/l residual sugar, 7.9 g/l total acidity, 3.21 pH, 12% ABV. MSRP: US$12 but can easily be found for $1 or $2 less in the States. Quebec agent: AOC & cie.
Floral, boudoiry nose with pineapple and stone fruit in the background. Off-dry and fruit-forward on the attack but drying and hollowing out as it moves through the mouth. Short on acidity, depth and follow-through. Along with crushed rock, there’s an odd, vaguely chemical edge to the finish – one taster likened it to McDonald’s apple juice. Not awful but nothing to get excited about, especially when you can buy a superior German Riesling for less. Tellingly, this was the only bottle with a glass’s worth of wine remaining in it at the end of the tasting and nobody wanted to take it home. Why do critics constantly rate it so highly? (Buy again? Only if in dire need of a Riesling and nothing better is available.)

(Flight: 1/5)

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Written by carswell

February 23, 2015 at 11:22

2 Responses

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  1. […] will show better in a year or two. Cannot imagine why anyone, especially sushi eaters, would choose Kung Fu Girl when this is around. (Buy again? […]

  2. […] was impressed with this and several were downright dismissive, one dubbing it “Kung Fu Guy: the Kung Fu Girl of red wines.” (Buy again? […]


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