2008 Now & Zen Alsace White

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Underdog Wine

What They Said:

2008 Now & Zen Alsace WhitePer the bottle “Every Now & Zen you’ll find your tastebuds capsizing from the spicy surge of Asian cuisine. Now & Zen’s bright tropical fruit of pineapple, mango and lemon twist awaken the delicious flavors of spicy food and bring peace to the palate.

Now & Zen is a blend of Alsatian varietals that will help you relax, chill and enjoy plates like spicy Szechuan shrimp, chicken or pork stir fry. Bring peace to your dinner.”

What I Think:

This wine, one of my favorites, has been a bit of a chameleon. The 2007 started off as the “Wasabi White” before becoming the “Alsace White” that we know it by today. For the 2008 vintage they decided to add the “Helfrich” name prominently to the label. Guess the ’07 was a bigger success then hoped and they decided they would like some recognition. In fairness it seems it should be shared with the importer, Underdog Wine Merchants, who collaborated with them on this project. Either way label changes make me nervous and I was really hoping this effort would be a worthy successor to the ’07 I so much enjoyed.

In a word it was. This vintage was a blend of 29% Pinot Blanc, 25% Sylvaner, 16% Riesling, 15% Muscat, 15% Gewurztraminer and is classically referred to as Edelzwicker. The Muscat was an addition but the remainder of the blend percentage was fairly consistent from the previous year. This wine starts with citrus and floral notes on the nose which translate nicely to the palate where a bit of mango adds a pleasant sweetness to the texture. The tart, crisp finish delivers lemon and mineral flavors that leave you refreshed and ready for your next sip. An easy drinker that is nicely balanced throughout. As you’ll see above they are strong proponents of pairing this one with spicy Asian cuisine and I wholeheartedly agree this is ideal. Factor in my Alsace bias (see the ’07 post) as you see fit but this is a wine I will be buying again.

Rating: Buy It

2007 Now & Zen Wasabi White

2007 Now & Zen Wasabi WinePrice: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Underdog Wine

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Every Now & Zen you’ll find your tastebuds about to capsize from the spicy surge of Asian cuisine enticing you to enjoy a calming sip of our Wasabi White. The bright tropical fruit of pineapple, mango and lemon twist awaken the delicious flavors of spicy food and bring peace to your palate.

Grown in the Alsace region of France, the climate develops well-structured, food-friendly wines. Relax, chill and enjoy a splash of Now & Zen with spicy Szechuan shrimp, chicken or pork stir fry. Now & Zen will bring your dinner peace.”

What I Think:

This one had a lot going for it on sight being from the Alsace. You see I’ve been a big fan ever since my wife to be took me out for my first fine dining experience at Hubert Keller’s Fleur de Lys here in San Francisco. You see he hails from the Alsace and delectably paired the wines of the region with an incredible meal. To even spark those memories is worth the fiver I dropped on this bottle. How’s that for full disclosure.

On getting it home I did a quick search and found that this one has wider distribution than you usually see from a TJ’s offering. Given that I would generally think this is a bad or “marked” lot that someone needed to liquidate. Around the net the best price on this one is $8, $10 appears to be the average. For locals with a BevMo in the area they are asking $11. I also took note of the importer on this one, Underdog Wine Merchants, a new one to the Trader Joe’s wine aisle. On checking their site I was pleased to see another of my favorites; A Mano. Hope to see some more offerings from this importer at Trader Joe’s soon… Too bad the site didn’t have any information on this bottle itself.

This one was a blend, my first from the region, of 40% Sylvaner, 30% Pinot Blanc, 15% Riesling, 15% Gewurztraminer. Thin pineapple notes on a pretty nose, just a hint of sweetness I could do without. On the palate I find lemon notes and perhaps a hint of lychee. The mouth feel is mellow and refreshing without being overly sweet. The mineral structure makes this a nice balanced effort throughout turning pleasantly tart on the finish. For $8 I might be on the fence but at $5, factor my Alsace bias in as you see fit, I already bought another bottle. Next time maybe I’ll even have it with spicy Szechuan shrimp as they recommend.

Rating: Buy It