Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bourgogne Crown 2014 Catalog - Final Tasting (Jan. 29, 2015)

Corkscrew and the damage done
Daniel Lifshitz has a new partner, Eldad Levy, a.k.a. Fat Guy. The merger has already made a foothold in Eldad's site, and I assume the portfolio to be fully available there in the near future. The prices quoted are from the original catalog, sans discount.

Anyway, while I've drank my merry way through a lot of the catalog already, I yet joined Daniel in the final tasting of the 2014 catalog in Tel Aviv's Raphael restaurant as there were wines I either hadn't tasted yet or wanted another look at.

Domaine Chauvenet, Nuits-St.-Georges, 2010

Red fruit, forest floor, a touch of animal essence. Smells fine and drinks elegant, good acids, tannins still gripping. Feels lighter than I'd expect from 2010, but I believe it will gain body in bottle. 210 NIS.

Domaine Olivier Guyot, Gevrey-Chambertin "Les Champs", 2010

This is more intense than the Chauvenet on the nose, and I think very Gevrey in character. More complex, too. Far less ready, but showing much appeal, due to the somewhat juicier acidity. 270 NIS.

Domaine Marquis d'Angerville, Volnay, 2011

The nose, surprisingly, is more intense than the Nuits and the Gevrey, and ready, even eager, to play. Here again I find red fruit and forest floor, maybe some sweat. The palate, in contrast to the aromatic intensity, is soft and luscious. Very fun to drink. Saline and tasty. 265 NIS.

Domaine Serafin, Gevrey-Chambertin, 2010

Now I'm truly captivated! This is intense and typical Gevrey, the nose making you sit up and pay close, close attention. Long and focused. Gevrey is supposed to be muscular and this is, but in a sinewy manner. 280 NIS.

Domaine Pavelot, Savigny-Les-Beaune Premier Cru, Aux Guettes, 2011

An elegant  nose, meandering and round on the palate. I like Pavelot but the combination of vintage, vineyard and order in the tasting makes for a bad showing. 260 NIS.

The Savigny-Les-Beaune Premier Cru, Dominode, 2011 is better balanced on both nose and palate. It's more complex and of a finer breed. Close to Volnay in personality. Lovely saline finish. 290 NIS,

Domaine Chauvenet, Nuits-St.-Georges Premier Cru, Vaucrains, 2010

Mostly about sweet fruit on the nose with a touch of minerals, compact fruit that hints at length and savoriness on the palate. The mineral finish hints at potential. 430 NIS.

The 2007 is an offhand fast forward to show that potential, although 2010 is expected to outshine 2010. It shows that same savory finish, that's for sure, and fine elegance. 410 NIS.

Domaine Alain Burguet, Gevrey-Chambertin "Mes Favorites", 2011

This is always a very clean, even floral, Gevrey, only hinting at the Gevrey sauvage. What I like about Burguet is the wines are very tasty but in an understated, almost elusive, manner. 310 NIS.

Domaine Serafin, Morey St. Denis Premier Cru, Les Millandes , 2002

This has matured nicely, without a hint of fraying, sheer joy of a wine that took its time to arrive. Leather, truffles. Long, firm yet giving. Showcases why 2002 is a great one. 465 NIS

Domaine Taupenot Merme, Morey St. Denis Premier Cru, La Riotte, 2010

Fruity and floral. Regal. Very clean. Very young, but its youth shows as a friendly monolithism. I expect time will expose what lies inside that soft marble. For example the minerals that are only hinted at after air hits the glass. 410 NIS.

Domaine Alain Burguet, Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru, Les Rouges du Dessus, 2011

The nose is likely as closed as any wine in this tasting was going to be, seeing as Daniel had opened all the wines earlier in the afternoon, but it shows the floral clarity and purity Burguet always displays. So there's hope. 590 NIS.

Domaine Pierre Duroche, Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru, Lavaut-St.-Jacques, 2010

The new kid in the portfolio. Actually even more closed than the Dessus. Good fruit in there. 425 NIS.

Domaine Morey-Coffinet, Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru, Les Caillerets, 2011

Lime and minerals. Exemplary nose but the palate is at an awkward stage, one it hadn't shown the last time I tasted it. I expect it to grow out of the adolescent phase, but I base that estimate on intuition and the trust I've built on Daniel's palate. 300 NIS.

Domaine Matrot, Meursault-Blagny Premier Cru, 2011

Minerals a la Chablis, fresh, steely and racy. A hint of brioche. Terrific. 350 NIS.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Piedmont, Head On (Jun. 3, 2015)


This started out, as these things often do, with an enterprising friend with an itch for Piedmont and a bottle of Barolo to scratch it with. The entrepreneur sent an email to a group emphatic towards his needs. One thing led to another and finally, there we all were in the private dining niche in the Brut wine bar, a minuscule establishment with a giant heart and heartwarming cuisine.

G. D. Vajra, Langhe, Freisa, Kye, 2011

Spicy, dusty, with a green bitterness I thought it first to be oak - but I'm thinking, after the fact, might be the grape (Freisa, which is apparently Nebbiolo's country cousin).  The greenness is drying at first, but in time, the package becomes idiosyncratically tasty with lovely acidity and hints at future complexity, if not necessarily depth.

Imported by Dani Galil, 150 NIS.

Bruno Giacosa, Barbaresco, Falletto, 2005

A fine balance here between a rusty nose and tannins and ripe fruit with a light funk. This is a big, ironclad wine, with juicy acidity and a long, elegantly tannic finish. Needs a decade.

Giaconda, 980 NIS.

G. D. Vajra, Barolo, Bricco Delle Viole, 2005

Elegant and a little smoky, embellished by roses. Very fresh and the acidity, while no less high than that I find in the other wines in the lineup, is seamlessly integrated. No rust here but no gloss either. Wine of the night.

Dani Galil again, 320 NIS.

Mauro Molino, Barolo, Vigna Gancia, 1999

A classic nose, complex and deep with spicy black cherries, meanwhile the palate is represented by savory, rusty tannins. Quintessential Piedmont magic highlights the most immediately pleasing wine of the night.

Wine Route, purchased for 249 NIS eight years ago. Molino was dropped off the portfolio some years ago.

Sandrone, Barolo, La Vigne, 2005

At this time, this is a monolithic stumbling block: ripe, modern with just a hint of typical Nebbiolo spices that grows stronger. Good tannins with rust on the fringes. Possibly hints at future complexity and mystery, and with time becomes more rusty beneath the ripe fruit, a development which serves it well.

Wine Route again, price unknown.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Premium Wine Tasting (May 27, 2015)

Premium Wine is a  boutique import business operated by Shimon Lasry and Dan Moshovitz. They don't have a site as far as I know, but you can look up Dan on Facebook.

The original themse was to taste Crois de Labrie, a small garagiste from Saint Emilion that Shimon and Dan have started importing, but since they only had sample bottles of three cuvees, they also added a few Tuscans and a rose from Languedoc-Roussillon. I was especially enamored of the Old School Tuscans, a really moving pair of classics - the Brunello and the Grandi Annate. I've forgotten how much I love this stuff when it's spot on.

Domaine de Montmarin, Les Oliviers, Cotes de Thongue, 2013

This orange colored rose is very dry and minerally, much drier than even the roses I usually imbibe. It has a lovely scent and in all, a refreshing, interesting quaffer. 70 NIS.

Gianni Brunelli, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, 2006

A deep nose, alcoholic and muscular, clenched yet detailed, showing spicy black fruit, chives, leather, a hint of violets. Very tannic on the palate and, again, muscular as well as detailed, full yet not bombastic. Needs a decade, but already shows the glory of Tuscany. 495 NIS.

The I Poggetti vineyard, birthplace of the 2011 Grandi Annate
Avignonesi, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Grandi Annate, 2011

If the Gianni stood in the corner, counter punching lithely, this dances around slipping punches. The nose is even more detailed than the Brunello and shifts and expands all evening, showing a regal rendition of classic Tuscany (again, spicy fruit, chives, leather). The bottle wasn't decanted and it's awfully young and closed tightly on the palate, but 10+ minutes in glass and it shows fine fruit, that while almost crushed by the tannins. 495 NIS.

The Grande Annate is the flagship wine and Avignonesi promise it will be the best expression of pure Montepulciano Sangiovese, That does not necessarily mean a single vineyard wine, although 2011 was sourced from 40 year old vines in I Poggetti.

Avignonesi, Grifi, IGT, 2010

A modern, much more accessible wine, showing Tuscan character on the nose, but a letdown on the palate. It's hard to appreciate coming right after the Grandi, as the sweet fruit clashes with the bitter tannins. I guess there's a commercial reason for making such a forward super-Tuscan, but it's hard to reconcile the two styles made by the same winemaking team. 300 NIS.

A few days later, at home, I also tried the Avignonesi, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano,  2011, which, at 150 NIS, offers a taste of the same Tuscan typicality as the Grandi Annate, yet without the same depth and intensity. It's still young and awkward, the tannins still bitter and gritty, a lot like the Grifi in that regard. But you know what? That only serves to underline, to me, what a great wine the Grandi Annate is.

On to the Right Bank.

Les Hauts de Croix de Labrie, 2012

A fruity wine with a light layer of minerals, not very complex but attractive in a manner reminiscent of the Loire. It offers immediate pleasure, although not necessarily a lingering one.

140 NIS (for a six pack and up).

Chapelle de Labrie, 2011

This lives up to the hedonistic label the critics have tagged on this small garagiste, providing pleasure as well as moderate intellectual depth. The palate has decent acidity and moderate tannins, while the nose has the typical bass-heavy Merlot character. Considering the Right Bank is always highly priced, this is a comparative bargain.

248 NIS (three bottles and up).

Crois de Labrie, 2007

More of what the Chapelle had to offer. At first the hedonism overwhelms the more interesting structural aspects. Then, it calms down and the structure asserts itself, always keeping true to the forthright personality, while the nose shows more details. I think it's now a very good example of Right Bank Merlot, and it would be interesting to match it against the second tier names - although, since everyone - owners and critics, admit it's a wine to drink on the early side -  matching it against more ageworthy wines would be awkward yet fun. But on its own, it's highly enjoyable and the high price is in line with the current market as well as the very limited production - as well, it's a very solid showing for 2007!

The 2006-2008 vintages sell for 590 NIS and are in their drinking window.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Taking Care Of Business (May 2015)

Pierre Gimonnet, Champagne, Blanc de Blancs Brut, 1er Cru, Cuvee Gastronome, 2008

My last bottle, of six or so. Never truly great, but always very, very good, and classic - brioche, mushrooms and minerals backed by green apples. Having said that, the last glass was a delicious pull on my heart strings: funky and brothy in a manner I can only describe as the French trying to turn the population of the world into happy, lazy sloths. (May 5, 2015)

Fat Guy, 279 NIS.

Domaine de la Vougeraie, Beaune, La Montée Rouge, 2012

While this is priced slightly higher than the Cote de Beaune, Les Pierres Blanches, I don't find that big a quality difference between the two. But who cares, really? This shows similar succulent, savory red fruit - sweet and fat, yet lithe and restrained at the same time - with perhaps slightly more delicate earthiness, and marginally less room for improvement. So far, 2012 is looking promising.(May 13, 2015)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 200 NIS.

Vitkin, Carignan, 2011

This wine just keeps getting better and more focused with each vintage. The nose has hints of Old Word meat stink and minerals, rich, yet not excessive, while the palate is very fresh and savory, the sweet fruit masking the tannic brawn. (May 14, 2015)

About 100 NIS.

Somewhere down the Garonne River
Elian Da Ros, Côtes du Marmandais, Chante Coucou, 2010

A Bordeaux Bourgeois Cru ringer? Travelling southeast on the Garonne, one reaches Côtes du Marmandais, a backward AOC whose only claim to distinction is Elian Da Ros, which Uri Caftori has recently started importing. I'm slowly making my way up the Elia Da Ros offerings and have finally reached the point where things have gotten really interesting, The nose is rustic in an appealing way, with sweet currants, minerals and leather. The tannins still need to be tamed, but the fruit is supple and savory, aptly framed by the acidity, and given the price, this is a terrific value. (May 15, 2015)

Is Pro Vinum, 155 NIS.

43 euros.

Mia Luce, Rosso, 2012

I told you about this a couple of months ago and I like it even more now, with a long sanguine finish and languid fruit that feels like a love train connecting all the people of the Mediterranean basin. (May 21, 2015)

Tzora, Or, 2013

This Gewurztraminer dessert wine manages to transcribe the virtues of the grape (rose leaves, ginger spiciness) and finally comes off as a Sautrernes ringer sans botrytis. I'll have to return to my second bottle in the future to decide whether the sweetness is too much. (May 22, 2015)

Bernhard Huber, Baden, Malterdinger Spätburgunder trocken, 2011

Huber has been on my radar ever since Romana Echensperger gave mini seminar on German Pinot last year. Unfortunately, when we visited Baden last summer, Huber had just passed away and when I finally found a bottle, the store owner wouldn't sell it to me. A year later, I scores this bottle in Berlin. They say Bernhard really loved Burgundy and it shows in the languid red fruit and sous bois character, supported by the focused tannins and leading to a finish that would not be out of place in a decent Premier Cru. Although I couldn't tell you which Premier Cru: one of the clues I use for sniffing out jokers in a blind Burgundy tasting is they remind me of a hybrid of different villages and thus befuddle me unnecessarily. In this case, I find Volnay minerals, Chambolle flowers and Nuits sturdiness. Lovely. (May 29, 2015)

23 euros.

Tzora, Judean Hills, Blanc, 2014

This is a Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay blend, and is, as always, loaded with minerals, with a savory finish - grapefruit and chalk, basically. I seem to have underestimated it at the winery last week. (May 30, 2015)

About 100 NIS.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Potter, the Polenta and the Halutzim Street Shuffle (May 20, 2015)

There's a real funny story behind this, I swear, but it's a little embarrassing. Like, five people getting together to drink some wine with a sixth person, only they forgot to tell that sixth person what the final date is, because he's not on Facebook (of course he's not on Facebook, he's Uri Caftory and he walks a crooked mile).


Now, before we start, I'd like to point out that the plate in stage front contains my favorite dish in Tel Aviv: small bread filled with pork and bacon and herbs - and shit, I'm hungry again.

Fleury Pere et Fils, Cuvée Fleury, Extra Brut, 2004

I flew this in from Frisco, expecting  a more captivating wine, and would probably have gotten one - two years ago. This is lightly oxidative, with baked apples and brioche - broad, fat, without the focused sparkle of a really fine Champagne. The mousse fades quickly in glass, although the few glasses left in the bottle at the end of the dinner work better as a digestif, oddly enough. The reason I had looked forward to this wine is that, beyond the house's reputation (and a Champagne vintage I like very much), this is unique in being a blend made of equal parts Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and - get this - Pinot Blanc, which is perfectly legal in Champagne, just unusual.

About 50 USD.

Raveneau, Chablis, 2012

This is classic cool Chablis, detailed but in need of time to open up. More minerally than marine, so while there's that classicism and typicity, it does nod at Puligny as well. So far so good, but having said that, as far as things like density, complexity, depth and length go (that is, the properties that define quality rather than origin), this is just a village wine, which I find typically smaller scaled than village wines from the Cote de Beaune to begin with - I tend to think a Raveneau should punch above its weight, but this isn't the case.

Burgundy Wine Collection, 280 NIS.

Yves Cuilleron, Saint Joseph, 2012

Avi Feldstein, the Jack Kerouac of winemakers, cursed us off for using the adjective "delicious". As his curse alluded to our sex lives, and I don't want to risk a life of mediocre coital bliss, I'm going to dance around the point and tell you that somehow this wine hypnotized me into coming back for more, which I think has to do for the interplay of raw meat and light hints of black pepper on the nose that complemented the succulent fruit, not because it was tasty or anything vulgar like that.

La Macchiole, Paleo, 2011

This Tuscan Cabernet Franc is well made, but is challenging for being as enveloped by oak as any Right Bank of a similar age would be. Don't look for Loire here, and don't try to match it with Eytan Vanunu's cuisine.

Tscharke, the Potter, Grenacha, 2011

Grenache's saving grace. There's exotic complexity here, wrought of a small number of components, like white pepper over fresh, lightly candied fruit (which is Grenache's trademark). A great surprise. I mean, look at me, great Francophile that I am, falling for this. In my defense, I'd just like to point out to the jury that this is probably close to what Chateauneufs would taste like if Parker hadn't spoiled things for us classicists.

Mersch, 130 NIS.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

In Berlin, By The Wall, You Were Five Foot Ten Inches Tall (May 8-11, 2015)

If you're looking for an huge slew of German wine tasting notes, just move along. It wasn't that sort of trip. Basically, my better half and I used the Big 25 Berlin race (which is the major 25K race, although we only signed up for the half marathon and wound up down scaling to 10K) as an excuse for a romantic getaway. Wine drinking was ancillary. The gourmand highlight was dinner at Bandol Sur Mer, a restaurant whose theme could best be described as "deconstruction/reconstruction of classic French cuisine" - and where the wine list is virtually all French wine. Leading up to that were random German wines I drank at various bars and bistros, so let's start with them.

Von Winning, Pfalz, Rose Sekt Brut, 2012

Strawberries, red apples, light minerals. Well made, lightweight and friendly, a round, appealing restaurant wine. A part of me looks for reasons to be a snob about it, but it wins me over by bringing out the Pinot so clearly.

4.50 euros for a glass.

Wegeler, Rheingau, QBA, Riesling trocken, 2012

Trocken at its best in a crisp form. Sharp green apples with just a modicum of minerals in the nose but a sharp jab full of lime and sea shells on the finish. Very good value.

5 euros

Leitz, Rheingau, Riesling Trocken, 2013

I haven't had one of these in ages, but the 2004 was one of my first Germans so I was sentimental enough to try it and it's still good. Green apples with hints of pineapple and minerals, some apple pie like sweetness as well, on the nose.

7.50 euros for a glass at the hotel bar. Ridiculously high.

Palates suitably warmed up, the race over, we partook a five course degustation dinner at Bandol Sur Mer, with wines (and cidre) by the glass, paired by the sommelier (who did a great job, kudos).


Guillet Frères, Cidre, Kerisac, Brut,

A really serious cider, very deep, the apple flavors morphed by earthy notes, yet retaining their purity. I don't know how to say it without sounding like a snob, but this is just as serious as any Bourgogne Premier Cru or a good n.v. Champagne.


Marc Kreydenweiss, Pinot Blanc, Kritt, 2013

Limpid yet spicy, seemingly neutral at first but not so, quite characterful in fact, with quince fruit. Very Alsatian yet mellower than a Pinot Gris or Gewurztraminer and very delicious.


Clos Floridene, Graves, 2011

A funky, almost reductive character. Air brings out melons, with a mineral streak. It really needs the air to allow the minerals assert themselves . At that point, it's very appealing and the nose in its own right is a knockout.


Le Galantin, Bandol, 2011

Smoky, meaty and young. Very good fruit and wine-making that doesn't rely on any mirrors and smoke. I understand where it's coming from and where it's going and enjoy glimpses of its early past, its present and the hints of its future.


Domaine de Magord, Vincent, Clairette de Die, Tradition, 2012

Interesting, a DOC that is totally new to me. Not that I've tried every single French appellation, but I've at least heard of a large majority and I didn't even recognize the name, despite the many times I've read the France chapter in Hugh Johnson's Wine Pocketbook from start to end. This is a dessert bubbly, very pretty and intriguing, with herbal/floral accents, limes, guayavas, almost like a sparkling Scheurebe.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Luis Pato

Rebel, rebel, how could they know?
Luis Pato, Bairrada, Rebel, 2010

I went to the Eyal Maron's Portugese Wine Festival and what I learned can be summed up in two words; Luis Pato. Three words, actually, if you also want to toss in Baga, the Beiras signature grape, The Rebel is one of the Pato's basic wines, with 9% Touriga Nacional and 1% Bical softening the very tannic Baga grape, which, judging by the wines I tasted, is Pato's life calling. This is an Old World wine, with a leathery, sweaty personality, juicy acidity making for a very tasty mid-tier bistro wine. Think of Crozes, think of Anjou, think of a moreish, small-scale wine from a supposedly fringe appellation, made by a conscientious artisan. And then just drink up. (May 3, 2015)

Gin Proof. Sorry, but that's the name of Eyal's import on the back label, and I'm not especially enamored of it. Don't let it put you off, though - if you ever step into his shop, and, if you're a real wine geek, you'll walk out with a smile. And this will cost you 100 NIS.

Luis Pato, Bairrada, Baga Natural, 2012

This as purely natural a wine as can be: no sulfur, acid, sugar or yeasts were added and it's bottled under a screw cap to preserve freshness - which it does, in spades! What really gets me is the same limpid vividness I find in a Moric Blaufrankish or a Graillot Crozes. (May 4, 2015)

116 NIS.

I also tasted Vinha Barrosa, 2011, a single vineyard, costing a little over 200 NIS, which seems like a lithe cruiserweight version of the above, an ageworthy wine, at that.