Monday, August 22, 2016

50th Birthday Bash, Part 2 With Zacki R. (Jul. 17, 2016)

I have a vision of what a great feast should be like. The setting should resemble a pirate cavern. Or a Paris bistro with Ernest Hemingway getting drunk in the back. The jackpot would be an invitation to dinner at West 35th Street. The food should gladden the soul of hunters, farmers, poets and  blacksmiths alike. The wines should speak of both the past and future, they should be honest and moving and they should reflect somehow on the human spirit without being obvious and pretentious.

The tasting room in the back of Habasta in Tel Aviv's Carmel Market filled the requirements of both the setting and the food. It carries on the tradition set by Yoezer Bar in Yaffo, which had the same ambiance and also the same style and quality of food. A legend in the making, arguably already there.

As for the wines - I'm here to tell you about the wines.

Pierre Gimmonet, Special Club, 2004

Serving Champagne at the start of a dinner is like starting a Rolling Stones gig with "Brown Sugar". Gimmonet is like bringing Bobby Keys on stage for the sax solo. This is very focused and dry and, almost surprisingly, better than the 2002. Very long, deep and generous in doling out a full and detailed serving of brioche and minerals

Bollinger, 007, 2009

A letdown after the Gimmonet, nuttier and wider, without the focus or that same persistent dryness.  

A beautiful moment, the kind I live for.
Prunotto, Barbaresco Riserva, 1967

This is as close to a birth year wine that I was able to manage, but that technicality aside, it fulfilled all I expected of a wine intended to celebrate your half century mark, uncannily offering decades of history in a well preserved bottle. A mature wine, on the cusp of a graceful decline, but still thriving, a testament to grape, terroir and old time craft. It begins with a nail polish aroma that evaporates and morphs into tar and red fruit. Beautifully delicate on the palate with a long savory finish. 

Giacomo Borgogno, Barolo Riserva, 1976

You'll see a lot of 1976's, as the feast was a co-production with Zacki Rosenblum, who celebrated his 40th (co-production? Who am I kidding, ZR brought more wines, worked out the costs and menu with Maoz Alonim, set up the whatsapp group. My main contribution was to text him from Manhattan to  let him know I found a few oldies and let's do it). We've had this specific wine before, I loved it then and I loved it tonight. Once again, it shows as a very Burgundian wine, with rusty red fruit. I can understand why Daniel Lifshitz, in attendance and playing sommelier, did not totally agree with me, but I still insist there's a family resemblance. Anyway, ethereally lovely and the first in a string of very vital forty year old.

Daniel switched us to a couple of whites, since we were served a platter of sashimi and shrimps.

Domaine Hubert Lamy, Bourgogne, 2014

Really just a palate cleanser in a dinner such as this, in many circumstances you could serve it as a village wine ringer, with a persistent core of rock and lime. 

Domaine Christian Moreau, Chablis Grand Cru, Le Clos, 2013

Tropical, a hint of minerals, with fantastically lively acidity. A concentrated core of lime with the Chablis minerality only showing up on the finish. 

C.V.N.E., Grand Reserva, Imperial, 1976

At forty years of age, the fruit still shows the fat sweetness of youth of a young Rioja, but  at almost any age, these old time Riojas have a wonderfully savory finish.   

Aldo Conterno, Barolo, Bussia Soprana, 1976

Until the Tondonia came along to give it an honest fight, this was undeniably the wine of the night, with tar, truffles, cured meats and olives delineating a superbly balanced wine. A GREAT wine! 

R. Lopez de Heredia, Tondonia, Grand Reserva, 1976

Long and savory. Very long. Very savory. How should I put it? Riojas have a savory, pungent, almost green character that is feels as though  a particle accelerator condensed the Tempranillo and embedded it with green tobacco leaves. This is an epitome of that style. With the ephemeral body that swings between savory and sweet. Ahhhhh....

Giacomo Borgogno, Barolo Riserva, 1996

In another setting - say a long evening with it at home - this would knock me out with its tar, spices and rust. But you can see what it had to contend with, and it really comes of very young in comparison with its 1976 brother. 

R. Lopez de Heredia, Tondonia, Reserva Blanc, 1999

Chlorine and peroxide. Interesting and unique, but not for everyone. 

Domaine Prieuré Roch, Ladoix Premier Cru, 2011

I have yet to be impressed with this house. This wine is very fresh, for sure, but doesn't show a whole lot beyond that.

Chateau de Beru, Chablis, Clos de Beru, 2012

This, on the other hand, is fresh and impressive. Daniel says this monople should have been a Grand Cru. I'll have to get back on that until I taste it with a considerably less fatigued palate , but it's surely as intense and long as a Grand Cru - I'm just undecided on issues like complexity and depth.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

50th Birthday Bash, Part 1

I'll say this about the Krug and Trotanoy -
Some kings can go abroad without their crown
and traffic will still stop to let them pass.
Inasmuch as I ever stopped to think about it, turning fifty always seemed like something that happens to other people. My family, neighbors, the old blokes on the bus. But never to me. Never to me. It really only started to dawn on me about two years ago that the Big Fifty was coming up. The imaginary line that defines the generation gap even more than forty does. I mean, at forty you're not that far off from your teens and early manhood. If you kill a man when you're twenty, by forty you'd be out and still young enough to enjoy your freedom, still plenty of years down the road. Fifty is more like, hey, wha' happen'? Can I get a second chance and do this all over again?

So I've been ignoring the clock hands for years. On the other hand, I'm this wine guy, you know, and what do wine guys do? Right. Collect and age wines. Obviously, that part of me is very well aware of the never ending passage of time, buying presents for myself to enjoy when I'm sixty four. Perpetually adding bottles to my time vault.

But there never seem to be enough wines in that vault. Certainly, as the big day approached, I found myself in a shopping frenzy, searching for special, mature wines to match the occasion. Luckily, I have friends to share them with, friends to bring their own special wines to the table.

This is the first installment in the week long Bacchanalia that my birthday celebration turned into.

Krug, Grand Cuvee, n.v.

Every house will tell you that they construct their non-vintage cuvees as carefully as their vintage Champagnes. Eventually, you stop to buy into the hype. But in the case of Krug, the hype is real (and so is the price - it does cost as much as a vintage wine from most houses and growers). Full and ripe, very complex and beautifully detailed, any complaints aired 'round the table about the high dosage were adequately addressed by the juice in the bottle and the huge helpings of brioche and minerals that were lush and restrained at the same time - which really is the combination you look for in Champagne.

De Montille, Volnay Premier Cru, Taillepieds, 1998

I have my moral reservations about how this house turned into an empire that sprawls across so many vineyards in both Beanue and Nuits. I also have my reservations about how much this bottle reminds me of a Nebbiolo. I would, in all honesty, never have guessed Burgundy blind. On the other hand, 1998 was still pere Hubert's vintages, and he was notorious for making tough wines in need of time. So I can see where I need to adjust my expectations. With the tight black fruit and minerals that are more about tar than forest floor, this is in sharp contrast with Ettiene's wines, where the fruit is redder and sexier. I've never tasted the elder Montille's wines, so, at the end of the day, this was a great birthday gift, because it really expanded my knowledge of Bourgogne lore.

Lucien le Moine, Clos de la Roche, 1999

I'm not a fan - in fact, I'm usually rabid enough to despise this negociant's pandering to the American palate (and wallet) - but this is a very good wine, even if it starts off resembling Côte Rotie with all that black pepper. Sigh. If a red Bourgogne has to resemble a Syrah, Côte Rotie is the lesser of possible evils, as it's the softest, most Burgundian appellation to begin with. Don't get me wrong, though - I'm a very big North Rhone fan, it's just that I like my Bourgognes to smell and taste like Bourgogne. Call me a classicist. But, this really is an excellent wine and any of the oak that has made (or broke) le Moine's reputation is well gone by now, integrated into the fruit. Just give it time to show its Bourgogne character.

Chateau Tratonoy, Pomerol, 1989

At the price I manage to score this, it is just a little higher priced than the latest vintage of the Katzrin red, we all noted, with ten times the class and pleasure. If there is anything wrong with this twenty seven year old Right Banker, is that it's still young and has not yet started to show its best, I actually think we should have decanted it. What you can get, even now, is the depth and pedigree shrouded by the iron and tannins.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Euro Cup Finals Wines (Jul. 10, 2016)

I'm not going to try to describe the game in detail. I leaned towards France because I was watching and drinking with a bunch of militant Francophiles, but I honestly could have gone both ways. Somehow I managed to see past Ronaldo's posturing and appreciate his talent and dedication, for a change.

As for the wines, this is what you get when you take a few game wine importers and their clientele. And invite Yair Haidu.

The whites were not, looking at the group as a whole, terribly exciting. Domaine Bernard Moreau et Fils, Chassagne-Montrachet, 2012 showed good balance and excellent acidity, but to some degree, the nose masked its pears and flint behind the oak. Domaine Bachelet, Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru, Les Macherelles, 2011 was better, the oak certainly less obtrusive, similar enough in style to declare itself Chassagne, but not really a leap in quality. Hospices de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne, 2010 was an underachiever, oily and fat with low acidity. Domaine Fourrier, Bourgogne Blanc, 2010 was a curio, a white from the Cote de Nuits, but a nice curio, fresh, pure and rocky, and my favorite of the Bourgognes.

The best white of the lot was a Sauvingon Blanc.

Michel Redde et Fils, Pouilly-Fume, Majorum, 2012

The Redde family is a great Pouilly-Fume producer and this is their top wine. It needs time to express itself, but even now you get mint and nuts, guayavas and, foremost, minerals.

The reds ranged from interesting to excellent to sublime. Domaine Fourrier, Chambolle-Musigny, Vieilles Vignes, 2009 was one of the interesting, if not very Chambolle IMHO, the muscles and iron speaking of Gevrey, where the domaine is located. Chateau Palmer, Margaux, Alter Ego, 1998 also did not speak much of its origins, obviously Left Bank with its black fruit and iron, but without any Margaux opulence or sexiness. Haidu brought the Henri Bonneau, Chateauneuf du Pape, Reserve des Celestins, 1999 and thought highly of it, but while I have great respect for his taste and judgement, all I got was brett.

Marquis d'Angerville, Volnay Premier Cru, Taillepieds, 2011 was excellent and savory, with a complex nose of black fruit and spices, but very tannic and tight, giving much less than the 2011 Champans, which had really knocked me out in the past. Armand Rosseau, Gevrey-Chambertin, 2013 is floral and harmonically lush and spicy. The tannins are present but soft and well enveloped. Olivier Guyot, Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, 2007 was the final red in the "excellent" category, before we went on to the sublime. I always love Guyot and this shows the house style, lithe and sexy, floral and focused. Where is the Grand Cru? Not in the depth or complexity but in the composure and purity. Lovely.

At the heart of every lover of French wine, at the deepest core, is a lifelong desire to drink wines like the following two. And this desire, it defines and forms us. It doesn't really matter whether Bourgogne or Bordeaux is your drug, you want that moment when the wine combines the nuanced subtlety of age with the potent freshness of youth.

Marquis d'Angerville, Volnay Premier Cru, Clos des Ducs, 1979

Sous bois maturity and a touch of sautéed fruit and coffee grains, with those mature nuances and almost poetic composure that make you swoon.

Domaine Hudelot-Noellot, Richebourg Grand Cru, 2008

This shows a similar mature character, which belies its actual age, but it is more vibrant and focused than the d'Angerville. The nose, with its exotic spices, is ethereal.

The evening ended with, first, a Champagne that I had brought to celebrate French victory, followed by a Port, because, well, the French lost and the Portuguese won.

Fourny et Fils, Vertus Premier Cru, Grande Reserve, 2009

Primal with an extravagant mousse. It does remind me of Larmandier, who is also a Vertus producer, but at this stage, the ripeness of the fruit captures the limelight at the cost of all else..

Taylor's, Quinta de Vargellas, Vintage Port, 1996

Here  I find that typical Port character - band aid and raisins - love it or leave it, the team earned our respect and deserved a vintage Port.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

An Evening With Jean-Claude Berrouet (Jul. 6, 2016)

Present only in spirit
A guy can dream, right? A guy can dream that he will one day drink a bottle of Romanee-Conti or La Tache. Or Petrus.

The closest I got to that legendary third wine was a dinner with Jean-Claude Berrouet, the former winemaker at Chateau Petrus, where we drank the last vintage he oversaw at three of the other properties he worked at alongside Petrus.

The dinner was put together by Eran Pick of Tzora Winery, where Berrouet and his son Jeff consult. The establishment was Tel Aviv's Hotel Montifyory restaurant and the three wines I mentioned were contributed by a pair of guests in his honor.

It's a humbling experience to drink with the man responsible for 40 plus vintages of Chateau Petrus, the star Pomerol property and among the top ten names in Bordeaux by any reckoning - one of the main contenders for the top spot, in fact. I wasn't even born when Jean-Claude worked his first vintage of Petrus, which was not yet the mega-star it is today, just one property in a nondescript hamlet overshadowed by its Left Bank rival communes. The Beatles had not written "She Loves You". Kennedy was alive. Ali was still Cassius Clay.


Most humbling was the fact that, whenever the conversation drifted to the wines at hand, Berrouet never mentioned his contribution, but rather talked about the qualities of the Pomerol terroir.

Vilmart, Cuvée Rubis

This is one of my favorite Champagnes, and always a treat. Elegant red fruit on a detailed, precise backdrop of minerals and exotic spices, with a very long finish of sour sweet cherries and salty walnuts.

Dauvissat, Chablis Premier Cru, Sechet, 2012

Dauvissat is one of the great names in Chablis and this turned out better than many Chablis Grand Crus, showing marine funk with many twists and detail. A touch of oak smooths out some corners but still leaves a well delineated frame.

Chateau Lafleur-Petrus, Pomerol, 2006

This is still young and monolithic with fresh black fruit, decorated with leather and spices. Naturally, it's still tannic but the tannins are almost flavored with salt. This, as well as the other two, is a great wine to serve to people who have only experienced New World Merlot and who think the grape is very immediate and fruity. 

Chateau Hosanna, Pomerol, 2006

The nose is more extroverted and complex than the Lafleur but not by a large measure. The palate is very drying and seems to need much more time. 

Chateau Trotanoy, Pomerol, 2006

The best nose of the three Pomerols. The palate will need even more time than the Hosanna. The nose has the shimmering exoticism of a great growth. 

Mayacamas, Mt. Veeder, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007

This is admittedly a letdown after the three Pomerols, because even a restrained California such as this is still riper than a classic claret, thus all its faults were magnified, making it seem like Bordeaux on coke. There's good form and it hits the sensors and taste buds right, but underneath you feel someone is partying too hard.   

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Giacomo Fenocchio Tasting (Jun. 12, 2016)

I drink so much Burgundies that getting into the harsher Piedmonts (especially Barolos) is always a shock. That's why I could never figure out why Nebbiolo is often compared to Pinot Noir. Sure, both homeland regions are famous for putting terroir on a pedestal, but to be honest, while I enjoy the Nebbiolo-based wines of Piedmont and can judge their merits and assuage differences in quality, the harsh tannins and acidity always obscured, for me, the nuances of vineyard variations. No matter how much I have enjoyed the complexity and charm of old school versions.

Eventually, my Piedmont epiphany was bound to arrive. This small house, Giacomo Fenocchio, does indeed craft wines that discourse, however cryptically, on the different apparitions of the family's vineyard holdings. "Buy them now, they're on the cusp of stardom " - some say, not least their local importer. You can choose to ignore the hype, but don't ignore the wines; their quality is just about matched by their fair price, and their tasting price is a joke (it's the second price listed after each wine below).

Roero Arneis, 2015

The Arneis grape is usually considered a bit of a throwaway by most wineries, but this is lovely and moreish, with a sweet floral musk and a light crisp body that packs intensity without weight or fatigue. It comes off as finely structured Malvasia, which is good. I like Malvasia for quaffing and the Arneis provides that with an additional modicum of intellectual pleasure as well.

95/75 NIS.

Langhe, Freisa, 2014

Another throwaway grape, considered a precursor to Nebbiolo, hence most wineries are wary of wasting vineyard space on it, instead of planting, well, more Nebbiolo. Fenocchio opts to keep at it, and good for them, and us. This has a lot of traits common to beloved rustic wines: leather, black pepper, barnyard, while on the other hand the same tar and dust/spices as Nebbiolo. Tannic and lean with some room for improvement, this is, for my tastes, a good choice for a house wine.

95/75 NIS.

And now we reach the holy grail of many lovers of Nebbiolo: Barolo. The basic bottling is quite a good deal, while each of the crus is subtly, yet distinctly, individualistic.

Barolo, 2012

A classical Barolo nose, complex, tarry, herbal, while the palate is typically tannic, yet those tannins are savory enough to make this enjoyable even now. I'd enjoy coming back to it in five-ten years.

195/159 NIS.

Barolo, Castellero, 2012

Reaching the Castellero right after the generic Barolo, the spices on both nose and palate come off as heavier, almost like coffee grains, yet they make for a very expressive effect right now. It helps that the tannins are, again, savory, almost saline. In Burgundy, this would be a village lieux-dit only, as its rusticity makes it an expansion of the basic Barolo, whereas the other crus, starting with the Cannubi, branch off to more aristocratic, involved expressions, making them the equivalents of Premier Crus, even Grand Crus.

320/245 NIS.

Barolo, Cannubi, 2012

A more elegant nose, soft-spoken, flowery. The palate is tannic, yet more approachable than the Castellero. For about 10 minutes. Then it closes seamlessly. But it still shines for enough time to get a sense of its depth and finesse.

349/265 NIS.

Barolo, Bussia, 2012

The most special, expressive nose of the 2012 crus, loaded with  tar and spices. And the ripest fruit, in the context of the regional and house styles - it would be hardcore in most settings. The saline tannins soon assert themselves and the Bussia exits stage left, to (hopefully) emerge in the third act, some ten-fifteen years from now.

320/245 NIS.

Barolo, Villero, 2012

The Villero makes an understated case that there is, after all, a similarity between Bourgogne and Piedmont. While the nose is clenched at first, it opens to show a perfumed, soft, floral character almost Burgundian, while the palate is the most balanced of the four, eerily and poetically fetching.

349/265 NIS.

The 2012 crus were presented in very appropriate flights of pairs, showing that the Bussia and Villero are the elegant crus, the Castellero and Cannubi the heavyweights. The Bussia, 2008 (not for sale, Giacomo brought it with him) gives a good sense of their potential, also of the longevity, as it's just starting to express itself with a flourish of rotting leaves.

The Fencchios also make a Riserva, always sourced from Bussia. The Riserva, 2010, which sells for 550/399 NIS is currently inscrutable, with a lot of iron and rust on the nose, but that's basically all you can get, right now. So, for a prescient sense of the future, we were presented with the  Riserva, 2001, whose gracious and complex nose combines the elements of all the wines we've tasted, and whose muscular veneer is starting to show the charms of a maturing Old World don.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Portugese Wines For The Summer

Even though I'm a fan of Eyal Mermelstein's Portugese imports, foremost Luis Pato and Alvaro Castro, I've shied away from the whites and roses. Until an impromptu late evening date with Efrat led to a couple of tastes that we both enjoyed, and from there to a few purchases, which then led to even more buys. You get the idea.

The impression I got from these wines can be summed up by a single word:  "exotic". These wines are made of grapes rarely cultivated elsewhere and the wines only vaguely  resemble the so-called classic wines. So while their crisp, mineral profile may superficially resemble counterparts from Burgundy or the Loire (or Champagne, in the case of the sparkling wines), there are quite a few idiosyncratic twists in the plot.

Lastly, they are all damn good values, ranging from 60 to 140 NIS.

Alvaro Castro, Dão, Rose, 2015

A blend of Alfocheiro and Baga. A very pale, dry rose, the quintessential expression of rose as a neutral, dry wine that surreptitiously packs floral and mineral flavors. Or, it would be quintessential if there were more understated roses like this around. (Jun. 14, 2016)

Quinta do Portal, Vinho Verde, Trevo Branco, 2014

This is the kind of little wine that usually gets placed on the under card of more important wines at a tasting or gets served as an appertif in the real world where people  drink wines with their dinners. But really, if this type of wine is just a stepping stone for other wines, it is an important stepping stone in the world of wine. It's light, pale, semi dry, crisp, vaguely frizzante and bundles green apples with tempered saltiness. It's great value and you won't find it a mere afterthought. (Jun. 19, 2016)

About 60 NIS.

Luis Pato, Vinhas Velhas, 2013

A blend of Bical (50%) from chalky-clay soil, Cerceal (25%) and Sercialinho (25%) from sandy soil. See what I mean by grapes we've never heard of? This is... different. Just think of Chablis or Muscadet transplanted over exotic fruits you've never tasted. It has a lean body, yet the fruit has an off dry feel, in contrast with elegant dryness of the nose, which shows a touch of marine air, salt and shells. The 2015, which Eyal let me taste alongside, is sweeter on the nose and drier on the palate, coming off as a mirror image of the 2013. Either one is a lithe wine and great for the Mediterranean summer, and both prove there's magic in everything Pato touches. (Jun. 24, 2016)

Alvaro Castro, Encruzado, Reserva, 2014

If I understand correctly, Castro has two white Reservas. One is a blend of the local Encruzado, Cercialand and Bical grapes, while this one is a pure varietal Encruzado. It's less forward than the Vinhas Velhas and really needs more time (at least a year, preferably two). It doesn't have the lightness of the Pato at first, although the fruit also has an exotic profile and really holds a lot in reserve. There's a fatty side to it that is the grape, I think, as this doesn't see barrels.  There is a flinty/sulphureous character on the nose (a cross between Chassagne and Meursault) and a bitter peel after taste, that I take to come from what little tannins a white grape might have, which is tempered here by pleasant saltiness with air. Worth a couple of buys. (Jun. 24, 2016)

Luis Pato, Vinha Formal, 2009

The Vinha Formal vineyard is planted with Touriga Nacional, Bical and Cerceal grapes. Pato does a first harvest of them all for this sparkling rose, of which Touriga is the dominant grape (70%) and a later harvest produces a red, as well as an almost varietal Bical white. All are labelled Vinha Formal, and are a CellarTracker horror. Anyway, this is a really precocious bubbly, and while it won't match Champagne for the depth and the unique brioche/chalk/mushroom character, it does offer a few compensating factors. First of all, it's cheap for a sparkling wine. Not Cava cheap, but a very attractive price at around 100 NIS.

Now, I'm fast becoming a Pato fan, and the reason for that is the way the wines project both a sense of the grapes and terroir and how special they are - as well as the restless, creative personality of the man who made them (or orchestrated the group that made them; the winery produces an amazing number of bottlings each year, and I can't imagine a single man handling the workload).

That's exactly what you get here: a wine that Pato did not design to try and match Champagne weight for weight, assuming he could (of course you can drink Champagne in summer, but that's really because you can, and should, drink Champagne every day that you can. But Champagne is not specifically intended to be a summer drink), but designed, rather, to exude the joy of Levant spring and the twinkling eye of Luis. And there's something else besides the sheer drinkability, something that will keep me buying more of this: a streak of scorched earth and savory tobacco leaves that offhandedly conveys the essence of Touriga and echoes the character of Pato's reds, without, obviously, any of their weight. (Jun. 25, 2016) 

The final two wines in this survey are the siblings of the sparkling Vinha Formal. One is a still wine from the same vineyard, the other is a non-vintage bubbly made from yet another local grape. Compared to the uniqueness of the sparkling Vinha Formal, they are both a letdown, but they are nonetheless useful wines to order when dining at Eyal's establishment.

Luis Pato, Bairrada, Vinha Formal, 2013

This is the Vinha Formal white, comprised of 85% Bical, with 15% Cerceal, and, like the Vinhas Velhas, it is a very mineral laden wine, but not the flint/crustacean minerals of the Velhas, more of a herbal/dusty character, not unlike garrigue. In that sense, it reminds me of Rhone whites, but with an acidic zest that bursts with focused precision on the saline finish. I suspect it's the kind of wine you either love or hate and surely takes you off the beaten track. (Jun. 27, 2016)

Luis Pato, Maria Gomes, n.v.

A sparkling wine made of the indigenous Maria Gomes grape (also known as Fernão Pires, grown extensively throughout Portugal and elsewhere only in South Africa), this is a spicy, very dry and chalky/salty wine. Obviously a DYA quaffer, but an interesting one. (Jul. 2, 2015)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Taking Care Of Business (Jun. 2016)

This month: the story of a horse and a tasting note of an oxidized wine.
Bonus: I detail my Gewurztraminer purchasing strategy.
La Maison Romane, Macon, Aux Vives, 2013.

I'm not sure what vintage(s) make this up. The Bourgogne Crown catalog says 2013, the  bottle says non-vintage. I'm going with 2013. Anyway, the style is the same as the previous vintages, a lot of brett on the nose, very pure fruit. Go figure. As always with the Maison's wines, a lot of jism and attitude. (Jun. 4, 2016)

Bourgogne Crown, 110 NIS. 

Château de Villeneuve, Saumur-Champigny, Le Grand Clos, 2009

Pungently earthy, with a light, unobtrusive layer of sauvage (as opposed to brett). While the complexity takes time to show, there is good balance and persistence and an enjoyable finish and I simply love the way it develops. Very lithe and refreshing and well worth the effort and storage space to age further. (Jun. 6, 2016)

20 euros in a wine shop in the Loire, three years ago. What great value!

Vitkin, Grenache Blanc, 2014

This is Vitkin's best white, in my opinion, and one of the most unique whites produced in Israel. It packs a lot of compact yellow fruit in a reserved frame with aromas of dried grass and subtle minerals and flowers. The biggest compliment I can give it is, if you had bought a bottle on a trip abroad, you'd open it with friends and go, "hey, look what I found" - I'm not comparing it to foreign wines per se, I'm talking about the thrill of discovering a great little wine. Just loads of fun and very moreish, and I wonder what will come of it in a couple of years. (Jun. 8, 2016)

125 NIS.

La Maison Romane, Marsannay, Les Longeroies, 2013

It's amazing how much the style of the wine is preserved across 2012 and 2013. Both are joyful in their youth, open and vibrant, with tart fruit and fresh acidity, while the aromas speak of flowers and the typical Cote de Nuits spices. And like the 2012, the earthy aromas and the soft tannins become more pungent with time, without impinging on the overall harmony. This sparks two observations. Firstly, the bretty character of the Maison's Macons so far seems to be limited to those wines only, so it doesn't reflect Oronce de Beler's general approach. Secondly, I'm almost surprised the Marsannays are so fetching at this age. I just never though his style would be so flattering to infants, but it is. I need to buy a pair at least of future vintages. (Jun. 10, 2016)

Bourgogne Crown, 280 NIS.

Tzora, Or, 2014

A dessert wine made of Gewurztraminer grapes frozen in the winery. I'm just enough of an indifferent fan of the grape to buy a few bottles a year and I always buy two of these, so I guess it's one of my favorite renditions. The way I see it, dry Gewurtz is interesting but not always an easily palatable proposition, one bottle a year of of  a dry one suffices. The off dry versions from Alsace are probably my favorite, but they're hard to shop for because you don't always know the level of sweetness unless you're very familiar with the producer. With anything sweeter than that, the acidity is suspect, but using frozen grapes preserves the acidity. Natural ice wine made of Gewurztraminer is rare, so you're left with countries where artificial ice wine is allowed. To wind down the long story, this is the reason why the bulk of my Gewurztraminer turn out to be the Or, which usually comes off as liquid litchi toffee, with the viscosity balanced by the acidity. (Jun. 11, 2016)

Coudert, Fleurie, Clos de la Roilette, Griffe du Marquis, 2014

Well, finally! I've tried a couple of vintages of this famous estate and they never lived up to my expectations. But this bottle does. The story is the original owner was so pissed off in the 1920's when the vagaries of the AOC laws forced him to sell his wines Fleurie instead of Moulin-a-Vent, that he labeled his wines Clos de Roilette, after his racehorse, and sold all his wines outside of France. Decades later, new ownership, and the name "Fleurie" is back on the label. This bottling is meant to be drunk with some age (like the aptly named Cuvee Tardive, where  the term tardive refers to late drinking, not late harvest), but I was impatient. There nose is pungently earthy and spicy, lightly meaty, and you get a sense of oak as a frame, not the picture in the foreground. The palate is charmingly rustic, with very good length, and best of all, very lively acidity. The downside, it's rather brooding and really does need a few years in the fridge. (Jun. 16, 2016)

37 USD.

Château d'Epiré, Savennières, 2009

Even though I love the Loire and Chenin Blanc, I've shied away from Savennières, mainly because the producers imported to Israel (Joly, Clusel, Baumard) are the kind that make better copy than food pairing, interesting to observe but often mixing ripeness, high alcohol and intense minerality for an almost psychedelic effect that I find too tiresome to pursue on a regular basis. So I probably haven't had a Savennières in five years. Château d'Epiré is one of American importer Kermit Lynch's pet finds, and for the US market, he selects a special, unfiltered cuvee. This, however, is the regular bottling distributed in Europe, annd it's oxidized, too, God fuck it! So much for the artisanal hype, I'll keep on looking for a Savennières to love. (Jun. 18, 2016)

About 25 GBP.

Chablis saved the evening. Chablis, when it's on, when it's really great, takes you over like a pipeline.

Domaine Christian Moreau Père et Fils, Chablis Grand Cru, Le Clos, Clos des Hospices, 2007

I always have such high expectations and hopes for Le Clos, that I invariable wind up being disappointed. But this, although initially reticent, is exquisitely refined, with a complex and elegant veil of saline shells, citrus and pungent lime. Great length and moreish acidity. (Jun. 18, 2016)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 360 NIS.