Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Attack of the Killer Grenache - Vitkin, Early 2017


Time to check in, once more, on the winery that has always been located on the "road less traveled" part of the Israeli wine map - ever since the pioneer days when they were one of the first to break the paradigm of using Bordeaux grapes in Israel.

Grenache Blanc, 2014

A personal favorite, in my humble opinion already one of the top ten Israeli whites, this has an earthy character driven by tart acidity. Air fleshes it out (and I'm not ruling out that it should be served at a temperature close to that of a red wine, which is what I wound up doing and it worked for me) so that its lean frame is embroidered with nuanced flecks of bitter and savory flavors. The nose, while also austere, starts off with a nutty greenness and it, too, develops nicely, flaring into a bouquet flaunting an 'otherness', which I can't really break down meaningfully - perhaps something along the lines of chalk laced with sweet herbs and a hint of flowers, tobacco and iodine?  (Feb. 19, 2017)

The 2015 version is, at this point, more floral. I wish I could write more about the differences between the two vintages, but besides the year's worth of evolution, there's not much to tell them apart except for the greater clarity of the 2015 and a lither structure. I think the grape is comfortable in its new home. (Feb. 27, 2017)

125 NIS.

Israeli Journey, Rose, 2016

I prefer my roses so dry they could detox Keith Richards, and this more or less hits that sweet spot, with a wild freshness of fruit, almost floral, that is charmingly tempered and tamed by minerals. Assaf Paz says he thinks he finally nailed the formula, mostly Grenache with a modicum of Carignan. I agree. (Feb. 21, 2017)

70 NIS.

Grenache Noir, 2014

Grenache can easily go over the top and become too ripe, intense and candied. Assaf, however, confidently controls the grape and this wine just nods at that aspect with candied notes, but it also shows the same fresh wildness of fruit and flowers as did the Rose, as well as hints of raw meat. Most importantly, for any wine, but even more so for a grape so easily whored by producers prone to excess, this is a personable, very drinkable wine, with a raspy, yet savory finish adding plenty of jism. The label says "Collector Edition" and, while the wine is certainly special enough, it is no high octane trophy wine, just a wine that someone made because he wanted to do something different and so eased it into being, let the grape express its character without letting it get out of hand. (Mar. 3, 2017)

140 NIS. This is a terrific wine, really worth the price, showing, like the only other local Grenache that I know of (Feldstein), that the variety has great potential in Israel.

So that takes care of the various permutations of Grenache in the Vitkin portfolio. With that out of the way, let me finish with another example of how Vitkin does things differently. And yes, I know there are at least six other Israeli Rieslings, but Vitkin was there first.

Riesling, 2015

According to Cellar Tracker, the first Israeli Riesling was made by Golan Heights. Which I suppose makes Vitkin's inaugural vintage the first good local Riesling. But I quibble and anyway, making Riesling in Israel is always a leap of faith, on paper at least. I'm a classic German Riesling guy, also willing to accept their dry versions as well as those from Austria and, to a much lesser extent, from Alsace. While I appreciate the effort involved in making extraterritorial versions, you have to understand that I approach Rieslings from other regions with a very critical eye - uh, palate. This is a good wine. I think it brings a local touch. There's a certain herbal languor on the palate that I like, as well as bracing acidity and a healthy, cleansing salinity. The nose is fine, demure if not outright austere, showing lime and white fruit rather than apples (well, maybe some apples). I like it, and I'm happy I have another bottle to age, as well as a bottle of 2014, but I think it's a little short and the nose doesn't evoke the same thrill of discovery that the Grenache Blanc does. (Feb. 2017)

125 NIS.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The World Is My Oster (Feb. 23, 2017)

Getting ready for the Selbach tasting
The Selbach-Oster house is a masterful domain, even in Mosel, a region with no shortage of master artists. I was honored to participate in a tasting with Sigrid and Hanna Selbach.

Sekt, Brut, 2013

Sekts always torture me with montages of two of my big loves, German Riesling and Champagne. For example, this marries the complex, yeasty nose of a sparkling wine married to the light body of a Kabinett, showing citrus fruit, mushrooms and stone. 

Zeltinger Schlossberg, Kabinett, 2014

Even though this is relatively young and mute compared to the older Kabinetts that followed, this manages to show a charming nose of apples and pastry and cold slate, with a precise balance of fruit and acidity. The true measure of its lovely, evocative nose is evidenced when I sniff the remnants of the glass, which is when the aromas really open up.

Zeltinger Schlossberg, Kabinett, 2013

Something happened in 2013 to heighten the impact, a little more depth, visceral urgency and icy petrol pungency to the aromas, make the finish more savory and salivating, like a fine drill sparking the taste buds. 

Zeltinger Schlossberg, Kabinett, 2012

This is a regal wine, its pungency is a little more restrained - simply a wine that doesn't need to raise its voice. And one whose voice will keep ringing for a very long time.

Zeltinger Schlossberg, Spatlese, Trocken, 2012

You cross an invisible border when you move from classic, off dry/sweet Rieslings to the dry versions. Here, the aromas and texture are a totally different world, even though some similarities remain. The minerals dig deeper, as though the earth came alive. I usually prefer the classic style, but this is one of the best dry Rieslings I've ever had, a very detailed wine that doesn't try to slug its way in, as can be the case with Grosses Gewaches.

Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, Spatlese Feinherb, Ur Alte Reben, 2012

This an off dry Spatlese, so it sort of takes the best of what the Kabinetts have to offer and changes gears. If the Spatlese Trocken shifts into mineral mode, this highlights the savory and steely aspect of the grape, with crystalline purity and a very complex and unique character. 

Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, Spatlese, 2012

This is a textbook Mosel beauty that sweeps you with lemon sherbet/drops and an almost creamy seductiveness. 

Zeltinger Schlossberg, Auslese, 2011

This exists in different quadrant of space-time, creamier, more embryonic, like being hugged by a friendly panda bear. Again, this shows how all these wines have paint different colors with brushstrokes unto different canvases, but all were wrought by the same hand.

Anrecht, 2012

Ah! This feels like the Schlossberg Auslese sank into a black hole, and, while struggling to escape, is sending out a radio signal that broadcast hints of the same creaminess, but with a killer focus, highlighting the minerals, luring you in. And you don't resist. You can't.

A brief explanation on the Anrecht. Selbach-Oster stick to the usual strictures of German winemaking and makes multiple harvests of their vineyards in order to produce the expected pradikats from Kabinett all the way to Trockenbeerauslese and Eiswein. They make an exception for three sub-parcels (Anrecht, Schmitt and Rotlay), where they make a single harvest. They target Auslese but vinify all the grapes together regardless of the sugar level (presumably after sorting out grapes of lesser equality). The idea is to showcase the terroir in its purity, without any attempt to adhere to the stylistic demands of a specific pradikat.

Zeltinger Himmelreich, Auslese, 1990

This is a fine example of what happens to an Auslese after decades in the cellar. The nose, while no less detailed than in its youth, is less explosive, chamber music rather than a symphony. And time has taken the sweet fruit of youth and delicately sculpted it into a nuanced dryness. There was obviously botrytis when young, but it's implied and insinuated by now. A lovely gift of time.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Lost In the Supermarket


The things you find on the shelves. Jesus.

I am an ardent shelf stalker. I go through 'em all. Wine stores, supermarkets, duty free. Even when not actively looking to buy anything, I glance through, look again, compile and file away the inventory and prices. Why do I do even do this? Maybe someday this arcane data will make a difference. What can I tell you? I was a weird kid and I wound up a weird adult.

But, sometimes my compulsive behavior pays off.

Faccenda Enrico, Barolo, Rocche di Castelletto, 2005

Once upon a time, an Israeli engineer on relocation in Italy decided to import Piedmont wines to Israel. His nickname was Doosh and he called his company the Doosh. No English speaker was able to contain a smirk. The operation has long since ceased to exist, but I recently found this bottle, from what looks to be a small, family firm in Barolo, in a local supermarket chain. This type of discovery is one of the thrilling twists in the plot that makes a wine lover's life so wonderful. Firstly, because finding it was exciting and remembering the Doosh was like revisiting an old Damon Runyon story. Then, the wine. With typical, intensive aromas of iron, tar, dust and black fruit, this is not the most refined of Barolos (often a grungy style of wine in the first place) - the discreet sweetness of the fruit, the tart acidity and the rusty tannins play Chuck Berry, not Beethoven. Old World charm doesn't get a lot better than the twisted, long, saline finish, its kinky, spicy intensity whipping your palate to set it up for the next mouthful, right after the nose pulls on your heart strings.(Feb, 3, 2017)

300 NIS.

Joseph Drouhin, Nuits St. Georges Premier Cru, Les Proces, 2001

The reason I found the Enrico in the first place was a friend tipped me off that he'd found a small stash of the Drouhin Proces in the same store. I won't share the details. If this store has any more hidden treasures, hell, avarice is a virtue. But I imagine my friend running into this unexpectedly. I know where the wine was kept and I know you need an employee to access the shelves where it was kept. Did he suspect what he might find there? What was he looking for in the first place? It's hardly a store that raises a lot of expectations.

And then he spotted it. He's a Bourgogne head, just like me. He knows Drouhin is one of the good negociants, so he recognized the potential in the name itself. He knows 2001 is a tough, old school vintage for the die-hards. The rare, unknown vineyard must have thrilled him; he must have relished the notion of stumping the illuminati in blind tastings. He did, in fact stump us. We recognized it for Nuits, I think we recognized the vintage. To his credit, my friend didn't insist we name the vineyard. We would never have gotten it.

It's really an old school wine. It's not a sexy vintage. You get a lot of iron, a lot of rotting leaves and rusty tannins. You don't get sleek, fleet footed fruit. This isn't where Burgundy seduces you, it's where it scratches you in the face and threatens to claw your eyes out. (Feb. 14, 2017)

400 NIS.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Bourgogne Crown - End Of Year Tasting (Jan. 26, 2017)

Has the End Of Year tasting become a tradition by now? Or was this just an excuse to taste highlights of the 2016 portfolio before the new catalog is emailed to us loyal customers?

Four or five years into the venture, the catalog is a mix of proven stars and (mostly) new up-and-comers. The portfolio become a proven commodity: I could plow into the catalog blind and come up with gold medalists as well as tasty little regional and village wines that make me purr, which is something I wouldn't say about any other importer. But, that's really just me and my tastes and there's the usual caveats: the Bourgogne Crown folks are my friends, and I tend to be loyal to my friends - although not loyal enough to overlook the rawness of the Berthaut and Taupenot Merme, nor the fact that the Guyot Clos Vougeot is, at the end of the day, a Clos Vougeot (more details on that ahead).

The tasting discounts were very generous, which is why you can all afford the following vin de garde:



Domaine Denis Berthaut, Fixin, Les Clos, 2013

An intense nose, heavy on the spices. Tannic and acidic, with good, substantial fruit beneath the unaccommodating surface. I really hadn't expected it to show younger than the higher breed wines of the evening; right now, with its raw, adolescent edges, it is more about focus and oomph than expression, and thus not showing the same pretty drinkability and grace as the Berhtaut Bourgogne and basic Fixin.

140 NIS.

Domaine Pierre Duroche, Gevrey-Chambertin, 2014

This is the basic Village wine (Duroche has four lieux-dits as well). A touch of funk - not brett, but rather the famous Gevrey sauvage character - and very ripe flowers, to the point where you'd be right if you called it rotting petals. The fruit is fresh and lovely now, not complex, but of true to the Gevrey mold and charming.

160 NIS. 

La Maison Romane, Gevrey-Chambertin, La Justice, 2014

La Justice is a classic Gevrey village parcel, where just about every producer has a holding. Less precise, dirtier, than the Duroche. As it airs, it reaches a balance between iron, earth and rusty fruit that I expect to become more precise with cellar time. I love this domaine, but Duroche's approach seems to convery the essence of Gevrey much better. At any rate, the palate is much fresher and cleaner than the nose initially suggests. 

285 NIS.

Domaine Gerard Julien, Nuits-St.-Georges Premier Cru, Bousselottes, 2013

For me, what the domaine made of this rather obscure premier cru is a thrilling discovery. The initial whiffs suggest spices and flowers, before those flowers just erupt in the glass. On the palate, the flowers are very pronounced in the mouth in a very elegant package, nervy tannins wrapped around almost silky fruit.

285 NIS. 

Domaine Amiot Servelle, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru, Charmes, 2013

A winner nose, with aromatic complexity that pulls you inward, even though I miss the explosive florality I found in previous vintages/encounters. In Burgundian terms, the palate is on the tough side, that is cool and aloof, which is also something I've found in the Amiot Charmes in its adolescence.

390 NIS.

Domaine Taupenot Merme, Morey St. Denis Premier Cru, Riotte, 2013

I have limited experience with Taupenot Merme, but from what experience I do have, the wines are muscular, yet fluid and sexy. Here, on the other hand, the palate is almost all muscles, with firm tannins pinning the fruit. I suppose that's terroir, as I never find overt sexiness in Morey. Surprisingly, however, the nose is delicate, with almost fragile strands of earth and flowers.

440 NIS. If I had enough experience with how the Riotte ages, I'd go for it, but the Charmes and Fremiets just kill it as far as value goes.

Domaine Marquis d'Angerville, Volnay Premier Cru, Fremiets, 2013

This is a Premier Cru on the Pommard border, and it shows: this is the closest thing to a Pommard in the Bourgogne Crown catalog these days, with iron, black fruit and minerals as well as a distinctly saline finish. A demanding customer, this is, even if I do prefer the more typical of the Marquis' Volnays.

370 NIS.

Domaine Olivier Guyot, Clos Vougeot Grand Cru, 2013

Powerful, deep, broad - fruity and floral, carried by a mineral laden character, it is not very complex or elegant, showing not only the power of Clos Vougeot but also the plaintive beauty so typical of Guyot. It expresses the Clos Vougeot terroir, alright, but it's a personal decision whether Vougeot is enough of a Grand Cru to justify the price. That is hardly the fault of the domaine, which, even here, is the epitome of filigree without artifice.

695 NIS.

Domaine Gerard Julien, Echezeaux Grand Cru, 2013

This is, for me, what a Grand Cru is all about. It's not about power for sure, not even necessarily about intensity (which is not the same thing as power) or even complexity. For me, it's about pedigree, and my take on that elusive term is the capacity to captivate the senses with as little effort as possible. And, as monolithic, distant and almost harshly herbal as this is, it says Grand Cru to me, whereas whoever classified the huge Clos Vougeot vineyard as a Grand Cru instigated centuries of debate. But sticking with the Echezeaux, fifteen to twenty years for it to hit its stride seems about right.

585 NIS. 

Domaine Amiot Servelle, Chambolle Musigny Premier Cru, Amoureuses, 2013

WOTN. Effortlessly powerful. Also a twenty year wine, you sort of gasp when you realize how offhandedly it wears its greatness, as well as its myriad shadings of spices and flowers. This is what I meant by Grand Cru before - and Amoureuses is one of a handful of Premier Crus that got senselessly shafted when the Cote d'Or was classified.

900 NIS.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Very Syrah Weekend (Feb. 10-11, 2017)


The young turks of the wine scene had a great initiative, Syrah Week, with participating restaurants offering wines made of the world's second greatest red grape* on special wine lists. The prices looked good, but one wine on offer was particularly appealing. The price for the Allemande Reynard was so cheap it was like the wine just fell off the truck or something. I made reservations to Yaffo Tel Aviv, just to get my hands (and mouth) around it. The other wines written up here were just us drinking at home, in the spirit of Syrah Week.

* Pinot Noir is the perennial first place, blue ribbon holder -  Bordeaux lovers are invited to sit on it.


Domaine August Clape, Cornas, 2007


This is one of the two household names out of Cornas, Thierry Allemand being the other. It's a very robust wine, and I'm not just referring to its powerful presence, but also to the healthy purity of the fruit, balanced by rusty tannins and fresh acidity, carried on to great length with zero palate fatigue. The nose is very definitive as well, black fruit, black pepper, black olives. I just wish this were more complex and a little wilder.

Giaconda.

Thierry Allemande, Cornas, Reynard, 2013

The real deal. If the Clape is putting on your bowtie to go play the grand piano, this is courting the voodoo doctor in the swamp. The nose shows the wildling character of the appellation: iron, blood, pepper, raw meat, a hint of scorched land. The palate is just as wild, with rusty tannins that echo the untameability of old school Cornas. Still raw and grumbling, yet with depths of flavors, pleasure and expression.

Imported by Eldad Levi, 360 NIS at a special price at Yaffo Tel Aviv (almost 50% off the regular price of 700 NIS). I chased the sommelier for another bottle, like a junkie begging his dealer for another fix - but that was the last bottle.

Alain Graillot, Saint Joseph, 2011

Graillot makes great Syrah in a style wildly different than the two Cornas wines, a style often dubbed Burgundian for the lush softness of fruit (although the languid, fleshy fruit has no parallel in Bourgogne, really). He is a master of Crozes-Hermitage, just about the greatest producer in that backwater (his son Maxim a close second, judging by the single bottle I tasted). Oddly enough, his Saint Joseph was always priced higher than the straight Crozes (although the premium Crozes cuvee, the Guiraude was priced higher than both), even though by many accounts it has less cellaring potential. At least in Israel, that is no longer the case, thanks to Wine Route's wily pricing schemes.

I believe the wine is more tannic and ageworthy nowadays, without losing sight of the qualities of style, which I expounded on above, that made Graillot's wines so special and dear to me. It's drinking nicely now and could easily drink just as nicely past ten or fifteen years of age. It, too, is branded with iron and black pepper, closer aromatically to the Allemande than to the Clape, but it thrives on juicy acidity rather than on tannins, with a salty/sour finish that is very food friendly.

Wine Route, 210 NIS.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Taking Care Of Business (Jan. 2017)


Tzora Vineyards, Shoresh, Blanc, 2015

A wine that always teases with the tension between chalk and tropical fruit, what makes it one of Israel's best is the sheer physical presence on the palate, multi-layered and complex, distinctly flavorsome, all the while remaining fleet and tense. (Jan. 4, 2017)

Lewinsohn, Garage de Papa, Rouge, 2014

A local classic that reached the top tier of the local reds once Ido Lewinsohn turned it into a Petite Sirah/Carginan/Syrah blend a few years ago, this, as well as other recent vintages, is styled with the same vivid freshness as an excellent North Rhone. The craftsmanship indulges in clean purity that really respects the fruit and highlights a succulent figure as well as peppery, meaty aromas. Lovely. (Jan. 5, 2017)

150 NIS.

Feldstein, Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc, 2014

This shows a mineral facet every time I drink it, but, if initially that facet was all flint, today, with this bottle, it is a rockier, grainier, sunburned minerality, and more complex for that. In other words, it now strikes me as more Pouilly-Fume than Graves. (Jan. 6, 2017)

172 NIS.

Willi Schaefer, Mosel, Graacher, Riesling Feinherb, 2015

For a producer whose output is so minuscule it has garnered him cult status, Willi Schaefer makes two wines whose easy price belies their moreish quality. One is the Estate Trocken, which I wrote about last month, and then, there is this, which could easily fool a blind taster into calling it a Kabinett. Still almost painfully young, it provides a tensile, electric backbone and affable aromas of green apples laced and speckled with minerals. (Jan. 7, 2017)

Eldad Levy, 99 NIS.

Château de Targe, Saumur-Champigny, 2014

A fresh, young red that is more pleasurable than some of the more expensive, mature Loire reds that I've tried this year. It's a quiet wine, with pretty red fruit and a modicum of earthy complexity and length - and savory tannins that remind one that tannins should be the dressing, not the salad. (Jan. 8, 2017).

Wine Route, 130 NIS.

Luis Pato, Vinhas Velhas, 2013

The Pato whites that I've tasted, based on indigent Portugese grapes Bical and Cecreal, strike a balance of minerals and herbs, which is a generic description, and what it doesn't carry across is that these minerals and herbs have a unique stamp of character you don't get elsewhere. Here for example, I get a whiff of peas and mint that recalls a Gruner, although there is a subtle exotic nuance as well, the sum of the parts making for a combination I don't find elsewhere and which keeps my nose buried in the glass. The body marries a hint of sweetness with focused acidity (both of which also hint at the exotic), making a special, very worthy wine of great value for money. (Jan. 16, 2017)

83 NIS.

Luis Pato, Bairrada, Vinha Formal, 2013

This the Velhas' sibling, heavier on the Bical in the blend, its exotic character so infused with dry grass and flint that it comes off as a Mardi Gras version of Chassagne. (Jan. 18, 2017)

139 NIS.

You can find both Porto Restaurant and Wine Bar at Tshernichosky 6.

Recanati, Reserve, Wild Carignan, 2013

I was disappointed with the lack of structure in my last bottle, but this is better, a very handsome showing: the sweet fruit a bit rambling on the palate, yet aptly supported by its acidity (well, aptly for the first hour, then I would say the acidity forces the fruit to hang on for dear life, which works, simply because the fruit is so substantial). The sliver linings here are a piercing note halfway between iron, lead pencil and iodine and a wild herbaceousness that my idle mind scans as bushes trying to suck up the dry bedrock. If you wanted to make a case for the fertile wine industry percolating under the surface in Israel, despite the odds, you just need to serve a flight of the Recanati, Vitkin and Feldstein Carignans: each highlighting a wildly different aspect of the grape and land. (Jan. 19, 2017)

149 NIS.

Marie et Paul Jacqueson, Rully Premier Cru, Margotes, 2014

The Jacqueson domaine produces several excellent, honest wines from south of the Cote d'Or. The standouts, I think, are their whites. I loved the 2011's a couple of years ago. It seems Giaconda have brought in the 2014's by now, although I had no idea, as their site has stopped publishing inventory or prices. That's just crappy service. I'm tempted to say crappy marketing as well, but I don't deny their business acumen and I'm certain they still sell well to their crowd. Whatever, this is worth a visit to their store on Frishman Street in Tel Aviv. It's that good a wine. This comes off as a young, limber Chassagne, laden with minerals and apple skins. It's already detailed and nuanced on the nose, but, despite the fairly long, saline finish and the power of the fruit, the palate is still too broadly delineated, and well in need of the fine tuning in the cellar. Damn good. (Jan. 21, 2017)

This used to cost 150 NIS. For the reasons I've detailed above, I have no idea what the current retail price is. We had this at Yaffo Tel Aviv, where it's listed at 280 NIS, so it could cost anything from 140 to 180 NIS, thus good to excellent value within this price band.

Since Giaconda don't list prices, I'm not going to link to their site. You know they're the importer and if you buy wines in Israel, you know how to find them. If you want to read about the domaine, on the other hand, go here.

Domaine Vincent Paris, Cornas, Granit 30, 2014

I've written about about Vincent Paris and his wines and I surely don't want to overstay my welcome, so I would like to write something new, or at least point out pertinent data points about the Granit 30's evolution: I think that now its fleshy fruit and ripe acidity make it lither, yet somehow more structured, than it was in the past. You know, Cornas was tagged as the burly appellation in the past, say twenty years ago, the rusty wine that needed years to soften. This is modern in its hygiene and accessibility, but retains all the qualities that makes us love a North Rhone wine in its plateau: the violets, the black pepper, the hints of bacon, the depth of the languid-yet-structured fruit. (Jan. 21, 2017)

Fat Guy, 199 NIS.


Mia Luce, Rosso, 2014

The 2015 is a brilliant Israeli Syrah, but this is excellent as well. In a way, its rustic charms may be even more attractive, with an earthy nose reminiscent of sculptor clay, the requisite black pepper and ripe, supple fruit that thrives on its acidity and dusty tannins. (Jan. 22, 2017)

Lahat, Red, 2014

Why can't we all just get along? Just like the Syrah and Cabernet in this blend, that make a lovely aromatic harmony out of black pepper and herbs. And red fruit - I still pause for thought when local red wines steer away from the black and blue end of the spectrum. Very moreish. (Jan. 24, 2017)

About 150 NIS.

Rizzi, Barbaresco, Rizzi, 2013

Rizzi is a small family estate in Barbaresco. Rizzi is also the name of the estate's entry level Barbaresco - a blend of various crus - that I broached as soon as I scored a bottle. It's approachable, alright, as the youthful tannnns add a rusty flavoring, as opposed to blocking the fruit. The enjoyment factor comes from the Nebbiolo accents: the tarry/dusty aromas and those rusty tannins. There's a light vein of rose petal aromas that should gain definition in time and lend greater complexity to the wine. Let's say it needs five years or so. (Jan. 28, 2017)

Bouchard Père et Fils, Montagny Premier Cru, 2015

Premier Cru sounds impressive, until you find out that all the Montagny vineyards are classified as premier cru. Plus, it's the Cote Chalonaise, so I suspect the classification is overvalued. It's a tasty wine, though, tart apples nicely cloaked by flint and chalk. But of only modicum excitement. (Jan. 29, 2015)

Wine Route, 125 NIS.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Groovy Times

Yes, it's number one, the radio said
Groovy times have come to pass -
The Clash
Salomon, Kremstal, DAC Reserve, Berglagen, Von Stein, Grüner Veltliner, 2009

"2GrandCru, how many Austrian wines do you have?"

"Not enough."

And hardly any Grüner, I might add. Even though I like/love the grape a lot, I tend to opt for Rieslings, lately, because Rieslings is also something I always feel I never quite have enough of (although I do have lots of them). Anyway, the word on GruVe is it matures slowly, so what I do buy, I tend to drink fairly quickly, because it seems like there's no upside in just a little cellaring. Thus, I was happy to buy this seven year old from Eldad and see where medium term cellaring brought us. The nose is discreet, herbal and green - think of mint for reference - with perhaps just a hint of smoke. Other than that, yellow summer fruits, echoed on the palate, with is deep and wide, culminating in the signature spicy finish which is Austria's gift to the world of wine. (Nov. 15, 2016)

210 NIS.

Never one to easily sate an appetite, I continued on a mini GruVe binge.

Schloss Gobelsburg, Kamptal, DAC Reserve, Lamm Erste Lage, Grüner Veltliner, 2010

Schloss Gobelsburg fascinates me, an ancient, venerable property bought and revived by a fanatic who earnestly attempts - and succeeds - to combine traditional styles and approaches with modern technique and hygiene. Now, I know this suggests hipster hype, so you'll just have to trust me. The Moosebrugger family and their team manage, more often than not, to live up to, even surpass, their ambitions. The Lamm, for example. So deep and full, it gives an almost sweet impression, certainly a riper one than the equally deep Salomon, yet that impression is derived from a vital, fleshy, dense and detailed substance - providing the wine with another decade of life at least. The character of the grape is equally typical, similarly evoking yellow summer fruit, as well as smoke, herbs and spices. Where it pulls away from the Von Stein is with a curlicue of nut oil that is elusive, yet confidently insists on attention. That inspired interplay with the senses, backed by the density of the fruit is what, for me, defines the fruit of a great vineyard. And, a great team. (Nov. 25, 2016)

259 NIS.

Schloss Gobelsburg, Kamptal, DAC Reserve, Grub Erste Lage, Grüner Veltliner, 2010

Without tasting the Lamm and Grub side by side, it's challenging to grasp how the nuances of terroir assert themselves, but this is also a great wine. This, too, is dense and ripe, equally detailed, playing out cantaloupes and assorted summer fruit against an equally captivating backdrop of smoke and herbs, at the same time adding a layer of minerals that was not obvious in the Lamm. I just love these pair, easily the equal of many a Bourgogne Premier Cru. (Jan. 14, 2017)

211 NIS.

Hirsch, Kamptal, DAC Reserve, Kammerner Lamm Erste Lage, Grüner Veltliner, 2011

From the same grand Lamm vineyard, this is both greener and more mineral scented, more white pepper than spices. Among other differences, this has a lean, taut vibrancy, in contrast with the sober classicism of the Gobelsburg  - although, Grüner being what it is, the Hirsch also has plenty of heft and the same canopy of summer fruit. (Nov. 26, 2016)

225 NIS.

These are all imported, distributed and sold by Fat Guy/Wine Domaines of Austria. All will age well, assuming, that is, you can find the willpower to keep away from them.