Friday, April 18, 2014

Just Rewards (Apr. 16, 2014)

My deal with the universe is, I run an important race, I get to open a Champagne. Not that I necessarily need an excuse, but it does make a potentially astonishing drink an even more memorable experience.

Case in point:

Jean Lallament, Verzenay Grand Cru, Reserve Rose, n.v.

What a focused, yet expressive nose: all the vital energy deep inside the earth of Verzenay seems to flower in a a display of strawberries, minerals, mushrooms and brioche. The palate, too, is a geology lesson - long, detailed, savory, fully echoing the portrait that the aromas paint. This is, unsurprisingly, an elaboration of the Lallament house style, as depicted in the regular non-vintage cuvee, and an uncommonly funky thing of beauty I could thrive on forever.

Fat Guy, 319 NIS.

We drank through the Lallament way too soon (Eldad Levy, I will call you shortly!) and needed more wine to top off the night, so I chose what some might call a minor wine, but which I find to be a relevation.

Benoit Ente, Aligote, 2011

My friend Gal Zohar calls this the best Aligote he's ever tasted and I tend to agree, because it surely matches the Lallament in its nigh defiant individualism. The nose so pungent with minerals you could almost use the olfactory memories as a real estate statement, while the palate is fresh and lively, with a hint of olive brine and vibrant acidity. It's a little wine, make no mistake about it, but it's a great little wine.

Bourgogne Crown, 90 NIS.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt (Mar. 13, 2014)

One day I'll drop by and thank them personally for their Clos St. Jean Rouge
I was trying to find an apt title for a red Bourgogne tasting that Daniel Lifshitz presented and it struck me that the title of this D.J. Shadow track somehow nails Burgundy: creating an ephemeral presence with the bare essentials. That, and a supple core of minerals.

Most of the wines tasted are from Daniel's Bourgogne Crown catalog (the site is not up to date at this time, but here's the link for posterity's sake), with a few 'guests' contributed by the participants.

The idea was to taste village level reds, but Daniel had a couple of leftover bottles from a trade tasting he had held earlier in the day, so we started out with a couple of bonuses.

Benoit Ente, Bourgogne Aligote, 2011

Hey! Aligote works (but I've known that for years)! This is focused and long, tasty, stony with palate cleansing acidity, the fruit coming across as somewhere between a lean Chardonnay and a Melon de Bourgogne.

100 NIS.

Olivier Gouyot, Bourgogne, 2010

Earthy red fruit. Good aromatic complexity and character. The palate is short and and direct, but very tasty. The grapes are actually sourced from Marsannay village crus, making this a good value.

100 NIS.

On to the tasting proper and the first 'guest star', whose purposes seemed, in hindsight, to prove to the audience what happens when you try to age a low level wine, indifferently made, from a vintage not renowned for its staying power:

Faiveley, Cote de Beaune Villages, 2007

Tired nose. Dead palate, short, flat.

HaKerem, about 90 NIS.

Back to the world of the living:

Joseph Drouhin, Savigny-Les-Beaune, 2008

Nice nose, not great but with a taste of the spicy red fruit I love. Terrific acidity with fruit that needs to fill out and complement the acidity, which I expect to come with airing, not aging.

Scottish Company/Tiv Ta'am, 160 NIS, I suppose.

Domaine Pavelot, Savigny-Les-Beaune, 2011

Terrifically vibrant and enticing. Earthy, full and balanced. Pure, elegant with focused and friendly power. Just lays out on your palate with effortless ease.

165 NIS.

Two more guest stars.

Domaine Jacques Prieur, Beaune Premier Cru, Clos De La Feguine, 2005

Dark, extracted - too extracted! - earthy, black fruit, encumbered with oak. A Bourgogne for lovers of Ribera. Prieur (like Jadot, both of which are carried by Wine Route) used to be a good place to start exploring Burgundy, but the style is really a blend of lackluster and vulgar wine making and today we in Israel simply have too many better options.

About 200 NIS, I'd guess.

Domaine Denis Carre, Pommard, Les Noizons,1999

This wine has a handsome mix of black fruit, black pepper and minerals, and shows respectable maturity without having gained profound depth from its age. Foursquare, a wine as exciting as an accountants convention.

Source and price unknown.

Marquis d'Angerville, Volnay, 2011

As d'Angerville, along with Montille, is one of the stars of Volnay, even his village wine should be interesting, but this bottle just didn't deliver. Oak forward, soft fruit with a lean, acidity driven core adding a lithe punch. A hint of flowers. And that's just about it for now.

265 NIS.

The star of the night.

Domaine Blain-Gagnard, Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru, Clos Saint Jean, 2011

A classic Bourgogne nose, reminiscent of perhaps Chambolle due to a flowery overlay. The most elegant wine of the night. Lovely and lively, delicately expressive in an off the cuff manner. Good, caressing fruit and acidity.

235 NIS.

I won't judge the hosts' decision to add guest stars to the lineup, but my notes for their showing speaks for itself (although the Drouhin is fine drop). I enjoyed the company and hospitality and the evening was educational and fun.

On the drive back with Daniel, I drank a couple of more leftovers from his earlier tasting. The d'Angerville, Bourgogne, 2011 (160 NIS) was drinking better than the village, with a fuller presence. As I was drinking from a Bordeaux glass, the Volnay character was subdued, but it sure was tasty. The Alain Burguet, "Les Pinces Vin", 2011 (a Gevrey village sold as a Bourgogne), was flowery and elegant, less animalistic than I would expect, whether because of the glass or whether because it comes from a cool parcel in the village.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Taking Care Of Business (Mar. 2014)

Alzinger. Leo Alzinger.
 A. Margaine, Special Club, Blanc de Blancs, Brut, Premier Cru, 2004

This was a hell of a steely Champagne in its youth, but now it shows the nutty and mushroom aromas of bottle age as well as a faintly biscuit-y mouth-feel, with acidity that is thrilling and understated at the same time. A complex, special creature that is almost too tasty for its (or my) own good - even if the mousse is not very persistent - because while it pairs excellently with food, it is in many ways a contemplation wine. (Mar. 1, 2014)

Fat Guy, 310 NIS.

Chéreau-Carré, Comte Leloup de Château de Chasseloir, Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine, Cuvée des Ceps Centenaires, 2009

Clean and pure, lime with clay notes. Tasty, with hardly a hint of the complexity these are reputed to have with age, a cross between Bordeaux and Macon whites. (Mar. 4, 2014)

Wine Route, 84.90 NIS.

Simon Bize, Bourgogne, Les Perrières, 2010

The nose is less expressive than I'd hoped, dusty cranberry with a touch of spice and hide, as well as an obvious, if not overdone, touch of oak. The palate has greater presence and length than I'd imagined, though, as well as tasty, sappy fruit; however, since here, too, the oak is felt (albeit not too obviously, again), I'd give it another year. A raw, nubile, overachiever. (Feb. 6, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 140 NIS.

Henri Gouges, Nuits-St.-Georges, 2006

Another 2006 with low sex appeal factor, this is ready to drink, with earthy red, but mostly black, fruit and sweat and spices that suggest the Nuits brand of masculinity. The palate is fairly complete, not especially long, with supple, mellow fruit and low keyed acidity. As is usually the case with many Villages, the complexity is mostly in the bouquet. (Mar. 8, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 200 NIS.

Roger Sabon, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Cuvee Prestige, 2004

I'm almost through my CdPs. Thank God. After this, only the really good stuff (Pegau, Beaucastel, Vieux Telegraph) remain. This is Hell's Angels, muscle-bound, leather-bound stuff with dusty spices somewhat closer to Piedmont than to Provencial garrigue. Not as bad as I'd feared, very good within its style, to be quite honest, with good complexity on the nose and enough old school character and charm to overcome any deficits vis a vis finesse. I may not like Chateauneuf any more, but even though Sabon is controversial in my wine drinking circle, this specific bottle is a good reminder of how the village got its reputation in the first place. (Mar. 9, 2014)

Wine Route, 250 NIS.

Bernard Baudry, Chinon,  Le Clos Guillot, 2010

Red fruit with a pungent streak of minerals and tobacco leaves, and a light touch of brett. A good tannic structure that is somehow coupled with languid fruit for a tasty impact on the taste buds. Although two-three years will give it a much more idiosyncratic complexity. (Mar. 10, 2014)

Wine Route, 125 NIS.

Müller-Catoir, Pfalz, Haardter Bürgergarten, Riesling Auslese, 2007

This might not have the thrilling, acidity-driving pizzazz of the best Teutonic Ausleses, but it sure is a delicious confection, with botrytis and a touch of dill and slate to complement the apricot toffee and marmalade. (Mar. 11, 2014)

Giaconda, 170 NIS for a half bottle.

Jean Foillard, Morgon, Côte du Py, 2011

Oh my, this is in such a good place right now! The earthy fruit is just so full, deep and vivid, the saline finish so tasty. Easily on the quality level of a good Cote d'Or village cru, at the very least. (Mar. 14, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 140 NIS.

Jean Lallement, Champagne Brut, Verzenay Grand Cru, n.v.

I had this just two months ago and I've been waiting restlessly ever since to come back home again, where salty cashews and chicken broth marry foamy citrus fruit and minerals in an elegant funk of pure umami. I've had better champagnes, but few as unique as this. (Mar. 16, 2014)

Fat Guy, about 280, 300 NIS, something like that.

Domaine de la Vougeraie, Beaune, La Montée Rouge , 2011

Very much in keeping with the Vougeraie house style (never too ripe, clean, with just a touch of offhand imprecision to keep things interesting), this offers perfumed, savory red fruit, with a lithe acidic/tannic backbone and a somewhat earthier tone than the cheaper Les Pierres Blanches, but also arguably more complexity. Another '11 that is very much fun to drink young - and Vougeraie is alwys fun to drink. (Mar. 17, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 190 NIS.

Selbach-Oster, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, Riesling Spätlese, feinherb "Ur Alte Reben", 2012

A fine, young Riesling, just about all fruit now, lightly tropical with a hint of mint, with a supple structure, great depth and much potential. (Mar. 21, 2014)

33 USD. Will some kind importer pick up the gauntlet?

Terre Nere, Etna Rosso, Calderara Sottana, 2009

This shares the complex dusty/spicy black fruit aromatics of a good Nebbiolo, with the pondering heaviness on the palate, which often takes years to settle down. Instead, this is light and tasty, yet with the depth of a good Barolo. (Mar. 22, 2014)

Fat Guy, 230 NIS.

Hubert Lignier, Gevrey-Chambertin, Les Seuvrees, 2008

Man, I wish we had more excellent Bourgogne vintages that are as underrated as 2008 is, with its freshness, vividness and elegance. This sample is, once again, droolingly tasty. (Mar. 23, 2014)

Wine Route, 250 NIS.

Jean-Louis Denois, Limoux, Chardonnay Extra Brut, n.v.

I've  had this several times and this is turning into a very tasty, savory sparkler that could give some non-vintages a good fight, albeit in the citrus, steel and mushrooms side of the spectrum rather than apples, chalk and brioche. (Mar. 27, 2014)

Fat Guy, 105 NIS.

Leo Alzinger,  Wachau, Loibenberg, Riesling Smaragd, 2012

This youngster comes from one of Alzinger's two top vineyards, the other being Steinertal. I suppose it was early to open it, but I really was curious and I have two more bottles (plus another pair from 2010), so I'm still in a good place with my stocks. The aromatics are still in the green herbs and peas phase, which I find typically Austrian. The palate is full and friendly, with sweetness that is braced by a raspy, spicy, mineral cut, with a only a hint of the complexity and personality that the vineyard's pedigree promises.

But good wines offer a journey, and here, although progress is glacial, there is a wisp, a hint of shimmering, mentholated slate, that serves as an innuendo, a suggestion, rather than an actual road mark, of what's ahead. And heck, the landscape sure looks good - got a lot of baby fat to burn off, though. (Mar. 30, 2014)

Fat Guy, 231 NIS.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pot Luck Tasting With a Few Gold Nuggets (Feb. 24, 2014)

Austria: douze pointes!
Vouette et Sorbee, Fidele, Extra Brut, nv

100% Pinot Noir, from a small grower and with about six years of cellaring on it. Earth, apples, pear, mushrooms, as well as terrific acidity for my taste. Great fun with good structure, and I wish I had a bottle to 'study' alone.

Schloss Schonborn, Rheingau, Hattenheimer Nubbrunnen, Riesling Auslese, 1976

The color is light mahogany but it smells and tastes very fresh and balanced. There's some petrol, but it shows even more green tea and a touch of musk, a la some sweet Chenins.  I'm not sure what its ideal drinking window should have been, but it doesn't seem at all over the hill.

Domaine de la Vougeraie, Bonnes Mares, 2004

Broad and complex and surprisingly tannic for a 2004. The nose is full of tertiary aromas and much better than the palate. Perhaps I should elaborate. One of the givens for a good Grand Cru is that the palate should be better than the nose, with power or complexity or finesse - something to give you pause, and I don't find that here. Likely this specific bottle should have been drunk two-three years ago.

Chateau Monbousquet, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 2009

I didn't take notes of too many descriptors, but even if I had, I would have probably stuck to the basics here: an ugly, bitter, extracted finish. Not good, Eran Pick, not good.

Moric, Burgenland,  Blaufrankisch, 2007

Back to the real Old World. This is broad and complex on the nose and very tasty with youthful vigor. This evoked comparisons with one of the lesser North Rhone AOC's, which for me is a good place to be. A delightful surprise.

Jean Baptiste Senat, Minnervois, Le Bois des Merveilles, 2011

Insolent, slightly bretty fruit. In time the brett overwhelms the fruit, lending a bitter impression. I'm not impressed.

Perrin et Fils, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Les Sinards, 2004

Rustic. Flat. I'm not surprised.

Baron Bich, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 1982

A Right Banker that no one had heard of, it's tired and fragile. After some debate, we even accused it of cork taint, but it wasn't obvious and although I don't see how the TCA wouldn't have been glaring after over thirty years.

Romano Dal Forno, Valpolicella Superiore, 2004

Sweet, over the top and awful. Might improve, I just can't see it possibly getting any worse. But I'm glad we tasted it, because it was educational; because in the context of Veneto, it's an important style and and an important winemaker to study and know; and because it's interesting to compare my impressions with what the winemaker has to say about the wine. I dunno, I gather Romano sees his wines as contemplation wines - I shudder to think just what he contemplates when drinks this stuff.

Jaboulet, Hermitage, La Chapelle, 1999

Too modern for my expectations of a Hermitage, but after the losing streak, this an improvement. With sweet tannins and typical black pepper, it's tasty, but one dimensional, especially given the terroir; although as I recall, 1999 was smack in the middle of the Jaboulet family soap opera, so it figures.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Burgundy 2007 at Yaffo Tel Aviv (Feb. 16, 2014)

A minor classic
Another night for the history books, orchestrated by the illustrious Daniel Lifshitz. Lows and highs: a DOA white and a contaminated Nuits; a white Burgundy for the ages, a lovely and unique village Pommard and a Vogue.

Served blind in flights of two.

Comte Armand, Pommard Premier Cru

Clean red fruit with a touch of spices and sweat. A good wine that is somewhat hedged in by the tannins, I get the feeling that the muscular style of Clos De Epeneaux is applied to lesser fruit.

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 300 NIS.

J. F. Coche-Dury, Pommard Les Vaumuriens

Funkier than the Comte Armand, , arguably more Old World, longer with better focus. Flowery to the point you could be fooled into thinking this is a Chambolle. Lovely. A village lieux-dit abutting Rugiens that Daniel says is the most flowery of all Pommards.

Not imported, price unknown.

Henry Gouges, Nuits-St.-Georges, 2008

The only ringer in the lineup, being a 2008. A deep, dark spicy, complex, sweaty wine, balanced in an underhanded way. And tasty. True to the Gouges style and an overachiever.

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 200 NIS.

Henry Gouges, Nuits-St.-Georges Premier Cru, Clos des  Porrets-St.-Georges

Muter. There was much debate round the table whether it is corky. I'm usually sensitive to cork taint, but I don't spot any TCA. Whatever, it is not showing as well as the Village.

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 300 NIS.

Joseph Drouhin, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru, Hauts Doix

A reticent nose but an expressive palate, without any glaring imbalances. The nose opens to reveal flowers and very red fruit. The fruit is quite soft, yet there is a languid structure giving it a refined form.

Price unknown.

Comte Georges Vogue, Chambolle-Musigny

An expressive nose and a complex, long palate. Broad without being heavy, flowery as well as exotically spicy. A step ahead of the Drouhin, no surprise given that it contains a large helping of Premier Cru fruit and that this is, well, Vogue.

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 700 NIS.

Domaine Arlaud, Morey St. Denis Premier Cru, Aux Cheseaux

A detailed, powerful, extroverted nose with lovely, lively manly stink over red cherries.

Wine Route, about 400 NIS.

Arlaud, Clos De La Roche Grand Cru

A slowly fading wine, eventually dying in the glass. An off bottle, or badly stored along the way.

Wine Route, about 500 NIS. This bottle was purchased from Wine Route, unlike the other bottle that  was bought in the US.

Carillon, My Wayward Son

Louis Carillon, Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru, Champs-Canet

Incredible. This is a lovely, citrus inflected, savory white B, laced with minerals and a hint of menthol, and very deftly balanced. Just what a white Bourgogne should be when it's really great: laser sharp focus with amazing acidity, that is like biting a green apple fresh off the tree.

Not imported, price unknown.

Domaine Leflaive, Puligny-Montrachet, Les Pucelles

Totally premoxed. If the Carillon is the reason I haven't given up on the search for the Holy Grail of white Burgundy, bottles like this one are the reason I remain an agnostic most of the time.

Not imported, price unknown.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Taking Care Of Business (Feb. 2014)

My first go at a 2011 red Cote d'Or was the funnest wine I had at home this month

Alzinger, Wachau, Leibenberg, Riesling Smaragd, 2010

This struck me as exotic and tropical in the past, but now it plays in a more typical, classic Austrian style: green and baked apples with a mineral overlay, on a happy-natured, mentholated background. Very pure, but not uncommonly complex. (Feb. 3, 2014)

Fat-Guy, 209 NIS.

Recanati, Reserve, Syrah-Viognier, 2011

Very much a North Rhone ringer on the nose, a cross between Crozes and Cornas, with that tell-tale black pepper signature, while ripe, chocolate-y fruit betrays its true origin. The palate is deep and spicy, but too low on acidity - which saddens me, as this is my local favorite when the vintage and/or bottle is totally in tune. (Feb. 5, 2014)

140 NIS.

Another one of Ido's love children turn out to be even nicer than the one he turned out above in his day job.

Lewinsohn, Garage de Papa, Rouge, 2010

Lovely. Blind, I would have guessed Languedoc, and the varietal mix is not that far off, being a Syrah-Petit Syrah-Carignan blend. This is clean and elegant, developing an interesting mineral overlay: dry mud and a hint of garrigue even! (Feb. 6, 2014)

140 NIS.

A. Et P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise, La Digoine, 2009

Villaine used to be one of my house reds, and I was buying loads from the 2006 vintage to the 2009. The only reason I stopped is there were other petit Bourgognes at the price point vying for my attention, and, besides, I never could figure out what the upside of aging both reds and whites was. This, however, is shining right now with strawberries and pine needles on the nose and light, elegant fruit buoyed by juicy acidity. I might need to re-think my buying strategy. (Feb. 7, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 140 NIS.

Hugel, Jubilee, Riesling, 2001

Just great, another Alsatian has gone to meet its maker, not before spending a few months in my fridge. Excessive kerosene on the nose, oxidized apple cider on the palate. (Feb. 8, 2014)

Wine Route, about 200 NIS.

Jean-Louis Denois, Limoux, Chardonnay Extra Brut, n.v.

This is a very refreshing sparkler from the Languedoc, with bright citrus fruit, chalk and sauteed mushrooms, that should appeal to newbies and afficionados both. (Feb. 12, 2014)

Fat Guy, 105 NIS.

Terre da Vino, Barbera d'Asti, San Nicolao, 2012 

A very basic Barbera, with tart cherries and strain of upturned earth - tasty with crunchy salinity, but not much besides that, rather boring in fact.(Feb. 14, 2014)

Wine Route, 90 NIS.

Louis Jadot, Pommard Premier Cru, Les Rugiens, 2005

A good Jadot at last! Funky, ripe, with a good balance of acidity and tannins; a hint of oak on both nose and palate that is mitigated by smoky/earthy spiciness and a touch of iron and blood. Gorgeous. (Feb. 15, 2014)

Wine Route - this is probably a 300-400 NIS wine these days, but I think I bought it for about 200 NIS.

Vietti, Langhe Nebbiolo, Perbacco, 2010

This is my first Vietti, actually, and it's a declassified, young-vines Barolo. And what you really do get here is a ready-to-drink, mini Barolo: that is, it's muscular and rusty/dusty like a Barolo (not the relative fluidity of a Barbaresco) and is resolved with a youthful complexity that is deprived of any nuances that come with bottle age. (Feb. 17, 2014)

Wine Route, 130 NIS.

Bernard Baudry, Chinon, 2010

Lovely, tangy fruit with trappings of lead pencil and pungent earthiness. I haven't had this in a few months, but I'm sure glad I bought more. (Feb. 18, 2014)

Wine Route, 85 NIS.

Shvo, Sauvignon Blanc, 2012

Yo, Gabi Sadan! You got me following three vintages of the same Israeli white!

This is, once again, a very Burgundian Sauvignon, with a lot of flint, perhaps a hint of cat's pee. This ought to be an eye-opener to anyone brought up on New World samples. A class act. (Feb. 20, 2014)

80 NIS.

R. Lopez de Heredia, Vina Tondonia, Rioja Reserva,  2001

This is, again, a very classical Rioja, drinking fresher than the tertiary aromas (balsam, dusty carpets, mildew) would have you think, due to the savory combination of mellow fruit, ripe acidity and soft tannins. (Feb. 21, 2014)

Fat Guy, 235 NIS.

Carmel, Single Vineyard Kayoumi, Riesling, 2012

This really is lovely, and worthy of the hype it has garnered since its release. It strikes a balance between green apples, stone fruit, lime peel and salty flavors, while the nose displays similar aromas, adding a touch of slate as well. (Feb. 22, 2014)

85 NIS.

Midbar Winery, Semillon, 2009

This finally wound up in a very sweet spot, after two years, with a flint overtone midway between Chassagne and Chablis, with the slightly fatter, melon-inclined fruit of Semillon. And the acidity is one of the best I've had in Israel - probably because the wine is an early harvest, which, as I wrote in the my first review of this wine, can be a positive distinction only in the Land Of Milk And Honey. It's a shame, though, that Yaakov Oryah left Midbar, because my intuition tells me that with a few more years of working with the vineyard, he'd have timed the harvest to get the same electric jism in the acidity, with a little more phenolic ripeness. (Feb. 23, 2014)

George Descombes, Fleurie, Vieilles Vignes, 2010

George Descombes was one of the first Beaujolais Cru producers that I drank and I found him wonderful. So, understandably, my expectations here were high. And initially not met. The nose is fine and typical, pungently earthy, but the palate starts out flat and short, growing considerably fuller and longer. At the end, it's not profound, but does repay my patience. (Feb. 25, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 130 NIS.

Domaine de la Vougeraie, Cote de Beaune, Les Pierres Blanches, 2011

Once again, a wonderfully scented, delightful village wine, with crunchy red fruit and exotic spices. At this level on the Bourgogne food chain, it's obviously not going to be the most complex, long or weighty of wines, but it has enough charm to transport you to the magical kingdom that is Burgundy, enough presence to hint at what treasures a fat wallet can buy you there, and it makes out with the palate with sweet fruit that is well balanced by savory acidity. I'm trying to split my Burgundy budget between the Tomer Gal and Daniel Lifshitz catalogs, otherwise I'd be buying multiples of this. (Feb. 27, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 170 NIS.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ecclecticity (Jan. 30, 2014)

The token claret - because we had to drink a claret
Local winemakers can be a rowdy, sarcastic lot: it's a good thing I brought along Roi Peretz, another Good Samaritan, to contain the talented group that gathered at Halutzim 3 to sample and enjoy a pot luck collection..

Trio, Chardonnay, 2012

Yotam Sharon brought this, as well as the Haut-Marbuzet. It's his own creation but I told him to feel free to showcase his stuff, especially as I found the bottle I opened at home to be on the mute side, aromatically, and wanted to give it a second chance. This was an improvement, and everyone was deservedly impressed. I find it very flinty, tasty and savory, right up my alley, as good a Chardonnay as I've had from Israel. Just a touch of rustic sweetness, but fine and definitely a "buy again".

About 100 NIS.

Domaine de Chevalier, Blanc, 2008

Eran Pick's bottle - he does seem to like Bordeaux for some reason. This a Sauvignon Blanc heavy white, 85% , topped by 15% Semillon. More elegant than the Trio, but on the mute side at first, until it blossoms with shrapnels of minerals. Good acidity, lots of stone fruit and a saline, lengthy mineral finish.

Wine Route, about 350 NIS.

Movia, Veliko Belo, 2007

OMG. This has a weird apple-cider ,oxidized nose, with botrytis-like mustard. I know this is considered a top class winery in Slovania, but is surely not for lovers of crisp elegance. An albino orange wine perhaps? Roi's offering.

Giaconda, 160 NIS.

Foradori, Teroldego, Granato, 2010

Ido Lewinsohn always brings interesting stuff from his travels. This is just lovely and super savory, bringing to the table black fruit with a tangy, tobacco-leaves effect. Memo to self: drink more Italians.

Price unknown.

Edmunds St. John,  El Dorado, Fenaught Syrah, 2011

Mine, and I really expected more. It's a young, supple Syrah with the requisite black pepper, but very simple-minded right now, and on the ripe side.

35 USD.

Chateau Haut-Marbuzet, Saint Estephe Cru Bourgeois, 1999

This is a really classic claret in a lithe body, with savory, tangy tannins, smoky black fruit and a light mineral/brett overlay. I'm not sure many would pick it for a 99, blind, it's too complete and doesn't seem to be going anywhere in a hurry. Maybe 1999 is not as mediocre and short-lived as its public image suggests?

Prince unknown.