To celebrate my birthday the previous week, I not only hosted but my contribution to the tasting was a mini-flight of Chapoutier's Sizeranne Hermitage.
Chapoutier, Hermitage, Sizeranne, 1999
A wild, funky nose that yells out Rhone and made me anticipate a gripping palate that just never arrived. I love this kind of wine and while I wouldn't throw it away, I was disappointed by the palate.
Chapoutier, Hermitage, Sizeranne, 1998
A much better wine, with a nose that identifies itself as northern Rhone without any of the bretty telltales of the 1999, just peppery black fruits with loads of complexity. The palate lacks complexity and definition; yet, unlike the 1999, it hints at future potential.
By coincidence, a guest brought his own Chapoutier wine:
Chapoutier, Chateauneuf du Pape, Criox de Bois, 2000
A real screwball. A very ripe wine that somehow manages to restrain its ripe fruit so it never turns into a blockbuster while both nose and palate exhibit almost white fruit traits that taunt and never let you fully comprehend the wine. I liked it and would buy a bottle of my own though I might just have been a minority that evening.
Chapoutier is imported to Israel by the Scottish Company.
Among other things:
Muller-Catoir, Mussbacher Esselshaut, Rieslaner Statlese Trocken, 2001
I tasted it over half a year ago and it's still a youngster, not yet delivering the promise of its elegant nose. I try not to dwell on the opinions of others but more than one person complained about a bitterness on the palate. Personally, I found a gentle fruitiness on the attack that turned into a grapefruit pip finish (that didn't turn me off) so I'm still a believer and suspect longer cellaring or airing will do it good.
Imported to Israel by Giaconda, listed at 230 NIS (about 50 USD).
For dessert, the oldest wine in my fridge, though arguably it's somewhat of a youngster within it's paradigm:
Bodega Toro Albala, Montilla-Moriles, Pedro Xominez, Gran Reserva, 1971
Pedro Ximinez produces the thickest, sweetest, blackest wines from white grapes and ages like time is on its side. It's surely a matter of personal taste (my friends voted with their feet - that's democracy for ya!) and though I prefer subtler forms of sweet Sherry, I like PX just fine, in small doses anyway. This wine is not even a Sherry because it hails from Montilla-Moriles and not from Xerez. Although the winemaking is similar - The Pedro Ximinez style doesn't rely on flor the way the other Sherries do (even Oloroso, which is a Sherry from casks where flor never developed, shares an affinity with the other styles, but I'm really straying from the point here) - I found both the 1971 and the 1975 versions of this wine to have much more finesse than the Xerez PX I've tasted. The fruit feels fresher and it's a bit more lightweight.
Not imported to Israel.