Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Misc. Notes (Aug - Sep. 2007)

Emrich-Schonleber, Nahe, Monzinger Fruhlingsplatzchen, Riesling Kabinett, 2004

This is the fourth time I've had this wine over the last year. The nose is still discrete at first, playing a quiet peaches-and-minerals riff, but the palate has finally opened up, having consumed all its earlier fizz and delicately balancing sweet fruit against a lightly bitter, minerally backdrop and ripe, well integrated acidity. An hour later, the wine releases aromas of green apples and apple pie and gains a greater length and sense of ripeness. Not a great wine but a delightfully good one. (Aug. 4, 2007)

Imported to Israel by Giaconda, listed at 117 NIS (about 25 USD).

Langwerth von Simmern, Rheingau, Erbacher Marcobrunn, Riesling Kabinett, 2004

A graceful wine delineated in simple strokes: apple pie on the nose and green apples with refreshing acidity balancing the delicious sweetness on the palate. Slightly fizzy. The least complex of Giaconda’s 2004 Kabinetts? Well, yes, and it's so delicious now a part of me wishes it will never grow up. But as it picks up mineral nuances on both nose and palate, I find myself having second thoughts. A sweet wine, pun intended. (Aug. 13, 2007)

Imported by Giaconda, listed at 110 NIS.

Sea Horse, Antoine, Tete de Cuvee, 2004

Ze'ev Dunie gets it right, really right. Earthy, red fruit with mineral overtones on both nose and palate, with a rich, slightly hedonistic personality that asserts itself as the wine opens to reveal more and more chocolate. Very succulent with nice acidity. There's obvious oak but not more than in a decent Ribera Del Duero, which I think it resembles. On the downside, I can't find a lot of Syrah typicity, as you can probably tell by the Ribera comparison. Which might not bother everyone and certainly if Syrah thrives in Israel it will find its local identity; I just miss, personally, the peppery notes of a good Syrah, which this wine only hints at. This bottle seemed at its peak; will keep but in my opinion won't improve. (Aug. 28, 2007)

About 90 NIS at the winery but it's sold out anyway.

D'Arenberg, Laughing Magpie, Shiraz/Viognier, 2002

Black fruit over charry oak, at first, but then the fruit turns a bit candied before the telltale black pepper kicks in to even the score. Potent with little trace of the Viognier, except, possibly, for some candied fruit at the end. Bigger and less elegant than the 2001 as well, with the alcohol in the fore, exaggerating the sweetness and tiring the palate. Overall, I prefer the 2001, 2-3 points worth. (Sept. 1, 2007)

Imported by WineRoute and current vintages are usually listed at about 150 NIS.

Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2000

Still the classic Israeli Cab, I suppose, although overshadowed by the irregularly produced Katzrin and Elrom. Typical Cabernet nose, with hints of chocolate and leather complementing the spicy currant aromas. Very long and rich. Almost too rich for my taste, actually, though the smart structure keeps the richness in check. (Sept. 15, 2007)

Lucien Le Moine, Bourgogne Blanc, 2003

Well, well, well. An improvement over last time. The nose is flint and pears complemented by, yes, oaky notes, but altogether very reined in, subtle and decently complex. The palate is oakier, but still less so than previously, well structured with no signs of over-ripeness or flabiness, good acidity leading to a long, saline finish. I opened my second bottle only because I was disappointed by the first; had I waited until now for an initial try, I’d have made a note to wait until 2009-10 for the next bottle. Despite some local hype, it would only scrap the 90’s for me, but a savoury, impressive wine nonetheless. (Sept. 23, 2007)

Imported by Private Wine Collection, out of stock.

Riesling, Jubilee Riesling, 1998

This venerable Alsatian producer, like Trimbach among others, is opposed to the Grand Cru classification in Alsace, so the label won't tell you this is 100% Schoenenbourg Grand Cru. And although it doesn't offer the kind of earth-shattering experience the words grand cru evoke, it's the kind of very-good-but-not-great wine that makes the world a fun place. I've had it a couple of times this past year and it's been rather youthful but now there are hints of petrol and even mildew over a backdrop of peaches and stone and in general the fruit has very much receeded. The palate is very minerally, indeed like sucking on quartz, sporting a wonderfully saline finish with a green apple overlay. (Sept. 25, 2007)

Imported a few years ago by France-Israel, when they were still bringing in French wines.

Recanati, Special Reserve, 2003

A very Recanati and Israeli wine, which for me means it reins in the worst tendencies of Israeli reds without streering wide clear of them. Ripe on both nose and palate, though on the nose the ripeness is tempered by red fruit and earthy and herbal aromas (Lewis Pasco's signature) and later chocolate and mushrooms, while the palate is structured enough albeit still needs to shed some baby fat. (Sept. 27, 2007)

7 comments:

Mike said...

Haim - Are you sure you're okay? Writing nice things about THREE Israeli wines, and all of them REDS, in one post! Are you coming down with something...

yours in concern,

mike

2GrandCru said...

See, this is what not scoring gets you. I think if I scored them, then I'd give the RSR and the Yarden a 90 and the Sea Horse an 88, maybe an 89. Fairly realistic scores, I should think. Especially considering my attitude towards Israeli wines.

However, let it be noted that wiritng nice things is one thing, writing interesting things is another.

Anonymous said...

What is the different between the Sea Horse wine that you tasted and the regular one ?

2GrandCru said...

The one I tasted was a special bottling from a barrel allocated to a group of purchasers organized by Ben Kfir and Doron Omer.

Lewis said...

Howdy Chaim,

Re the Recanati Special Reserve 03:

"...reins in the worst tendencies of Israeli reds without steering wide clear of them..." I can live with that. After all, I am making wine from grapes grown in Israel!

Glad you waited 1 year from release to try it.

Looking forward to a report on our 2006 Reserve Cab Franc (still in barrels), in 2010. Or maybe one for our 2005 Syrah Reserve... also in 2010.

Anonymous said...

Drank the Recanati SR 2003 last night. Straight out of bottle and would have preferred a 1-2 hour decant. A very good wine IMO, and I more or less agree with your note Chaim. One minor negative was that I found the finish (moderate) died a bit prematurely and had expected something longer.

Arieh

Lewis said...

Hi Arieh, I will look carefully at that - the finish or aftertaste - next time I taste it. Maybe it will improve with bottle age, maybe not.

Going forward to the next 3 vintages after the 2003, we assembled the wine from a far larger % of Cab Sauv, and I think that may add length. With the 2003 I was really focused on the nose of the assemblage, because i was trying to duplicate as much as possible the nose of our 2001 RSR.

In retrospect, I figure that both focusing too much on the nose and trying to duplicate a previous version are strategic errors. In any case the 04 is a fleshier wine dominated by Manara grapes and reflects the late heat wave (over Yom Kippur) of the vintage, so I'm pleased that it reflects well the vintage year, and both the 05 and 06 versions were assembled from over 90% 1 vinyard (Kadita), and that's a first (vineyard designation) for our RSR.

I also think the barrel selection for the wine's elevage improved from the 2003 version: a fairly lage improvement in 2004, and slightly more improvement and consistency over 2005/6.

The amount of attention to detail that goes into producing that single wine is huge, but also fun!

Lewis