Sunday, February 24, 2008

Domaine Brusset, Gigondas, Hauts de Montmirail, 2000 (Feb. 23, 2008)

Not a great wine, even though Parker scored it 93, but terribly good and deserves a separate post if only to serve notice to local importers (WineRoute) that they missed a very good wine that offers excellent value.

Aromas of ripe wild berries, burnt earth, with a touch of leather in the background. A very firm structure with integrated tannins carrying through all the way to the long, rusty finish. There is plenty of acidity behind the fruit as well so I would say this wine would enjoy a long life in bottle, though it's already drinking very nicely. I would buy two more bottles if I could, even though it's not very complex or elegant and there is something a bit obvious about its ripeness and size.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Cru Bourgeois Tasting at WineRoute (Feb. 21, 2008)

I'm going to stop writing formal notes for the stand-up tastings at WineRoute as they're not very accomodating to that sort of thing. It's hard to find a spot to write down notes and I find it even harder to pace myself so I wind up double checking myself against Parker and WS scores at the checkout counter anyway. A few informal observations and comments, though.

2005 really does seem as good as hyped, but since the prices have gone up, the quality/price ratio has remained the same at the Cru Bourgeois level. It's just that it's easier and safer to purchase the wines, since you're less likely to make an ass of yourself. Having said that, there were a few disappointments at the tasting from that vintage.

The 2004's tasted were better than what were offered at the 2004 tasting this fall, which is odd since presumably these are the wines WineRoute hadn't been able to sell since. The same goes for the single 2003 tasted, which would have trumped over half the 2003's I tasted at the 2003 tasting.


I'll start with the duds. The Arnauld, Haut Medoc (129 NIS) was too oaky. It softened some in glass but most of its minor charms seemed to come from the barrels, not the fruit. The d'Agassac, Haut Medoc (199 NIS) and the Senejac, Haut Medoc (199 NIS) were both over-ripe and liquor-ish, with sweet tannins, ringers for 2003's. The Cissac, Haut Medoc (149 NIS) was just boring. The Labegorce Zede, Margaux (249 NIS) hints at typical Margaux class but is similarly undistinguished.

The Potensac, Medoc (229 NIS) was balanced enough so a slight jaminess is reined in but I think it's just too expensive to bother to buy, for what it has to offer. The Siran, Margaux (399 NIS) is simply not a credible buy. The Chasse Spleen, Moulis en Medoc (295 NIS).
is a better value but at just about the same price, the Sociando Mallet 2004 is a much, much better buy.

Beyond these, there were three good buys at mid-range and one, Citran, Haut Medoc (179 NIS), that is marginable. The Charmail, Haut Medoc (179 NIS) was the most backwards wine offered at the tasting, but has a well balanced structure. The d'Escurac, Medoc (199 NIS) has a well delineated nose and good acidity, though it's just too scrappy right now. Finally, the Maucaillou, Moulis en Medoc (199 NIS) is a charming extrovert that seems like a wine for early drinking, over the next 5-7 years.


The de Pez, St. Estephe (249 NIS) is as elegant as an extrovert can be, with red currants and leather. A terrific tannic structure. Like I said, a very good 2003 and a sensible buy.


I don't remember liking the 2000 Poujeaux, Moulis en Medoc (199 NIS) as much as I liked the 2004, which is quite a surprise. A bit rough and masculine, and much to my liking as such, I'd buy it on discount.

The real star of the tasting was the Sociando Mallet, Haut Medoc (299 NIS) which had complex aromatics and a Pauillac mouthfeel. Very fine tannins. Exactly what I look for in Bordeaux. Not very far behind was the Phelan Segur, St. Estephe (299 NIS) which is not as open but seems a more powerful beast. Less finesse on account of that.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Special Announcement

2GrandCru now has a sister blog, dedicated to music:



Thursday, February 14, 2008

Misc. Notes (Jan. 2008)

Almost nothing I drank in January outside of the Saturday night gigs was up to snuff. Though in the case of the Chablis and the German Rieslings, it seems more a case of socially challenged children refusing to come out and play.

Chateau du Puligny-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet, 2002

There is initially an overwhelming whiff of glue and acetone on the nose, but it fades after a while, revealing minerals and citrus fruits. Ah, if only things were ever that simple. The palate is very attentuated, asutere a step beyond the wrong side of the fence, and, with the acidity on the low side, there doesn't seem to be enough fruit to balance the oak. The 2004 was much better even taking into account that I bought the 2002 off the shelf a year and a half after its arrival in Israel. (Jan. 12, 2008)

Imported by Tomer Gal for about 220 NIS in 2005. I find the Ramonet and Jobard village wines more to my taste.

Then, also imported by Tomer Gal. Still available at Hinawi for 130 NIS.

Durup, Chablis Premier Cru, Vau De Vey, 2005

Pears, apples, lemon and a tell tale (for the vineyard) note of sea air. The palate is the most backwards I've ever tasted from any of Durup's premier crus, bitter, a bit metallic and hollow. Which takes the Vau De Very some three hours to get over and it's still not as vibrant as it was a year ago. I think I'll let the rest of my bottles age for two years more and see what happens. (Jan. 22, 2008)

W. Gisselbrecht, Alsace, Pinot Blanc, 2005

A nice one, but... Ripe, temperate tropical aromas, with, initially, somewhat off-putting metallic/alcoholic whiffs that need time to, well, whiff away. Notes of tropical fruits on the palate and a crisp, minerally finish. Lightly spicy. Grows rounder and more subtle on the palate, more veggie and minerally on the nose, but a bit under my radar range. (Jan. 24, 2008)

Imported by Giaconda for 63 NIS.

Also from Giaconda, for 110 NIS:

Langwerth Von Simmern, Rheingau, Hattenheimer Nussbrunnen, Riesling Kabinett Trocken, 2006

The Gisselbrecht Pinot Blanc left me yearning for R-i-e-s-l-i-n-g and, grounded due to family obligations on Saturday night, I brought this one from the fridge and found it to straddle the nether regions of challengling and unsatisfying. Quite young, laden with yeasts on the nose, and also red apples and minerals on the nose. On the palate, green apples dominate, with apricots lurking in the background. In time, a green, tart streak seems to oversome the wine, as it shuts down in glass. Seems to prove my contention that dry German Rieslings need more time to enter their drinking window, as this is very withdrawn right now, and not very complex. Match it with food as you would a Chablis, as it has a similar crispiness, which I suspect will still be there after it emerges from its childhood in two years. (Jan. 26, 2008).

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Barcarola Gets A New Chef (Feb. 9, 2008)

Which means it took us over thirty minutes to get through our orders, interrogating the ever-suffering waitress very thoroughly about the ingredients of the dishes, in order to best match our wines. It's not as though Barcarola was ever an especially easy place for food-wine pairings, but it's just a case of the devil you know versus the new chef you don't.

Emrich-Schonleber, Nahe, Monzinger Halenberg, Riesling Spatlese Trocken, 2006

They say 2006 in Germany was a good year for hard working winemakers. As opposed to 2004, very effortless in its classic minerality and 2005, which had lovely, sensual fruit, that seemed touched with the grace of God. This wine, like a couple other 2006's I've tasted, seems like a hard working Lutheran: pure, strict and somewhat detached and brainy. There's a mixture of yeasts, pineapples then minerals on the nose, very primal and bold. The palate, however, is a bit unforgiving right now. There is plenty of lovely, young Riesling fruit - veering towards pineapple and peaches - and an acidity that just means business, giving way to a grapefruit-pip finish. But the components just don't coalesce and will require in my opinion at least 5 years worth of cellaring. I got the vintage right, messed up the region - I thought Rheingau, maybe Mosel or Pfaltz, but had totally written off the Nahe.

Imported by Giaconda, selling for 175 NIS. Good stuff, worth it.

Trimbach, Cuvee Fredrich Emile, Riesling, 2000

Maybe it's time I folded with Trimbach. Out of five more or less Grand Cru dry whites, three bombed - in a row, ending with this one. The nose has interesting an interesting mineral aspect I can't quite place: like an old dirt row covered with wax. I'm still trying to figure where the fruit was. Yet while the nose eventually released a few miserly fruit aromas, the palate was all structure, with simply not enough fruit. We gave it time, cooled it down, let it warm up, I would have put it in a particle accelerator if one was handy, but sometimes you just have to know when to let go.

"Imported" by my wife, personally, from Table and Vine, Springfield, MA, bought for about 40 USD. I'm very careful to write every detail down just so she won't buy it again by mistake.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Olivier Leflaive, Chablis Premier Cru, Vaillons, 2004 (Feb. 5, 2008)

A classic Chablis in a more reserved mood than last time, when I fear I drank it in something of a rush. The nose is a simple little creature of lime and chalk, rather shy, but then the palate surprises by by its fullness - relatively speaking, of course, as it still has the lithe body of a Chablis. It improves in glass, fleshing out some details on the palate; and growing bolder and more pungent on the nose, playing little notes of toasted bread which are all the more pleasant because they're not followed by annoying oak on the palate. Its crispness carries all the way through to the finish, where the minerals are complemented by a touch of lemon drop. I really should have bought more than two bottles. Drink over the next 4-5 years.

WineRoute's shelf price was 150 NIS but I think they sold tons of it at discount during the Burgundy tasting last summer, and rightfully so. It was their bargain of the summer.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Scharke, Only Son, 2005 (Feb. 2, 2008)

A note about a wine that's just (expensive) good stuff. But nothing more. Which I'm singling out not as a complaint but because I had been looking forward to it.

I wanted to try this because an Australian Temperanillo seemed like a nice idea. And it's got a nice smoky-leathery touch on the nose, floating over the ripe black and red fruits, that is reminiscent of modern Spain. But then again, it's also reminscent of Israel. It's all New World on the palate, which is jammy and smooth and not particularly structured or interesting, except where the near sweet tannins turns just a bit rusty on the finish. The label says 14.9% alcohol. Who knew the Australians had such a sense of humor!

Imported by Mersch, for about 180 NIS.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Price Of Knowledge - Jos. Christoffel Jr. Tasting At Giaconda (Jan. 31, 2008)

At 380 NIS (about 100 USD these days), I knew this tasting would not be cheap and besides the chance to taste expensive, mature Rieslings, I expected a horizontal/vertical tasting to teach me something new about the different vineyards cultivated by the winery. In that I was disappointed. Or maybe I just let myself down.

I had already tasted five of the thirteen wines of the tasting and had made up my mind about which I prefered out of them. I had hoped that tasting the wines together and alongside eight younger and older wines would put the characteristics and inherent qualities of the vineyards in relief but I came away unable to put my finger on anything consistent across the different pradikats and vintages. Though I did come away with some opinions reinforced, I didn't learn anything drastically new. Just about the only clear conclusion is that young Mosels have a round fruitiness that gives way to crisp minerality in time, but that's something else I knew coming in. Is the honeymoon finally coming to an end, am I settling down to a lifetime of just slowly building up a relationship with the love of my wine life?

Enough complaining. The wines were good to excellent, the food was terrific (and paired well with the wines), the company was of good cheer and Giaconda's Anat and Raphaella's commentaries about the wines were educational in themselves. Now on to the notes.

Urziger Wurzgarten, Riesling Auslese ***, 2006

The nose makes a somewhat austere impression - lime, lemon, honey, apples peels, a touch of minerals and gentle oak, all the nice, correct touches I look for, but in a delicate, detached way - which is in contrast with the roundness of the palate, where right now the sweetness of the fruit dominates the acidity that is integrated inside. There are only hints of the spiciness that a mature Wurzgarten shows. I expected greater concentration and length from a three star Auslese but overall, right now this is a rather delicate wine, which is its charm, but makes it feel like a wine to drink from 2010-2015, rather than over twenty years. 216 NIS.

Sparring partner Ran Shapira complained about the lack of scores on 2GrandCru. I still think they're just a crutch, but to put things in perspective, this would be a 90 for me while the other wines would creep up to 93-94.

Erdener Treppchen, Riesling Auslese *** Gold Capsule, 2006
All three 2006's are aromatically shy, though here the nose is not quite as reticient, it is sharper and more focused with a dusty, chalky minerality and gentle spiciness. There is greater length and concentration compared to the previous wine, and while the fruit is even sweeter and rounder, it comes off as better balanced. If the Urziger Wurzgarten played all the correct cards in the correct order, the Erdener Treppchen starts with the same ingredients but comes up with a few wrinkles on the way. This is even more evident in the next wine. 279 NIS.

Erdener Pralat, Riesling Auslese *** Gold Capsule 2006
Here we have the same dusty minerals on the nose, with minute, almost microscopic hints of petrol. It is a broader, more powerful wine (though we're still talking about ballet dancers and not boxers), with an extra dimension on both nose and palate. Like the previous 2006's, it is in a very fruity stage and would make a more delicate impression if it didn't follow daintier wines to begin with. 311 NIS.

Urziger Wurzgarten, Riesling Spatlese, 1994
Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Spatlese, 1994
I know these two wines quite well, though this time I preferred the Sonnenuhr. It was hard to write notes for them as following the fruiter 2006's, they seemed harsher than usual. So I just cleansed my palate with bread and drank up. 135 NIS (but the Sonnenuhr is sold out).

Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Auslese **, 1992
Erdener Treppchen, Riesling Auslese **, 1992
Two more old acquaintances. The Sonnenuhr, while lacking just a little concentration, gives great pleasure, with an aromatic complexity based upon cool, wet rocks and spices, with fruit in the background and light notes of petrol. Very elegant and, while it is quite ready, when matched against the Treppchen, feels as though it could use some time to burst out. The Treppchen is more about herbs, smelling like a hurricane had come through a storeroom full of parsley, and more diffuse on the palate. At first, I thought any difference between them was a matter of taste, but after a while I realized the Treppchen just can't contend with the Sonnenuhr's crystalline structure. Despite my reservations about the Sonnenuhr's concentration, it was one of my favorites. 207 NIS.

Urziger Wurzgarten, Riesling Auslese **, 1989
A razor sharp nose with stone cold minerals and herbs again, parsley, dill and a little petrol. Somehow, in the context of this wine, too little petrol. Litchi on the palate, compact and structured with chalk on the finish. The way the litchi blends in with the structure reminded me of Scheurebe. Not very complex in the sense this has only two or three "colors" but there is an interesting interplay between them. This wine seems to be at its peak and will hold for several years. 225 NIS.

Urziger Wurzgarten, Riesling Auslese ***, 1990
An intruiging, spicy nose, with herbs, mint and minerals and tropical fruits in the background. Though I can read more into it than I did last year, it feels less expansive, a bit leaner than I remembered, but there's enough going on all around to compensate. It's got all of the 1992 Treppchen's vegetable-soup and herbs essance, but unlike the Treppchen, retains a sense of composure. A winner, to drink from now until 2015. 245 NIS.

Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Beerenauslese, 1994

Long and crystalline, projecting a lean-ness on the palate, although quite ripe on the nose, with hints of mint, nuts and raisins. A meaty-spicy finish. Oddly enough, it doesn't feel sweeter than the Auslese: that's balance fer ya. The color is an oddball, light, yet murky. I don't want to make a guess about its drinking window, as it seems closer to its peak than I'd have thought. But then again I have so little experience with Beerenausleses. Thumbs up. 585 NIS.

Erdener Treppchen, Riesling Auslese *****, 1975

Oy vey, what pungent minerals on the nose! And to play off them (although after thirty-three years it takes some comcentration to make out specific aromas) parsley, litchi, brown sugar and a lot of honey. The palate also boasts litchi and tropical fruits, and once again the entire package is tightly structured. Another winner, though sadly beyond my financial reach. 600 NIS.

Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Auslese *****, 1976

A dark, amber color, very much a dessert wine nose of sugared nuts. Requires even more concentration on the part of the taster than the previous wine. I think it is also coarser and not quite as fresh and, despite its huge presence, I prefer the Treppchen 1975. See what I meant about no vineyard taking a clear advantage during the tasting? 600 NIS.

Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese, 1976

Liquid bronze, liquid pastry. Baked apples, dried fruits, sugar and mildew on the nose. It's got length, complexity, lovely acidity balancing all that huge sweetness and a meaty, spicy finish. A real pleasure. 702 NIS.