Saturday, July 5, 2008

La Rioja Alta, Gran Reserva, 904, 1995 (Jul. 5, 2008)


This is a farewell note for a few weeks, as I'm going away on an extended family vacation and then a business trip. And what better way to say goodbye to my fridge than by opening a bottle from the region that was just about my first wine love, Rioja.

The nose is quite fragnant and charming, displaying aromas of red fruit, sweet spices, hints of roasted meats and what I like to think of as 'old wood', which is a mildly mildewy sensation. A bit lighter on the palate than I'd expected at first, it is still silky and smooth with an Old World rustiness lurking deep within that lends structure and grip to the relatively light frame (it is also relatively low in acidity for a Rioja). Then it gains more body and presence at glass, as well as heavier, oakier, black fruit overtones, at which point I rather like it less. So judging by its somewhat obnoxious behavior, this thirteen year old is actually quite a youngster (!) and while it is a 90-pointer as is, I think it will improve in five years or so once it gets its act together.
Imported by Hakerem, this cost me about 30 Euros in Spain, which is about 2/3 the local price, I believe.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Misc. Notes (June 2008)

Bladen Estate, New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc, 2005

This was one of Giaconda's earliest imports and I'd had it several times before and re-visited as it was on sale at two bottles for 135 NIS. I'm not sure just how much life it has left but it's very vibrant and crisp, at the start of the evening anyway. The nose is very interesting and complex, flirting with the Sauvignon herbaceousness with flinty overtones, while the fruit aromatics juggle between apples and peaches, with honey notes, all of which is nicely echoed on the palate (which is a bit one-dimensional compared to the nose, as the fruit has receeeded by now, but still gets the job done). One to finish up over the course of this summer, preferably with a company of friends as too much oxygen would not be overly kind to it. (Jun. 14, 2008)

Chateau Fortia, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Cuvee de Baron, 2001

This is Fortia's super-cuvee. A whiff of VA at first, but a couple of hours reveal ripe red fruit and garrigue, then blacker fruit. Sharp acidity balance the very full, forward fruit yet the wine still leaves a sweet impression, despite the firm tannins. Solid length and power but not a very complex or elegant creature. I remember years ago, on the Kosher Wine Forum, Florida Jim called it a Parkerized wine and, uh, okay, I get it, it is, though other critics, like Tanzer, also scored it as high as Parker did. (Jun. 19, 2008)

Not imported to Israel. I think I paid 35 USD for it, four years ago.

August Kesseler, Rudesheimer Bischofsberg Riesling Spatlese, 2005

I recall this wine was more open eighteen months ago, displaying a red apple profile. Now it's showing more peaches and mint and so very slowly coming out of its slumber, releasing subtle mineral notes as it tries to shake itself awake. A very nice example of youthful Riesling fruit that deserves more time in the cellar. (Jun. 20, 2008)

Listed at Giaconda for 155 NIS. And two more from Giaconda, each listed at 117 NIS (whether they're still available is another question, though:

Koehler-Ruprecht, Pfaltz, Kallstadter Saumagen, Riesling, Kabinett, 2004

The nose is totally Flint City! Though if you walk around a bit you'll also pick up traces of lime and mint, even sweet dough. The palate is long and dry, with grapefruit flavors, and echoes the mineral personality of the nose but really doesn't have the body and presence to match the aromatics. Still, this is my favorite Kabinnet imported to Israel, a thinking man's Riesling, and I'm not even sure it doesn't need a year or two still. (Jun. 21, 2008)

Muller-Catoir, Pfalz, Mussbacher Esselshaut, Riesling Kabinett Trocken, 2004

Another Giaconda import. Somewhat Burgundian on the nose due to a blast of flint, backed by apples and a hint of lime. The palate, closer to dry than to off-dry, has just enough residual sugar to give the Riesling fruit a bit of roundness that B Chardonnay never has. Not that the mild spiciness and the hint of petrol on the finish is anything like a Chardonnay anyway. At its peak and will keep for two more years, I think. (Jun. 29, 2008)