Thursday, October 16, 2008

We Came, We Drank, We Ate - At Marie Antoinette (Oct. 11, 2008)

Marie Antionette was one of the pioneers of Israeli haut cuisine late in the previous century. It was located in southern Tel Aviv, near Jaffo and closed down as far as I can remember in 2000. My memories of it are hazy and probably sweetened by nostalgia. The recently opened reincarnation is located in a radically different setting, Ramat HaHayal's hi-tech ambience replacing southern Tel Aviv's vaguely Soho-ish charms. I will not dwell on restaurant critiques but will just say that Marie Antionette's past is not exactly betrayed nor it is not reverantly upheld. I am, in all, in no great hurry to return.

Bollinger, Brut n.v.

A lovely nose of citrus skins and yeast. Tense, vibrant and long on the palate without any great complexity or weight but an appealing wine for what it is.

Price unknown.

Georg Bruer, Rheingau, Rudesheimer Bischofsberg, Riesling Auslese, 1995

The nose was just what you'd expect from a classic, mature German Riesling, if you don't assume that obvious whiffs of petrol are a pre-requisite: icy slate and dills over peaches sauteed by slow aging. There was, with this particular bottle, a certain lack of vitality and length. Whether this was actual or perceived is hard to tell as Ran Shapira had pronounced that the cork was in very bad shape: it had not only crumbled but had slipped a few millimeters down the neck when he pressed on the capsule. How blind can a tasting be when someone tells you the bottle may be off? Well, it certainly didn't lack acidity and time in glass rather revitalized it so the question remains unanswered.

Price unknown.

Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard, Chassage-Montrachet, Premier Cru, Clos St. Jean, 2002

A lovely, nuanced nose full of minerals and mushrooms. Note that I do not mention any fruits in my listing of the aromas. If anything, that absence was even more marked on the palate where the oak was obvious (managebale but obvious). It would take almost two hours for the fruit to assert itself on the finish. Let's say it's a tasty wine that didn't really deliver any special class, complexity or originality that I would expect in a Premier Cru. I enjoyed a previous bottle rather more.

Sold by WineRoute for over 300 NIS. (It was my bottle but the reason I don't remember the price is that the wine I bought was the 2002 Boudriottes but the Clos St. Jean is what eventually wound up in my locker).

Chateau Beaucastel, Chateauneuf-Du-Pape, 1995

Just two months ago, my own bottle was as great a bomb as any untainted bottle has a right to be. This bottle was inarguably better though not at a stage to bring any great sensual pleasure. This is forgivable as the reason for its poor showing seemed like a case of Grenache and Mourvedre being locked in adolscent battle. Although the donor had opened the bottle four hours prior to our engagement, it came across as a muscular, over-extracted youngster that only exposed any nuances after an hour of coaxing at the table. This bottle would need about five years of cellaring.

Chateau Leoville-Poyferre, St. Julien, 2me Cru, 1996

I still find the experience of drinking fine Bordeaux intimidating. I love them when they're good but I'm always the least knowledgable about Bordeaux around the table and I feel it skews my perceptions. I certainly never started out in Bordeaux with the same immediate, intuitive sense of affinity that in the case of Burgundy and Germany helped me overcome my inexperience. So again I find myself delivering a general accolade without feeling that I can place the wine within its proper context (as opposed to scoring it, which is a different matter and one I feel confident about: it's a 92 by me). Thus, we have here slight smoky red fruit on both palate and nose, a balanced, long elegant wine that manages to be both lush and structured at the same time.

Imported by WineRoute and may be found at the Ben Guriyon duty-free for 155 USD.

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