Friday, March 13, 2009

Ma Chenin Amour - Tasting Of Various Wines At Giaconda (Mar. 13, 2009)

Of all the lies and half-truths that make up the life and soul of contemporary man (and woman), the most dreaded and dreadful one is this: I will not cheat, I will not stray, I will not even look at someone else. And so, my dear German Riesling, it is time to confess. I have been dallying with another grape. Oh, she may not be as drop-dead gorgeous and as statuesque as you are and she may hum where you simply stretch your toes and purr, but she's just as captivating as you and there's real fire in her. Not that you don't have your share of soul-enslaving fire, but she's just... different. Really, there's no one in the world like the two of you and you'll just have to find a way to get along and share me.

Chateau del la Guimoniere, Anjou Blanc, 2005

I may be smitten by Chenin Blanc but that doesn't mean I love or understand all of the grape's facets. And this is  a wine that for the second time eludes and confounds me. It's got a fascinating nose, with a sort of funky minerality - how should I put it? It smells like wet minerals, if you know what I mean. There's also a touch of alcohol on the nose, and though there is fine acidity on the palate, it ends on an uncomfortably bitter note. It's almost as though this quaffer was stuffed with more than it can handle, like Britney Spears trying to sing Elvis Costello. Or maybe it just needs time. 90 NIS.

Chateau de Varennes, Savannieres, 2004

Savannieres is my favorite Loire appellation so far. Though the the sweet appellations are very alluring, it's this bone-dry freak that appeals to both my sensual and intellectual sides. And I mean freak in the best sense, there's just something appealingly outrageous about some of the wines that Giaconda import from the area.

Having said all that, this is a calmer version of the style, almost deadpan in comparison to the two that would follow in the tasting. The nose is again minerally, with aromas that vaguely recall a frying pan in action, as well as a touch of tea leaves. The palate is very crisp with a spicy finish that turns pleasantly sweet as it fades away. Not a great wine but although I would prefer to add 30-40 NIS and buy Baumard's Clos de Papillon, I think it would be a useful wine to have around the house until the bigger Savannieres come around. 121 NIS.

Nicolas Joly, Savannieres, Les Vieux Clos, 2006

Hello! This takes some time to come to terms with, but oh boy, this baby hums and sputters like a four by four driving up a cliff. The nose at first owes more to the whiskey world than the world of wine, with a predominant note of ash, but it keeps changing, developing new nuances and refining existing ones. The palate is intense and incredibly long, the acidity amply juicy, seemingly at mid-point between the Baumard and Closel styles. 193 NIS.

Domaine du Closel, Savannieres, Les Cailardieres, 2003

Closel is starting to grow on me. And rather unexpectedly, I might add. Not that it gets any easier to encapsulate these wines, so the best I can offer is that both nose and palate feel like peppery honey, with a synthesis of spiciness and sweetness. Mellower and less alcoholic than the last time I tasted it, though I would have placed it before the Joly in the tasting. 135 NIS.

Marc Tempe, Burgreben, Riesling, 2001

Back to my original mistress. Sort of, as this is Alsace and not Germany but I really like it, after dimissing the wine when I tasted it at Catit a few months ago. Perhaps the different setting is the cause of that, or a few more months of rest. Whatever the cause, this is just lovely, if at first only for the nose, with its peaches, honey, cold slate and hints of petrol. The palate is initially lean with a green apple attack and a grapefruit finish. But time again plays a clever hand and it grows rounder and friendlier and unveils a finish that smacks of both sweetness and salinity. A wonderful wine to drink now. 162 NIS.

Domaine des Baumard, Coteaux du Layon, Carte d'Or, 2005

I've tasted this wine before and while I still think it's obviously not in the same class as the bigger Loire dessert wines, it is a very good value. The nose displays both saline minerals and peaches and the botrytis funk is obviously present and develops smoked cheese notes. Just splendid. The palate is very ripe but at first the acidity is not dominant enough for my taste. It's quite up to balancing out the sweetness of the ripe fruit but it almost seems as though it wears itself out in the process. And while in time it does exert itself, what I would look for if I were to magically upgrade this wine is more acidity. Still, at 117 NIS it is, as I've said, great value.

PS. If there's one thing Giaconda understand that other importers and wine stores do not, it's the importance of matching the proper food to the wines and this was just as deftly handled as usual. So, thank you ladies for all the attention to details, and take that WineRoute, you and your incongruent cheeses.

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