Chateau d'Aqueria, Lirac, 2005
I've had Lirac very rarely in the past but this was, even to me, oh-so obviously Southern Rhone, almost Gigondas in character, but with less concentration. The nose is black fruit - plums I'd say - with roasted, meaty notes and Provencal herbs. The fruit leans rather more towards red on the palate, somewhat watery in the middle at first, yet with juicy acidity and a saline finish. While it is, like I said, not as concentrated as the major appelations of the area, it is savoury and appealing in its softness and smoothes out a certain bitter ruggendness with some air. This ruggedness, how should I best describe it? Not exactly John Wayne, more like Buddy Holly singing "That'll Be The Day". (Feb. 5, 2009)
Imported by Giaconda, 99 NIS.
A. Et P. De Villaine, Bouzeron, 2005
I haven't tasted this benchmark Aligote for a year and now it seems it's finally ready. At 12.5% ABV, this would be a great summer drink, only I chose to open it on one of the only true winter nights we've this year. The nose shows citrus fruit, a hint of toast, vaguely saline minerals; I'd be very pleased to find it in a Champagne. The palate is even more minerally than the nose suggests, very crisp and tasty with the kind of saline finish that spells B-U-R-G-U-N-D-Y. Some say this is a quaffer, in which case it is a very profound quaffer. If a pedigree white Bourgogne is Orson Welles, than this is, uh, Buster Keaton. (Feb. 10, 2009)
Imported by Tomer Gal. Oddly enough, in all my previous notes, I never wrote down the price but I believe it was in the 60-70 NIS range. At that price, this year I will buy more.
Koehler-Ruprecht, Pflaz, Kalstadter Steinacker, Scheurebe Spatlese, 2005
It is my contention that Koehler-Ruprecht produces some of the most aromatically intriguing wines in Germany and the allure of this little sweetheart offers ample proof of that (much more ample than the shopping list of aromas I will detail shortly might suggest). The tell-tale guayava notes may be submerged but the nose more than makes up for that with flinty aromas as well something that recalls butter melting on the frying pan, while every now and then a wisp of apple pie adds a further touch of interest. The palate is fairly well balanced, obviously dry despite a green apple profile that suggests sweetness as well as supplying ample acidity. It is gentle on the attack, pleasantly bitter-sour on the finish and overall quite savoury. While not a great wine of the highest degree, it offers, to extend the movie metaphors above, the dry wit of a Billy Wilder. (Feb. 17, 2009)
Sold by Giaconda for 117 NIS.
Falesco, Montiano, 2003
This Super-Umbrian Merlot is sometimes derided for its alleged "internationalization" and all I can say to that is, if you're going to make a Merlot-based wine in Central Italy, it would be a good idea to make it as good as this one is. Which I find myself liking more than the 2000, which was an arguably better vintage. I'm not absolutely certain I'd recognize it as Merlot in a blind tasting (although its fruitcake nose and roundness on the palate is surely typical) but I'd sure recongize it as Italian, what with the tell-tale chives and Mediterranean herbs on the nose. It was a fruit bomb when I first tasted it three years ago, but it's toned down since, although the fruit is lively enough to mature for a few years longer alongside the savoury tannins. The acidity level is typical for a Merlot, I think, that is, not especially high, yet surprisingly fine for a hot vintage like 2003. This is a Walter Hill, I think. (Feb. 19, 2009)
The history of this wine in Israel is quite curious. Anavim used to import it up until, and including, the 2003 vintage, when its shelf price was 300 NIS. WineRoute took over with the same vintage, concurrently selling it for 200 NIS and later offering it on discount, 2 bottles for 300 NIS. Since WineRoute received their lot from the winery a couple of year later on and considering their storage is probably more reliable to begin with, I'm considering opening the bottle I bought from them in two-three years.
Vitkin, Pinot Noir, 2006
The nose is promising for the level and price of this wine, with candy-ish red fruit, a touch of VA initially, some earthy nuances. The palate, I think, is schizoid, as on the one had it feels lightweight, yet on the other, strains to contain it's 13.8% ABV and thus the alcohol overshadows the fruit. I'm kind of stuck with finding an appropiate Hollywood director. I'm looking for someone you want to like for a lack of pretensions yet still can't get excited over. I'd say Penny Marshall except I really loved Big. (Feb. 21, 2009)
About 60 NIS.
Domaine Le Couroulu, Vacqueyras, Cuvee Classique, 2005
Very dark-purple in color, this wine's nose reflects black fruit from a warm vintage without veering into blatant over-ripeness, with overtones of sweet spices and and fried bacon. The palate is fiery, as the acidity still stings, but the dusty tannins are already starting to yield, making for a saline, minerally crunch on the finish. There is a rustic earthiness to both nose and palate which is just the kind I find very appealing. Compared to the d'Aqueria Lirac, this less evolved but there is that much more weight to it, that it will be the better value when it peaks in about three-five years. Rough around the edges like Clint Eastwood around the time of Dirty Harry, only don't expect an Unforgiven to ever come out of it.
Giaconda, 117 NIS.