Gaston Chiquet Tasting At Tamara (June 7, 2009)

I have some fond memories of Tamara, one of the earliest French Bistros in Israel, from back in the day when it was located in a gas station in Ramat-Gan, within walking distance from theapartment I was renting with my ever lovin' wife. I also have some fond memories of Gaston Chiquet and it had been a long time since I'd attended any of Eldad Levi's tastings. Thus, I reserved a seat at the tasting refered to by the title, with the petty reservations that there are Champagne growers in the Boutique de Champagnes portfolio that are dearer to my heart and that I'd hadn't run into any any written or word-of-mouth evidence that Tamara had kept up with the ever evolving local cusine scene.

Rose, Brut, Premier Cru, n.v.

The nose is very Pinot-ish, delightfully so, with mellow red fruit and hint of forest floor. The palate is crisp with fine acidity but, if Villmart's Rose has concentration of red fruit worthy of a village wine from the Cote d'Or, the Chiquet is more on the order of a good Bourgogne and lacks depth of pizzazz to justify its price tag, although I am aware of the current commercial appeal of pink bubblies.

299 NIS.

Tradition, Brut Premier Cru, n.v.

The nose shows sweetish yeasts and baked apples while the palate veers more into citrus territory, where it shows a crisp structure on the surface. But beneath that surface is a one-dimensional sweetness, albeit one that doesn't bother me that much with food.

219 NIS.

Blanc de Blancs d'Ay, Brut, Grand Cru, n.v.

The increase in quality is immediately obvious. The nose is much more focused, the yeast aromas are not as sweet, rather reminiscient of fresh bread. The palate is also less sweet, broad yet also sharp and focused, with an intriguing, chalky minerality. Eldad Levi says Ay's trademark is baked apples, yet here they are way in the background, the Blanc de Blancs' personality being rather more citrusy. A very good wine and, considering the wine is always comprised of a single vintage, an excellent value.

235 NIS.

Or Millesime, Brut, Premier Cru, 1999

Another step up, the nose shows baked apples and light notes of oxidation which are quite charming in this context. The palate has a wide, complex array of flavors with a tight structure keeping things in checks, while allowing a touch of wildness to add interest. A delicious wine with an mineral veneer adding an intellectual aspect to it.

Not for sale but before it was sold out, it cost somewhat less than the Special Club.

Special Club, Brut, Premier Cru, 1998

The personality is similar to the Or Millesime, but tighter, more focused and fresher. Although I wanted to prefer the Or Millesime out of spite, I would never be able to justify such a stance. The scope of flavors is similar yet the Special Club shows no oxidized notes and is much more elegant, its buttons polished to perfection, while still exhibiting the same sense of wild energy.

Not for sale.

Special Club, Brut, Premier Cru, 1999

This is it, baby. This is in the same vein as the 1998, and although it is rawer, it is also fresher, less sweet and even more energetic. This is a special wine that will need a few years and while I don't know where it's going, I want to meet it when it gets there.

329 NIS.