Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Weekday Fare (July 22, 2009)

Domaines Schlumberger, Alsace, Grand Cru Kitterle, Riesling, 2000

The nose is one variant of the quality I've grown to expect from a good Riesling: honey, apples that start out fresh but morph into carmelized and candied specimens, all draped over a backbone of mineral. Just what the doctor ordered. The palate is lean and slick, Alsatian dry, but offers less flavors than the nose hints at, mainly because, while the acidity is definitely there, it doesn't possess enough pizzazz to liven up the fruit. Thus, a good wine that remains a step behind the heights it attempts to reach.

Not imported to Israel, price unknown.

Domaine Pegau, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Cuvee Reserve, 2001

Oddly enough, The Pegau tastes more or less as I remember the 2001 and 2004 Vieux Telegraphe tasting at three years post-vintage. That is, it's crisp, elegant and minerally, and its spicy nose offers expressive red fruit that keeps you coming back for more. The more I drink Pegau, the more I realize what a terrific estate it is.

Vieux Telegraphe, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 2001

While this hints at potential, I have to say that compared to the Pegau, it seems very bulky and ripe. In fact, at first the ripeness turns me off but behind the liquor and dried fruits lurks a mineral vein that and certainly that bulk and ripeness engenders much less palate fatigue that I'd have thought.

Both wines were, and are, imported to Israel by WineRoute. The Vieux Telegraphe sells for about 250 NIS, the Pegau for about 350 NIS.

Krebs-Grode, Rheinhessen, Eimsheimer Sonnenhang, Riesling, Eiswein, 2002

A classic dessert wine that conjures more than its substance actually provides, and therein lies the magic. The nose is a simple one-two combination of sweet pears and brown sugar while the palate finely balances the pure fruit, sugar and lip-smacking acidity. It's not a great dessert wine - it would need greater complexity or a sense of electric vibrancy to be that - but it perfectly fulfills any need you might have for a very, very good one. And it's a real bargain, too.

Not imported to Israel, about 20 Euros for a half-bottle.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Two Not-Quite-So-Serious Bourgognes

Both of the following red Burgundies are imported by Tomer Gal and sell for 110 NIS (although La Fortune is sold out) and both are drinking well now and should hold for about four years.

Marcel Lapierre, Morgon, 2007

This young Beaujolais Cru displays wild strawberry aromas, pure and unfettered, with light hints of sour candy drops, which come across on the palate as juicy acidity that doesn't overwhelm the rather light body. In time, it shows a dash of spices that are reminiscent of Pinot Noir; in fact, I'm not sure I'd find it easy to distinguish between it and a young Bourgogne. There are also faint traces cocoa and a crisp, mineral finish to round out this fun wine. And, like any good Bourgogne, it picks up weight and definition in the glass, the finish growing more and more saline. (July 12, 2009)

A. Et P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise Rouge, La Fortune, 2007

This is every bit as youthful as the Lapierre Morgon yet does not yield to any temptations to sow its wild oats. The nose is taut and elegant, offering raspberry and cherry aromas with earthy and spicy nuances and is intense enough to offer a liquorish overtone. The palate is angular and light, but picks up weight and softens with air, and winds up with a savoury, mineral finish. The flavors dance lightly across the palate so it will suffer in a tasting alongside bigger wines from up north, but it's incredible value for a weekday wine as it offers the usual Villaine class. (July 16, 2009)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Meursault Tasting On Bastille Day (July 14, 2009)

This tasting took place at the Alkalai Wine Bar in the Bazel Street neighborhood and was hosted by Tomer Gal, who imports these wines as well other wines by celebrated domaines from Burgundy. It was worth all of the 350 NIS that it cost, if only for purely educational reasons; and it surely didn't hurt that a good portion of these wines were quite tasty.

The fruit in the 2006 vintage seems to be on the mellow side, which is always nice, but right now, this same fruit has receeded in many of the 2006's we tasted, which accentuates every bit of green-ness and every touch of oak, even in the case of wines where the winemakes swears to practice a light-handed barrel regime.

Prices quoted are tasting prices, lower than the catalog prices.

Francois Jobard, En La Barre, 2006

The nose attacks with pungent notes of sour citrus fruits as well as a Chablis-like minerality. The wood makes its presence felt on the palate, lightly at first, then more obviously with air. Tomer says 2006 was not a vintage blessed with any remarkable acidity but Jobard is renowned for the explosive acidity of his wines in any vintage and here it just crackled on the finish. At 260 NIS, I've bought a bottle or two of this wine regularly over the last four years, but I think there were other wines in this tasting I find a better buy (relative to Burgundy, anyway).

Roulot, Luchets, 2006

If hazelnuts are the aromatic signature of Meursault, then it is with this wine that they make their entrance, and they are complemented by flint and fruit that leans towards apples. This is not a fruity wine on the palate - none of the wines tasted are - instead, the flint is echoed on the palate as are the hazelnuts. The acidity here is less marked than in the En La Barre but it is still well proportioned. it costs 320 NIS, and some of the difference in price is due to the marquee name, while, admittedly, a not insignifcant portion is due to a higher degree of interest it presents.

Deux Montille, Tessons, 2006

This is a wine of contradictions. The nose feels cool and is much fruiter than the previous wines, but when aired, the fruit retreats in favor of minerals. The palate is very tight, highlighting every bit of the 10% new oak the was elevated in, but despite that, there is an appealing elegance about it. I quite liked it, and at 250 NIS, it is the village Meursault of my choice this evening.

Roulot, Narvaux, 2006

The most impressive and most interesting nose of any of the village wines, all sea air and fossils. The Chablis impersonation continues on the palate, which is is as shut down as a Chablis Grand Cru of similar age. And yes, I know that at 320 NIS you can actually buy a Grand Cru, but if you want or need or lust for a Roulot, this is the one to buy.

Chateau du Puligny-Montrachet, Premier Cru Poruzots, 2006

The nose is elegant enough to confirm we're in Premier Cru territory now (though there's also a wildness to it that Tomer says is typical of Poruzots), but the brawny palate is somewhat of a letdown. If the previous wines strummed an acoustic guitar, this one plays electric, but it doesn't mean it's a better player. At 290 NIS, this should have been a bargain Premier Cru, but I just don't go for it as much the Narvaux.

Deux Montille, Premier Cru Poruzots, 2006

This proves once and for all that it's Alix who is the talented maker of white wines in the Montille household. This lovely wine has the same wildness on the nose as the Chateau du Puligny-Montrachet (made by brother Etienne Montille) but a sleight of hand makes it more elegant, more finessed, and it develops so neatly in the glass, growing more nuanced, and is especially precious for a streak of flint. The palate is inviting and alluring without being slutty. I think this is just the kind of savouriness people think of when someone mentions white Burgundy, and, at 380 NIS, I think it's worth a try.

Francois Jobard, Premier Cru Poruzots, 2006

For the ten-fifteen minutes it sat in my glass, I couldn't make up my mind whether it was opening up at all or whether I was just imagining it. But the despite that, the palate projects a steady pulse of power. Let me put it this way, if the Chateau du Puligny-Montrachet is a very blunt instrument, this is power backed up by mystique. And that makes all the difference. 380 NIS. I might go for it, except I'll reserve my shekels for the Deux Montille Poruzots.

Chateau du Puligny-Montrachet, Premier Cru Poruzots, 2004

I'm sorry, but I just can't develop a taste for this domaine. The nose shows an intriguing minerality for a few minutes until it shuts down. The palate is approachable with air but is just not very interesting. 280 NIS is a good price for a Premier Cru I suppose, I just wish I'd liked this specific Premier Cru more.

Auvenay, Narvaux, 2003

Holy cow, this is what people mean when they say a nose bowls them over. Some people at the tasting were put off by the reductive nose, but I almost giggled when I got a whiff of all the sulphur, flint and mildew this wine has to offer. An extravagant nose in the best sense of the word. The palate is very lush, yet remains structured and elegant and is surely the best 2003 I've tasted (although for what it's worth, I've admittedly shyed away from the vintage). If it had sported the complexity of the best of the Premier Crus, it might have justified the 660 NIS price tag. Though I suspect in that case, Madame Lalou Bize would have marked up the price.

Francois Jobard, Premier Cru Genevrieres, 1998

An explosive nose with, once again, flint, but the experience of aging almost a decade in bottle allows it to veer off in a different direction than most of the previous wines: flowers, sea breeze, funk. The palate is a a good example of an iron fist in a velvet glove and was even more impressive for oviously being a few years before its peak. While the question of reduction might have made the Auvenay controversial, this was plainly irresistable to all and 400 NIS sounds like a good price for an almost mature Burgundy of this level of quality.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

2GrandCru Birthday Celebrations at Messa (July 11, 2009)

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."
Groucho Marx

This was my first time at Messa and it was an interesting experience. The food is well made and creative, as well as relatively easy to pair with our wines (most dishes come in two sizes, so I ordered two first courses and a main dish) but cheap it's not. The picture above was lifted from their site.

Jos. Christoffel Jr, Mosel-Ruser-Saar, Wehlener Sonnenhur, Auslese, 1988

This Auslese came with no label so I'm not sure how many stars it was branded with, but it sure drinks like three stars, at the very least. The nose very delicately lacquers the fruit with elegant strokes of petrol and an earthy minerality, while the palate perfoms a few tricks of its own with savoury, green apple acidity. One of the best Christoffels I've ever had and, sadly, the only one not available locally.

Price unknown.

Olivier Leflaive, Chassagne-Montrachet, 2004

Obviously young, obviously oaky, but here the oak is well balanced by citrusy fruit. I like the style, especially the saline crunch on the finish, and it will be a good wine for a village in about three years.

Imported by WineRoute, the price was about 200 NIS a couple of years ago, if I'm not mistaken.

Domaine Fourrier, Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru, Les Cherbaudes, 1999

The nose veers more towards the black fruit end of the spectrum than I'd have expected, but there are enough tell-tale Bourgogne signs (wet earth, a hint of barnyard) to keep me very happy indeed. Plus, there's a light note of hyper-ripeness that adds interest rather than annoying. Very lively and balanced, but, despite the excellent vintage and origin (Premier Cru squeezed in between Chapelle and Mazis-Chambertin), I don't think it has an enormously long future ahead of it .

Not imported to Israel, price unknown.

Chateau Haut-Bailly, Pessac-Leognan, 1995

This is an interesting wine. Both nose and palate did not seem particularly claret-like, especially the palate, which was very minerally - which is a Pessac-Leognan trait - and angular. I thought it was a Barolo, I admit. A solid 90-pointer and it's always a pleasure to drink a mature Bordeaux.

Not imported to Israel.

Altesino, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, 1997

Reeks of class. And plenty of leather and cassis over juicy berries. Young, muscular and tannic, I thought it was perfect as it was but others thought it was too young. Usually I prefer complexity and nuances, but this powerful style was in no way over the top, I do not see it mellowing and I think it wears that style very well - so why wait?

Imported by WineRoute, purchased six years ago for about 450 NIS.

Monday, July 6, 2009

2GrandCru Drinks a Grand Cru... And More (June 30, 2009)

Join the 2GrandCru Marines: Travel the world, buy great wines, meet interesting people and dine and wine with them.

This week at Toto, Major Ran Shapira organized the following drill for his fightin' battalion:

Jos. Christoffel Jr., Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Erdener Trepchen, Riesling Auslese **, 1992

If you've been following my blog and you can't guess that this was my Wine Of The Night, kindly click on a few Google ads on your way out... Chalk, petrol, dill and parsely in equal, balanced portions frame yellow fruit that has matured gracefully without losing the flush of youth. The palate is crisp and fruity, with typically graceful Mosel acidity that is seemlessly married with the fruit. Utterly yummy, which in my parlance works out to a 92 (and a few notches better than a recent bottle of the 1989 Wurtzgarten).

This used to be imported by Giaconda for 207 NIS, but this bottle came from elsewhere. Thanks, Ran, for giving me another chance at this wine.

Domaine Arlaud, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru, 2004

The nose is explicitly Bourgogne and shows musky, black fruit with a hint of sweat and initially displays a certain candied essance I associate with young Bugundies, while later developing notes of flowers and bell pepper. The palate is surprisingly open for all that it was open for only two hours prior to our drinking pleasure and winds down with a saline finish. A good wine with a cool elegance that is somewhat frayed around the edges. Although it is certainly packed with flavors and is highly enjoyable, its has just enough class to make it to the major leagues but not much more.

Imported by WineRoute I believe and I didn't get the price.

Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac 5me Cru, 2001

I opened this bottle at home, about three hours before we drank it, and it was actually a bit more approachable at home, then shut down when we poured it, only to open up again after about twenty minutes in glass. It progressed from the red to the black fruit end of the spectrum, never approaching the regions of black-fruit ripeness that can turn me off, developing mineral and chocolate aromatics. A better wine than the Charmes-Chambertin in my book, with crisp tannins, thriving in harmony with the fruit, ensuring fair aging potential.

Imported by WineRoute.

Tua Rita, Giusto Di Notri, 2001

This Super-Tuscan is a Bordeaux blend that is half Cabernet Sauvignon, the rest more or less equally divided between Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Yet somehow, it is the Merlot that seems to dominate. This is a dense wine, the density obvious even on the nose, with a fruitcake character (see what I meant about the Merlot?). Not a lot of finesse in it, and coming after the Grand-Puy-Lacoste, it shows a sweetness on the palate that is too much for me. Impressive on a superficial level, but I found it the least noteworthy of the evening's reds. I will wait a few more years before I open my bottle.

Imported by WineRoute and sold for about 280 NIS about six years ago.

Weinhaus Walter J. Oster, Rheinhessen, Ortega Trockenbeerenauslese, 1999

Learn something new every day. Ortega is a cross between Muller-Thurgau and Siegerrebe (which is itself a cross between Madeleine Angevine and Gewürztraminer) and is not well-known for any overt acidity. Also from what I taste, as this is wine is low in acidity even for a TBA, its sweetness on the cloying side. The nose is nice, although not very thrilling, with peaches, honey and brown sugar.

Not imported to Israel, you can order the half-bottle for 20 euros from the winery. They seem like nice people, even if the grape seems like a joke about German eugenics.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Misc Notes (June 2009)

J. L. Chave Selection, Saint Joseph, Offerus, 2006

This is a negociant venture by Rhone great Chave that I have enjoyed in the past and it seems to drink quite nicely young or with a little bottle age. I saw a barrel tasting note at Tanzer's IWC that breaks down the blend by the source of the grape; according to that note, the blend is pure Syrah, but there's a hint of lemon drops on the nose so I'm not sure about that. Anyway, this is a fruity Saint Joseph, pure red fruit at first, with time and air showing darker fruit as well as notes of black pepper, while the palate has this deliciously saline finish that lingers and yanks me back for more of the same. It is soft and approachable already but the behind the softness is a balanced structure and enough gripping, savoury tannins and well-proportioned acidity to last for five-six years. Lovely. (June 14, 2009)

WineRoute, 139 NIS.

Josef Leitz, Rheingau, Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz, Riesling Spatlese, 2006

How the hell do I keep away from this? The nose is full of peaches and both green and baked apples, made even more endearing by hints of flint and petrol as well as by an electric sizzle reminiscent of frozen winter air - while the palate is like biting into the juiciest green apple in the world. It doesn't have the greatest length but it has this delectable mineral finish that lingers in my memory long after it has faded from my palate. (June 18, 2009)

Giaconda, about 100 NIS.

Koehler-Ruprecht, Pflaz, Kalstadter Saumagen, Riesling Kabinett, Trocken, 2004

This bottle was very stingy on nose and palate at first, which worried me because recent Koehler-Ruprecht bottles I've opened have behaved like sullent teenagers at 6 AM on any given day: mavolent and unfriendly, surly and obviously aching to go back to sleep. This time, behind this trulant disposition were apricots and ripe apples on the nose and a bone-dry, chalk-laden personality on the palate and I decided to sit back and wait.

And what I got, surprisingly enough, was a fruitier and sweeter nose, with a refershing, floral aspect - instead of a more minerally aptitude, which is what I would have expected from Koehler-Ruprecht. The palate really mellowed and turned out to be very warm and savoury, yummy and delightfully saline on the finish (which, as far scores go, merits a 92, just the finish, mind you). So, my verdict right now is that this is a brainy yet tasty wine, and, while it is an excellent drink right now, two years in the fridge will bring out again the powerfully mineral aromatics I remember from previous encounters and merge them with that savoury, lustful salinity I got off on tonight.

Still, you won't go wrong popping it open this summer. That delicious finish will complement just about anything lighter than red meat.

(June 27, 2009)

Giaconda, 117 NIS.