Thus, 2GrandCru did make his jolly way to Assif in southern Tel Aviv to reclaim the wine lover's ground that he had squandered away in order to please his children and womenfolk. He had heard good things about Assif, but, in reality, the chef's reach did indeed exceed the grasp of his creative juices.
And what was heaven for? The wines...
Pierre Gimonnet, Cote des Blancs, Oenophile Extra Brut, 2000
This Champagne sparked some controversy. I admit the dryness and and acidity could be perceived as brutal but I loved it for its meditative reserve and its saline finish (and while I do believe the acidity would easily be tempered by food, sadly we had it as an appertif). Everyone did, however, enjoy the nose, with its fascinating, fossil-like minerality.
Boutique des Champagnes, 309 NIS.
Markus Molitor, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Graacher Himmelreich, Riesling Spatlese, 2004
This is so typical of the Mosel, the nose has peaches and dill along with ample signs of petrol even now, while the palate has that delicate coupling of fruit, sugar and acidity that no other region can match. It also has typical 2004 minerality. I almost caused a food fight when I claimed I found a certain coarsness on the end, where the fruit dwindles down. Which will probably fade away in, say, five years.
Not imported to Israel. Too bad.
La Rioja Alta, Gran Reserve, 904, 1995
This has one damn, fine nose. It is animalistic and dusty, with tobacco leaves and chocolate over red fruit with a currant-y kick. The palate has the kind of crisp tannins I associate with minerally reds and typical, savoury Temperanillo fruit. A lovely wine that grows more and more Rioja as it opens up.
Imported by Hakerem, about 30 Euros in Spain, 250 in Israel.
Alain Graillot, Crozes-Hermitage, La Guiraude, 1999
A gorgeous nose that is at first too extracted for my tastes then shows black fruit (sometimes I think only the Rhone makes black fruit this good), olives and pepper. The palate is tasty yet has this languid structure that works because of the peppery kick of the Syrah. This is my Wine Of The Night and is right in the middle of its drinking window (but has plenty of life left).
WineRoute still imports Graillot but has dropped this single-vineyard Crozes.