Citrus and lots and lots of chalk on the nose. The palate is similar as far as flavors go, while structure-wise it is lean and crispy. This is a good QBA, with perceivable personality. (Nov. 5, 2009)
A second bottle a few weeks later shows greater focus and more breadth of flavor and is perhaps the best 'straight' QBA I've had yet.
Giaconda, 80 NIS.
Gunderloch's Jean Baptiste Kabinett of the same year is a step up. Although my enthusiasm for Kabinetts has been curbed lately, this is one of the best I've had. As with the QBA, the nose shows chalk and citrus, specifically lime, but there is a thread of baked apples, adding character, and overall the aromatics have a greater scope, a wider array of colors. The palate is also better defined, and, although still on the lean side, offers a vibrant acidic backbone that should allow for five-seven more years of development. (Nov. 18, 2009)
Giaconda, 90 NIS, great value.
Chateau d'Aqueria, Lirac, l'Heritage, 2005
Red fruit on the nose, slightly veering towards black, with plenty of leather and minerals, and a ripe core hinting at a high level of extraction. The palate is reasonably elegant and delicious, a little hollow in the middle, but captivating in its own context, with good acidity levels. (Nov. 5, 2009)
Giaconda, 162 NIS.
Domaine de la Vougeraie, Bourgogne, Terres de Famille, 2005
The nose hits you with all the goodies even entry level Burgundy (from a good producer like Vougeriae) has to offer: smoky raspberry fruit; that finely wrought earthiness that is often a balm to the soul; finally a hint of exotic spices that belie the calm austerity of a good Bourgogne, even from a more opulent vintage like 2005. Typically for this level of quality - and I must qualify this statement with a reminder that the Terres de Famille is often at Villages level quality and 2005 was no exception - the palate cannot match all that, so I just focus on the homely charms it does possess: lively acidity, savory fruit and a mineral finish that coats the palate even as it fades away before you're ready to let it go. It's also quite yummy. (Nov. 6, 2009)
Burgundy Wine Collection, 110 NIS. Always a good value.
Leitz, Rheingau, Dragonstone, 2008
The usual great value, drier and lighter than the 2005. Flavors and aromas of red and green apples with a hint of strawberries and a wonderfully chalky texture. It's actually kind of lean now but with enough extract to flesh out in time. (Nov. 11, 2009)
Not imported to Israel, yet.
Smith Haut Lafite, Pessac-Leognan, 1996
Old style wininess. Light barnyard, tobacco and mineral infused aromatics over classically subtle fruit, the whole package asserting that there's no place like Bordeaux. On the palate, savory tannins and excellent acidity complement sweet, calmly vibrant red fruit, winding up in a wonderfully saline finish. This is so patently drinkable, so typical of what the phrase 'classic claret' should conjure for Bordeaux lovers everywhere, that is pointless to give it a score, so let me just say this: sniff, drink and sleep smiling. (Nov. 13, 2009)
WineRoute import Smith Haut Lafite regularly to Israel. This was purchased from MacArthur Wines in Washington DC for about 50 USD. MacArthur is a great store and the source 90% of my purchases in the US.
Schafer-Frohlich, Nahe, Bockenauer Felseneck, Riesling QBA, 2007
The nose is very pungent, and nicely so, along the line of orange peel and sea shells. The palate is dry and angular, crisp and a touch under-ripe. A good QBA (at near Kabinett level I'd say, if not higher) and I enjoyed it... but there are better values at this level of quality and this style of wine. On the other hand, the style and quality of the nose make a good argument to follow up on this producer - and FWIW, I have a nigh-erotic memory of this producer's Grand Cru. (Nov. 15, 2009)
Giaconda, 135 NIS.
Koehler-Ruprecht, Pfalz, Kalstadter Saumagen, Riesling Kabinett, Trocken, 2004
Koehler-Ruprecht, in general, is not for the faint of heart. The nose here is borderline sociopathic, with pungent, slightly off-putting notes of kerosene alternating with friendlier notes of chalk and oyster shells over dry apricots and baked apples, perhaps a hint of rose petals as well. The palate is well defined but more interesting than it is tasty, building up to an intellectual, mineral peak, with an acidity that only shows up in the finish while remaining dormant in mid-palate. I do wish I liked it as much as I did two years ago; I'm not sure whether I've changed or whether the wine has faded before fulfilling the promise I saw in it in the past. A little of both, I guess. (Nov. 20, 2009)
Giaconda, 117 NIS.
Marcel Lapierre, Morgon, 2007
Another goodbye to another good friend. I wish I could have kept away from this wine or bought more of it. It's not great but it's a delightful quaffer in the best sense of the word. Pure raspberry fruit with a touch of minerals, and that blend of forest floor and meatiness that easily conjures comparisons with its cousins up north in Pinot land. Now, it's on the tart side, but in my book that's better than being on the ripe side. (Nov. 23, 2009)
Burgundy Wine Collection, about 100 NIS.
Domaine du Colombier, Crozes-Hermitage, 2006
In keeping with my very strong recollections of Colombier's cheaper Primavera, the nose has a distinct note of raw meat, although its effect is more subtle here, as it is buffeted by violets, minerals and black pepper. There are enough soft tannins to establish a round, yet firm, structure; succulent acidity beneath the vibrant red fruit; and, finally, a tasty, saline finish. Though air is a boon for the wine, at three years of age it is just about ready to drink, and, while it will age and keep, its youthful exuberance makes it so tempting now that I doubt I will age it for more than two-three years (just enough for the little tyke to pick up some manners). Which makes it a very useful wine and very good value. (Nov. 26, 2009)
Giaconda, 126 NIS.