Misc Notes (Mar. 2010)

Domaine Le Couroulu, Vacqueyras, Cuvee Classique, 2005

I thrive on the elegance of my favorite wines but I can also find rustic wines from the warmer climes very appealing and convincing. This is such a wine and I'm glad to find it drinking this well earlier than I expected. The nose is earthy and dusty, with garrigue and a touch of saddle leather over fruit that starts out comfortably red and grows blacker and sweeter even as a note of cardamon emerges. The palate still has a nubile bite, but the dusty tannins are well matched by a saline acidity that is akin to blood (I prefer it when the acidity and fruit combine for a moister mouthfeel, but the combination here works out just fine in its own right). Full-bodied, round and reasonably long. Drink over the next three-five years. (Mar. 4, 2010)

Giaconda, 117 NIS.

Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003

I want to like this wine but I'm not sure it wants to like me. My usual complaints about GHW wines have to do with a technological approach that leaves little room for personality but except for the dreaded Yarden Pinot Noir, I never complained about quality control. Until now. This is alocholic and raiseny, almost Amarone-like, sweet and lacking structure. Not the kind of wine I ever want to drink in my house. (Mar. 6, 2010)

About 110 NIS.

On to the next wine.

Marques de Riscal, Rioja Reserva, 2004

This is really manna from heaven coming after the Yarden. The Riscal wine has made me feel uncomfortable in the past - somehow it it always came off as a wannabe, a nerd trying to impress the cool guys in school, but this time it finally clicked (not that I've fallen for it, I'm just feeling much friendlier). There is surely a relief factor here, like returning to an ex-girlfriend after a lousy date, but I would rather pretend I'm finally catching up to the inherent, small-scale, hometown qualities of this wine: from the mineral-tinged raspberries on the the nose; to the savory, meaty tannins balancing the round fruit; to the slightly saline finish. (Mar. 6, 2010)

WineRoute, about 100 NIS on sale.

Albert Mann, Alsace Grand Cru, Furstenstrum, Pinot Gris, 2005

A wow nose, regal and complex, with apples, quince, gunnpowder and other mineral nuances that recall Burgundy and a touch of cardamon on top. The palate is heady and hedonistic, most of its 14% ABV reined in until the finish, where some heat flares up. I gave up on Pinot Gris a few years ago, until this specific wine pulled me in. Stay tuned. (Mar. 7, 2010)

Giaconda, originally listed at about 200.

Freiherr Langwerth von Simmern, Rheingau, Rauenthlaer Balken, Riesling Spatlese, Trocken, 2004

It's easier and safer to write about a wine that goes one way or the other - this one does not, alas. Certainly the nose is pleasant and, while not especially evocative, gets the job done with some finesse and aromas of apple pie, minerals and a touch of petrol. The palate is more interesting to write about, less to actually drink. The apple-tinged fruit feels as though it has to stretch to rein in the admittedly racy acidity. Maybe it's the context, maybe it's personal taste, but dry Rheingaus are certainly not my thing. On the other hand, it could be a matter of age. There's still a slight fizz that was there, and more obvious, three years ago. Thus, it might just need two-four more years to release the energy lying coiled within its bone-dry structure that today is only realized in its long, saline finish. (Mar. 8, 2010)

Giaconda, about 250 NIS. A problematic price for me considering its competition even within the importer's catalog.

Albert Mann, Alsace, Grand Cru Steingrubler, Gewurztraminer, 2005

Even if a wine isn't great - and this was excellent at the very least - it always wins extra points from me if it reveals more of itself and changes over the course of the night. The scenery along the way, friends, is even more important than the destination. Initially, the nose was classic Gewurtzraminer, lychee and spices and all. Then it sported a veil of sculptor's clay, which obscured the Gewurtz signature until the wine went through a third coming and made a synthesis of all the elements it had unfurled earlier, while showing traces of grapefruit and peaches. Then there's the palate. I do love Gewuztraminer but I have to admit the high extract that shows in mid-palate can be overwhelming. The Steingrubler started out that way but it gained breadth in time, and balanced the extract with sugar and acidity. It's fiery but not because of high alcohol (relatively low for the variety at 13% ABV) but because of the power of its liquid mineral essence. Lovely. I'll let the other bottle settle down more over the next two-three years. (Mar. 11, 2010)

Giaconda again, about 180 NIS at discount.

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

Last bottle and we sure had our ups and downs over the last three years, haven't we? At least we're parting on somewhat friendly terms. I was at first wowed by the unique aromatic signatures of K-H Saumagen bottlings, then as they developed in bottle they became stingier and laden with kerosene. Even at points in their life cycles where I wouldn't have expected them to shut down (five year old Kabinetts, eight year old Ausleses). The palate from the start - and I'm generalizing again about all the various bottles I've drunk, not just this one - always seemed tart and immature, and while I was optimistic, even enthusiastic, eventually my patience ran out. Anyway, back to the 2004 Kabinett. The nose is interesting and moderately complex and even though the kerosene is still somewhat overbearing, I get apples and sweet dough. The palate is as complex and I think has reached its peak, it won't get any better and that's just fine. It's dry but softer and rounder than an Alsatian, no bitter quinine notes either, just a brainy, grainy, chalky finish that improves as it becomes fruiter after an hour. (Mar. 12, 2010)

Giaconda, 117 NIS.

Recanati, Special Reserve, 2005

This relic of the previous wine-making regime at Recanati is likely to be the last lewis Pasco wine I will drink in the forseeable future. Unfortunately, it is touched with TCA. Next. (Mar. 27, 2010)

Listed at 150 NIS.

The next wine I tried the same evening was Colombier's Primavera 2006 which I've enjoyed numerous times and has not changed enough to warrant a new note, just re-read this if you wish.

A. Et P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise, La Digoine, 2006

Good stuff. It's developed to the point where it still shows purity of red fruit in the flush of youth that is slightly sauteed with typical Bourgogne spices and a touch of forest floor. The structure is elegant and focused enough to lend its light body a presence that Burgundy fans will adore and has a fine pungent twang on the finish. It obviously doesn't come from a great vineyard but it shows very little traces of rusticity, and has loads of class within its context and near-ephemeral frame. (Mar. 30, 2010)

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 130 NIS.