World Cup Wines (July 2010)

I had a notion of watching the games with friends but six year old Adam discovered the world of football this year and I had so much fun staying at home and watching the games with him. Turns out he remembers the scores and scorers better than I do! Of course, there were wines to be drunk; I did share a few sips with Adam, please don't tell the authorities.

Koehler-Ruprecht, Pfalz, Kalstadter Steinacker, Riesling Kabinett, 2005

Drunk over the course of the first day of the World Cup Quarter-Finals. I opened it at around five in the afternoon, hoping a few hours of air would help it perform better than K-H had done for me in the recent past. It needs it, too, as it initially tastes like battery-acid tempered by apples cider. The nose has a mineral tint with a pungent, kerosene notes, showing sweet herbs as the kerosene winds down. As the evening rolls on, I'm confused by my reaction towards this wine, and find it really hard to write about. Sometimes I like the nose and not the palate, sometimes it's the other way around. Two silver bullets work for this wine: first is the long, lime-ish, saline finish; second is the wonderful aromas left inn the glass once it is empty, lovely minerals and yeasts. In the end, I miss the days when I just enjoyed K-H without reservations. Nowadays, it's just too challenging for me to try and figure out them out and I have come up with three possible reasons for that:
  1. The wine-maker's a genius and I don't understand him.
  2. The wine-maker doesn't understand me.
  3. The Koehler-Ruprecht wines go into a deeper slumber than my tasting skills can cope with.
(July 2, 2010)

Giaconda, 117 NIS.

Ramonet, Chassagne-Montrachet, 2004

This wine, on the other hand, accompanying the second day of the Quarter-Finals, is like a homecoming. The nose is a little wild, yet complex and detailed, with ripe citrus fruit rippling under the flint and dry grass. The palate is just as good, even if less complex, with good length and savory salinity. (July 3, 2010)

Imported by Burgundy Wine Collection, 150 NIS.

Muller-Catoir, Pflaz, Haardter Herrenletten, Riesling Spatlese, 2006

I abstained on the first day of the Semi-Finals while recovering from Hagit Koren's farewell binge. For the Spain-Germany match, I had a tough choice to make and went with a German wine, thinking I had more German wines to spare should the German squad make the Finals.

What I love about Muller-Catoir and makes him my favorite Pfalz producer - well, out of the three or four that I'm familiar with - is the way the wines combine an almost Alsatian ripeness with a sleek, German frame. As such, this wine is a fantastic value and an endearing creature. The intense, lush nose has red apples and tropical fruit against a backdrop of minerals and sweet dough. The palate is as sweet and round as the nose would have you believe while balanced with juicy, green apple acidity. (July 7, 2010)

Giaconda, 135 NIS.

Patricia Green Cellars, Oregon, Dundee Hills, Ana, Pinot Noir, 2006

Third-place match on Saturday. Despite the 14.1% ABV listed on the label, this looks and smells like a Pinot, if not a Bourgogne, but the palate shows heat and sweetness, though in time the tannins assert themselves and balance the effects of the alcohol. The nose has all the candied fruit of a young Pinot, with very nice herbal and meaty notes, as well as some white pepper; while the palate, all through the interplay of alcohol and tannins, remains hard and tight at the core and not that pleasant without food - I matched it with ossobucco, which was a nice, if not great, pairing. I will say it improves with air, until the tannins and alcohol make for a bitter, austere effect. I hate to admit stuff like this, but I opened this bottle two-three years early. (July 10, 2010).

Not available in Israel bought abroad for about 40 USD.

For the Finals, I wanted a real Bourgogne, after the Patricia Green teased me without coming close to delivering the real thing.

Comte Armand, Volany Premier Cru, Les Fremiets, 2002

A light, fragrant Bourgogne, with subtle aromatics of red fruit and minerals, that takes hours to open up. The nose opens first, showing greater complexity without ever talking very loudly - an apt choice for meditation if not a football match. The palate has less stuffing and body than I'd expected from an '02 and at first the tannins don't really gel with the fruit, while the acidity is rather muted. During the first half of the match, there is little action on the palate - echoing the play on the field. But towards the halftime, things start falling into place. The tannins are still bitter and green but now that the fruit is starting to emerge, there's a better balance so the overall effect is herbal and mildly astringent rather than harsh and off-putting. In the end, like the game, it promised more than it delivered. (June 11, 2010)

Tomer Gal imports Comte Armand, although not this bottling, which I purchased in London for about 40 GBP.