Monday, August 30, 2010

Misc Notes (Aug. 2010)

Grata Vinum, Priorat, 2 Pi R, 2006

I like it, even though, on paper anyway, it's not really my style, being too round and too friendly. But it's got just enough tannic bite and acidity to pull through and there's enough in it to point to its origins in modern Spain and enough graphite to point me to Priorat. I suppose I'm just not feeling witty or perceptive enough to write up a solid reason why I liked it, so let me just say the two bottles I've drunk over the last six months were exactly the right amount for me. (Aug. 1, 2010)

The Scottish Company, 160 NIS.

Dr. Loosen, Mosel, "L" Riesling, 2009

You wouldn't expect a lot of complexity, depth or stuffing in such a "lowly" wine, and you'd be right, yet it's so tasty and refreshing, just like bobbing for apples in a a barrel of ice-water. (Aug. 12, 2010) A second bottle on the 24th just re-enforces my impression: this is the only wine I'd ever consider putting in my gym bottle!

Two for 100 NIS at WineRoute.

Henri Bourgeois, Vin De Pays Du Val De Loire, Petit Bourgeois, Sauvignon Blanc, 2009

Great value, with a quirky mineral vein on the nose and ripe, tropical fruit on the palate. (Aug. 13, 2010)

WineRoute, 53 NIS.

Domaine Les Pallieres, Gigondas, 2004

I was planning to open this wine again in a few years, but bad storage conditions made me panic. Let's see: cork is good shape, the color is fine, the aromatics are on the herbal side but that's what I have come to expect from this wine. The palate is tannic and medicinal at first, so I wait. But even the initial glass improves with food. Fast forward an hour or so ahead: the nose shows just hints of fruit (but I think that's the style of the wine, not the storage issue, thank god), herbal, slightly alcoholic, with notes of dust and iron, just what I expect from the southern lands. The palate is tannic and austere, with deeply submerged acidity showing up on the finish, as well as a pleasing, not-at-all-candied, sweetness, that gives the wine breadth despite the tannic grip. This is as good as it will get and like a lot of wines in this genre, it appeals to me as a passing fling, not a lifetime relationship. So I'd buy again, but not a whole lot. (Aug. 14, 2010)

WineRoute, 150 NIS

Chateau Ormes De Pez, St. Estephe, 2007

This is a wine that received some mediocre scores and I can understand why. At first it's so easy to drink, with soft tannins and mellow fruit, that I found myself wondering what manner of Bordeaux wimp I'd run into. Then I left it alone and, returning a couple of hours later, found that air brings out a green streak on the palate that detracts unless it's immediately followed by food and also highlights the tannins, which become rather puckering. On the other hand, the acidity is very effective and not over-done. The aromatics are lovely anyway, with subtle fruit behind a veil of tobacco leaves and earth. I've read in Hugh Johnson's autobiography that this was a household favorite even in bygone days pre-dating latter-day technology so maybe it's an old-school wine that needs more time? (Aug. 15, 2010)

Sold by WineRoute in a three for 400 NIS deal.

A. Et. P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise, Rouge, La Fortune, 2008

As much as I love this winery, I'll admit there's nothing very profound about this wine, just a little something I like to drink at home, offering, as it does, a glimpse of Burgundian class. Cheerful red fruit in a light frame, with a touch of blood, forest floor and typical Bourgogne spices. And that saline finish is a delight, which I hope might win over anyone who finds the proceedings a little tart.(Aug. 19, 2010)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 110 NIS.

Faustino, Rioja Gran Reserva, I, Black 75th Anniversary Label, 2001

One of the few times that I've opened a classic Rioja that needed time for the oak to melt away. Not that there's a lot of it, but for a region that built its style around the use of American barrels, I've never really noticed signs of blatant oak when I've drunk old school Riojas- but I do here. The oak isn't nasty and doesn't overwhelm the signature mellow red fruit but it does give the savory tannins a bitter overlay that that begs for cellar time to integrate and resolve it. The nose is already a warm embrace of red fruit, cedar, leather and spices, without the notes of mildew and stew that come with maturity. So a good start for what it still a very young wine. (Aug. 21, 2011)

Now imported by WineRoute and on sale, three for 400 NIS. Whereas the Ormes de Pez, which I bought at the same sale, gave me pause for thought, this is a no-brainer, as it will be a useful wine for drinking over the next five years if you're a conservative - and for a couple of decades if you believe this is one time Faustino has managed to dance with the big boys. Maybe only along the walls, but on the same ballroom anyway.

A. Et P. De Villaine, Rully, Les St. Jacques, 2007

Of the Villaine whites, I drink this one at the youngest of age - at about three years of age, as evidenced by this note. Maybe it's the age of the vines, but whatever, the Rully never seems to go into an austere, green phase like the Bouzeron or into a heavy, ungainly one like the Cote Chalonnaise. At present, the nose has citrus fruit with a light touch of minerals and nuts, while the palate is light with no trace of oak, with a lovely zest of acidity and a savory finish. (Aug. 22, 2010)

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 130 NIS.

Alain Graillot, St. Joseph, 2007

Back when I started drinking and collecting, I was sure St. Joseph outranked Crozes-Hermitage because Graillot's St. Joseph was the more expensive cuvee. I'm still not sure what the pecking order is (Graillot is not the only producer whose St. Joseph out-prices their Crozes) and I'm definitely uncertain which is the better wine, never having tasted them together at the same. Having said that, inasmuch as comparing this to the 2006 Crozes has any validity at all, this comes off as the riper, more hedonistic wine

The nose has all the black pepper you'd expect from the Northern Rhone, with a touch of rubber. The palate has ample acidity, soft tannins and a saline finish and is so approachable I'd be tempted to drink a six-pack over the next two years - because the young fruit is so lovely right now and offers everything I love in a young red - being juicy, savory, tangy. And if this wine ever saw oak at all, then the barrel maker must have been named Griffin, so delicate is the hand of the wine maker. (Aug. 26, 2010)

WineRoute, about 160 NIS. Good value and I'd buy more.

Jean-Marc Brocard, Chablis Grand Cru, Les Clos, 2002

I adore this wine but it surprised me by showing more finesse than power, which is not what I anticipate in a Les Clos, much less what I had expected from the tasting notes I'd read. In fact, I've had quite a few premier crus that displayed a greater punch, although few wines of any breed were this effortlessly elegant. Another minor fault is that it doesn't really show any typical Chablis marine traits (sea shells, sea air). Whatever, this wine is delicate lace of minerals, and very savory, as a great Bourgogne should be. (Aug. 28, 2010).

O'Leary Walker, Barossa Valley, Polish Hill River Riesling, 2008

This was such a harsh wine last winter that my decision to open it now was practically an act of desperation - yet this Hail Mary worked as this wine has developed to a rather enjoyable and interesting place. The nose starts out subdued, opening up to show decent complexity, with lime-skin, rainwater and kerosene. The palate is better, austere and crisp, without a lot of fruit but with this saline streak that I find appealing. As good as a decent village Chablis. (Aug. 29, 2010)

Mersch, about 130 NIS.

Not imported to Israel, purchased abroad for about 50 USD.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

2GrandCru Turns 44!

I celebrated my birthday over a period of three weeks this year. The first stop in the celebration tour was at home with my wife:

Donnhoff, Nahe, Schlossbockelheimer Felsenberg, Riesling Spatlese, 2004

At home, on my birthday, a Nahe. Beautiful, elegant Nahe. If Donnhoff's only ambition was to make the most archetypical off-dry german Riesling, then he succeeded in spades. This doesn't break any new grounds, simply fine-tunes every nuances you expect to find in these lovely ladies. The fruit is still in its youthful incarnation of juicy red apples, speckled with chalk and sea air. The palate is light and yet so well balanced that it leaves you wanting nothing. (July 19, 2010)

Giaconda, about 180 NIS.

Koehler-Ruprecht, Pfalz, Kalstadter Steinacker, Scheurebe Beerenauslese, 2004

Wow, there's a bit of band-aid in there, but beyond that, and the variety's telltale guayavas, there's a purity and vitality I have not found in any K-H wines lately. Feels closer to Sauternes than other German stickies, but without the comparatively high alcohol. (July 19, 2010)

The second stop came three weeks later (Aug. 7, 2010) with my wine buddies. I've been watching my calorie intake this past year but this was my birthday party so I went off the wagon and chef Ari Yerzin from Cafe Italia made all those extra calories worthwhile.

Domaine de Baumard, Savennieres, Clos Du Papillon, 2005

I brought this wine as a sort of a teaser. We had enough expensive wines for the occasion and I thought I'd use the opportunity to taste an interesting wine that usually falls under our radar, so to speak. The results were weak, not by way of comparison with the bigger boys brought to the table, but because something just didn't work with this wine, which I'd enjoyed much more in the past. It may have been served a few degrees too cold (although we let it warm in glass) or maybe the wine is in a really awkward phase (Chenin Blanc can be so elusive) but whatever the cause, the palate was one-dimensional and lacked grip. The nose, however, did have the mineral signature that I loved about this wine in previous encounters.

Giaconda, about 180 NIS.

Raveneau, Chablis Premier Cru, Chapelot, 1999

Corked. Hopelessly so. Amir, hanks for the thought. This is a wine I truly wanted to taste.

Not imported to Israel, price unknown.

Drouhin-Laroze, Latricieres-Chambertin, 2002

I'm not familiar with this producer. The nose is interesting and complex, with a spicing that recalls Barolo. The palate is full and ripe enough yet somehow doesn't quite feel like a 2002, being somewhat watery in mid-palate. A good wine, nonetheless, despite the shortcomings.

Not imported to Israel, price unknown. Thanks, Rani.

La Rioja Alta, Rioja Gran Reserva, 890, 1985

The 890 is a major contender the for title of best old-school Rioja and it proved it on this occasion, in spades, for which I'm ever so grateful (thanks Ran and Oron). Putting on the critic's cap for a minute before I continue adulating, the aromatics lacked some typicity, but the palate was long and sweetish - and I'm talking about pure sweetness of fruit here, nothing in any way degradatory - ending with a pungent finish. An elegant creature.

New vintages sold in Israel by HaKerem for over 600 NIS, price unknown.

Chateau Leoville-Poyferre, St. Julien 2me Cru, 1995

This didn't really go toe-to-toe with the Barton, the next wine in the line-up (and, of course, one of the other two Leovilles) because we didn't drink them in a flight, but it's obviously the lesser wine, even if it is a very good drop. It's very savory, very balanced, with tobacco leaves aromatics.

New vintages imported to Israel by WineRoute, price unknown. Thanks, Benny.

Chateau Leoville-Barton, St. Julien 2me Cru, 1995

From nose to finish, this a classic Bordeaux experience. The nose is better and more complex than the Poyferre, bordering on sublime, with tobacco and cedar. The body is full with plenty of extract, well balanced enough so that the extra stuffing doesn't tire the palate, with a savory finish. A worthy birthday wine and in its prime.

New vintages imported to Israel by WineRoute, purchased in the US for about 130 USD.

Finally, at dinner at Rokah 73 with my wife, also in celebration of our fifteenth wedding anniversary!

Ramonet, Chassagne-Montrachet, Premier Cru, Boudriotte, 2002

Oh, this is where white Burgundy leads you on a treacherous, agonizing ride. When was I supposed to open this wine, when all the critics says it's ready? Well, it's ready insofar as it's drinkable but it is still defined by the death-kiss of oak, present at first on both nose and palate, where it overwhelms the spicy pear aromas and the saline finish - the last being what I basically look for in my white B's. No matter how much of its footing this wine eventually regains with airing, there remains something too sweet and four-square for my taste. And I have to admit, I don't think it will ever get much better than this. Having said that, the 2004 village wine was better - so maybe it only needs more time? But how much more? Eight years is plenty of time, even for a Premier Cru. Damn. See what I mean about Bourgogone's malicious ways? (Aug. 10, 2010)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sorry, Ma, I Forgot To Get More Sancerre (Aug. 5, 2010)

I didn't realize I'd been looking for the right Sauvignon Blanc - not consciously, anyway - and while this, the Henri Bourgeois, Sancerre, La Bourgeoise, 2007, isn't the perfect sample, it's still the best Sauvignon Blanc I've tasted in the last couple of years. The nose is decent-plus, with pungent minerals and a lime-and-apple shake that is reminiscent of Chablis - but it's the palate that's the real killer: no great complexity but a sharp focus that lends it great length; and a salinity that, again, nods and winks at Chablis, all the while riding a structure whose angular shape is all Sauvignon.

WineRoute, 135 NIS on sale.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Misc Notes (July 2010)

Henri Bourgeois, Vin De Pays Du Val De Loire, Petit Bourgeois, Sauvignon Blanc, 2009

Why quibble if it's only a quaffer? It's a terrific quaffer and like drinking an airy sherbet of white peaches, with mineral nuances. (July 13, 2010)

WineRoute, 53 NIS.

Gunderloch, Rheinhessen, Nackenheim Rothenberg, Riesling Auslese, Goldkapsel, 2007

I had this at Giaconda's 4th anniversary celebrations at Pier 23 at the Tel Aviv Port, which is a lousy way to taste wine, being outdoors and in a crowd, so I'm really putting this down to serve as a very vague data point. Judging by the way the acidity right now is masking so much of the sugar, I would give this a long rest in the cellar. Like decades. That's all, folks. (July 15, 2010)

Giaconda, 360 NIS.

Josef Leitz, Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz, Riesling Spatlese, 2007

Not that long, not that complex - but it's delicious, harmonious, lively and refreshing. Deftly integrates the peaches, grapefruit and apple regions of the flavor spectrum. (July 16, 2010).

Giaconda, 103 NIS.

A. Et P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise, Rouge, La Fortune, 2008

Earthy and moderately sweet Pinot fruit comprised of strawberries, cranberries, raspberries - red and refreshing with a saline finish. The nose develops into a very complete rendition of Bourgone, with mineral and blood notes over the aforementioned red fruit, perhaps the best nose I've ever sniffed off a ~100 NIS wine. (July 17, 2010)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 110 NIS.

Deux Montilles, Rully, 2007

The nose shows citrus fruit, some pears, flint and even a hint of sea salt. The palate is long and savory, even if it isn't very complex. And I want more. (July 18, 2010)

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 120 NIS.

Donnhoff, Nahe, Schlossbockelheimer Felsenberg, Riesling Spatlese, 2004

At home, on my birthday, a Nahe. Beautiful, elegant Nahe. If Donnhoff's only ambition was to make the most archetypical off-dry german Riesling, then he succeeded in spades. This doesn't break any new grounds, simply fine-tunes every nuances you expect to find in these lovely ladies. The fruit is still in its youthful incarnation of juicy red apples, speckled with chalk and sea air. The palate is light and yet so well balanced that it leaves you wanting nothing. (July 19, 2010)

Giaconda, about 180 NIS.

And on the same joyous occasion:

Koehler-Ruprecht, Pfalz, Kalstadter Steinacker, Scheurebe Beerenauslese, 2004

Wow, there's a bit of band-aid in there but beyond that and the variety's telltale guayavas, there's a purity and vitality I have not found in any K-H wines lately. Feels closer to Sauternes than other German stickies, but without the comparatively high alcohol. (July 19, 2010)

Also Giaconda, about 220 NIS.

Marcel Lapierre, Morgon, 2008

This is fruity in the classic, old-school French style, which means it's not very fruity at all, just mellow, almost rose-like, with kinky mineral notes. But as much as I personally love its brainy, austere trappings, it's not a wine for everyone. (July 31, 2010)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 110 NIS.