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)