Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Didier Dagueneau, Pouilly Fume, Pur Sang, 2007 (Sept. 27, 2010)

Only two wines this summer received the honor of a "solo" blog entry: the first was a Sancerre, and now this, from the other side of the Loire river. And I'm not even a big Sauvignon Blanc fan. Yet.

An excellent wine and an amazing match to a very marine dinner at Rokah. While the nose was initially very austere and tight, the palate - from the first sip to the very last - was incredibly fresh and vibrant, with crisp, juicy acidity giving the wine captivating purity. This is only the winery's "second wine" in Pouilly Fume and it still easily beat every example of the variety I've ever encountered. After an hour, the nose caught up with the palate, expanding upon the lime-based exposition with an ephemeral overlay of stony minerals. I am now patiently biding my time to open the Silex 2006. (Sept. 27, 2010)

Giaconda, 297 NIS. Priced like a Bourgogne Premier Cru and tastes as good as one, stylistic differences nowithstanding.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sushi and Alsace at Onami (Sept. 18, 2010)

Onami is an expensive joint, compared to my fave haunt Sakura, but the sushi there is really extravagantly delicious.

Zind-Humbrecht, Riesling, Gueberschwihr, 2004

For the first twenty minutes, this is the best value Alsatian in my inventory, with its mineral-laden nose that is the essence of all I could hope for in Alsace (given that I never approach the area with as much hope and expectations as I do Germany) while the palate deftly balances sweetness of fruit with a ragged, mineral cut. Then, it seems to waver until it is somewhat overwhelmed by the bitter finish that turns me off its brethren in the first place. Still, an excellent wine for what it is that will keep for half a decade at least, even though I suspect it will not improve. Memo to self: make room in budget and fridge for current releases.

WineRoute, about 150 NIS.

Albert Mann, Steingrubler Grand Cru, Gewurztraminer, 2005

I've developed a love-hate relationship with this extroverted variety. I love the nose and need to sniff it deeply every few months, while the palate is always a couple of steps too extracted and blowsy, with the acidity always on the low side, for me - but I keep coming back and a specimen like this is why. It's a slut but I'm deeply appreciative of the breed. So sue me. And it actually went better with the flashy makeup of Onami's sushi than did the Gueberschwihr, forming a menage-a-trois between its sweetness, high-fueled extact and the sushi dishes' spicy complexity.

Giaconda, 220 NIS.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Georg Breuer at Catit (Sept. 14, 2010)

I forgot to grab a bite to eat before my arrival at Catit, thus wound up stuffing myself with about half a loaf of (admittedly great) bread between servings of chef Meir Adoni's miniature creations. He does pack a lot of creativity into an awfully small volume (making him, what, the gastronomical version of d. boon?) but his dishes are still very small for this hard-working, blue-collar wine lover's appetite, even after a year of clean living and temperate eating habits. Also, I found the sheer creativity of the dishes to overwhelm the austerity of the wines, although Anat Sella of Breuer's importer Giaconda's would disagree (in fact, she did!) - however, the pairing of the Goldkapsel with the cheese platter for dessert could have had me singing hosannas for both Adoni and Breuer winemaker Hermann Schmoranz.

Having filled this month's quota of parentheses, I am now content to spew out my tasting notes. These are all Rieslings, by the way.

Rauenthal, Nonnenberg, Erst Gewachs, 2005

Elegant nose, starts austere with green apples and lovely hints of minerals that grow more pronounced as it opens. The palate has a rough edge, there is a very nice green apple driven acidity but there is a raspy bitterness on the finish that makes for a pinching effect. Picks up some complexity as it opens but still too young and shut for me to succumb.

Not for sale.

Terra Montosa, 2008

This blend of different vineyards has residual sugar which is obvious even though the wine feels only a step between dry and off dry. The nose here is fruitier, friendlier than the previous entry while the wine is much more open and ready on the palate. Apple driven, and monolithically so, whereas the Nonnenberg had more nuances. In the end, there is something too simple on the palate for my taste, without any youthful zest to take up the slack.

Not for sale.

Rauenthal, Nonnenberg, Erst Gewachs, 2007

The nose and palate, surprisingly, are both more open and complex than the 2005, with spicy nuances, as well as being sweeter and fruitier. The 2005 might have the more challenging structure, and in a sense the 07 is a limpid sort of fellow, but its roundness has great charm without the older vintage's roughness and has appealing aromatic complexity.

300 NIS.

Rudesheimer, Berg Roseneck, Erst Gewachs, 2007

Ah, what a great nose - complex, detailed, morphing the apples at its core into something that owes more to gunpowder and flint than to fruit. The palate has greater balance than anything yet, and by far too! - with a bite on the finish that belies the preceeding harmony. All of which are tempered by a sweetness that comes from the fruit, not any RS.

260 NIS. Since I prefer it to the Nonnenberg, I like the fact that the Roseneck is lower priced.

Rudesheimer, Berg Rottland, Erst Gewachs, 2007

This wine doesn't evolve a lot even with time and air and while it shows a regal personality with a savory saline finish, it doesn't have the same exciting wow factor as the Roseneck. But it's still the 2nd best dry wine of the night.

260 NIS.

Rauenthal, Nonnenberg, Auslese Goldkapsel, 2007

This has the marmalade/tofee nose I expect from, and love in, a dessert wine, with botrytis funk to boot: you can smell its breed! Doesn't hurt that the palate has better acidity than a Sauternes. Lovely. Outstanding. The Poison Ivy to my Carl Gardner.

300 NIS.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rosh Hashana Wines (Sept. 9, 2010)

You'd expect a wine afficiando to drink lots of good wines to celebrate the new Jewish year - and in my case, you'd be wrong. What usually happens is I downgrade, downscale and downsize as we dine with the ignorant masses.

Carmel, Regional Series, Viognier, 2008

Clementine, apricot jam, honey, alcoholic. Alcoholic bite on finish. Pretty decent for a variety I no longer care for much (it could well have gone extinct for all I care) but at least after this encounter I can finally scratch a long-standing mental itch as I finally understand what I'm reminded of I drink a Chenin Blanc that doesn't click: Viognier.

Price unknown.

Solar Viejo, Rioja, Crianza, 2007

I should have known better. An anonymous bodegas whose production peters out at the crianza level plus an uninspired importer combine for a wine that the salesman at Hinawi didn't even exert an effort to push at me. What a fool I was to even ask about this atrocity which will re-inforce every complaint the New World has against Rioja. This isn't even a cooking wine in my book, more like an ingredient in a Molotov bottle.

Imported by Enoteca, sold for 69 NIS at Hinawi. All I can say is my wife had a very strict price limit on what she would allow me to open for our guests (and considered it impolite to open one bottle for them and another for me). This seemed like the best of the lot at that price range as all the local wines were upward of 14% ABV. I had hopes that a mediocre Spanish wine would at least evoke memories of, well, Spain. I was wrong.

By the end of the holiday, I was in desperate need of my fix, my cure, and so I turned to a wine I knew I wouldn't be able to match with anything resembling a regular meal.

Nicolas Joly, Savennieres, Les Vieux Clos, 2006

Like Closel's wines, this is a big, diesel-powered Savennieres, with a concentration of sweet fruit that I'm guessing might have overwhelmed me in his higher echelon wines but is appropriate here - as well as decently framed by a gravelly structure. The nose has a lot of apricot jam, baked apples, cardamon and campfire, and has affinity with the Closel Savennieres. (Sept. 10, 2010).

Giaconda, 193 NIS.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Meat Place (Aug. 30, 2010)

I am never sure what the proprietors' translation of the Hebrew name "מקום של בשר" should be. I like "Meat Place" but the owners may well think of it as "A Place For Meat". It means the same thing but neither sounds as cool as the Hebrew anyway. I would personally call it "Carnivore Corner", 'cept I'm saving that name for my future retirement home.

Be that as it may, on this visit I dismissed any pretenses at subtlety and/or elegance for my BYO and brought flagrantly upfront wines such as may nonetheless satisfy a minimal requirement for finesse. Thus, I present this pair of Parker sluts.

d'Arenberg, Dead Arm, Shiraz, 2001

This is obviously the New World, but liquor-like, as opposed to jammy, the distinction being the former somehow implies greater focus. Now, add on top of that and the black fruit some balsamic vinegar and and black pepper, and this tannic, powerful yet sleek wine would be a blockbuster if it weren't so balanced and, within its context, elegant. I was juggling boxing metaphors whilts appraising and finally settled on Sugar Ray Leonard; you know: shallow, yet classy.

Clos Mogador, Priorat, 2001

A knockout nose, really. Asphalt and graphite complementing a rather elegant facade of fruit on the palate that is tannic, yet somehow rounder than the Dead Arm. I have a cosmic-scale shopping list and a miserly budget so I won't be coming 'round its way again, but this is really a fine wine.

Both imported by WineRoute and originally sold for about 210 NIS on discount

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Losing My Edge (hommage a James Murphy)

Yeah, I'm losing my edge.
I'm losing my edge.
The kids are coming up from behind.
I'm losing my edge.
I'm losing my edge to the twenty-something sommeliers From London and Manhatten.
But I was there.

I was there in 1976.
I was there at the Judgement of Paris.
I'm losing my edge.
I'm losing my edge to the wine store salesmen whose footsteps I hear behind me when I'm browsing through Cellar Tracker! on my iPhone.
I'm losing my edge to the Internet seekers who can tell me the drinking window of every great claret from the 80's and 90's.
I'm losing my edge.

To all the smart yuppies in Hong Kong and the Phillipines.
I'm losing my edge to oligarchs with borrowed nostalgia for first growths from the sixties.

I'm losing my edge.
I'm losing my edge, but I was there.
I was there.
But I was there.

I'm losing my edge.
I'm losing my edge.
I can hear the footsteps every night when I'm polishing my blog.
But I was there.
I was there in 1978 when Robert Parker printed the first edition of the Wine Advocate.
I read the tasting notes with much patience.
I was there when he made it into a web-site.
I told him, "Don't do it that way. You'll never make a dime."
I was there.
I told him he needed to publish scores.
He thought I was crazy.
We all know.
I was there.
I was there.
I've never been wrong.

I used to work in Chambers Street.
I tasted everything before anyone.
I was there when the brokers discovered Brunello.
I was there when Barolo was all the rage.
I woke up naked on Long Beach with a hangover from a Jeroboam of 89 Petrus.

But I'm losing my edge to better-looking people with better connections and a bigger wallet.
And they're actually really, really nice.

I'm losing my edge.

I heard that in your cellar you have a case of every great wine made anywhere in the world. Every great Bordeaux vintage. All the classic German Rieslings before and after the 1971 German Wine Law. A Romanee-Conti vertical. I heard that Ponsot named a Pinot clone after you. I heard that Guigal makes a super-premium cuvee that he sells only to you. I heard that you bought the first bottle of Cloudy Bay ever sold in London.

I hear you're taking a wine-making course and have a barrel of Syrah fermenting in your garage because you want to make something real. You want to be a Rhone Ranger.

I hear that you and your friends have sold your Helen Turley Zins and bought Russian River Pinots.
I hear that you and your friends have sold your Russian River Pinots and bought Helen Turley Zins.
I hear that you and your friends have sold your Helen Turley Zins and bought New Zealand Pinots.

I hear everybody that you taste with is cooler than everybody that I know.

But have you seen my wine collection?

Haut-Brion 1990, Ramonet Batard-Montrachet 1969, Beaucastel 1989, Cuvee Cathelin 1990, Huet Le Haut Lieu Demi-Sec 1949, Les-Cases 1990, Donnhoff Brucke Eiswein 2001, Ygay 1964, Ygay 1912! Mouton 1959, 1945 Latour, Apollonio Terragnolo 1998, Dominus 1991, Mirassou 1974, Margalit 1989, Moet 1921, Taylor 1945, Trotanoy 2000, Clos de Epeneaux 1999, Vogue Musigny 1993, Hugel Riesling SGN 1976, l'Arrivet-Haut-Brion 1998, Figeac 1947, Prum Sonnenuhr Auslese 1959, Montebello 1997, Barton 1996

San Leonardo 1997, La Mistral 2000, Yquem 1959, Lafitte 1959, Cantemerle 1989,
Veuve Cliquot Brut 1959

Mount Eden 1974, Sociando Mallet 1990, Rostaing Cote Blonde 1990, Unico 1987, La Meal 1999, l'Ermite 1990, Delesvaux Coteaux du Layon 2001, Gimmonet! Special Club! 1998!, Montrose 1955, Lafon Perrieres 2002, Pichon-Baron 2000, Cheval Blanc 1996, Gunderloch Rothenberg Trockenbeerenauslese 2001, de Montille, Deux Montilles, de Montille, Deux Montilles.

You don't know what you really want.