Saturday, October 30, 2010

Misc Notes - Mostly Bourgogne (Oct. 2010)

Kicked off the month with the Marcel Lapierre, Morgon, 2008 (100 NIS from Burgundy Wine Collection), which I enjoyed, as always, for its minerality and angularity, mellow spices and sour fruit. And surprising length (Oct. 2, 2010). Followed up a day later, as a sort of one-two punch, by the similarly priced and similar delineated A. Et P De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise Rouge, La Fortune, 2008, which is softer and more feminine on the palate, while aromatically more complex (Oct. 3, 2010). My Bourgogne binge was then extended by one of my house whites, Deux Montilles, Rully, 2007 (BWC again, 120 NIS) which is succulent, devoid of oak and eminently drinkable, plus it sports the all apples, citrus fruits, pears and minerals that Chardonnay can produce in Burgundy when terroir, vintage and wine-maker collaborate. So now I'm humming, "Rully Rully". (Oct. 5, 2010).

With the Bourgogne genie out of the bottle, I turned my voracious appetite loose on the WineRoute catalog for a Chablis they'd been offering this month in a three for 400 NIS deal: Domaine William Fevre, Chablis Premier Cru, Vaillons, 2007. This wine has typical Chablis DNA and is ready to drink, albeit with a somewhat dour personality that I'd prefer to encounter again in a few years once it finds its footing. Whatever, this wine packs a mouthful of mineral-laced flavors that linger on a very long finish. (Oct. 9, 2010)

The Montmains, 2005 (same producer, same importer, 160 NIS), which I opened it the next day, has a deeper, funkier mineral vein on the nose while the palate wields a similar lash of green-apple acidity and crisp, chalky finish. It's rounder and arguably shorter than the Vaillons (then again, I thought the Vaillons was especially long for a Premier Cru) and on the same overall level of quality. Initially, I found it not much further evolved than the Vaillons, but half an hour of air brought it to the sweet spot where I love my Chablis - where the zest of youth combines with just a touch of gentle maturity and the fruit starts to give way to a wash of salinity. And man, the acidity in a good Chablis is such a delight!

And back to the Burgundy Wine Collection catalog. First, on the 14th. The Villaine Bouzeron, 2008 is in an interesting place, where its aromatics are floral, almost sweet, with hints of minerals and toast - while the palate manages to arrange sweet lemon-lime fruit and cleansing acidity on a light frame. Cool. I keep promising myself to age this stuff, but no luck keeping my hands off so far. (about 80 NIS).

My favorite Villaine white is the Rully, at least until my stock of Les Clous matures enough to prove otherwise; but having said that, the Rully 2008 is somewhat less elegant than the 2007 version was, being a little heavier - even though it manages, as always, to thrown in a bit of everything: apples, pears, flowers, flint. It's a tasty, crisp wine and I'll reserve final judgment on it until it settles down a bit. (Oct. 18)

I don't know if Villaine's reds are any better than their whites, but while you can find a good Chablis for 100 plus shekels, it's harder to pull off a similar trick with red Bourgognes. So if I had to choose between the two colors of Villaine, I'd go for the reds. Case in point: Cote Chalonnaise, La Digoine, 2006 (about 130 NIS), which, unlike the young-vines La Fortune, requires some cellaring. And I'm glad to report that it's starting to pay off. This southerner will never pick up the weight of any wine checking in from the more illustrious villages from up north, but it has decent complexity, purity of fruit and I think it's a latter-day sample of the old school style that was rampant when the term claret was used to signify a light wine of elegance and dignity. The red-fruit aromatics are firmly entrenched behind an earthy facade with just a hint of leather (no exotic spices, such as found in the boys and girls originating from from, say, Vosne) while the medium sized body is propelled by high-toned acidity and ends on a fine saline note. (Oct. 16, 2010)

I could have gone on my binge forever, but the reality of diminishing stocks clashed with my fantasies...

Alain Voge, Cornas, Cuvee Vieilles Vignes, 2003

The heat of the vintage is quite obvious, and there is a herbal, iron-like tint that is reminiscent of Southern Rhone and the hinterlands even further south. No black pepper, alas, but there is, just maybe, a touch of olive tapende. Tastes better than it smells by a cat's whisker, as there is, surprisingly, a relatively high amount of acidity in its depths that balances its otherwise parsimonious nature (it feels like it was picked early to avoid over-ripeness, at the cost of phenolic maturity). Doesn't come close to satisfying any cravings for a Northern Rhone red. (Oct. 21, 2010)

Not imported, bought for 40 USD in San Francisco, four years ago.

Dominio Romano, Ribera Del Duero, RD, 2006

This wine is why Spain is my favorite New World producer (he said with a smirk). Stylish, although not very exciting, sweet and immediate. Sweet as in almost jammy fruit, with just a hint of olives. I was going to give up on getting any more ambience out of it until I noticed a dusty musk coming up, which jarred with a streak of chocolate that was developing at the same time. This collision bothered me on an intellectual level, but did not hinder my enjoyment as such - had this been served as part of a wider tasting, I wouldn't have stopped to dwell on it. Our guests liked it. It's okay, just not very memorable. I suspect I'd enjoy the good ol' Condado de Haza much more to satisfy any further cravings for a modern Ribera. (Oct. 23, 2010)

Imported by the Scottish Company, about 160 NIS.

Langwerth von Simmern, Rheingau, Erbacher Marcobrunn, Riesling Spatlese, 2004

Despite its sweetness, this wine feels oddly somber and cold. It has well-delineated, apple-driven aromatics (both green and baked ones) topped off by sweet spices. These are echoed accurately on the palate, where a slight fizz keeps it fresh. Still young and unformed and in need of a few years. (Oct. 25, 2010)

Giaconda, 150 NIS.

Alain Graillot, Saint Joseph, 2007

I planned to pace myself with this wine, but it suckered me back in. This is just leagues ahead of its neighbor on the WineRoute shelves, the Chave Offerus: a juicy, peppery, balanced Syrah, with suave tannins and cleansing acidity. What captivates me about this wine is what registers as apricots in mid-palate. Which isn't the first time I've noticed this effect in the Graillot Saint-Josephs and I enjoy it a lot as it lends the wine kinky appeal and great freshness. (Oct. 26, 2010)

150 NIS.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dr. Loosen, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Wehlener Sonnenhur, Riesling Auslese, 2005 (Oct. 15, 2010)

An outrageously delicious wine from the excellent 2005 vintage that is drinking very well in its youth, even if right now its sweetness makes it more of a dessert wine than an Auslese would usually be. The nose is fairly complex and deep already, with notes of candied apples, dill, ice-cold slate and incipient hints of petrol. The secret behind the aromatics of a great German Riesling isn't in the specific elements but in how they interact, and here they create a speckled matrix that is very captivating. The palate is rich, dense and long, and, while at this stage the fruit and its sweetness submerge the acidity, the overall effect is very mouth-watering, with loads of potential elegance in its future. A class act.

Purchased at WineRoute for about 180 NIS.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tomer Gal's Annual Nuits-St-Georges Tasting (Oct. 11, 2010)

Last year's Nuits tasting was an eye-opener, but this year's, for me, was more along the lines of a return to school after a summer vacation. Some of the thrill is gone now, as a loose set of expectations has crystalized: Meo will be slick, Gouges will be funky, Grivot will be somewhere in the middle with a vague feeling of dormancy, Chateau du Puligny-Montrachet will be relatively lacklustre and Leroy will be, well, Leroy. But it's nice to re-visit these friends as I have a soft spot for the wines and Nuit's reputation for rusticity has kept prices almost sane. The lack of any Grand Cru vineyard is irrelevant for me as I'm not often on the buyer's market for the big boys in the first place.

And speaking of eye-openers, the appertif was a revelation. I've never drunk a Macon before, and, for some reason, I overlooked the Heritiers du Comte Lafon when the 2010 Burgundy Wine Collection catalog came out. So I had no idea the following wine even existed and approached it with absolutely no expectations.

Heritiers du Comte Lafon, Macon-Milly-Lamartine, Clos du Four, 2008

I've been thinking lately. I'd like to minimalize risks: drink low-end white Burgundies, forfeit the potential complexity, enjoy the vitality of youth and never go through the despair of getting the drinking window wrong and drinking oak or caramel. This here wine is one good argument for that thought. It's very elegant and crisp, almost airy - a floater - yet packs a lot of flavors in its light frame. 135 NIS.

Meo-Camuzet, Nuits-St-Georges, 2007

An attention-commanding nose that gives an impression of concentration even before the wine is sipped: spices, leather, rust, with redder fruit than I've come to expect from Meo-Camuzet. Elegant, sweet fruit with round tannins and balanced acidity. I love the domaine's wines but this is the first one that impresses me as being good value. In Burgundian terms, anyway. Sourced from the Au Bas de Combe village vineyard. 280 NIS.

Henry Gouges, Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru, Clos des Porrets St-Georges, 2007

Another planet. A more challenging, animalistic, even "stinky" nose, with a touch of minerals. More tannic and less friendly but drinkable with some air (given that, like most of the wines, it was opened ten to twelve hours in advance!) - in short, a wine that I'd love to drink on a regular basis all winter long. 280 NIS.

Chateau du Puligny-Montrachet, Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru, Clos des Grandes Vignes, 2006

In my opinion, the way the Montille house style is wedded to Nuits terroir plays against Etienne's wines in these tastings, as their austere nature is highlighted. This wine has a very earthy nose - earth as in dirt. The palate is all about tannins and glycerin right now, it's all the fruit will give. Thus, most of the flavors are hidden, making the palate, for the most part, one-dimensional . That is how the wine shows today, in this specific tasting. 290 NIS.

Henry Gouges, Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru, St-Georges, 2007

Holy stinking cow. The Gouge fingerprint is unmistakable - it's very similar to the Clos de Porrets, yet more intense with animalistic-cum-minerally aromatics that are so expressive that it's hard to pull my nose out of the glass. There is a toughness about the palate, but it's complemented by its vibrancy and a gruff sense of elegance. Hell, I'd marry this babe, if only for the lovely saline finish. 520 NIS.

Meo-Camuzet, Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru, Murgers, 2007

You might call the nose a spicy, minerally bomb, but by its nature it's more of a seducer (although with all those aromas of gunpowder twirling around this temptress, I wouldn't turn my back on her, who knows just what she's hiding). The palate is still closed and tannic, but the tannins melt to seduce the taste buds as well. 530 NIS.

Domaine Leory, Nuits-St-Georges, Lavieres, 2005

This wine smells less like a Bourgogne than the rest, as the extraction almost snarls on the nose, all spices and what I have to say smells like oak and barrel. The palate is dense and long, nothing I would call elegant, and minerally from start to finish. 1300 NIS.

Jean Grivot, Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru, Roncieres, 1999

This is the third vintage of this wine that I've tasted and it's always an interesting experience that I find hard to qualify. The nose starts out spicy and sour, and fairly one-dimensional, but grows in leaps and bounds, becoming both animalistic and minerally. The palate is sweet and unformed at first, until the tannins start to assert themselves. In the end, the nose matches everything the Meos and Gouges could throw, but the palate is in an awkward spot where the fruit lacks grip and power. I like it, though, I just wish it was drinking better at this time. 560 NIS.

Meo-Camuzet, Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru, Boudots, 1999

The nose is a knockout, nuanced and complex, starting with the blackest fruit of the tasting, then, like most of the rest of the wines, picking up animalistic and minerally notes, thus adhering to the Nuits idiom established by its peers. It's more tannic than the Murgers, but the tannins have a tasty, savory accent. Like the Grivot, the tannnis have not melded in tandem with the fruit, although it drinks much better, probably due to possessing much greater power. 710 NIS.

Domaine Leory, Nuits-St-Georges, 2004

An odd, idiosyncratic, yet lovely, creature. The nose is all sour cherries, then it smells like something I described in my handwritten notes as "stinky apple cider", then completes the painting with hints of leather and sweat. The palate is long, with soprano acidity and an ethereal presence of fruit that combine to a balanced and tasty effect. I much prefer this to the 2007 Lavieres. There, as in other Leroy wines I've tasted I've tasted, I can sense the firm hand of a control freak; whereas here, due to personal issues during the 2004 vintage, Madam Bize-Leroy seems to have let go. Which is an improvement as far as I'm concerned, as we get more Bourgogne and less Leroy. A blend of Village and Premier Cru sites. 1050 NIS.

Henry Gouges, Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru, Perriere, 2007

This is a white Nuits, made of Gouges' famous white Pinot Noir clone. The wine was opened the previous day and it still needs time and air in order to show its stuff. The nose at first seems like a theoretical marriage of Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc, being floral and tropical. The palate is really Sauvignon Blanc-like at first, with high-toned acidity. After calming down, it is crisp, saline and with a touch of honey. I admit I was prepared to dislike it when I first sniffed it, but it's very interesting and pleasurable. 520 NIS.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ran Shapira and David Wollenberg Rock Out (Oct. 7, 2010)

Ran Shapira's birthday parties are the best shows in town, as far as I'm concerned. I'm sure the local oligarchs party harder, but I'm not invited to their do's.

This year he teamed up with David Wollenberg and we all headed to Raphael with a stash of booze.

Now, I will admit, publicly and otherwise, that Raphael is not my favorite institute. The food is tasty enough but not special enough to lure me in consistently and I don't care much for the atmosphere - which seems to cater to sugar daddies and their pickups, with a few choice spots of upper-class twits and their families. Plus, on this occasion we had a fascinating interlocution with the sommelier about corkage fees, which I'm sure he will remember for some time.

Despite an unduly extravagant amount of corked and otherwise faulty wines, we managed to get some productive drinking done, thanks to smart planning and backup wines.

So, thank you guys, for helping write another chapter in the 2GrandCru History Of The World.

Jacques Prieur, Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru, 1999

The nose starts out very demure and shy but hits the stratosphere after a few minutes, showing discrete white fruit, nuts and lots of minerals. There are signs of oak on the palate but that's very well covered up by the sheer crunch of its power: this is an impressive, mouth-filling wine. While at times I almost strain to keep up with it, the effort is one fairly well spent.

Jacques Prieur is imported by WineRoute; I'm not sure about the price of this specific wine.

Olivier Leflaive, Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru, 1996

Uri Gilboa opened the wine a few hours before dinner, found it oxidized and went home for backups. Upon a re-tasting on arrival, the wine was showing signs of recovery so we decided to decant it, which seemed to improve things, up to a point. There were still notes of oxidization on the nose but the palate was very much alive and more elegant than the Chevalier (which had the better overall showing). However, despite a very lovely saline finish, in time it developed a tired-out feel. Probably another victim of (small-scale) 96 premox.

Olivier Leflaive is imported by WineRoute, not sure about the price of this specific wine.

Lucien Le Moine, Clos De La Roche Grand Cru, 1999

From the start, the nose has the spicy-minerally "tingle" I find typical of red Burgundies with a few years of bottle age. A few minutes later, the aromatics gain bright red fruit that are almost on the verge of being liquorish and then, with further airing, an even greater complexity emerges. The palate is long and powerful, as a Grand Cru should be, but still primary. Right now, this wine is more Pinot than Bourgogne.

Rene Engel, Grands Echezaux Grand Cru, 1996

The first truly exciting wine of the night. This is Old World now, with complex aromatics and gorgeous barnyard stink. The palate is at the onset of mature delicacy, yet with a firm structure and an acidic bite on the finish. Marginally less powerful than the Clos De La Roche, it is just as long and way more interesting. Its drinkability is debatable (and was, in fact, debated round the table) but I found its already delicious and memorable.

Rene Engel is imported by Tomer Gal but I bought this specific wine in the US for 130 USD.

Dosio, Barolo Riserva, 1990

I can never describe the aromatics of a great mature Barolo. I always get this ethereal, pungent kick that conjures up the image of an old carpet, for some reason. I know it's just me, I've never read anyone else discussing Barolos in such terms, but there it is. I love it, I just don't know how to write about it. The palate is always an easier topic for me, and this one has sweet fruit with a terrific, savory finish of smoked meat.

Price unknown.

Sandrone, Barolo, Cannubi Boschis, 1997

This is very similar to the Dosio. The nose has a similar character but the palate is closed. Returning to it after a break, I find a spicy kick before it mellows out and shows a little nuttiness. Overall, still not ready.

All in all, the Barolo flight was the one I least enjoyed, even though it was a more consistent one that the Montrachet.

Chapoutier, Hermitage Le Pavillon 1995

Corky? Corky.

Chateau Margaux, Margaux Premier Cru, 1998

Okay, Margaux at last! My very first! The nose is pure c-l-a-r-e-t with tobacco leaves, simply a classic distillation of everything Bordeaux. Elegantly and perfumed, nuanced and luscious to drink, with a subtly saline finish.

Delas, Hermitage, Les Bessards, 1997

Pepper, sour cherries and coffee on the nose, with a powerful finish that hints at olive tapende and terrific acidity. As different from the Margaux as the Old World idiom will allow, but no less thrilling.

Drinking them side by side, it feels as though the Bessards could beat the Margaux to a bloody pulp, but beneath the pretty, almost feminine exterior of the Margaux is one tough teamster. This is like Leonard outpointing Hagler, but just remember how close that was and that some think Hagler won. In other words, the Bessards punchs harder but the Margaux is slicker and smarter.

Chateau Coutet, Barsac Premier Cru, 2001

Obvious botrytis funk and marmalade. Liquid candy as Bordeaux stickies should be, but longer than most I've drunk of this genre yet. Longer and more intense than the 2003 anyways.

Another WineRoute import, although this half-bottle bottle was purchased in the US five years ago for 35 USD.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Misc Notes (Sept. 2010)

J. L. Chave, St. Joseph, Offerus, 2006

A simple wine, which I loved in 2003 and originally "only" liked in 2006 - but at this point I like the 2006 a great deal, so there's something of an improvement in my relationship with this vintage. As I've written before, it's a fruity wine with peppery black fruit, plump and round with savory tannins. There's a bit of aggression on the finish - that I'm not really able to put my finger on, as neither tannins nor acidity especially stick out - that for the first time makes me think this wine might need more time. Of course, it might very well not go anywhere, but at least it's finally showing some sophomoric cheek. Plus that kick on the finish makes it a good match for hearty dishes so all is well. (Sept. 4, 2010)

WineRoute, 135 NIS.

Josef Leitz, Rheingau, Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz, Riesling Spatlese, 2006

Magic Kool-Aid for Riesling Lovers. All kidding aside, "Maggie" has picked up grip and additional presence, plus what registers as a mushroom overlay on the nose, in the year or so since I've last drank it. (Sept. 16, 2010)

Giaconda, about 100 NIS.

Domaine du Colombier, Crozes-Hermitage, Rouge, 2006

You may well refer to my previous note while I pencil in a re-purchase on my to-do list.

Giaconda, 126 NIS

I recently had a mini-showdown between Old and New World, which was interesting because of the bystanders' view. I thought our guests would enjoy the Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003 more than the Couroulu, Vacqueyras, Cuvee Classique, 2005 (both more or less priced at around 100 NIS, the latter imported by Giaconda), due to the former's crowd appealing, fruity personality (albeit with complex hints of leather) - but no, except for my wife (who complained of the Vacqueyras' fecal stink), all went for what I saw as the more challenging, more tannic, edgier wine. Which is very, very cool. I had no intention to exert myself and explain to the neophytes why the barnyard aromas and old school bite on the finish made me remember why I used to love the Southern Rhone so much a couple of years ago, but any follower of this blog will understand why I'd score both of them a point or two below the RP break-even 90 pointer line - and then take the Vacqueyras home to bed. (Sept. 25, 2010)

Muller-Catoir, Haardter Manderling, Scheurebe Spatlese , 2004

I love Scheurebe for the sensuality it offers in sweet versions, and this is a spectacularly delicious example, leading with aromatics of white pepper, chalk and smoke over guayavas and peaches. The palate is typical Pfalz, I guess, with its ripe, round fruit, filtered through the variety's Alice In Wonderland logic. (Sept. 30, 2010)

Imported by Giaconda, I believe it was sold 3-4 years ago for 180 NIS or so.