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)