Misc Notes (Dec. 2010)

Josef Leitz, Rheingau, Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz, Riesling Spatlese, 2007

I just had the "Maggie" the month before, but I was ravenous for German Riesling. And this wine sort of says "Drink Me" as opposed to "Cellar Me". (Dec. 2, 2010)

Giaconda, about 100 NIS.

Later on that month, I also put to bed my last bottle of the 2006, which has fine-tuned its crystalline sweet aromas and grip. These two vintages are so yummy in their deviously transparent way.

Domaine de Font-Sane, Gigondas, Tradition, 2005

I've been saying lately that southern French wines (which includes Southern Rhone as far as I'm concerned) is a style I like to visit (only) occasionally. This was such an occasion. The nose is pretty likable: very earthy, almost iron like, with hints of garrigue - the French Marlboro man. The palate is taut before it finally reveals the welcoming, warm fat of the South at the core of its austere, quasi-metallic trappings; all the while hiding its 15% ABV, a fact that I naturally welcome - there's a trace of sweetness without undue ripeness and no alcoholic burn . It's good, and much more cohesive than the bottle I drank last year. In the end, though, my problem is that North Rhone wines at the same price point are just much more tasty as far as I'm concerned. (Dec. 4, 2010)

Giaconda, 126 NIS.

Chateau de Pibarnon, Bandol, 2005

And having just said that I only open a southern wine on occasion, I went and opened this youngster the very next day. Why? Because I'd been waiting to taste a Bandol for a long time, and because I'd really loved the last Mourvedre based wine I'd tasted (La Bolida, 2006) - plus, I wanted something to go with the left-over roast beef that the Font-Sane had accompanied.

There is initially an almost ridiculous amount of minerals and garrigue aromas over the fruit, which starts out black and becomes increasingly redder with airing even as the garrigue transforms into something from the meatier (and all the lovelier in this context) side of the aromatic spectrum. The palate needs air because while the tannins are initially soft and sweet, the fruit is on the dormant side at first and the finish is bitter and drying. It eventually develops a savory accent that almost overcomes the increasingly harsher tannins and becomes a more integrated wine, even if not exactly a friendlier one. Let's say it's characterful and interesting and opened 3-4 years too early - which is 2GrandCru tasting in the name of science. (Dec. 5, 2010)

About 30 euros at the Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Emrich-Schonleber, Nahe, Monzinger Halenberg, Riesling Spatlese, 2004

Initially, this bottle shows signs of premature retirement. The cork is almost totally wet, the neck is sticky with gunk, the nose feels more tired and the palate leaner than I remember from the recent past. But although I guess something went wrong with this bottle, it still possesses typical Nahe transparency and purity, and it picks up focus and vibrancy with air, even if it never quite reaches the quality and harmony of previous showings. Probably the best off-bottle I ever had, for what it's worth. (Dec. 6, 2010)

Giaconda, 180 NIS.

Clos de la Roilette, Fleurie, 2008

This is the most Pinot-like and Burgundian so far of the Beajolais pack I bought in Paris. The nose is very much like a good Cote de Beaune village, perhaps Volnay, with underbush notes and a warm spiciness over bright red fruit. However, something about it feels a little tired, although it is still enjoyable as it does boast a mellow sweetness of fruit that only Bourgogne can conjure. I like it despite its faults for its inherent character and all its promises of what might have been. (Dec. 7, 2010)

Purchased in Paris for about 20 euros.

Deux Montilles, Rully, 2007

Maybe if I give this wine a rest, I'll have something new to write about it, but I can't keep away. That lovely perfume of flint and the delicious acidity that make up for any lack in complexity keep suckering me back in. And the ever-evolving saline/marine streak makes me glad I succumbed. (Dec. 8, 2010).

Burgundy Wine Collection, 120 NIS.

Domaine du Colombier, Crozes-Hermitage, 2006

Initially, the Colombier shows olives and raw meat on the nose but later I find an added layer of aromatic complexity: smoke, pepper, sweet red fruit. The palate is fresh and tasty, slightly rustic and grainy on the finish and fatter than the Alain Graillot, which is the other Crozes I drink regularly. (Dec. 9, 2010)

Giaconda, 126 NIS.

Chapoutier, Saint Joseph, Deschants, 2005

This was a whim purchase: Wine Depot has this on sale for 99 NIS. The nose has a lot of details and nuances that will impress for their harmony, even if they won't have you crying hosannas: black pepper, which takes some coaxing to appear, at which point it is accompanied by sweet red fruit and intermittent flashes of bacon. Ditto for the palate, which, after a lean and tannic start, offers small-scale, down-home pleasures that would be lost if the Deschants had to share the spotlight with another wine. (Dec. 12, 2010)

Imported by the Scottish Company.

Alain Graillot, Crozes-Hermitage, 2006

Followers of my blog will know by now how much I adore this winery, and this showing does little to discourage this love affair: this is a top-notch Crozes-Hermitage that is in such a yummy place right now. A wonderful performance almost from the initial pour, sniff and sip - it takes time to really show its stuff but it doesn't start as coiled and reticent as I'd expected. The aromatics are a perfect accompaniment to roast beef: a bit of black fruits and a bit of red, with meaty funk and a touch of herbs and charred earth - the typical black pepper aromas emerging only very much later, alas. The palate is a grocery-list of components dedicated to creating a delicious effect: soft, almost silky tannins that contribute to an elegant, long, saline finish; remarkably fresh, succulent fruit; balanced, almost feminine composure, without a touch of rusticity. Even though the '06 Crozes is less mature than the '07 Saint Joseph, it certainly won't need age to soften it, just to add some complexity and allow it to bloom further. (Dec. 18, 2010)

WineRoute, about 130 NIS.

Leo Alzinger, Wachau, Steinertal, Riesling Smaragd, 2004

Delightful aromatics, where what I get at first is a ton minerals, then honeyed, slightly baked apples, with all the sweet-cum-spicy zest they bring to the table. A fantastic nose, in short - Gross Gewachs quality for sure, to put things in perspective. The palate is also high quality, solidly placed in Bourgogne Premier Cru tier. A compact middleweight, with a sweetness that is not borne of alcohol or residual sugar - instead it seems to come from high-class fruit that doesn't feel overly extracted. (Dec. 20, 2010)

Purchased at MacArthur some two-plus years ago for about 40 USD. A good buy.

Schafer-Frohlich, Nahe, Gewurtzraminer, Trocken, 2007

I don't often love Geurtzraminer, but I like it a lot and I enjoy the pursuit of a Gewurtz I might fall for. Since one of my favorites is, oddly enough, a Pfalz rendition, namely the Koehler-Ruprecht Spatlese 2006, I thought of hitting Germany again. And I had great hopes, since Nahe is a region I much prefer to the Pfalz, being in my limited experience (albeit my experience in the Nahe runs to some of the most illustrious names in Germany ) more balanced and elegant, and not prone to fleshy, nigh-exotic ripeness. The thing is, Schafer-Frohlich is a trocken, and weighs in at 14% ABV, so stylistically, it runs into the same glass ceiling as the Alsatian versions do - and I will elaborate. The nose is typical, exactly what I look for, and love, in the variety - lychee, grapefruit, rose petals and that warm spiciness that anyone who's ever stuck their head into a glassful of the stuff will recognize straight off the bat. The palate is very good , I'd call it spicy grapefruit punch with a surprising touch of salinity on the finish - but the typical quinine and grapefruit peels/pips sensations limit its capacity for elegance and user-friendliness. Not that I think user-friendliness is necessarily an asset, but Gewurtzraminers tend to treat hospitality as a nuisance. However, this is one specimen that manages to contain those tendencies to an extent, and thus winds up punching well above its weight. (Dec. 24, 2010)

Giaconda, 90 NIS - a very good value.