Friday, December 30, 2011

Thai House (Dec. 15, 2011)

Upon my return from our Thanksgiving weekend in the Big Apple, I regaled Fat Guy (a.ka. Eldad Levi) with recounts of our excursions into Asian cuisine. Salivating, he suggested we pit some of the workhorses of his Austrian portfolio against the fare at that venerable Tel Aviv institute, Thai House (which I've never posted about here, since I'd never attempted a wine pairing there, but it's great and local urbanites who haven't tried it should be excommunicated). Since a great idea for a meal never fails to attract wine lovers, a few friends joined and brought a couple of other whites, I brought a dessert wine and Eldad schlepped a Champagne for starters, in addition to two Austrians. The kitchen staff was given the green light to choose the dishes and a great evening was off to a running start.

Not all the matches worked (but some, like the Austrians, were a match made in heaven), but I never seek that kind of perfection anyway. Sometimes it's not only what a wine tastes like, but what it was like tasting it.

A. Margaine, Premier Cru, Brut Traditionelle, nv (based on 2007)

Classic, classy and fruity. Served too warm, it showed over sweetness at first until it cooled down some more. At the proper temperature, everything works and it shows a saline finish that could have complemented just about every dish of the meal. Very open whereas Margaine's Special Club 1999 was more austere (and I see Eldad is importing the 2002 now - man, I really need to catch up).

229 NIS.

William Fevre, Chablis Grand Cru, Les Clos, 2006

Although the bottle was opened in advance, the nose is very closed at first, showing traces of iodine and no more than that. Even at this point, the palate is delicious, although I feel it could give more in the future. Then the nose does opens and does the whole Chablis fossils and sea breeze thing, and the palate grows deeper and shows all of its lovely potential.

WineRoute is the importer and the official price is about 350 NIS.

Chateau Latour-Martillac, Pessac-Leognan, 2005

A low key song about lime. Elegant, mildly spicy. Very much a food wine - hell, it even smells like a food wine, as simply sniffing it makes you contemplate possible food matches.

Not imported, price unknown.

Salomon, Steiner Kogl, Riesling, 2009

A complex nose with a unique fingerprint of minerals and spices. At first its blend of minerals and spices reminds me of Champagne or even Gruner Veltliner, then it shows suitably apple-ish Riesling traits on both nose and palate. Its complexity makes it grand, its freshness and liveliness makes it accessible and fun.

129 NIS.

Schloss Gobelsburg, Gaisberg, Riesling, 2010

This is a lemon sherbet of a Riesling, which isn't a bad thing by any means, as it comes with a mineral veneer. A spicy, mineral finish that teases with its tang and bite. Perhaps less complex than the Salomon - at least now - but livelier and the contrast between the two showcases the versatility of Riesling.

159 NIS.

Hétszőlő, Tokaji, Aszú, 6 Puttonyos, 2001

The relevant chapter in Tom Stevenson's Wine Report calls 2001 a problematic vintage due to mold that called for ultra-careful selection. It looks to me as though Hétszőlő made that effort.

This is dried apricots in the form of liquid toffee. And then there's the botrytis. The effect of the botrytis here is so complex and patently different than what I have experienced in, say, Sauternes - dusty and finely etched on the nose, spicy on the palate, where the long finish kicks ass with little regard to finesse. The sugar, fruit, acidity and low alcohol work very well together, and it's probably a good thing this wine is relatively outspoken, as my palate would have missed any subtleties at this point. Lovely and I can only imagine what an aged specimen from a better vintage would do to my taste buds.

This cost me about 50 USD for a 500 ml bottle from K&L.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Yet Another Daniel Lifshitz Tasting - Nuits! (Dec. 14, 2011)

What an amazing wine town!

Nuits-St.Georges doesn't have a Grand Cru of its, which generally seems to lower prices across the board, so a Nuits Premier Cru will generally cost less than an equivalent Vosne or Chambolle. Yet these days, the quality is classy and consistent, and even if the wines can be a little rustic, its a very charming sort of rusticity. The proof is in the bottles, and this tasting was more consistent and interesting than our group's Pommard/Volnay and Clos de Vogeout tastings. Actually, the lineup included the best group of 2004 red Burgundies I've had yet.

De Montille, Aux Saints Juliens, 2008

A mellow, laid back wine. Fragnant and light, tasty if not especially ponderous, hitting the taste buds with an almost ethereal essence of Bourgogne.

Burgundy Wine Collection. If money isn't an issue, this is a food wine to drink on a regular basis. It's delicious and artisan without being presumptious. However, if money is in any way an issue, you might wonder where your 240 NIS went.

David Duband, Premier Cru, Les Pruliers, 2004

The nose here is a sharp contrast to the Saint Juliens, as it leaps where the former swayed. The fruit is ripe in a stylish manner, so it never obscures the minerals. The palate is less rewarding - simply put, this is hardly as tasty as the Village.

Price unknown.

Joseph Drouhin, 2003

The minerals on the nose are pungent in a way that recalls gunpowder, and there are typical Cote de Nuits spices in the mix as well. Tasty, if not especially complex or stylish. Feels as though the body was juiced up to Premier Cru proportions. Surprising well done for 2003.

I believe the Scottish Compay carries Drouhin, and I'd guess this is a 250 NIS wine.

Jacques Fredric Mugnier, Premier Cru, Clos de la Marchele, 2004

Ripe on the nose and palate, but the palate does back up the sweetness with structure and acidity. A little gamey on the nose. Tasty but still needs time.

The official price for recent vintages is like 299 NIS, but savvy shoppers can probably find it for 250 NIS and less, when it suits the powers that be at WineRoute to offer a discount.

Dugat-Py, Bourgogne, 2008

Ripe with oddly tropical fruit and more than a hint of sea salt! So it's not the most balanced wine in the world, but it's vibrant and unique and I like.

Burgundy Wine Collection, 170 NIS.

The following three wines are available from Burgundy Wine Collection for about 500 NIS each.

Meo-Camuzet, Premier Cru, Murgers, 2004

Sweet red fruit, sweet spices, cocoa, sweat, minerals. Deft balance of sweetness of fruit and tannic backbone. Very tasty and even luxurious - I don't think Meo is capable of making a rustic Nuits, certainly not from Murgers.

Jean Grivot, Premier Cru, Les Roncieres, 2002

The nose here is, dare I say, even better than the Meo, with a hint of sea salt again. Juicy acidity, clean as a whistle fruit. Decent complexity.

Jean Grivot, Premier Cru, Aux Boudots, 2006

This is somewhat more complex than the Roncieres and the fact that it shows such complexity so early on might be a terroir thing. The nose is fairly ripe while the palate frames the juicy fruit with ripe acidity and a saline finish.

Tomer Gal didn't manage to get his importing hand on this one:

Henry Gouges, Premier Cru, Vaucrains, 2004

Another great 2004 find! Red fruit, minerals and sweat meld on the nose. This isn't an easy wine to study right now - the palate is too ambiguous and backward, even if it presents enough interest for me to heartily embrace it. If you have a bottle, you know the drill - cellar it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Meanwhile, Back At Toto (Dec. 8, 2011)

I love Toto! I mean, the food is so tasty and creative, you don't feel pretentious for being a fuckin' gourmand!

And, it was fun showing my mother and sister how we savvy urbanites dine out.

Tua Rita, Guido di Nostria, Tuscana IGT, 2001

There's a story here, but not the one I thought I'd be getting tonight. To my thinking, these Super-Tuscans are supposed to be smooth Ivy Leaguers, well endowed and bright, yet just a little sappy. And certainly, previous encounters with this wine did little to prepare me for anything better. It was always too round and and ripe and sweet and full to offer any challenges or, failing that, at least crunchy, palate-cleansing food accompaniment. Yet here we both are, me a little wiser, the Guido di Nostri at eleven years of age, and finally the Tuscan magic is at force, and this little yuppie strumpet is showing that spicy Tuscan kick, while the slightly anise-ish acidity tames and delineates the fruit. This is terroir, people, if these Bordeaulais grapes and these obviously modern techniques produce a wine that shows more finely etched Tuscan character than most Sangiovese-based wines I've had in recent years.

WineRoute sold it for 250 NIS seven years ago. This was just about the last wine I bought based on its Parker score. Well, Galloni in this case - and in the event, he actually had amply valid reasons for his tasting note (but he still went way OTT with his score of 97).

Williams and Humbert, Pedro Ximinez, Twenty Year Old Solera Especial

It's been ages since I had this last, so I ordered a sample with dessert. I used to drink it out of Bordeaux wine glasses in the past, where the alcohol was less apparent (or else my five years younger palate less perceptive), but this was still fun, its dark, bitter chocolate personality so well in tune with the sweets and my mood of post-dinner bliss.

Should cost about 200 NIS per bottle.

Amphora, Inna, 2006

This is an attempt by Amphora to make home-brewn Madeira, which sommelier Aviram Katz wanted me to try. So I get the appeal of the oxidized Chardonnay fruit, but other than that, either I or the winemakers seem to be missing the point. Most great dessert wines of this style have something going for them beyond the O2, like flor or communal upbringing in the solera in Jerez. This wine offers nothing like that; on the other hand, to be charitable, the winery is not selling it commercially and so few wineries attempt something like this just for fun.

Not available commercially.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Clos de Vogeout Tasting (Nov. 29, 2011)

The bored aristocrat

For the time being, I still subscribe to the conventional point of view that the famous Clos is not the grandest Grand Cru around. It's consistent, in the hands of good producers anyway, and tasty, but despite the Cistercian origins of the vineyard, I think the wines themselves are very businessman-like in nature; while the pedigree is certainly present, I've found it to be the kind of stolid pedigree that infects the aristocracy with ennui.

This tasting did little to change my mind, even though the wines were high class and delicious and expressed both terroir and the makers' signatures. Actually, one wine was truly a Grand Cru, for my nose and palate - it was the sole wine to display vivid imagination and risk-taking.

First, though, a couple of appertifs.

Meo-Camuzet, Bourgogne, 2008

A very worthy Bourgogne, displaying juicy fruit and acidity, with earthy overtones, tart and lean on the palate but a good palate cleanser.

A. Et P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise, La Fortune, 2009

The nose is more feral than the Meo-Camuzet, the palate fuller. It, too, shows earthy notes and overall, this showing once again proves why it's my house wine.

Burgundy Wine Collection, 110 NIS.

And now, the Clos de Vogeouts themselves.

Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret, 1998

A complex and lovely nose, very mature yet not decrepit, just about all tertiary notes: forest floor, cola, stuff like that. The palate is complex and tasty, but not as powerful as I'd expect a Grand Cru to be; the structure sticks out like the ribs on an anorectic, instead of complementing and supporting the fruit.

Price unknown.

Domaine de la Vougeraie, 2001

The nose telegraphs potential power, with red fruit tinting towards black, forest floor, leather, exotic spices. Very tasty, and powerful too, but I think it lacks that extra oomph of grandeur.

Burgundy Wine Collection sold the 2008 for 595 NIS.

Robert Arnoux, 2001

Cork taint! Beneath that is potentially good stuff, but beyond a sniff and a sip to verify the TCA, we passed over it, of course.

Price unknown, although I recall WineRoute used to carry Arnoux and perhaps still do.

Jean Grivot, 2004

The minerals and forest floor on the nose are so very Grivot. One of the better red 2004's I've had and the best wine of the evening, due to the spicy kick of the tannic structure. Terrific.

Burgundy Wine Collection sells recent vintages for 640-680 NIS.

Meo-Camuzet, 2001

A ripe nose, bordering on liquerish. Oddly for a not-so-warm year like 2001, this starts out over the top and sweet on the palate, but there many strands of interest, just starting to congeal, that make me feel it is just too young and will show decent elegance in the future.

Burgundy Wine Collection sold the 2008 release for 860 NIS.

Finally, stepping out of the evening's theme:

Dugat-Py, Vosne-Romanee Vieilles Vignes, 2004

The nose presents a complex tapestry of red fruits and minerals and is very impressive, indeed. The palate is ripe and sweet, quite long, and not as complex as the nose.

Burgundy Wine Collection, 580 NIS for recent vintages.

Another Daniel Lifshitz production!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Jean-Paul Thevenet, Morgon, Vieilles Vignes, 2008 (Nov. 25, 2011)

An impromptu Thanksgiving dinner, just Efrat and I, in Tribeca.

Beaujolais Crus need to be appreciated for what they are, yet I can't help but make comparisons; despite being so one of a kind, at their best, they're hard to peg down without external references. Here, the sous bois and iron speak of Bourgogne, then a mineral note is echoed by cedar - which somehow evokes Bordeaux (not that a Bordeaux would ever rest on such a ephemeral frame)! The palate is compact and light, yet it doesn't seem hollow or incomplete, rather its weight is just right for it, just right to support the subtly spicy Gamay fruit and its savory, sanguine finish. As it turns greener after a couple of hours, I'd think this isn't a cellar candidate (even if you were tempted to cellar this low-sulphur wine in great Bojo vintages). Once again, all things taken into account, Thevenet proves to be a stellar example of Beaujolais, and while I imagine his star would shine anywhere, this seems like a perfect marriage of man and terroir. (Nov. 25, 2011)

Bought at Gordon Wines, Waltham, for about 30 USD.

Friday, December 2, 2011

TNweets (Nov. 2011)

Is it very obvious that Anat and Rafaella
from Giaconda delivered my stash this month?

Huet, Vouvray, Le Haut-Lieu, Demi-Sec, 2009

My first Huet, ever. The nose is melons elegantly laced with minerals. By now, the character of Loire Chenin minerality is blatantly specific, to me, after three years of perusing the stuff, and here it shows a wet clay surprisingly complemented by a substratum of quasi-Chablis marine fossils. The palate is yummy and carries its 14% ABV quite deftly. Now, as much I like the grape when it hails from its homeland, I sometimes find rough on the palate, requiring me to sustain a very certain mood when approaching it - but this is more refined than any specimen I've tasted so far. Although the quirky Chenin acidity still needs time to tame. (Nov. 1, 2011)

Giaconda, 165 NIS.

Bourillon d'Orleans, Vouvray, Moelleux, Art Monia, 2003

This, of course, is a Vouvray I'm very familiar with. It shows the same aromatic signature of sculptor's clay, and there's fruit that's mellow with maturity and yet still has a pungent/spicy kick on both nose and palate. The structure shows no sign of fraying after eight years and offers a lightly bitter and spicy finish that saves the sweetness from becoming unctuous. (Nov. 3, 2011)

Giaconda, 130 NIS.

Domaine Guiberteau, Samaur, 2009

Fragrant red fruit, tart but not sharp, laced with minerals, tobacco leaves and forest floor, medium-bodied with prominent, yet savory tannins, the bright acidity keeping the groove on the one. I'll always have room for wines like this at home. (Nov. 5, 2011)

Giaconda, about 120 NIS.

I wanted to continue with the Loire but opted to take a detour through Alsace. I haven't been there in a while.

Albert Boxler, Riesling, Vieilles Vignes, 2007

The nose has honeyed apples, a fascinating herbal/soupy overlay and even petrol notes. Don't Alsatians seem to show petrol earlier in life than Germans? The palate is very fresh, with a core of sweet fruit braced by lively, green apple acidity. It's fairly complex but more than that, it's pure of fruit and expression and drinking well now, with a sweet/saline finish. (Nov. 8, 2011)

Giaconda, 140 NIS.

At this point, I let other importers share the floor. Starting with a bistro-style Beaujolais I brought to a family dinner.

Georges Dubeouf, Fleurie, Flower Label, 2010

I bought this on discount, thinking it was thee 2009, which I'd been meaning to re-purchase. Not a huge mistake, as I'd heard 2010 was another good vintage, but I was disappointed as I'd been looking forward to buying a somewhat more mature wine. Whatever, this is nicely tasty with black raspberries and a layer of pungent minerals and serviced the food quite heartily. What it lacked, sadly, was that touch of jism that makes Beaujolais lovers so hung up about the style and place. (Nov.11, 2011)

WineRoute, 65 NIS on sale.

Deux Montilles, Bourgogne Rouge, 2008

The Burgundian caste system breaks down with boutique wineries like the Montille siblings', because I think Bourgogne fans don't pay over 30 USD for a generic wine from an artisan outfit such as this without at least some interest in the origin. Case in point: I was hankering for a red B and remembered this as being soft in a Cote de Beaune way (as opposed to my other candidate, the Villaine Fortune, which is actually close to the Nuits, style-wise) and its very specificity made me curious. Whatever, this is light and spicy, with an appealing gaminess, gentle and soft, without being wimpy in any way whatsoever. The most obvious sign of its lowly origins is some stemminess in the background (besides the light frame, that is, but there are plenty of big names who show similar delicateness), but it's tempered nicely by the juicy acidity of the fruit and anyway, just serve it with the right food and no worries. (Nov. 12, 2011)

Dr. Loosen, "L", 2009

If you ever wanted a bistro-wine version of the Mosel, then this is it. Slate, apples, slightly saline, utterly thirst-quenching - this is actually the first time I'd ever opened a wine because I was thirsty. (Nov. 13, 2011)

WineRoute, 2 for 100 NIS deal.

And back to the Loire.

Domaine des Baumard, Coteaux du Layon, Carte d'Or, 2005

This concoction of cantaloup and botrytis is finally letting its relatively low acidity catch up with it. Not that it's fallen off a cliff or anything, more that I can sense a slightly downward slope for the first time, even as its Chenin character asserts itself as spicy honey and wet wool. (Nov. 15, 2011)

Giaconda, 117 NIS.

A couple, by the glass in Legal Seafood, Burlington Mall.

Dr. Loosen, Gray Slate, 2010

Very appley-y, even somewhat grape-y, aromas and flavors, without any overt sign of the acidity that I'd been warned about in 2010's. (Nov. 22, 2011)

About 10.5 USD by the glass.

Claude Branger, Muscadet Sevre et Maine, Le Fils de Gras Moutons, 2010

If Chablis was bred of lime and pond water instead of apples and sea water, this is what it'd taste like. And this is just the basic cuvee. (Nov. 22, 2011)

About 7.5 USD by the glass.

Chateau Thivin, Cote de Brouilly, 2010

Your basic, primal Beaujolais Cru at this stage: the nose hints at meaty complexity but on the palate it is rustic without being crude, well-endowed and tasty but still one-dimensional. Thus, adolescently charming, even if I do find a distracting band-aid streak in the mix. (Nov. 26, 2011)

Gordon Wines, 25 USD.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Gift To The Living (Oct. 10, 2011)

Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man
of wealth
and taste

Doesn't a good claret always make you feel like you're the richest fellow in the world? That's due to the confident, self assured poise of a robust, mature Bordeaux.

If you want to do right, woman, do right, man - serve a claret!

Sociando-Mallet, Haut-Medoc, Cru Bourgeois, 1989

This used to cost like 10 bucks twenty years ago, but this bottle set me back over a hundred, and recent vintages are just as expensive. But, damn, it was worth it.

Initially, the fruit is very red, with trimmings of iron fillings and invigorating, meat-laced spices I find vaguely Nebbiolo-ish. In time, the fruit grows darker and deeper. It's nothing like Pauillac or Saint Julien or Graves - rather more of a feminine version of Saint Estephe. Despite the freshness in mid palate, it is less elegant than I'd expected. As is always the case with mature Bordeaux, I love its sweetness of fruit,which is, as expected, deftly skewered by savory, palate-cleansing tannins. Aromatically, I sense a bit of weariness after a couple of hours, as it shows hints of balsami, but the Sociando retains its yumminess until the very end - there's nothing at all tired about the fruit, acidity or tannins.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Two Groovy Austrians

Hirsch, Kammerner Heiligenstein, Gruner Veltliner, 2010

I must be doing something right, if a knowledgeable blogger like bob68 has purchased a wine because of my recommendation (I'm sure most, if not all, of my Israeli readers read this very honest and detailed culinary and wine blog, which is more informative than any restaurant critic I've ever read. If you're not a local - you wish you had a critic this good at home!). However, as flattering as it might be, it kinda put the scare into me, to learn that he bought the Heiligenstein: what if he doesn't like it as much as I did? Turns out he did, only he didn't spot the minerality that I found in it. So I decided to open a bottle and check whether my impressions at home were in line with what I got at the tasting last month.

Well, it's just as good, to my great relief, and the minerality is still there, on the nose. It's a pungent sort, that reminds me of overturned earth and mud (and also something else, that I think is what a pond of fresh water would smell like, only I'm not sure I've ever encountered a pond of fresh water), but there is also a typical GV green peas thing going on, and if you try to focus on that, the minerals sort of fade to the background. If you wait a couple of hours, you will also find a floral element. On the palate, there are few traces of minerals; instead, there is fresh fruit running the gamut from green apples to peaches and melons and a bit of residual sweetness that combines with the racy acidity to make for a savory finish. So while it's crisp and light on its feet (unlike, say, Pichler and Nigl), you won't get the saline fuzz you'd find in archetypically mineral-laden wines, such as Chablis. So bob68 and I are both right.

Like I said last month, this wine has both immediacy and depth, and usually when a wine is this tasty now, I'd say drink up, but I feel this is just scratching the surface of its potential. The problem is, from that I've read, Gruner Veltliner doesn't move a lot in the first few years. Disregarding that, my gut feeling is that, no matter how the variety is supposed to behave, this wine will show a different attitude if you open a bottle, say once a year. (Oct. 7, 2011)

Eldad Levy and Iggy Aloni's Austrian catalog. 129 NIS.

So, being in such a GruVe mood, I took another one for the team.

F. X. Pichler, Loibner Berg, Gruner Veltliner Smaragd, 2007

This is in a wildly different vein. Initially, there is not a trace of minerals, on neither nose nor palate; instead, there is a quince and quinine combo that reminds me of Alsace. It feels more alcoholic, despite the difference being of only one degree (12.5 % vs. 13.5%). With air, I get aromas of smoky minerals (think dry steam bath), along with summer fruit on the nose, while the palate becomes fiery on the finish on the one hand, and very textured and multi-dimensional on the other. Unlike the Hirsch, I suspect this will stay in more or less the same place for a few years before evolving.(Oct. 8, 2011)

The Pichler is very much the kind of wine that impresses you for its sheer presence and physicality, while the Hirsch has a more laissez-faire approach. If I prefer the Hirsch - and I certainly can't deny that the word count alone exposes my prejudices - it's not just for any ideological bent, but because it expresses just as much, while imposing less of itself. But do buy both if you can. Just make sure you're self-aware enough to understand your own needs.

Giaconda, 167 NIS.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Further Miseducation Of 2GrandCru - A Volnay/Pommard Tasting (Oct. 17, 2011)

Proving once again, you can't get drunk off Bourgogne!

Deux Montille, Bourgogne, 2008

Sweaty red fruit, earthy with decent complexity and depth, and quite tasty with a measure of juicy acidity. So Alixe does reds well, too. Unless it's Etienne who made this wine.

Bouchard, Savigny-Les-Beaune Premier Cru, Les Lavieres, 2007

On the nose: red fruit with great focus, speckled with minerals. Good length and focus on the palate as well. Having said that, the palate feels a little unyielding (although not enough to bar enjoyment, especially when paired with the right food, I would assume).

WineRoute, 150 NIS. Pretty good value.

Montille, Volnay Premier Cru, Les Taillepieds, 2004

Mildew on nose and palate, which kind of overpowers the fruit, so you have to like the style. I liked it, but it felt rather shy to me, until the fruit came forward to blanket the mildew. This split the public opinion - I liked it, but I've had better Montilles. The General Surgeon would have you know that the bottle had landed on the local tarmac the week before.

Burgundy Wine Collection, recent vintages sell for 440 NIS.

Thierry Violot-Guillemard, Pommard Premier Cru, Rugiens, 2004

Observation #1: There are no surprises in Bourgogne, as this unknown producer's bottle will attest. Look, there's a reason why unknowns in Burgundy remain unknown. Observation #2: I think this is an example of why old school Pommard was called soupy. It lacks acidity, but that's the vintage; but the tannic structure is formless, which I think is due to the winemaker.

Not imported, price unknown.

Comte Lafon, Volnay Santenots-Du-Milieu Premier Cru, 2006

Ripe, round, long. It's sweet, but there's a savory backbone that makes it very appealing to me. Yes it's modern and almost too ready and all, but the fruit is joyous and the saline finish enticing. But it is too damn expensive indeed. And not really Volnay, both stylistically and legally, as Volnay-Santenots is actually a red appellation in Meursault.

460 NIS. I like this, and I also liked a Jobard Meursault Premier Cru Rouge I had three years ago, so I guess I like red Meursault, but the Lafon name carries too big a premium here.

Henri Boillot, Volnay Premier Cru, Les Caillerets, 2007

Enticing nose! Complex and full, with red fruit and forest floor. Clean yet animalistic at the same time. The palate is full yet restrained, and despite the ripeness lending a sweet effect, the overall impression is very balanced and harmonious.

WineRoute 530 NIS.

d'Angerville, Volnay Premier Cru, Champans, 2002

The nose carries us back to lean (but not soupy) old school. Elegant and mineral laden. The palate is sparse, not austere mind you, think of a Japanese rock garden. Sleight of hand wine.

Not imported, 80-100 USD, depending on your luck.

Dugat-Py, Pommard, La Levriere, 2004

Armpit of a lusty wench, red fruit and an abundance of minerals. This gets by on sheer presence, but the finish also claims its share of complexity.

Burgundy Wine Collection, 560 NIS - holy receding hairline, as good as this is, it costs more than many a Premier Cru!

Friday, November 4, 2011

TNweets (Oct. 2011)

"In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy,
growing heavy for the vintage."
Meanwhile, 2GrandCru had another good month.

Sang des Cailloux, Vacqueyras, Cuvee de Doucinello, 2005

What a lovely surprise! The nose is gritty Old World, redolent with roasted coffee and meat, and also a hint of brine, over a backdrop of sour cherries. The palate is along the same lines, big and fleshy but not over-ripe or sweet. In fact, the tannins are still downright oaky-bitter, so it's more of a challenge than a tasty drop (and I intuit that it will retain this characteristic as it ages), but that's fine, sometimes all I look for is a memorable puzzle. (Oct. 1, 2011')

Giaconda, about 170 NIS.

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

Lively and lovely. Not particularly challenging but delicious. Oranges, with a touch of marmalade, on the nose, complemented by dry grass and a hint of flint, and the pungency of citrus peels. The palate is sweet and succulent, without being even in the slightest bit flabby thanks to its quite juicy acidity, and of decent complexity and finesse. That touch of sweetness is why these wines come around earlier than the big boys up north. As always, a good white from the deep south of Bourgogne always appears, to me, to be a mirror image of Chablis, as though the same ingredients were turns inside out to conjure the image of a sun-bathed grove, instead of the brooding ocean. Just fanciful imagery, but they do serve to place the wine, for me. (Oct. 5, 2011)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 150 NIS. I bought a sampler of every 2008 and 2007 Heritiers that Tomer had imported and now regret not having bought more.

William Fevre, Chablis Premier Cru, Vaillons, 2007

I'm sure this will age well and gain additional user-friendliness, but it's already complex and I love Chablis Premier Crus at about four years post-vintage, when they're on the cusp of trading the intensity for finesse. And this has the marine/fossils/pungent citrus peel thing that I love in Chablis going full-throttle. Plus, that delicious, green-apple acidity never did me no harm. (Oct. 13, 2011)

WineRoute, this is usually sold on discount at about 130 NIS or at a similar price for multi-bottles.

Ella Valley Vineyards, Vineyard's Choice, Merlot, 2003

Yes, I know it's an odd choice for me (eight year old Israeli Merlot, mama!), but trusted sources liked the 2003 and 2004, so I thought I'd give it a try, when Wine Depot had it on discount. The color was surprisingly deep ,and both palate and (especially) nose showed signs of life, albeit a bit alarmingly mature. So I sat and waited.

And this is what I got.

The nose is interesting and is what I often term Mediterranean, due to a herbal streak, which sometimes flirts with green here, but not so much as to be off-putting. It's complemented by a musky, earthy note. The nose also shows typical Merlot fruitiness, yet isn't very forward or ripe at this point, which is a big plus for me, and the palate shows similar restraint. Ah, the palate. The palate is what has me worried. It's tasty and elegant for sure, but it initially feels frayed and bitter. But it pulls itself together nicely and its refreshed composure is quite impressive for what it is. So the initial weariness resolves into a dried fruit effect, which I think is appropriate for an eight year old Israeli red. Finally, it does contain its 14.5% ABV quite well. (Oct. 15, 2011).

All in all, a nice experience for the 119 NIS it cost me and better than I'd have thought, but not a re-purchase (for this specific vintage at this point; I would try more recent ones).

As much as I can objectively examine my mental innards, I think I was impartial in my study of the wine and my emotional state. But I do confess that if people I like didn't like both wine and winemaker so much, I might have dismissed the wine within the first thirty minutes. Having said that, this was probably better two years ago.

Recanati, Reserve, Wild Carignan, 2009

I think the showing at the Recanati tasting was better, which leads me to ponder how objective I'd been at the event. Well, even if the Wild One had worked some strange hoodoo and charmed me with its mysterioso, the mystery was certainly present at the time and is missing now. So why am I still a fan? Because of the fine, savory tannins on the finish, which amplify the spiciness of the black fruit (which from my limited experience typifies the variety). And because the ripe fruit is warm, rather than flabby or overwrought - which is probably those savory tannins again, anyway, along with some juicy acidity. (Oct. 20, 2011)

Usually this sells for 145 NIS, WineDepot sold it over the holidays for 119 NIS.

Leitz, Rheingau, Rudesheimer Berg Roseneck, Riesling, Spatlese, 2004

While reserved at first - showing talc and slate, sauteed apples and peaches, red apples - the sheer essence of its personality grows more intense until you can get lost sniffing it, studying the understated interplay of fruit and minerals. On the palate, the way the joyous acidity complements the sweetness creates an impression of the Platonic ideal of fresh fruit, while its light touch hammers again the Teutonic claim to fame: no one else makes delicate beauties like this. (Oct. 22, 1011)

Giaconda, 150 NIS.

Marc Tempe, Alsace, Burgreben, Riesling, 2001

As always, the honeyed apples on the nose, along with some botrytis funk, make me anticipate a dessert wine and belie the dryness of the palate. An overlay of minerals and an additional layer reminiscent of green tea add further aromatic complexity, while a delicately saline finish completes the game, set and match. I don't have much experience with mature Alsatians but this is a very lovely sample, even if it doesn't appear to have changed a lot over the last couple of years. (Oct. 28, 2011)

Giaconda, 160 NIS.

Recanati, Reserve, Syrah/Viognier, 2009

Nothing more to add to my previous observations. A properly peppery Syrah, with sun-drenched ripeness typical of Israel, yet with great vibrancy and focus, as well as, dare I say, savory tannins. Well, it could use more acidity, but what the hell, this is Israel, it's time I started accepting that. Even so, although I do like it a lot, a whole bottle is still a lot more fatiguing than a Crozes or a Loire red (which were the bottles it had contended with tonight as a possible roast beef match). On the other hand, I don't have to drink them all alone. (Oct. 29, 2011)

Usually this sells for 145 NIS, WineDepot sold it over the holidays for 119 NIS.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jacky Janodet, Moulin a Vent, Domaine Les FInes Graves, Vieilles Vignes, 2009 (Sept. 30, 2011)

As far as I can Google it, it seems that Janodet is perhaps the one top-quality producer in Beaujolais who does not eschew sulphur. So maybe I was hasty in opening one of the few Crus that I could have safely cellared, but after contemplating my sole bottle for almost a year, curiosity got the better of me.

However much it may discomfort me to say goodbye to this sole bottle, this is already tasty, with a velvety smoothness (as opposed top-flight Cote d'Or silkiness) that is borne of very fine tannins and coupled with acidity that makes the mouth drool rather than pucker, leading to a crunchy, saline finish. The aromatics are TCB Beaujolais Cru: black cherries with minerals on top, unfolding their complexity very nicely with air. At this point in its evolution, it's a little too close to the Lapierre Morgon stylistically for me to tell them apart (which is at least appropriate -they're at the same level of quality), but my, doesn't it really taste good! And that vibrant acidity is to kill for.

About 20 GBP in London.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mister 2T. (Sept. 29, 2011)

Somewhere, in a wine country far, far away...

Golan Heights Winery is, arguably (no, make that certainly, and hats off to them) Israel's most innovative winery, and it has been introducing new grape varieties almost from the very start. After kicking off with Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, they introduced, in dazzling succession: Merlot, Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Syrah, Viognier and Nebbiolo. Not to mention their bubblies and single-vineyard bottlings. And the Katzrin. And the Rom. In short, they displayed a hunger for expansion and quality, an almost insatiable need to fill every niche in the food chain. Which may have been driven by a business plan, but it was always, persistently, actively, there. Being kosher never hurt - a keeper of kashrut could conceivably fill his fridge solely with GHW offerings and still have representation of most major grapes. If he or she also wanted a great variety in style, well, that's a different matter, but I'm sure one could find plenty of interest pursuing the differences between the vineyards and matching the Katzrin against the Rom.

If one can sense a critical tone here, it's because I object to the winery having become a supermarket of wine, catering to every possible need and sometimes coming off as a "me, too" contender. Although, to be quite fair, they've avoided coming out with a varietal Carignan or Cabrnet Franc when they became all the rage, because head winemaker Victor Schonenfeld thought the varieties were not up to the GHW standard (on the other hand, I'm not sure what high standards the early editions of the Pinot Noir and Viognier adhered to).

And now the 2T, a dry blend of Touriga Nacional and Tinta Cao, two Portugese grapes hardly grown outside the Duoro as far as I know (although I suspect someone in California or Australia has planted them, and someone will one day find some obscure, genetic relative in Bulgaria or something). Whatever possessed the wine-making team to make this or the marketing heads to think there might be a niche for it, I can't deny it's an interesting choice and indeed even had me coughing up the shekels for it. And no, I didn't get a freebie from the winery; after over four years, 2GrandCru is still off the radar screen, but I've whined enough about it on the box on the right, so let's just move on to the wine.

It's different, I'll give it that, but, although I could go at length about its evolution in glass from sweet and formless to sweet with soft, yet meaty, tannins - and just what that may imply about its cellaring potential - the final picture is this: it just doesn't feel - to me - that much different than the picture other varieties paint under the GHW idiom. Not knowing a lot about these grapes, I feel the wine teaches me more about GHW than about the grapes. You could make an argument that it teaches something about Israeli wines as well, except that I don't like the message it preaches and it's not spectacularly new; anyway we've been making flattering, ripe wines for over a decade and it drove me nuts years ago. So, I'll pass, especially since a recent tasting has shown me local alternatives I find more exciting and palatable.

So, to refresh myself, once dinner and wine were over, I opened a cider from Normandy. Domaine Dupont, Cidre Reserve, 2008. It's utterly delicious, to me, and stimulating. It's got a rubbery, funky stink and taste to it that my wife immediately detested, even as it instantly smote me, but it speaks to me of very frank attachment to its place of origin. Let's put it this way: Dupont may have introduced a few tweaks to the technique, but basically the Normandians have been making this sort of stuff for centuries; GHW have been making wine for only three decades and the 2T is their first attempt at Portugese varieties. Guess which wine seems fresher and more original?

Shana Tova!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Town Called Chambolle (Sept. 27, 2011)

Fredric Magnien, Chambolle-Musigny, Vieilles Vignes, 2007

Sous bois, animalistic, minerally. The nose is nice, yet the palate is a little short. But its ready and tasty and expresses its origins reasonably well.

30-40 euros.

Domaine Bruno Clavelier, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru, La Combe d'Orveaux, 1999

Animalistic, almost Gevrey-ish, on the nose, with an added benefit of minerals - the fruit blooms later and plays hide and seek with the minerals. Tannic, still, and a little raspy. More structure than the Magnien and more interesting. But it doesn't give out enough.

40 euros.

Lucien Le Moine, Chambolle-Musigny, Premier Cru, Les Amoureuses, 1999

I admit this gave me a hard time. Terrific nose, really, like a blown up version of the Clavelier, but the palate is also a little more blown up. Just a little too ripe, and, even though the tannins give a savory finish, it's on the order of too little, too late. But I do like it, after a fashion, it's just too uptown for me.

Ghislaine Barthod, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru, Les Cras, 2004

Ripe nose, not over the top, with 2004 languid-ness backed by pungent minerals of overturned earth. Pure and transparent on the palate; still young, with sweet fruit at odds with bitter tannins, until the acidity emerges to glue everything into place. One of the highlights of the evening, but, although it's ready, it's some good years before its eventual peak.

80 euros.

Comte Georges de Vogue, Chambolle-Musigny, 2004

Ok, time for the Vogues that Daniel Lifshitz promised. It says Chambolle and it says 2004 and there is aromatic complexity and class. The palate shows the traits of the vintage but not quite so much the faults. That is, its sweet and languid but with no shortness of length and depth, and the nose is most Bourgogne in its soft earthiness.

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 500 NIS.

Comte Georges de Vogue, Chambolle-Musigny, Premier Cru, 2004

Great length and depth, with fine etched tannins. This takes the same path as the village wine, but with more torturous curves and roundabouts, as though the simpler wine was expanded into a multi-volume epic. As its tale unfolds, the 2004 languidness pulls you this way and that, and then the tannins raise their sleek heads to remind you this is, after all, a young vines Musigny.

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 900 NIS.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Recanati Special Reserve Vertical (Sept. 25, 2011)

Wild Thing

Recanati is one of the few Israeli wineries I've tasted extensively, although it's been a while, as I've obviously been drinking few Israeli wines in recent years. I'm not sure what sparked my interest, as I was initially very much put off by the connection to the Recanati family (I'm sure Lenny is a fine guy, really, but maybe I'm still a punk at heart and the Recanatis are E.S.T.A.B.L.I.S.H.M.E.N.T.) and the label design. But I liked the first Reserves when WineRoute had them on sale in 2003 and then I was pals with former winemaker Lewis Pasco and drank with him on a few occasions. I also drank a few times with CEO Noam Jacoby, and I've been drinking with Ido Lewinsohn recently as well. So that's the personal background.

Anyway, this tasting came about as a result of some discussions on the Fat Guy forum, as well as my own notes on the 2008. The scene of the crime was a new place in Tel Aviv, Yirmiyahu 7 and all the wines, except for the dessert, were supplied by the winery. Many thanks to wine-makers Gil Shatzberg and Ido Lewinsohn, CEO Noam Jacoby, and finally, Ehud Walter who put it all together.

Special Reserve, White, 2009

A short voyage of disovery here. A blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier from the Upper Galilee. Floral, hints of minerals. At initial cold temperature, I can't discern discrete varietal traits, in time I get the Suvignon Blanc and Viognier but not so much the Chardonnay, which I guess is the most neutral of the three. The Viognier's florality seems to dominate at first and eventually I do get some Chardonnay on the nose and a tasty nuttiness on the finish. Better than last time, but at least initially it's still more interesting to taste than to drink, due to its complexity. Having said that, it's so very interesting and becomes tastier in time, to the point where it's actually one of the most interesting wines of the evening. I may have been over-cautious here.

The Special Reserve Reds.


Nice color, nice nose, although not very expressive or complex. Olives set the tone, I think. Palate is dry and single minded, not to say one dimensional. Hanging on for dear life.


More lively than the 03, but in a riper style. More old-school Israel. Then it passes on.


Same old song, with some rusty muskiness on the finish. It's more complex than the previous two, especially the nose, and it's pretty good for what it is (or used to be), but I think it's not in much better shape than the others. Not tonight, anyway.


Fruity, and sweetish, yet the sweetness is reined in. I don't think it's a stylistic break with the previous wines, just a younger version of them.


Still the same style. But quality-wise, an improvement. Very clean and relatively complex and I'm sure it will do well. But it just really ain't my style.


Needs time and I guess I tasted from a bottle that had been open for a long time, last time, because that wine now seems wildly different, in retrospect. Having said that, I can still recognize the savoriness that appealed to me at the time. It's much better delineated and complex than the previous versions. And I still think it's the best SR ever.

And Now For Something Completely Different...

Syrah/Viognier Reserve, 2009

Ooh, I like this even more than the SRs! So much so that I actually found it hard to return to the SR 2008. Focused meat and pepper stink on the nose. Meaty, savory tannins. Pays hommage to the North Rhone (think Cornas with the immediacy of Saint Joseph) while bringing a lot of Israel to the table (sun drenched fruit). It's a tough call between this and the Carignan: I think this has better focus and versatility, yet the Carignan lays out a course that is more interesting and, well, wilder. Both are true gems and worth a look even if you're non-Israeli.

Wild Carignan Reserve, 2009

Obviously Carignan, with characteristic (AFAIK) sweetness of the grape, yet with a meaty edge on both nose and palate. It has this sweaty tint on the nose, with underlying minerals. Lovely saline finish. If all Israeli wines were like this and the Syrah/Viognier, I'd be drinking more of them. And both wines sport lovely labels.

I kind of skirted around the question of cellaring the two of these - but don't. I mean, they'll keep for a few years but why wait, they're really groovy now.

Petit Sirah/Zinfandel Reserve, 2010

Very youthful fruit that paired well with our steaks, it has a certain coolness to it that I like. But it's nowhere as special as the other two.

As Recanati don't make dessert wines, we finished the evening off with a Sauternes brought by two of the participants.

Suduiraut, Preignac 1er Cru, 1999

Let's start with what I still love about Sauternes: that richness on the nose, with the spicy kick of the botrytis. The palate offers the same kick with an acidic backbone and a certain bitterness. Yet I'm still not re-converted.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Farewell To Rogov

A posse ad esse non valet consequentia

I wrote this piece a short while after the funeral, and then fretted over it for a couple of weeks. There was no way that the things I wanted to say in parting could come out as rosy as the other eulogies. Although in the end, I believe I behaved myself and treated the man with respect.

My original approach to Rogov was as pure fanboy. I was a member of his original forum on Strat's Place, until the hero worship (of which I, too, was guilty) became too much for me, and until some things on the board stopped adding up nicely. There were things he did that he tried to cover up, and these were things that I couldn't abide. There were plenty of people who could - and did - stomach all that, simply because they loved the guy, but I couldn't, and so I dropped out and stopped being a fan.

Having said that, I will testify that he was there to welcome me to the world of wine, and treated me and the other newbies with utmost respect and patience, and for that I'm grateful. And if I didn't like and admire him so much in the first place, the break wouldn't have been so wide and oh so deep.

He wasn't perfect, but then no one really needs to be. And he wasn't a truly great man by my definition of the word, but he might have been, if he hadn't spent so much energy hyping up the mysterioso and tending to his self-portrait. He was charismatic, charming, intelligent and articulate, truly likable and even more complex than the public image he worried over would have let on. He cared about Israeli wine and cuisine with a passion that I found, at least with the local wines, misplaced - but he struck a nerve with a lot of people, even his harshest critics will admit that.

But let me talk about what was, for me, the most charming thing about this strange visitor to Israel. And for that, I need to become a fanboy again for just a few minutes more.

Rogov, Daniel, David. My parting gift to you is my favorite quote in the whole wide world, and it aptly describes your attitude towards the joy of living. And it's Liebling, so I know you'll love it.

... [he] proved that the world isn't going backward, if you can just stay young enough to remember what it was really like when you were really young.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Misc Notes (Sept. 2011)

Chablis and Muscadet set the tone for this month's selection of crisp, mineral-laden wines.
At least, until the rain came.

Chereau Carre, Chateau du Chasseloir, Muscadet de Sevre et Maine, 2009

God, I hate typing the name of the wine - thank God I've drunk it before so I can just cut and paste. It's hard to write about a wine from a relatively new region for me, while trying to ignore what I've already read about it, except it's fairly true in this case. This is a very "marine" wine, like the textbooks say, stone, salty and crisp like a Chablis; limier than a Chablis, though, but like many Chablis, the fruit profiles offers plenty of fruit peel as well as fruit flesh. It's cheaper than even a village Chablis, and it's different, which is always a plus (and I think said difference originates with a lack of obvious apple-ness), and I like how it expands and empowers with air while retaining a nervy tension. So I think I should get more. (Sept. 1, 2011)

WineRoute, 50-60 NIS.

Muller-Catoir, Pfalz, Haardter Burgergarten, Riesling Spatlese, Trocken, 2006

My inventory is immaculate until I get to Muller-Catoir. With so many vineyards and pradikats, I wound up ordering more trockens than I'd bargained for and entering them as "sweet" wines into my software, and now I really have no idea just what's waiting in the fridge until I re-organize the shelves. So I wasn't planning on a trocken today, but it was a nice one to wine up with. The nose has the minerally-spicy overtones that lay equal claim to Pflaz and Alsace, on a background reminiscent of apple cider. The palate has just a hint of sweetness and is as bold as a good Pfalz can be, with a stony complexity and a long finish, and sandpaper texture that wins me over. I'm just prejudiced enough against 2006 not to fret too much that I may have opened this on the early side, and a little lack of acidity seems to support my prejudice. (Sept. 3, 2011)

Giaconda, 153 NIS.

Bouchard Pere Et Fils, Meursault Premier Cru, Genevrieres, 2004

At first, this is overwhelmingly spicy pears and a wisp of sweetish oak, with a lode of minerals underneath that isn't emerging fast enough for me. I mean, there's a tasty salty, cured note but the palate is still cloaked by the oak. Then mother lode bursts open and the wine comes to life, or what I would call life, at any rate (my wife liked it from the start). There's a clearer sense and purity of fruit, and the initial sweetness of the oak becomes a rather honeyed sensation atop a stony texture. There's still something missing there, for me - and at this point I think that a good bottle of the Jobard En La Barre (a mere Villages wine, mind you) of the same year beats it, but I'm willing to guess a few years might bring more forth a more articulate expression of purity. (Sept. 7, 2011)

WineRoute, about 350 NIS.

Marcel Lapierre, Morgon, 2009

I had the munchies for it, and found this slightly more evolved on the nose this time, with a pungent note of freshly turned earth over fresh red fruit (not to say I hadn't gotten this earlier, only the refrain was more articulate and obvious this time). The tannins grow more savory with air, and its fruitiness is like a pair of soft slippers, and for the first time, I sense an old-vine intensity beneath the light elegance. I need to find out how old the Lapierre vines are. (Sept. 10, 2011)

Okay, according to the winery site, they're 45 years old on the average.

Moreau-Naudet, Chablis Premier Cru, Montmains, 2006

The nose is big and bold, rife with citrus fruit, wet sand and chalk, and the palate is more of the same. This is very good - not a lot of finesse, just a palate-staining extract of Chablis. And, yo! Pe-ople: Chablis is good for you! (Sept. 11, 2011)

Giaconda, 170 NIS.

Jean Paul et Benoit Droin, Chablis Premier Cru, Montee de Tonnerre, 2007

It ain't just oysters that go well with Chablis - 2GrundCru in general goes very well with Chablis! This is even better than the Sunday's Moreau-Naudet (but then I'm a bigger Droin fan in the first place, ever since I attended the kick-off tastings at Giaconda), with more aromatic nuances and better poise and finesse. As you'd expect, it has a very marine personality, yet not just iodine and sea-salt, but also a touch of sea weed. It's Chablis-ness is so redolent now, I don't see the point of aging it for too many years on down. Of course, it might pick up more nuances, but it won't be any more delicious and it won't be any more typical of the style. Or will it? It strikes me that the fact that I've never found a reason to age Premier Cru Chablis doesn't mean I may not be missing out on something. Well, maybe I'll keep the last bottle safe in the fridge and see. (Sept. 17, 2011)

Giaconda, 170 NIS.

Astrolabe, Marlborough, Sauvingon Blanc, 2010

Is this the quintessential formula of gooseberry over a mineral background, or what? This seems more complex, slightly richer and deeper than the Durvilea, given that there's a limit on the depth that an SB of this style can achieve. Plus its saline finish is exceptionally long. Recommended. (Sept. 22, 2011)

Imported by Mersch, this is supposed to cost 147 NIS, except I got it for about 100 NIS in Eilat and I'm quite pleased with that.

Guigal, Cote Rotie, Brune et Blonde, 1999

I originally planned to open another Chablis, but the first rainfall of autumn made a red more appropriate for the mood (even though I hardly have a problem drinking whites in winter and red in summer). This seems more mature than I'd expected, with a hint of caramelization and acetone obscuring the Cote Rotie character. Better on the palate, which is tastier and a little fresher than the nose would have let on. The fruit is sweet, but the body is lithe and smooth, and its relative delicacy certainly gives some expression to its origins. The nose inches its way forward in a snail pace, and is pleasant, if not terribly exciting, once it reaches the finish line. (Sept. 24, 2011)

This wine is not the equal of the first bottle, which I opened only a few months ago. It's always hard to judge whether a given wine was opened at the right age and whether it received enough air to show its best, but I believe I gave this a fair shot and in the end it proved its reputation for not being the most exciting Cote Rotie around. But the price was nice, for Israel.

Imported by the evil France-Israel Group, purchased at Wine Depot (who are always the good guys) for 160 NIS on discount.

Friday, September 30, 2011

With The Shermans At Rokah (Sept. 20, 2011)

The time proven formula of "BYO in your local restaurant" broke down, as sommelier Aviram Katz has departed for a new employer, Toto. Thus the BYO policy in Rokah is in a state of limbo and my corkage fee hit the ceiling. Look, I don't ask for freebies, but I do expect some consideration as a frequent customer. Given that I can find other fine establishments where I'm given a break on corkage, I think 55 NIS per bottle is excessive.

At least Aviram didn't take the good glasses with him.

Francois Jobard, Meursault, En La Barre, 2004

I really enjoyed this 2 months ago and I'd like to say lightning struck twice, and really, it almost did, except the experience was marred by some oxiditive notes on the nose. It still had plenty of flavor but lacked the zip that a Jobard should have.

Tomer Cal, 280 NIS.

Chateau Clerc-Milon, Pauillac 5me Cru, 1998

I bought this because the price was decent and it seemed like a useful wine to have around: a good, not great, under-rated vintage that should drink early. But, happily, this was a scrappy over-performer, a textbook Left Bank claret, bold, yet restrained, packed with suave black currants - who the fuck does black fruit better than Bordeaux? Tasty, savory tannins, too - who the fuck does tasty tannins better than Bordeaux? A touch grainier than the 1996 (granted, they're both a little rustic, but both have enough fruit to make up for that), this is in a good place right now, but feels like it has at least five years ahead of it.

WineRoute carries these, but then they carry most of the renowned names. This was bought in K&L for about 40-50 USD.

Chateau Canon La Gaffaliere, Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe, 2000

Wow. Complex, expressive, this makes the best of the Right Bank idiom and a great vintage. My shorthand notes read: "spicy, smoky fruitcake". Very yummy, too. The acidity is on the low side, so while this doesn't lack structure, the overall effect is hedonistic. Don't like Right Bank? This will convert you. This is the first 2000 where I can actually, finally, sense the magic at work, even if a good part of it is still around the corner. Not that I expect many 2000's of this level will be shining already, but happily this one, with a few hours of air, did.

I bought a few bottles of this all over the US, this specific bottle cost 100 USD.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Spread the Word - Austrian Intro Tasting (Sept. 15, 2011)

Revolution number eight

I came back from the first tasting of Eldad Levy's new Austrian portfolio with two conclusions. One: I need to get deeper intro these lovely whites (not my fault, I'd bought a few while abroad, but little was available locally until now, hence the urgency of the title).

Two: Hirsch rocks! I mean, Berger is a very good dark horse, but Hirsch knocked me out.


Kremstal, Lossterassen, Gruner Veltliner, 2010

The fruit profile of Berger's Gruners, on both nose and palate, display a green-ness that I've spotted in the handful of GV's that I've had in the past, and which doesn't come across as an indication of under-ripeness, but rather of freshness. Which I think is what the experts describe as snap peas, green beans, stuff like that. Beyond that, here I get reserved, gentle fruit on the nose, lime/lemon at first, hints of oranges later, subtle minerals and pepper. The palate is drawn in soft, yet bold flavors, framed by balanced acidity. No great length, but this does offer simple, tasty charms.

99 NIS.

Kremstal, Gebling, Reserve, Gruner Veltliner, 2010

The Austrian wine system is very strict about the use of the "Reserve" moniker, so it's no surprise that this offers greater complexity and depth than the Lossterassen, without increasing the volume, just more of the same, and better: greater power and a longer, spicier finish.

159 NIS.

Spiegel, Riesling, 2010

The debut of the first Riesling of the tasting provides a sharp contract, as the shift in aromatic profile is almost jarring. It's more mineral-laden, in a chalky vein and the fruit is more about (yellow?) apples, topped off by a pretty herbal streak. Like its entry-level GV counterpart, the Lossterassen, it is refreshing and friendly, but, naturally, there is a greater abundance of acidity here; it is Riesling, after all.

109 NIS.

Steingraben, Riesling, 2010

I think this is a Reserve, but Eldad's catalog doesn't say anything about that and I didn't get a look at the label at the tasting. But it's a step up in quality from the Spiegel, as well as off on a different tangent style-wise. The nose has pears and intense minerals that veer into an icy slate feel that I love in Rieslings, while the palate offers great purity and length and is more obviously immature than the Gebling.

149 NIS.


Kamptal, Trinkvergnugen, Gruner Veltliner, #8, 2009

From the first sniff, I like it more than the equivalent entry-level at Berger. Hirsch seems to stress the minerals aspect of his wines (at least, those that we tasted), and here there is an abundance of flint and gunpowder. The palate has a denser feel than the Lossterassen, with no loss of freshness. A wild child.

85 NIS. Terrific value.

Kammerner Heiligenstein, Gruner Veltliner, 2010

With this wine, we crossed the line into Excitment-ville. The mineral aromas are lovely, gruff, challenging, and unfathomable. It's as though I've encountered a new rock specimen, never seen before. Beneath that is the usual Gruner Veltliner stuff, though, and the palate is as lively and friendly as an entry-level wine, while offering the depths of a 1er Lage. For me, the most delicious wine of the evening.

129 NIS. A no-brainer buy.

Kammerner Lamm, 1er Lage, Gruner Veltliner, 2009

Somebody must have given the "minerals" dial a few turns, because this smells like a looser, slimmer Le Clos, chock-full of marine minerals. The palate continues this aesthetic, its sweetness of fruit and acidity combining for a dry effect. Grand indeed!

225 NIS.

Zobing, Riesling, 2009

This proves that Hirsch is a much better winemaker than Berger, because this is much better than its counterpart, the Spiegel. The nose displays a laser-sharp essence of icy slate and frozen sherbet, while the palate is bone dry without inducing any fatigue.

119 NIS. A good buy.

Zobinger Heiligenstein, 1er Lage, Riesling, 2009

Terroir. There is a very obvious family resemblance to the Gruner from this vineyard, with the Riesling character showing as an added dimension of steeliness and more grapefruit on the palate. Complexity, structure, presence as well as an orchestrated massage of the taste buds - the Heiligenstein has it all.

225 NIS.

Zobinger Gaisberg, 1er Lage, Riesling, 2009

This is the only wine in the tasting that is obviously closed down. What I do get is mint on the nose and less minerals than the other GC's, and an inkling of its light, elegant, reserved breed.

225 NIS.

Priced like good Bourgogne village whites, drinking like a Premier Crus at least, all the 1er Lages are highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Best Show In Town (Sept. 13, 2011)

A.K.A, Ran Shapira's 42nd birthday.

Gimmonet, Special Club, 1999

Classic brioche nose, lovely apple fruit on the palate. Tasty, flavorsome, balanced and long. The mineral aftertaste proves once again the uniqueness of the genre and why the contents of a bottle of a great Champagne like this can vanish almost instantly.

Eldad Levi, about 380 NIS.

Vincent Girardin, Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru, La Folatieres, 2004

A complex, well-deep nose, with an exquisitely lovely Bourgogne "stink" that blends rotting flowers and flint. The palate is reserved and I'm very pleased with the present stage in its evolution, as I've stopped gambling with white Bourgognes, so each (relatively) early drinker serves as corroborative evidence. Unfortunately, the next wine proves that sometimes you have to go out on a limb.

WineRoute, price unknown.

Bonneau du Martray, Corton-Charlemagne, 2004

Extremely closed, Lord have mercy, despite having been opened four hours before dinner. Even when we returned to it after the two wines which followed, progress was miniscule. There's an echo of minerals and a hint of fruit, and both whisper of what one day will emerge out of its time vault.

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 650 NIS.

Bouchard, Corton-Charlemagne, 2004

Much more open. On the nose, a gentle overlay of flinty minerals, with delicately sweet fruit, more gentle than the Folatieres, making it classier - even when the flint expands, it just doesn't need to shout as loudly. A very tasty palate, as well. I guess age would flesh it out even more, but it is very inviting now.

WineRoute, about 700 NIS.

Paul Pernot, Bienbenues-Batard-Montrachet, 1999

The mineral backdrop is a little wider, a little deeper, than the Bouchard, although I can't honestly say that it's a quantum leap, but enough for a solid win. It wins by refinement, see, which is always hard to gauge.

Not imported to Israel, price unknown.

Meo-Camuzet, Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru, Les Chaumes, 2002

A lovely animalistic-cum-minerally nose, with red fruit bordering on black. The palate more than flirts with sweet ripeness and needs more cellar time to get rid of its baby fat and tighten its grip. An hour in glass (which was in addition to three hours of lowered shoulders) serves that purpose as well, lending it complexity even as a slight hole in the middle is demurely revealed.

Tomer Gal, 650 NIS.

Henri Perrot-Minot, Mazoyeres-Chambertin, 1999

A step up. Stinkier, darker, better structured. Savory, tasty, almost leathery tannins resolve into a tantalyzing hint of minerals. Rustically charming and a (surprising, to me, because I've never heard of the producer) winner.

Not imported to Israel, price unknown.

Jean Grivot, Echezaux, 1999

Elusive refinement and complexity. Here again we have a mineral attitude complexified by a sweaty stink, which is made more mysterious by notes of violet. There's a nervy streak of spices on both nose and palate that gives it an edgy presence. Love it.

Burgundy Wine Collection sells recent vintages for about 800 NIS.

Meo-Camuzet, Clos de Vogeot, 1999

A deeper nose, in a way, than the Grivot, but somewhat less complex. Very fruity. Ah, then a minerally streak enters and adds interest. Complexity and class in surprisingly plaid trappings - this aristocrat is a little bored.

Burgundy Wine Collection sells recent vintages for about 850 NIS.

Guiraud, Sauternes, 1999

Marmalade and toffee, not enough botrytis. Alcoholic and simply not luscious enough. An example of why I've stopped buying Sauternes a few years back.

Price unknown.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Slaughtered Heifers And Wine (Aug. 25, 2011)

This lovely beast is grateful for the opportunity to accompany the following wines and thus be immortalized on the pages of 2GrandCru.

Falesco, Umbria, Marciliano, 1999

This is a Cabernet Sauvignon/Franc cuvee from a winery more famous for its Merlot, and it's damn fine. The nose is red and black cherries and saddle leather, there's a hint of black pepper then it fades, replaced by tar and chives. Solid tannins, gripping tannins that don't obscure the fruit. Savory, in short. Rocks steady.

Not imported to Israel. I see it listed for about 30-35 USD in Europe.

Gaja, Barolo, Gromis, 2000

Dark fruit, round with rustic, savory tannins. Tasty and deep, yet somehow not quite exciting. The Nebbiolo spices (musky dust) are in place, but oddly there's something a little Tuscan about it, to confound us all. I guess it's just too round for me, although it becomes more Piedmont in time.

WineRoute, about 270 NIS, although recent vintages cost more (but are often on discount).

Rocca Albino, Barbaresco, Vigneto Brich Ronchi, 1999

Red fruit and leather on the nose. Tannic, yet seems ready. For me, the Nebbiolo is obvious. But complaints abounded over lack of focus and acidity. People who'd tasted it in the past said it should show better, so I submit to their judgment. But I think it was savory and there was plentiful aromatic complexity. Since it's my bottle I might not be that objective.

I bought this for 50 USD in the States, but WineRoute are now selling newer vintages for about 270 NIS.

Ishmael Arroyo, Val Sotillo, Ribera Del Duero, Reserva, 2001

Great stink - bretty, yet with complexity. It only showed Arroyo typicity after it was revealed. Then I could sense the familiar sea salt and cardamon. Very good and tasty, despite the probable bottle variation.

About 220 NIS from Giaconda.

Tzora, Or, 2008

This is a Gewurztraminer dessert wine and I have enjoyed it in the past (an earlier vintage though). Anyway, this grapefruit and lychee juice, with a hint of botrytis funk, is just way too gulpable.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Misc Notes (Aug. 2011)

Pretty good wines in all, but the Auslese is a real homerun!

Koehler-Ruprecht, Pfalz, Kalstadter Saumagen, Riesling Auslese, 2001

This is finally in a good place once again, with honeyed fruit on a background of minerals and spices, even a hint of kerosene. The palate has a complex texture and fine depth born of bottle age and balances its sweetness with hints of salinity. This is an idiosyncratic style of auslese. There's obvious sweetness, yet it doesn't behave very much like a sweet wine, in fact it behaves almost like an alternative version of an auselse, which is always true of Koehler-Ruprecht's ausleses. Affirmation time: this is why I loved K-K in the first place and while this will live for a long time, I'm sure, it's just so very good now. In fact, the more I think about, the more I'm impressed that it is a moving wine, in its rugged way (that ruggedness being part of its charm) (Aug. 12, 2011)

Giaconda, about 160 NIS.

Pelter, Rose, 2010

Hmmm... I drank this in a crappy glass, but it impressed me nonetheless. Crisp, austere and mineral-laden, with a backdrop of mellow raspberries - in said crappy glass, the fruit is not very audible, but it really worked for me as a whole. This is made of 100% Temperanillo and I applaud the choice of fruit, even though it's hard to tell with the stemware - but hey, any wine that pleases in such a context has to have something going for it, right? (Aug. 13, 2011)

A. Et P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise Rouge, La Fortune, 2009

I needed to take a closer look, after a cursory encounter last month. Thus: black raspberries and beets, with more body than usual, yet that fullness of body is tempered by a welcome tartness. There's a streak of minerals in the background, that grows stronger, on both nose and palate. This really ain't no quaffer, or rather, it's like a quaffer injected with both cannabis and steroids. (Aug. 13, 2011)

Astrolabe, Marlborough, Durvillea, Sauvignon Blanc, 2009

Cat pee, minerals, tropical fruit sherbet, some green apples. Pungent, crisp and refreshing, and way more easy-going than the flagship SB. Buy more! (Aug. 20, 1011)

Imported by Mersch.

Marc Bredif, Vouvray, 2009

It's always hard to know what kind of Vouvray lurks in the bottle, especially with this house, which never labels its Vouvray with any indication of sweetness. This year it's off-dry (which I'm guessing is the mean average they aim for each year), with obvious, but not blatant, residual sugar. It's very attractive on the palate, decently complex, crisp (despite the RS) and well-balanced with a saline finish, and if it's not especially moving, it's actually quite charming. The nose shows Burgundian flint and summer fruits that flirt with both elegance and ripeness, and it is lovely as well. Excellent - amazing when the price is taken into account.(Aug. 20, 2011)

Imported by Hakerem.

Both of the above were purchased for about 75 NIS at discount at Wine Depot. Good values both.

Domaine des Baumard, Savennieres, Clos du Papillon, 2005

I loved this wine the first few times I drank, but an awful showing last year broke my heart. But, always the optimist, I thought that was either bottle variation or dumb period (yeah, yeah, that old excuse) and sallied forth again. And I found the following.

The nose is lovely, cantaloupe bejeweled in that blend of nuts, flint and clay that I usually find in Savennieres. The palate is wide and generous, without undue lack of focus, and there's a very palatable impression of sweetness. The more I drink Savenierres, the more I realize how intense a white wine it can be, but this is actually on the mellow side. (Aug. 27, 2011)

Giaconda, 171 NIS.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Recanati, Special Reserve, 2008 (Aug. 24, 2011)

Surprise, surprise!

I really, really like the Special Reserve this year. To me, it has a weird family resemblance to Bordeaux, with similar warm, musky, currant-y aromas and flavors, and just a hint of brett, that plays like an echo of a barnyard far away. And despite some sweetness in the background, it's elegant and its tannins are crisp and savory.

This is selling for about 200 NIS, even at bargain stores like WineDepot. Wow, now there's another surprise, and a rather disappointing one.

Sept. 26, 2011: Third surprise! Learned at Recanati tasting last night that this actually sells for 180 NIS at WineRoute before discount, so that makes it a reasonably priced Israeli premium (these days).

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Cote de Beaune Appreciation Society (Aug. 22, 2011)

A postcard from paradise

A collection of white Burgundies, organized by Daniel Lifshitz and Zacki Rosenblum, chez Yossi Hillel.

But first, something completely different:

Hagafen Cellars, Riesling, Wieruszowski Vineyard, 2007

Petrol, peaches and some red fruit. More limpid than the bottle I tasted at the winery three weeks ago (travel shock?) - not complex, nor deep, but tasty for sure.

36 USD

Bouchard, Aligote, 2009

Sulphur-ish, lean and saline in a marine way that resembles Chablis, but is not quite there. The nose is better than the palate, but this is a fine quaffer. In the best sense of the word.

WineRoute, about 50-60 NIS.

Etienne Sauzet, Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru, Champs-Canet, 2003

A woefully complex nose with pleasant oxiditive notes and hints of white meat. Almonds on the palate! A 2003 wouldn't be my first choice for a Bourgogne white, but I'd drink up half a bottle of this, at least. Because it's tasty, and because the aftertaste is surprisingly lively.

Burgundy Wine Collection, the 2008 sells for 430 NIS.

Jobard, Meursault Premier Cru, Genevrieres, 2002

Aw, bugger! Another premox.

For years, Tomer Gal has been making promises about the aromas of white meat that lurk in the wines of Jobard, and the initial pour at home sure felt like it. However, by the time we drank up a few hours later, the wine, white meat and all, was dead and gone.

Burgundy Wine Collection, recent vintages cost about 400 NIS, but I probably paid a bit less, six years ago.

Ramonet, Chassagne-Montrachet Permier Cru, Ruchottes, 2002


The Chassagne feel is obvious even on the nose, with its rustic dry grass and flint, and also on the palate, which has typically coarse elegance. The nose grows more complex, more minerally and deeper. Deep and multi-layered on the palate. Simply excellent.

Burgundy Wine Collection, this cost me just 250 NIS six years ago. This used to be an amazing bargain; sadly, six years ago, 250 NIS was still steep for me, so I only bought one bottle.

Bonneau du Martray, Corton-Charlemagne, 2001

Austere nose, mostly minerals, and very, very discrete fruit with a touch of floral sweetness. Tasty salinity; excellent length, without being overbearing; elegant without being very complex or deep. Coulda been a Puligny or a Les Clos. If this was a chick, she wouldn't be drop dead gorgeous, but you'd kill to feel the touch of her skin.

Burgundy Wine Collection, upward of 650 NIS.

Bouchard, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, 2004

Great minerality, complexity and depth on both nose and palate. Fantastic grip, length and almost surprising (in light of its power) finesse. Juicy acidity. A bit of marine minerals, which only grow deeper. A knockout.

WineRoute, about 700 NIS.

Bouchard, Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru, 2006

As fruity as Bourgogne can get, with a hint of minerals that grows stronger. Very young. An impressive name, but today, not a wine that lives up to the price, although to be charitable, with a price tag like that, few wines could.

WineRoute, about 1400 NIS