I met up with Uri Caftori from boutique importer IsProVinum to taste a few wines from the catalog and, as a very welcome fringe benefit, got a chance to re-visit Tel Aviv restaurant Toto after a hiatus of over a year.
The wines ranged from fresh and simple bistro-style wines to interesting premium wines that compete nicely in quality and value with some of my sweet spot wine regions.
Chateau d'Or et de Gueules, Costieres de Nimes, Les Cimels Blanc, 2008
70% Grenache Blanc, 20% Vermentino, 10% Rousanne. A quaffer that is better on the round and saline palate than on the nose, showing minerals and hints of grass and flowers. I think when people venture into the white wines of the North Rhone, this kind of wine is what they expect to find, before they start falling into the various boobytraps of the genre, which this wine manages to avoid. You know, the bitter almonds of their youth, then the odd and hard to gauge dumb periods - none of that here. Drink young with salads. 75 NIS.
Domaine St. Antonin, Faugeres, Les Jardins, 2008
Equal parts Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. A step up from quaffer is this bistro wine: nothing fancy or complex, light, tart and minerally, trading on personality. I kept returning to it and the fruit became purer, the finish more saline. This is the kind of charming wine that would get passed by in 'normal' tastings. Drink now. 75 NIS.
Clos Marie, Languedoc, Pic-St.-Loup, l'Olivette, 2008
40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 10% Cinsault, 10% Mourvedre. Just like the 2007, this is easy to like/appreciate with funky, minerally black fruit that comes across as mid-way between Rhone and Ribera Del Duero. Priced like a not inexpensive Saint Joseph, of equal quality if not exactly the same style. This wine is always worth a couple of bottles for me whenever it goes on sale, as it invariably seems to at WineDepot. 145 NIS.
Domaine de l'Horizon, Cote de Rousillon Village, Rouge, 2007
Equal parts Grenache and Carignan. If you're a novice, then you'll miss out on the intellectual pleasures of trying to place this wine. Complex leather/saline/mineral ambience that has CdP feel without CdP weight. Then it's spicy in a Barolo way. Finally, the black fruit could be Saint Estephe, while the smoky minerals could be Pessac. Fine tannins and a fine wine. 245 NIS.
Coume del Mas, Collioure, Quadratur, 2006
50% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, 20% Carignan. Spicy black fruit that is surprisingly refreshing despite the high ABV. Hedonistic nose full of meat and toasted bread. Brett again. Like a gentle, unassuming version of Chateauneuf. Personally, I'd go for the l'Horizon but this is quite good, albeit a little expensive. 245 NIS.
Domaine Louis Dupont, Pays d'Auge, Cidre Givre 2007
Amazing. This is the cider version of eiswein, with the same refreshing, piercing acidity. 150 NIS.