I bought enough of these to make it my house red, and I really believed, up to this point, that I'd seen through all its guises. However, despite the familiarity, I find myself surprised at its evolution. While I adored its aromas of raw meat and flowers over the last year plus, they have started to take a back seat and this is now showing, on both nose and palate, a redder fruit profile, alongside iron, saline minerals and roasted herbs. The palate still has the fleshy, fruity fat of young Syrah, which I think it will never outgrow, but, at this point in its life, it shows more vivacity in its acidic backbone than previously and somewhat greater sophistication in its saline finish. (Mar. 9, 2011)
Giaconda, 126 NIS.
Chateau Musar, Bekaa Valley, 2002
Presumably because of Lebanon's French heritage, my assumption was that Serge and Gaston Hochar's model was Bordeaux, but now I'm not quite so sure about that. The nose has a tarry extraction that I would associate with warm-vintage Bordeaux, but even more so with south France (Chateauneuf, Languedoc) and the blend (Cabernet/Cinsault/Carignian) would certainly cover both territories. The palate has soft, sweet tannins that recall how Temperanillo or Grenache can taste on the occasion when careful craftsmanship brings out a Burgundian felicity. But it's not very complex or long - and there's a hole in the middle to boot . The overall impression is disappointing, although a part of me suspects (read: would like to believe) that it's the bottle, not the wine. (Mar. 10, 2011)
About 18 GBP at the Heathrow duty-free.
A. Et P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise Rouge, La Fortune, 2009
My first 2009 Bourgogne, although I'm not sure how representative Villaine's low-tier red is of the vintage further up north in the Cote. Let's just say I was more interested in dipping my toes into the latest Villaine releases than gleaming any understanding of the reputedly great 2009 vintage. Whatever, this has very nubile purple-red fruit - dominated by beet and underpinned, abetted and complexified by sanguine, earthy notes - and has great, promising vitality and surprising depth, length and bite. Easily the best La Fortune that Tomer Gal has imported yet. So maybe I did learn something about the 2009 vintage after all: it's going to dig its claws deep into my bank account. (Mar. 12, 2011)
About 110 NIS.
Marcel Lapierre, Morgon, 2009
The Bourgogne Genie was out of the bottle, and yes, I still maintain that Beaujolais Crus belongs to the Burgundy camp. This, too, sings the virtues of 2009, as it smells like a Cote de Nuits - that is, a million bucks - sweet, dark-red fruit with a pungent, mineral core and leather and exotic spices around the fringes. The palate is not a Bourgogne look-alike, though. It's fatter, the tannic structure and flavors are different. In short, it just doesn't have a lot of Pinosity - but it does have a lot of Gamay-ness. And in the hand of someone like Lapierre, especially in a vintage like 2009, Gamay fits quite comfortably in the Grape Top Twenty. And like a good Bourgogne, it doesn't dry or pucker and it leaves you feeling replenished. (Mar. 14, 2011)
Tomer Gal again, 130 NIS.
I like - no, make that love - the Lapierre and the La Fortune and I'd buy cases of them if I could. They're both fresh and tasty while offering enough depth and complexity for intellectual pleasures as well. Haiku wines. Chuck Berry wines. Right now, I think the La Fortune actually wins by a round, which surprises me somewhat.
Roberto Voerzio, Barbera d'Alba, Vigneti Ceretto, 2004
It took me a few minutes to figure out how to read this wine, until I realized that it was behaving like a mini-Barolo, rather than a Barbera - spicy and big, briny with nutty overtones. The trigger was my private, mental sign for Barolo: a dusty, pungent whiff that reminds me of old carpets. This doesn't have Barbera's high-toned acidity or Nebbiolo's tannic bite, instead it's like a soft hybrid of both. Although - wait for the news flash at eleven, folks - the acidity finally kicks in after a couple of hours, lending the fruit added purity and freshness. Not great, and not something I'd like to sink my teeth into too often, but a fine introduction into a producer priced beyond my comfort zone. (Mar. 19, 2011)
Bought at WineRoute on discount for 150 NIS.
Deux Montilles, Saint Romain, 2007
I always like this wine but this is somewhat of an improvement on 2006, coming off as very elegant for the village and the price. Spicy pears, oranges, dry grass and flint on the nose, a fleshy core of fruit and a saline finish - Alix really knows how to bring out the innate Bourgogne-ness out of every grape of Chardonnay she touches. It is a bit too fat for what I look for in white Burgundy, but that's a petty complaint considering the price and origin. (Mar. 20, 2011)
Tomer Gal, 160 NIS.
Domaine des Baumard, Savennieres, Trie Speciale, 2003
On the nose I find quince, red apples and sculptor's clay, which I recall was present in the 2005 Carte d'Ore. Dry and a little aggressive at first - a somewhat elegant version of the rough-hewn Savennerieres style a la Closel and Joly. Plenty of acidity for what I've read was a hot vintage; which may not reach the stratosphere but which matches the ripe fruit aptly - until it starts to wither down and allows the ripe fruit to display a powerful presence that create an illusion of sweetness. An energetic, spicy finish, persistent but not totally overwhelming, even though it is on the savage (sauvage?) side for me. I like it, just not as much as I thought I would. (Mar. 24, 2011)
Giaconda, about 180 NIS.
Joseph Drouhin, Savigny-Les-Beaune, 2007
Strawberries/raspberries on the nose, with a note of green tobacco leaves that hints at Bourgogne earthiness and spices. Tart cherries on the palate, although almost from the start it picks up mediating notes of sweeter, riper fruit - enough to soothe, without letting it out of the pigeon-hole of the lesser Burgundy villages. Still, the green notes on nose and palate are bothersome and they are almost agonizingly slow to dissipate, enough to make me ponder whether even aging will help it much further along. It's a hard wine to call. (Mar 26, 2011)
160 NIS at the Scottish Company, but I bought it at half price with a coupon. The discount price made it good value, I'm not so sure about the QPR of the full price.
Auld Lang Syne time:
Dr. Loosen, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Wehlener Sonnenhur, Riesling Auslese, 2005
Of course it will be great someday, but right now the nascent mineral cut is submerged in loads of baby fat. But this baby laughs all the time and has a gorgeous nose that hints at minerals and herbs, while the palate presents nascent purity of fruit. (Mar. 31, 2011)
WineRoute, about 200 NIS.
Reaping the rewards of educating a neophyte friend, I was invited to share the following two wines:
Chateau Malescot St. Exupery, Margaux 3me Cru, 1999
The nose is fruity in a mellow, curranty manner, with pungent mineral notes. Soft tannins that are a little under-ripe, medium-bodied, balanced up to a point, no great holes, no great length either. It's a little coarse but that's part of its charm, actually. Quite nice. (Mar. 31, 2011)
Inniskillin, Niagara Peninsula, Chardonnay Icewine, 2007
Prominent notes of apple sauce, brown sugar. Doesn't quite touch the vivid, acidity-propelled energy of Icewines made from Riesling and its brethren, but still, it's on the quality level of a decent Sauternes, which means it's yummy, and with a much lower ABV to boot. (Mar. 31, 2011)