Premier Crus at Herbert Samuel (Feb. 28, 2011)

A great night.

I was joined at Roshfeld's Herbert Samuel in Tel Aviv by Ran Shapira, Oron Stern and Giaconda's Anat Sella and Rafaella Ronen (who did a terrific job ordering a set of dishes that complemented the wines very handsomely). Everything clicked: the food, the wine, the people - especially the people.

Around this time of year, my loosely-formed circle of wine loving friends usually hold a Burgundy evening. This year, I wound up organizing the gig and decreed that we'd be "limiting" ourselves to Premier Crus. The idea was twofold. One, there's plenty of Premiers that we never get around to drinking, and, two, I thought it was time we started being stingy with our Grand Crus - we need to save some for later (at any rate, I do). As it turned out, we wound up with a splendid selection. You just can't go wrong with 2004 for whites and 2002 for reds.

Raveneau, Chablis Premier Cru, Butteaux, 2004

A complex, slightly austere nose here (oyster shells, green apples) that carries over to the very savory, very elegant palate. The palate boasts a saline, mineral and persistent, yet at the same time subtle, acidity. Utterly delicious and very pure.

Imported by Tomer Gal, about 250 NIS. I've got two bottles of my own: happy, happy, happy!

Jean Paul and Benoit Droin, Chablis Premier Cru, Vaucoupin, 2004

An impressive nose, with a lovely, nigh reductive stink, oranges and apples, reminiscent of the producer's Monte de Milieu, 2004. The palate seems younger, greener, more closed than the Raveneau, but then it was opened on the spot, whereas the Raveneau was opened a few hours in advance. Even with some air and time, it seems less ready, but impressive nonetheless - with prominent, mineral-laced acidity - even if it doesn't match the purity of the Butteaux.

Not imported to Israel (although other Droin wines are, courtesy of Giaconda), price unknown.

These Chablis make such a strong argument for their AOC - we've never had such a strong showing from two white Burgundies at a single tasting.

Domaine A. F. Gros, Pommard Premier Cru, Pezzerolles, 2002

This wowed me three years ago and again today. Red fruit, obviously, with slightly musky old leather. The palate starts out short, grows longer in glass, with a lovely tannic structure, and very focused. Still relatively unformed, I recommend keeping for four more years.

Imported by WineRoute, about 290 NIS.

Domaine de la Vougeraie, Vogeout Premier Cru, Les Cras, 2002

The readiest to drink, starts out extracted, fruity and sweet,then calms down and becomes more complex and structured. Won't make old bones but at a very nice place right now. It's about dried fruits, figs and such, also a shade of black fruit, which is probably a vintage thing. Another vintage trait is density and sensuality of the fruit, which in the case of this wine serves to obscure a certain lack of focus on the finish.

Imported by Tomer Gal, about 250 NIS.

Domaine du Chateau Gris, Aloxe-Corton Premier Cru, Lupe-Cholet, 2002

I've got less to write here - I don't mean to disparage, as this is a lovely wine but it's less structured than the Pezzerolles and less filling and fullfilling than the Les Cras. But in a way, it has a purer core of Burgundian red fruit than either. Oddly, the nose exhibits the exotic spices that I would associate more with Cote de Nuits. A very welcome surprise from one of the more obscure Bourgogne producers I've ever run across.

Not imported to Israel, price unknown.