Friday, May 27, 2011

Begin Les Beguines (May 22, 2011)

In attendance: a winemaker, two coopers from Bourgogne, an ice-cream maker and a football goalkeeper. And a few others of less picturesque distinctions.

This was a Burgundy Villages tasting (with a few exceptions) and drove home an obvious point. There's a reason why so many people skip the Villages level and head straight for the Premier Crus (those who can afford them, that is): to get a good Villages, you have to buy from a very good producer, who often charges as much as others do their Premiers. What the Villages crus can offer, in theory, is a glimpse of the specific village's terroir, whatever that means. Having said that, due to the age of the wines that follow, this was not very obvious at this tasting.

Many thanks to Ido Lewinsohn for hosting, Zacki Rosenblum for organizing, and for everyone who participated, shared, and made the evening better than the wines and even better the amazing, generous platter of stinking, French cheeses.

Lewinsohn, Garage de Papa, Blanc, 2009

A very Bourgogne nose, more than I recall from my previous encounter. Very minerally. Austere palate, light bitterness, not very complex. Once again, I don't like it as much as I'd like, but the nose is highly sniffable.

About 140 NIS.

Jerome Prevost, La Closerie, Les Beguines, Extra Brut

100% Pinot Meunier. You can really smell the bread here, along with flowers and citrus fruit. Lovely fruit. Intense palate, if not very complex. I like very much - in fact, it was the wine I enjoyed the most overall, and it gets the honor of lending its name to the infantile wordplay of the post title.

Price unknown.

Lewinsohn, Garage de Papa, Rouge, 2008

Black spicy fruit, nice acidity on the finish but very dormant in the middle. Mediterranean spices, and very Israeli, I think, without the annoying aspects - y'know: jammy fruit, high ABV. Thumbs up.

About 150 NIS.

Joseph Roty, Gevrey-Chambertin, 2004

A complex nose of mature Bourgogne - too much maturity, at that, as some caramel creeps in - but the palate can't hide its wrinkles quite as deftly. The winemaker and the coopers thought it prematurely aged and reckoned it was due to faulty winemaking, rather than a bad bottle/storage. The cheese helps make it palatable, but that's hardly a newsflash, is it?

Ghislaine Barthod, Chambolle-Musigny, 2006

A spicy nose, the spicy, blacker side of Pinot. Earthy, dusty, minerally. Reveals red fruit in time. Good grip, tannic, very long. Rougher than I expected, and to my taste still young, although the pros thought it wasn't made well enough to age. The amateurs liked it rather more, and I admit I was glad to hear that, as one of Madame Barthod's Premier Crus was my first initiation to mature Bourgognes, years ago.

About 50 Euro or so.

Domaine Fourrier, Gevrey-Chambertin, Vieille Vigne, 2006

The nose drips Pinot sex, despite some green-ness and menthol. Then it ages in the glass, only to later come back to life, losing the green-ness. An odd, quirky creature, a little rustic on the palate but I like its grip. Promising.

WineRoute, about 200 NIS.

Jean Grivot, Vosne-Romanee, 2007

The nose is somewhat tongue-tied at first, but the Pinot fruit deep down is enticing and challenging in a fascinating way. The palate is most balanced so far despite its youth and drying tannins. My favorite Bourgogne of the night.

Tomer Gal, 250 NIS.

Domaine Leroy, Nuit-St-Georges, 2004

Very nice nose, complex and appealing. The palate is kaput, DOA, pushing up daisies, sleeping with the fish - which is a shock considering its age and the fact that the juice inside is declassified Premier Crus and costs a fortune. The coopers spotted that the rim of the neck was slightly oval in shape, which might have caused a bad fit for the cork and thus oxidation.

Tomer Gal, bout 1110 NIS.

Jacques Prieur, Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru, 2005

A meaty nose at first, then flowery and finally spicy as well. Fresh, rich and balanced. Sweet red fruit. Shows the quality of the vintage. Better made than most of the Villages but not much more exciting.

WineRoute, I'm not sure about the price but I'd guess about 200 NIS.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Doctor Is In! (May 13, 2011)

The Loosen 2009 single-vineyards are available at WineRoute. Good a reason as any to drink a good Kabinett and start checking them out.

Dr. Loosen, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Wehlener Sonnenhur, Riesling Kabinett, 2009

2009. Another very good vintage in germany - but it seems all recent vintages have been offering some level of excellence or another, either across the board or for specific regions and styles.

I don't particularly take notice of color, but this is so light, it almost looks like tap water. The nose is vaguely grapey, which carries into the palate, adding a special, if kinky, touch; I mean, I like nubile Rieslings, but this makes it feel like I'm sucking the wine straight out of its mother's teats. Other than that, I get red apples, green apples, apple skin and a hint of minerals, while the racy acidity carries the lean, lithe body off to a lightly spicy, surprisingly long finish.

About 130 NIS before discount.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Have Meursault, Baby (May 3, 2011)

Despite the 2GrandCru Mission Statement (check out the About Me box to the right, if you've skipped straight to the recent installment), I've been slipping lately and it's been a while since I've been to an all-white tasting, especially not an all-white Burgundy tasting.

All sins were forgiven last night, at Tomer Gal's Meursault tasting.

Meursault is certainly not the grandest of the five marquee-name, white B AOC's (which include, beside itself, Puligny, Chassagne, Corton-Charlemagne and Chablis). The lack of a Grand Cru has long since hipped everyone to that fact. However, it is certainly not without its charms. I have been a fan of Jobard, Roulot and Alix Montille for a while now and Tomer Gal's latest tasting gave me a chance to add Comte Lafon to my trophy chest. Truth be told, Lafon's name on the wine list was what brought me there.

We started off with Lafon's Macon side-show.

Heritiers du Comte Lafon, Macon-Milly-Lamartine, Clos du Four, 2009

This shows the same level of excellent quality as the 2007 and 2008, but this year offers an interesting note of clay. Good acidity. 130 NIS.

Château de Puligny Montrachet, Meursault, 2008

A wine that finds a middle ground between extremes without being dull or mediocre. The nose is buttery, yet also quite minerally. The palate is savory and has a fine cut, yet it is also inoffensively round, smooth and easy to drink. Although not very complex, this is yet the tastiest white wine I've had in a while from Etienne, as opposed to Alix, Montille. 225 NIS.

Roulot, Meursault, 2008

This is better and more interesting than the previous wine, with a tighter structure. The nose seems cooler and more minerally, almost Chablis-like, and the fruit leans towards apples, then picks up accents of citrus and talc. This is still raw and adolescent, so it doesn't quite live up to Roulot's reputation yet, but I find promise in its edgy focus. 320 NIS.

Jobard, Meursault, En la Barre, 2008

This wine has presence, starting with the nose, which is minerally, nutty and herbal. The palate is less complex and harder to approach, yet its savory finish makes it all too easy to drink. 260 NIS is a price I can live with.

Comte Lafon, Meursault, Clos de la Barre, 2007

Very austere at first on the nose, with just a hint of minerals and a strand of lemon/lime. The palate is even more closed and one-dimensional than the En La Barre, yet it is a more elegant wine, and, as it picks up some air, it trumps it by a few whiskers. 370 NIS. A tough call, but I'd go for it.

Domaine Leroy, Aligote, 2007

Joker number 1. A fascinating, unique nose, smoky, almost toasty, at times smelling so much like a roaring car engine that the technical-minded might find it faulty. Savory, and much leaner than any of the Meursaults. 240 NIS.

Maison Leroy, Meursault, 2001

This wine balances its components deftly, with a complexity that blurs the individual components' identity - which is not necessarily a bad thing, certainly not in this case. There's minerals, nuts, meat, with the fruit buried deep in the mix. Obvious signs of hazelnuts and herbs on the palate, which retains the previous wines' youthful vigor while adding mature elegance. Just about justifies its price, which is a rare thing for me to say about anything coming out of Leroy. 530 NIS.

Jobard, Meursault Premier Cru, Poruzots, 2008

The nose is hard to decipher. Smoked white meat, anyone? White fruit, too. The palate is broad, yet focused as well, with lively minerality. This is a more elegant version of the En La Barre and a fine wine which really appeals to me. 350 NIS.

Roulot, Meursault Premier Cru, Porusot, 2008

Some people spell Poruzots like that. The nose is somewhat over the top for me, with mint, ripe apricots and apples. I also find the palate lacking in structure, but these notions would have been treated as heresy round the table, so I keep my thoughts to myself. 620 NIS.

Deux Montilles, Premier Cru, Porusot, 2007

Here comes the missus, and look, they even use the same spelling. This is Joker number 2, and it is classic and restrained, with aromas of minerals, hazelnuts and sweet talc. The palate has sweet fruit, tempered by minerals. Alix has an orderly, yet sensitive mind, and if she's as influenced by husband as is generally accepted, I can't help but think that maybe we just caught his Porusot at an awkward stage. Or else she's even more incredibly talented than he is. 440 NIS.

Comte Lafon, Meursault Premier Cru, Charmes, 2007

Corked. Damn, this is the wine I was looking forward to the most. 580 NIS.

Maison Leroy, Meursault Premier Cru Perrières, 2004

Madame Lalou buys finished wines for the Maison's negociant business and here, I'm afraid, I have to find fault with her selection. Perhaps she was still troubled by the tragic passing away of her husband, but I find this wine sweet, even honeyed, with ripe white fruit. Actually, it's only ripe in relative terms - this is still well in the Old World paradigm - but it comes off to me as one-dimensional and fails to move me. 640 NIS.

Domaine d'Auvenay, Meursault, Chaumes des Perrières, 2004

A day later, I was still flashing back to the killer nose. This is the real deal. You would not believe grapes could produce such aromas, which are, despite being dominated by gunpowder, incredibly complex and nuanced. The palate is like genius level sudoku but twenty minutes in glass bring it to the point of drinkability. This will live for a long time, even though it's only a village wine. 1250 NIS.

Man, when white Burgundies survive premox and over-oaking, they really rock!

All prices are from the special tasting price list, except for the two 'jokers' brought by participants, where I quoted Tomer Gal's site. Except for the jokers, all the wines were opened twelve hours in advance and were not decanted.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Nicolas Joly, Savennieres, Les Vieux Clos, 2006 (May 2, 2011)

My Chenin-ometer flashed a red light: my stocks were running low. But I felt like I needed a wine with a punch on the day the Americans nailed Bin-Laden. Not that I'm particularly blood-thirsty, but the news reports had me really excited. Face it, years from now, my grandkids will ask me if I really lived through the 9-11 decade and I'll say "ummm, yeah", while I muse upon the wines I drank.

This is apple cider from Alice's Wonderland, heady and hedonistic, with mineral-laden and ashy notes complementing subversive green apples on the complex nose. The palate is sweetish, with surprising acidity and, even more surprising, a firm, savory grip at the end. I like it now more than I have in the past: it's in a very good place for me, its freshness belying its deep color and diesel-powered monolithism. Yeah, it's kind of a brute, but a really lovely brute.

Giaconda, 193 NIS.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Misc Notes (Apr. 2011)

Any wine can go with food, but not every wine can keep you happy while you're doing the dishes!

Moreau-Naudet, Chablis, Pargues, Vieilles Vignes, 2006

I'd read on Robin Garr's Wine Lovers Page that Pargues used to be a Premier Cru before the official classification, at which time it was devoid of vines and hence de-classified. I was not able to find anything to substantiate that claim, but nevertheless, this wine certainly has depth and presence beyond the village level, and a very typical Chablis nose: green apples, a hint of oranges, iodine, rainwater. There's a transparency on the palate that stimulates my intellect, as it seems to echo Chabli's mineral depths, but it lacks the finesse I find in the higher echelon of Premier Crus. However, the energetic vibe of the mineral-laced finish is engaging and thrilling. I like this characterful Chablis - it's as good as the Dauvissat villages wine, which is in the same price niche. (Apr. 2, 2011)

Giaconda, 148 NIS.

F.X. Pichler, Wachau, Urgestein Terrassen, Gruner Veltliner Smaragd, 2007

A very pleasant surprise, as this was the 2007 Pichler that least appealed to me when it was offered by Giaconda a couple of years ago. Kaleidoscopic and hedonistic, sort of like a Gewurtz, in a fashion. Honey, cantaloupe, peaches, red and baked apples on the nose. The palate is fat, tropical and bitter-sweet, which oddly enough works out - whereas I originally found the bitterness too obvious. After an hour or so, it picks up a note of mud on the nose and a spicy punch on the finish, both of which remind me of Chenin. (Apr. 4, 2011)

Giaconda, 126 NIS.

A. Et P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise Rouge, La Digoine, 2006

I don't know what further aging might bring (and this is my last bottle of the 2006, so I'll have to wait and see with other vintages), but this is exciting and expressive now, in the taut, nervy way of a good Cote de Beaune. The nose is laden with red fruit, beet and minerals. The palate, as always, is austere and crisp, and remarkably fresh, with the tannins lending a savory kick at the finish-line. And when the Pinot fruit expands to show its comely sweetness, the Digoine drinks so harmoniously well I start eyeing my 2007's. (Apr. 5, 2011)

Tomer Gal, 130 NIS.

A. Et P. De Villaine, Rully, Les St. Jacques, 2008

Zippy citrus fruit with trappings of flint, and a figure like a lithe, young woman - that is soft, but no flab. Given the imagery, perhaps it's understandable why I never manage to cellar this wine. (Apr. 6, 2011)

Tomer Gal, 120 NIS.

A. Et P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonaise Rouge, La Digoine, 2008

Since the Digoine can be approached young, if one is so inclined, I thought I'd sacrifice a bottle, since I didn't think the 2008 was a candidate for significant cellaring. This is a very juicy wine, reeking and tasting of raspberries, with a touch of beets. The aromatics show, besides the red fruit, minerals and a hint of underbrush. The palate, meanwhile, has soft, yet precise tannins and a very fruity acidity. Look, I could try to describe it in greater detail, but the thing is, I'm too hung up trying to gauge whether to age it and risk losing that brisk, sappy fruit that you just won't get in a more 'serious' Bourgogne. It seems lighter than 2006 and 2007 and I'm guessing 2009 will really be the one to lay down. So I'm tempted to drink this up rather earlier than the others, just give it a year to gain a little weight and some nuances without (hopefully) any loss of freshness. (Apr. 13, 2011)

Chivite, Navarra, Gran Feudo, Reserva, Vinas, Viejas, 2004

This is one of the few wines available in Israel that still serve as a reminder why Spain used to be considered such a great source for value-for-money wines. The nose shows mellow black fruit and spicy nuances that not only bespeak of old school Spain but conjure echoes of Tuscany. I could surely see this as a mid-range Super-Tuscan costing twice as much. The palate is soft and friendly - drinker friendly and food friendly - and is pleasurable enough to make up for a somewhat weak mid-palate and lack of any great profoundity. (Apr. 15, 2011)

Priced at 150 NIS on the wine list at Tapeo, this sells for 85 NIS at Wine Depot. QPR. I'm not sure how much it will age but Spaniards always surprise and this is already 7 fucking years old and only costs 85 fucking NIS.,

Muller-Catoir, Pfalz, Haardter Burgergarten, Mussbacher Eselshaut, Riesling Kabinett, Trocken, 2005

The 2004 was more or less my first foray into the world of German Rieslings and it was a damn good choice because, much like the 2005, it is rather a quintessential archetype. This has both apples and peaches, counterpointed by vague hints of flint and much more pronounced notes of apple pie. It has great purity and transparency and feels like someone bottled the first rays of sunrise and blended it with fresh dew on the juiciest granny apples. Yummy. (Apr. 15, 2011)

Giaconda, 117 NIS. This is one of my favorite Kabinetts in the portfolio.

Koehler-Ruprecht, Pfalz, Kalstadter Steinacker, Scheurebe Spatlese, 2007

This is almost always one of my favorite K-H bottlings (even if its Auslese counterpart has set my sights higher) and its telltale, guayava-driven signature is one I always look forward to. This year, its flavors are almost belligerently lush with guayava accents, which I love (despite hating the fruit itself, go figure) and, as they're complemented with very harmonious acidity, they make for a very poised wine. Oddly, there's a sort of tropical cocktail aspect to the nose that usually turns me off when I spot it New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, but here it's very appropriate and comely and counter-pointed by a subtle herbal streak.(Apr. 16, 2011)

Giaconda, 117 NIS.

Alain Graillot, St. Joseph, 2007

Still a lovely drop, but it is even more languid than usual and, despite the juicy acidity, the fruit seems to have lost a little freshness. Yet I enjoyed every last drop, as usual. (Apr. 17, 2011)

WineRoute, about 150 NIS.

Domaine Fourrier, Gevrey-Chambertin, Aux Echezeaux, Vieilles Vignes, 2006

Smells damn good, redolent of fresh, sweet strawberries and forest floor, with no hints of Gevrey gaminess. The tannins are drying and sandy at first but the lush fruit underneath is promising. At least until a green herbal streak rears its head. At this point, I'm stymied and can't easily reconcile the conflict between my first and later impressions. I generally like 2006 a lot so maybe I just caught this young one at an awkward time? (Apr. 19, 2011)

WineRoute, list priced at 200+ NIS but bought at a two for 300 NIS deal.

Domaine Vincent Girardin, Chassagne Montrachet, Premier Cru Le Morgeot, 2004

No signs of oak on the grade A nose, just poached apples and piercing minerality, with overtones of gentle nuttiness. The palate does seem to be softened up by some oak, like strings on a soul ballad, and while the oak doesn't obscure the fruit or acidity, I think the wine loses an edge and some elegance as a result. However, it's impressive and packed with spicy Chardonnay flavors and not a bad buy by any means. (Apr. 21, 2011)

WineRoute, 239 NIS, for years ago.

Muller-Catoir, Pfalz, Haardter Burgergarten, Riesling Spatlese, Trocken, 2007

Wow, the nose is so explosive and articulate, with green apples and a bedrock of minerals (later on, there's an interesting and welcome hint of mint and other herbs). The palate is a formidable follow-up, with a juicy, green apple acidity and some lingering sweetness. And a long, saline finish. I usually prefer a sweeter style of German Riesling, but this is really a mini Grosses Gewaches. Simply a tasty wine with plenty of potential, even if it is somewhat aggressive at this time. (Apr. 25, 2011)

Giaconda, 160 NIS.

A. Et. P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise Blanc, Les Clous, 2006

I've waited for so long for its bloom. Now I finally get this mineral-laden expression of Burgundy. The nose shows orange blossom and flint, with a funky, sometimes heavy, overtone, that seems like it might overwhelm but never does. The palate is dry and savory, and quite long, but still more awkward than I'd like. Hedging my bets here, so let's just try and see what the 2007 is like. (Apr. 27, 2011)

Tomer Gal, 110 NIS.

Dauvissat, Chablis, 2005

At its peak, with classic pungent, citrus, marine aromas and a crisp palate that packs a ton of flavors, and never at the cost of the trademark Chablis steeliness. To my surprise - and pleasure, there's just a trace of sculptor's clay on the nose as well. Damn good. (Apr. 28, 2011)

Tomer Gal, used to cost about 150 NIS.

Chateau Charmail, Haut-Medoc, Bourgeois Cru, 2005

Right, a 2005, but Charmail is said to be an early drinker. The nose is textbook Bordeaux, with a balanced blend of both red and black fruit, licorice, minerals and a pungency that I peg as tobacco leaves. Initially, the palate roars with acidity and raspy tannins, but it is approachable even straight from the bottle. Certainly the fruit is very fresh and succulent. The acidity calms down after a while, leaving stage center to the ripe fruit, but then flares up on the long, savory finish. The texture is still a little grainy, despite the creaminess of the fruit, and if I weren't hard up for fridge space, I wouldn't open another bottle for three-four years. However, I certainly won't suffer if I'm forced to unscrew another one soon. (Apr. 30, 2011)

This was another WineRoute two-fer-300 NIS deal a few years ago.