Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dubeouf In Israel

WineRoute has brought in a bunch Georges Dubeouf's 2009 Flower Label bottlings, which means we finally have a chance to taste several Beaujolais Crus side by side. Seeing as 2009 is a stellar vintage in Beaujolais, this is even better. Mind you, the way Beaujolais and Gamay are structured, even 2009 doesn't really fit in with the way most wine geeks think of the term Vintage Of The Century: these are not wines to lay down for ages and ages, instead, any depth and profundity on their part lies in the focus and purity of the fruit. They are, to me, haiku versions of Burgundy.

These are all well priced at 75 NIS.

Julienas

This wine makes this nascent Beaujolais fan as happy as a monkey in a peanut machine.

Mogon, Moulin-A-Vent, Fleurie, Brouilly - these are the big names In Beaujolais. Yet local legend has it that Julienas was the first Beaujolais village to be planted with vine, and Johnson and Robinson's World Atlas Of Wine claims the overall standard of the Cru to be the highest in Beaujolais. This specimen has very appealing freshness, zesty raspberry fruit, a pleasantly saline bite and a lightly pungent overlay of minerals, all masking its 13.5% ABV (I had guessed it at a degree lower before I read the label). Granted that I approached these wines as ones meant for early drinking in the first place, the balance here makes this so precociously vibrant right now, I would play it safe and drink whenever the mood and the weather call, all over the next two years - I guess it would last beyond as well, I just don't see any greater potential depth on the upside. (June 4, 2011)

Fleurie

The fruit here is riper and warmer, a trifle more candied and with a greater affinity with Pinot. While not in the least a flabby wine, it is a round wine that lacks the Julienas' vibrant focus; on the other hand, it's more tannic, so it probably has more potential. The nose is somewhat more complex as well, cut from the same cloth as the Julienas but with some herbs and flowers tossed in. There's enough mouthwatering salinity here to whet my appetite for more, pun intended. (June 6, 2011)

Moulin-A-Vent

Looks, smells and tastes like beet juice. Well, beet juice filtered through a lens of musky, pungent minerals. More of a Gamay than the Fleurie at this time, this isn't any more refined than the other two (in fact, the Julienas is currently the most elegant of the lot), but the palate has the best grip and the most interesting texture. Like the Fleurie, there is something a little murky about the flavor profile and feels like a broth that needs time to settle down and clear. (June 19, 2011)

I think that, in a way, these wine caught me in a weird mind-trap. Seeing as how I'd started raving on about Beajoulais Crus over the last year or two, I was almost cornered into liking them before the first sip. Because I really would like to give the first importer to bring a whole line-up of Beajoulais Crus all the kudos in the world. And I like these wines and will buy more. Having said that, they're very good but not quite that good - they don't quite have the pizzazz of Lapierre and Thevenet, whose wines more convincingly break the popular conception of Beajoulias as simple quaffers and might even stop the non-believers in their tracks.

But WineRoute did very, very well in bringing this juice. And hey, they've also started bringing in some Muscadet, too!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Nuggets (June 15, 2011)

Wines and friends from all over the place, and with them, just cheeses, bread and cold meat.

Bodega Dehesa De Los Caningos, Ribera Del Duero, Reserva, 1996

Because this was the first wine and it took its sweet time opening, and because we were waiting on a few late arrivals, we spent a little extra time with this one. So, there were multiple impressions. At first, an obviously mature wine but not especially vibrant on the palate, yet imminently easy to drink due to its sweet tannins. The nose is much better, I think "funky mocha" nails it. It's even a bit Burgundian , for my tastes. Thirty minutes later, the funk is replaced by black pepper and spices and it recovers enough structure to show a tannic bite and typical Spanish acidity. Nice, if not especially memorable.

Price unknown.

Chateau Clerc-Milon, Pauillac 5me Cru, 1996

We'll always have Bordeaux. This is a Classic Claret, and no amount of capital letters will do justice to way it upholds to that platonic ideal. I mean it's not great per se, but it does what it does very well, and almost effortlessly. It's a very fresh wine - even the nose feels fresh - typically currant and mineral-laden, tasty and balanced with rusty, savory tannins. This is why I love 1996 Bordeaux so much.

Price unknown, but 1996 is always a little under-priced. WineRoute imports newer vintages.

Torres, Penedes, Mas La Plana, 1997

I thought it nodded at Bordeaux, despite its sweet tannins lending it a New World vibe. However, in no way is this a bombastic wine. Needs mulling over but even though I left a glass to air, I got caught up in the rest of the wines and never bothered to go back. It just didn't quite grab me enough.

Price unknown.

Next up, two wines that were highly enjoyable and almost embarrasingly easy to fathom.

Pegau, Chateauneuf du Pape, Cuvee Reserve, 2001

Smoky, bretty, sweet and slutty. Just a little barbed and raspy. A sane man's CdP.

WineRoute sells contemporary vintages for about 350 NIS. This cost about 250 NIS when released, if I recall correctly.

Aldo Conterno, Barolo, Colonnelo, 2000

Ok, tar and spices and very Nebbiolo. Full, sweet and inviting. The 14% ABV is totally invisible - how do they do it?

I bought this at WineRoute about seven years ago for about 350 NIS. They're selling new and back vintages for much more.

Then a wine easy to dismiss.

Caravina, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007

Very New World on the nose, very sweet, ripe and jammy. A little while later, the nose shows interesting spices but even then it shows too much extrovertness, and anyway I don't find the palate very attractive. Lots of black (and blue) berries.

Price unknown.

Finally, the night's gem.

Dr. Loosen, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Beerenauslese, 1976

A very evocative nose that touches on all sorts of sweet stuff: herbal green tea, mellow sweet fruit and a trace of petrol and botrytis. Amazingly fresh and vibrant! The acidity kicks ass without being overbearing. And its got an esoteric, slightly pungent mouthfeel and finish as well. The freshness belies its age and only the only sign of that age is fact that the fruits have blended together far too much to pigeonhole any of them.

WineRoute actually sold this for about 300-350 NIS last year. Oh My God!

Friday, June 17, 2011

.666 At Josepha (May 31, 2011)

Maison Leroy, Meursault, 2000

Classic nose: pears, nuts and and dusty chalk. Tasty, savory and balanced with restrained fruit. I do expect either more parlor tricks or greater breed for what this costs (as usual, Madame Leroy has placed a price tag on the bottle roughly twice what I'd pay for the juice inside) but leaving that aside, this is quite lovely.

I checked importer Tomer Gal's catalog and the 2001 costs 590 NIS.

Elio Grasso, Barolo, Gavarini "Vigna Chiniera", 1997

First of all, lovely savory tannins. Very finely tuned. Complex nose: tar, Nebbilo spices and what Ran Shapira says are rose petals. Me, I get dusty old carpets as usual. Very tasty. I enjoy Piedmont without ever quite falling in love with it, but this wine, for some reason, pulled on a few heartstrings. Probably because it's so very good.

Price known only to Ran.

Montes, Alpha M, 2005

Obviously too young: very fruity on one hand, bitter with impeding tannins on the other. A restrained New World punk and a letdown after the Grasso.

Price unknown, although I believe WineRoute imports it irregularly.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Last Night I Had The Blues... No, No, No, Last Night I Had A Chablis, But I Think Even Robert Johnson Would Have Approved (Jun. 8, 2011)

Jean Paul et Benoit Droin, Chablis Premier Cru, Cote de Lechet, 2007

"Tonight we drink Chablis" is always a thought that pours a jar of sunshine unto any day that I've ever lived through, but I wasn't sure I wanted to open this specific wine. But I really wanted a Chablis, and there wasn't any bottle of Chablis in my fridge that seemed any more ready than any other Chablis. And I really wanted a Chablis.

And this is truly an arresting example. Take the aromatics. The foundation is the classic salty/marine/fossil combo, yet the pieces are stacked up a little more irregularly than is usual for Chablis (at least from my experience, and you have to take into account that I've rarely run into a Chablis that I didn't love), and thus make for more idiosyncratic permutations. The palate is very succulent, and even aggressive in its way, presenting a thrilling, barb-wire punch that powers lemon-inflected acidity and a saline aftertaste. I like it now, but presumably this will soften and settle down in years to come and allow more of that saline minerality to show through. (June 8, 2011)

Giaconda, 171 NIS.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Show time: Champions League Finals 2011 (May 28, 2011)

How do you serve wines to guests with a huge variance in love and understanding of wines, while conjuring enough magic to content with a match between the likes of Barcelona and Manchester U?

My usual plan is to start out with deceptively simple wines that I like and have drunk enough in the past, and then work our way up to the good stuff, hoping the neophytes will wear themselves out and leave the good stuff to me.

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

The fruit is purer than ever, behind a veneer of chalk and flint. Perhaps just a hint of iodine as well. Good cut on the palate, lovely salinity, with citrus acidity. As ever, this is so delicious, it is almost too quickly gone.

Tomer Gal, 120 NIS.

Chateau d'Angludet, Margaux, Bourgeois Cru, 2000

The initial glass (the lower-the shoulders glass) is green with hints of eucalyptus and angular but at least finds the bottle in good shape. The sexy Bordeaux fruit and the inherent harmony of a good Left Bank vintage reveal themselves even with this small sample after a few minutes. Unfortunately, as time goes by, the hard truth hits me: this bottle is likely at least lightly corked. Or something. The cork sure smelled like TCA. The aromas showsproper Bordeaux currants and leather, but the palate just trudges along with surly hesitation and even a ten tear old 2000 should behave with more decorum three hours after opening. This bottle just isn't right.

About 40 USD at K & L, 5 years ago.

The d'Angludet was supposed to be the third and last wine, but the guest who was supposed to bring the penulimate forgot it at home. As the d'Angludet, TCA or not, was surely under-performing and done with by half-time, I brought out one of my 'house reds'.

Alain Graillot, Saint Joseph, 2007

I like the fact that even my laymen friends picked up that this wine has kinky elements out of place in a red. That is, there is a yellow, tropical note that edges close to mango. It fairly soon picks up typical black pepper as well. Anyway, this really puts out and behaves very much as it did on our previous dates: languid and yummy. This is my last bottle and I am sad to watch it go.

WineRoute, about 140-150 NIS.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Misc Notes (May 2011)

Muller-Catoir, Pfalz, Haardter Herrenletten, Riesling Spatlese, 2006

The nose is ripe without being tropical or fruit-cocktaily, mostly red apples and apricots, with a hint of kerosene and sweet dough. The palate is round, friendly and tasty, with perfectly appropriate sweetness and green apple acidity. Although it starts out simple and metallic on the finish, turns out it just needs time to pick up a spicy complexity as well as savory salinity. Nice and I'm tempted to just drink the last bottle up soon - I need some fine, young Rieslings. (May 6, 2011)

Giaconda, 130 NIS.

A. Et P. De Villaine, Mercurey, Les Montots, 2006

This is earthier and deeper than the La Digoine, and the two make for such a lovely yin-yang coupling that it's a shame Tomer Gal is not selling the Montots any more. This needs time to find its composure in order to show lovely purity on both nose and palate. It is the most complete showing from any Villaine red I've had so far, mellow, tasty and complex. Surprisingly delicate for its breadth, the Montots shows no rusticity, and, while the tannins rasp and block until they eventually yield the wine's innate gentle core, they have enough presence to hint that this could still use a few more years in the fridge, lovely as it is right now. (May 7, 2011)

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 150 NIS.

Here's to life...

Guigal, Cote-Rotie, Brune et Blonde, 1999

It's been a while since I opened a 12 year old wine that needed time to open, and this is a pleasure to sip it as it slowly unfolds. At first, all I get is spicy black fruit, then earth, flowers and black pepper emerge. Then, tapenade and some mushrooms on the nose conjure a working kitchen. And you know what they say about the presence of bacon fat in Cote-Rotie? I don't pay much attention to bacon fat, don't get exposed that much to it in the first place, but there's a sweet essence here that is not fruity in nature that I imagine is bacon fat and I love it. It makes me salivate. Anyway, this is very tasty, with ripe acidity. This wine isn't a trophy to bring out among friends (although it's usually priced at the lower rungs of the "luxury wine" category), but more a wine to enjoy with food and rejoice that the Old World made a perfection of such a marriage. Not even the greenness that emerges after a while, damn it, mars the initial thrill. (May 5, 2011)

This is imported by the France Israel Group, which is notorious for over-pricing their wines, but I got this at Wine Depot for a very attractive 160 NIS, although the Colombier and Graillot wines offer more freshness and vividness at lower prices.

Domaine Guiberteau, Samaur, 2009

This is my kind of young red, chock full of strawberries, beets, flowers and minerals. Does it age? Dunno, but it seems to nicely fit within the same niche as my other new fave, the Beaujolais Crus, possessing, as it does, a sort of lean richness, backed by a spine of well-measured acidity and soft tannins. And the nose is a mother lode of minerals. Fresh, vivid and lovely. On further reflection, I believe a year or two will emphasize its mineral aspects and lend it further complexity. (May 10, 2011)

The winery doesn't have a site but a little googling shows that this is comprised of 75% grapes sourced from calcareous soil and the rest from argile. Aged in stainless steel tanks, which explains its singular purity.

Giaconda, about 120 NIS.

Chapoutier, Hermitage, La Sizeranne, 2005

The nose is terrific straight from the bottle, even if a little reticent at first, naturally, with sweet black fruit, black pepper and barnyard poop. The palate is backward, and rasps like a drill sargeant, but even so, the quality and character of its tannins make it very approachable in the first hour or so. Opening up, it then shows a mineral note and fruit of somewhat redder persuasion, while the poop morphs into roasted meat and olives. Feels modern at this stage, although I suspect it's because of its youth, rather than any overt move at modernism (although Chapoutier can make Parkerish fleshpots). Sadly, air only makes the tannins more bitter and grainy - okay, I'm trying to be nice, it's oaky as well - so in the end it really is somewhat of a waste to try this now. I'd lay it down for five years at least. (May 14, 2011)

200 NIS on discount at Wine Depot.

Emrich-Schonleber, Nahe, Riesling QBA, 2008

I don't always approach trocken QBA's with wild enthusiasm, but this is lovely and a demonstration of why I adore Emrich-Schonleber. The nose shows apples and a fiery minerality that turns earthier until it eventually evokes a rain-filled mud puddle. The palate is dry, but thankfully it doesn't feel bone-dry, rather refreshingly fruity. The finish is half-way between granny apple and grapefruit, with a touch of salinity. (May 16, 2011)

Giaconda, 100 NIS.

A. Et. P. De Villaine, Bouzeron, 2008

This aligote is always a good go-to when you want a light, saline wine. (May, 18, 2011)

Tomer Gal, about 80 NIS.

Chateau d'Aqueria, Tavel, 2009

Aromas of strawberries and watermelon with a pinch of minerals, the minerals more obvious with air. There's also candied fruit and underbrush I associate with young Bourgognes, although that underbrush hints at garrigue. The palate balances the natural sweetness of the fruit with a dry, mineral cut. Quite nice, refreshing and fun. (May 20, 2011)

Giaconda, about 80 NIS.

Domaine du Colombier, Crozes-Hermitage, Rouge, 2006

I loves me a fresh, fruity Rhone Syrah. In fact, I love this one so much that I went through a six-pack in two years. It was fun while it lasted. For those of you just joining, this is full of smoky black fruit, raw meat, tar and, as a recent addition, some herbs. The fruit is round and juicy with ample acidity and soft tannins; a little on the tart side, but more of a palate-cleansing tartness rather a green tartness, strictly speaking. And that's it. Not very complex but fun and honest. (May 21, 2011)

Giaconda, 126 NIS.

Grosset, Clare Valley, Polish Hill, Riesling, 2008

The nose is lovely, marrying the Mosel's slate and apples with peaches and Chablis-like fossils. A hint of petrol as well. The palate is a distant cousin to a Grosse Gewachs, powerful, yet inviting, bone dry - with a hint of sweetness that comes from the fruit and likely not any RS - and very, very saline. But what the hell am I doing, making comparisons? This is a stunner in its own right, with a long way to go. If I buy more in the future - and if Mersch ever offers the same discount again then I will - I will open the first bottle at five, six years post-vintage.

269 NIS.