Wednesday, July 27, 2011

2GrandCru Turns 45 - Part 2 (July 16, 2011)

Stop me if you've heard this one. Two guys walk into a bistro with three bottles of wine...

Jobard, Mersault, En La Barre, 2004

Flint, nut oil, honey, but little in the way of overt fruit aromas, at first, which is how I like my French whites. Well, it seems citrusy, for sure (that is, no Meursault-ish pears) and even when it opens up a couple of hours later to show some green apples, there's plenty of citrus fruit in the mix. Not that it really matters, you know - it's tasty enough not to require pigeon-holing the specifics of the fruit. Good acidity, which is the Jobard trademark. If I had never tasted a great Bourgogne white and was handed this, I'd think it was the greatest white wine in the world - and even with prior knowledge of great whites, this is still a very impressive, expressive and enjoyable drop.

Tomer Gal, 280 NIS

La Rioja Alta, RIoja Gran Reserva, 904, 1997

Tempranillo in general, young Rioja in general, sits comfortably in that sub-range of the fruit spectrum where red fruit broaches black, and the way the acidity and tannins temper the fruit makes for a meaty, spicy effect. Toss in the Rioja penchant for light oxidation and you get an adolescent Rioja that hints at the mellow, lazy-cum-hedonistic style that we Rioja-heads adore. This ain't no Ygay or 890 but still - yummy and fun.

Hakerem, damn their evil hearts, sell this at upwards of 250 NIS. Thankfully, some lucky souls can get it for cheaper. Much cheaper.

Castel, Grand Vin, 2009

Jammy at first, then austere and tannic. Right now, no match for the 904 on any level. Four-five years from now, I think it will kick ass - but will I like it enough then to buy it now? Ido Galon brought it to prove a point vis a vis Israeli wines, but methinks he's nuts. If this is what one of the most balanced Israeli wines can offer, I'll continue to err on the side of un-patriotism.

What's this sell for these days? 220 NIS? 250?Aaagh...

By the way, the place Ido and I walked into was Rokah 73. And while I do think the level of execution has diminished, the recipes and ingredients themselves still make for a lovely effect. I just do wish Eyal Lavie would exert a little more quality control. Because I have a warm spot in my heart for the place.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

2GrandCru Turns 45 - Part 1 (July 14, 2011)

Marcel Deiss, Alsace, Englegarten, 2005

Deiss dubs this a premier cru, although that has no legal meaning in Alsace. Regardless, this is impressive and tasty. The decadent, heady nose is smoky quince and pears, with a slight touch of oxidation which doesn't follow through on the palate, which is very fresh and lively, albeit with depth and weight of some bottle age, and dry, mineral-edged core with sweetness on the fringes. Excellent. I rather enjoy a certain lack of pure varietal character here (as I recall, the Riesling is the dominant grape here but there's more than a little hint of Pinot Gris in my opinion), which is, from my point of view, a winning argument for Deiss' field blend approach.

Giaconda, 225 NIS.

Domaine Pegau, Chateauneuf du Pape, Cuvee Reserve, 2003

A showcase, ripe nose with blasts of garrigue and, later on, some coffee. The palate is big but shows fine balance despite its density, while the sweet tannins make this very approachable . Trademark, Pegau balance. Obviously, a Pegau in good form will blow anybody's brains out, but tonight was easier than usual to be seduced.

WineRoute, about 300 NIS.

Chateau de Guiraud, Le Dauphin de Guiraud, 2004

Creme broulee, botrytis funk. Good balance of sugars and acidity. Not very complex or intense and all that shit, but surprisingly high quality for a second wine from 2004.

Imported by Avi Ben Wines. Price unknown but I got the feeling from my guest that the difference in price between this and Guiraud's first wine would not make this a good QPR.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Meat Men (July 7, 2011)

Polaroid impressions from a table in Neve Tzedek's A Place For Meat, upon which we gourmands heaped bottles of red and slabs of cows that made a temporary stop on their way to the Great Grazing Ground.

Chateau Lafleur-Petrus, Pomerol, 1999

Currants, leather, savory tannins. Feel young and vigorous; tannic, but these are tasty tannins and, like I said, savory, and there is enought fruit and acidity to balance them. Drinking it blind, it was obviously a Bordeaux, but no one guessed Right Bank.

WineRoute imports this and the Calon-Segur, but current prices really don't reflect the purchase price of these wines.

Calon-Segur, St. Estephe 3me Cru, 2000

Fruity and cakey and I'd have pegged this one for the Right Bank. Actually becomes more primary in the glass. The turns meatier and later there is a touch of minerals. Less tannic than the Lafleur, but the acidity is sharper. It's in a strange place, its components not quite at ease with each other, and it actually drank better three years ago. No cigar box in the mix, yet, either.

Sometimes a wine that needed decanting and didn't get it is worse than an off bottle. If a bottle is off, then the book is closed on the affair - but hindsight is not just 20/20 vision, it can be a minor form of torture.

Remizieres, Hermitage, Cuvee Emile, 1998

The nose is quite nice, actually, with olives and vague hints of black pepper (which I might have imagined at the time, since it was my bottle and I knew what I was drinking), but the palate is initially unfriendly to say the least - although it improves in glass, it never quite reaches my exalted expectations. Then I top my glass with the bottom liquid from the bottom fifth of the bottle and lo and behold: it finally shows typical pepper, hints of smoke and mellow fruit. The last glass is really fun and deep and layered! I would have expected the 1999 to need this much air, but I thought the 1998 would be as friendly as the 2000 I'd drunk a couple of times.

Purchased at MacArthur for 60 USD.

Roger Sabon, Chateauneuf du Pape, Prestige, 2004

A brooding monster worthy, for the moment, of a phoned-in tasting note. Monolithic. Closed. Very ripe. Some spicy nuances. But very sweet on the palate.

Tardieu-Laurent, Chateauneuf du Pape, Vieilles Vignes, 2001

A wow nose! Deep and peppery and smelly. Slightly liquorish. Tannic yet balanced. While the Sabon shows all the faults of CdP, the Tardieu-Laurent shows all that Chateauneuf can aspire to - and which sadly I only experience once a year. My wine of the night.

Both Chateauneufs were bought at WineRoute (although Tardieu-Laurent is no longer carried). The Sabon cost about 250 NIS three years ago. I recall absolutely loving the Tardieu-Laurent seven years ago, when it cost about 350 NIS.

La Rioja Alta, Rioja Grand Cru, 890, 1995

If you love Old World red, then this is quite heavenly. Ripe, spicy and big, yet shows all the finesse all the ripe fruit can give. Drinkable and all, yet still quite primary. In fact, I had guessed it to be a much, much younger, top of the line Artadi.

Imported by Hakerem and the official price is about 600 NIS. Although quite frankly, most of the people 'round the table have the connections to get a much better price.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rising to the Non-Occasion (July 2, 2011)

There was absolutely no rhyme to reason for opening these wines, except that Ido Galon and I just felt like it.

William Fevre, Chablis Grand Cru, Les Clos, 2004

A marvelous nose from the first pour, with sea air aromas over fruit skins (be they apples or citrus). The palate has great persistence, poise and balance, and the saline finish has a caressing touch, despite said persistence. A marine wonderland with power and flair, that truly lives up to the vineyard's pedigree. Wouldn't it be nice to drink this every day?

WineRoute, 340 NIS.

Calon-Segur, St. Estephe, 3me Cru, 2002

This is a muscular sort of claret, so don't go looking for any stray finesse (or great length) here. If you don't, you'll be happy with its charms, which are a languid-yet-stern yumminess and, uh, the way it makes sense out of black fruit - the way no other country's red wine can. Of course, there's also a fair amount of red fruit here, which I honestly didn't expect, this being St. Estephe (and, also, never being quite sure how 2002 impacted the claret paradigm), and decent complexity, of which I don't predict great improvement. If you want to go for a 2002, this is not a bad choice. Actually, quite a good one.

WineRoute, about 220 NIS.

Muller-Catoir, Pflaz, Haardter Burgergarten, Riesling Auslese, 2007

Great Ceaser's Ghost! You mean to tell me this isn't even a Goldkapsel, and it beats the feces out of just about any Sauternes I've ever had? This is fresh, with citrus marmalade, botrytis funk and an intoxicating toffee whammy, and it also has this vivacity, that lends it an ethereal touch that makes me amenable to any deficit in complexity.

Giaconda, 175 NIS - so this costs like a Sauternes, too, wow. Good value.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Misc Notes (June 2011)

August Kesseler, Rheingau, Rudesheimer Bischofsberg, Riesling Spatlese, 2005

I find this typically Rheingau, with fruity transparency. The nose has apples and peaches with soft strokes of kerosene. The palate is limpid and languid, with the sweetness well held in check by the acidity, both in perfect harmony, and shows subtly bitter, vegetable notes on the long finish. At this stage, a wine suitable for after-dinner contemplations. (June 2, 2011)

Giaconda, about 150 NIS.

Bouchard Pere Et Fils, Gevrey-Chambertin, 2007

Surprisingly approachable and endearing, with an intoxicating nose that sports a pungent overlay of warm earth over the bright red fruit, which is carried well unto the palate. Then there's another overlay of the usual underbrush and exotic spices that we all love in the Cote de Nuits. On the palate, there are just enough tannins to add texture, while never clouding the sappy fruit. This is simply lovely, I must admit, considering it's just a Villages from a relatively large producer. But sometimes such surprises are the essence of life. Also, it's great that 2007 offers such easy, young drinking; certainly the 2006's do call for more patience, judging from my admittedly small sampling. (June 11, 2011)

I don't live in a vaccum and I have to acknowledge that a knowledgeable guy like Alan Meadows says to start drinking this in 2014. Yet, this wine is so stylish, exciting and delicious right now, that it boggles my mind to think what it would be like in three years. More mature, more complex, for certain, probably gain more weight in bottle (it really doesn't have the stuffing that a better cru would have); but I doubt it would be much yummier. I should have bought a six pack of this when it was on discount. This could be addictive!

WineRoute, usually listed at 250 NIS, bought on a two-fer-300 discount.

Dr. Loosen, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, "L" Riesling, 2008

A relative opened this over Friday dinner and I was surprised to find there are bottles of the 2008 still to be found for sale locally (she had bought her bottle that very week). This is on the simple side, naturally, yet has reasonable complexity (maybe I should say, rather, exceptional complexity for its level of quality) and balanced sweetness and acidity very deftly. So very easy to drink. (June 17, 2011)

WineRoute, 60 NIS.

Muga, Rioja, Reserva, 2005

I don't know what Muga did (or what the 2005 vintage did) to make this Reserva taste almost like a Ribera. It's a good wine, a tasty wine, but it's big and creamy, near sweet and with higher extraction than I'd expect - there's the savoriness I'd expect but it's buried deep in the mix. The nose has typical tobacco leaves (ie, a touch of pungent spiciness that spells, for me anyway, Tempranillo) and a less typical fruit profile that veers more towards black fruit than I'd expect (come to think of it, Tempranillo is not really a very "red" grape, but the black fruit it usually whips out is rather mellower than what we have here) and a dash of minerals. My enjoyment did not nearly match a sudden craving for the Prado Enea that it unleashed. See, a mature Rioja is not any less friendly than this, but it would be even more savory and the sweetness of its fruit would build up gradually rather than hit you at full throttle. At the end of the day, this is as enjoyable as Parallel Lines, but not as much as London Calling, or even Give 'Em Enough Rope. (June. 18, 2011)

WineDepot, 108 NIS.

A. Et P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise, Les Clous, 2007

Possibly proving that 2006 was a little off... A wobbly start as at first it resembles the Villaine Bouzeron a littler too much, in a green and kinky way. Then it shows the same oily-minerally nuttiness on the nose as a Corton-Charlemagne, albeit with markedly less intensity. The palate shows clarity yet still lacks some coherence and balance. All in all, this seems to be in a better place than did the 2006 at the same age. (June 22, 2011)

Tomer Gal, 110 NIS.

Dr. Loosen, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Bernkasteler Lay, Riesling Kabinett, 2009

This feels fuller and cuter than the Sonnenhur Kabinett, with enough weight to suggest a higher pradikat. On second thought, once my palate adjusts to the sweet vibrancy of this child, its Kabinett-ness is more obvious, but it's a damn fine Kabinett and a damn good Lay. Loosen do know their stuff, I mean even the basic "L" is yummy (see above). Along with the usual Mosel apples and slate is a suggestion of peaches and creme brulee, making this a rather hedonistic Kabinett. (June 24, 2011)

WineRoute, 129.90 NIS.

Bourillon d'Orleans, Vouvray, l'Indigene Sec, 2005

This is always the Vouvray that stumps me. The nose has the trademark "bafflement" effect of a good Chenin, with those minerals and nuts that are hard so for me to place. The palate has good acidity but is all angles and high notes, and hardly any bass notes. Taken as a whole package, I just can't get into it, despite the interesting aromatics. But it's clean and pure, I'll give it that. (June 26, 2011)

Giaconda, 135 NIS.

A. Et P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise, La Digoine, 2007

There's a piercing, flowery, vaguely sweaty and earthy presence on the nose. But while the nose is in fairly full bloom, the palate is dumber than it was in November, the fruit bitter and backwards. I guess the Digoine just doesn't look too good at four years of age. (June 30, 2011)

Tomer Gal, 120 NIS.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Back In White - A Tasting Of You Know What (June 23, 2011)

Hosted at the Tel-Aviv branch of WineRoute. A rather eclectic collection of white wines.

Recanati, Special Reserve, 2009

The nose more than hints at Bourgogne with notes of flint. I don't really want to say "good acidity for Israel", but there you have it: just enough acidity to wrestle the bitterness on the palate away from the usual pitfalls. A few years ago, I'd been knocked out of my boxers; today all I can say is good value.

139.90 NIS

Chereau Carre, Chateau de Chasseloir, Muscadet Sevre et Maine, Comte Leloup, 2009

This was one of the wines I was most interested in tasting and it fulfilled my expectations and gave me an idea of the paradigm. The nose is discrete and closed, yet quite appealing once it opens up, with lime and marine minerals. Tasty, not great, with mouth watering acidity and salinity, and nice potential for an interesting house white.

About 80 NIS.

Domaine de Marcoux. Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 2007

A weird, "soupy" nose - reductive, maybe? Who knows/cares? It's not for the faint of heart, with its bitter, unfriendly palate. But then again, at four years of age, it might be deep in the middle of the dumbest period of the wine world: Rhone white dumb. It's got an interesting mineral background, I'll give it that, but otherwise, the only reason I can see for offering it at a tasting in 2011 is for purely commercial reasons; I'm sure the Shaked family did not mean for all those bottles on the tasting room walls to serve as decoration.

249.90 NIS

Chateau Talbot, St. Julien, 2007

A spectacularly gorgeous nose with lots of flint. And with a good dose of healthy acidity on the palate, it's like Burgundy filtered through leaner, more yellow fruit. The white Bordeaux style really shines here with one major caveat: judging from the reactions of folks, whose palate I know and trust, to the contents of their glasses, I suspect there was a lot of bottle variation going on at the tasting, which is why I passed on purchasing it. Other than that, great value.

199 NIS.

Chateau Carbonnieux, Pessac-Leognan, 2007

Aw shucks, why pay so much for a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc? Although it develops decent, mineral-laden complexity, at its core it's just tropical cocktail wine, and to be quite honest, the Kiwis do it much better and for cheaper.

239 NIS.

Georges Dubeouf, Pouilly-Fuisse, Clos Reissier, 2009

Another wine I was eager to taste, but one that just didn't seem to work, not on the palate, anyway, where it lacked finesse (which I wasn't expecting, given the price) and charm (which I was expecting). Damn, these southern Burgundies live and die by their comely charms. This one just died. The nose is a much better proposition, although it requires a lot of twirling in the glass for the characteristic Bourgogne minerals to overcome its relatively fruity attack.

99 NIS.

Domaine William Fevre, Chablis Grand Cru, Les Preuses, 2008

Enter Chablis. The nose is so enticing, so grand, so Chablis, with stinky, marine minerals, yadda yadda, yadda - its only "drawback" is that it meets my expectations almost too easily. I can live with that. Although the palate is still silent and backward, it packs a lot of saline flavors and presents a lot of depth. Let's dive into it in five, six years, alright?

339 NIS.

Gaja, Langhe, Rossj Bass, 2008

I really do appreciate how this starts off with the Bourgogne style of sculpting Chardonnay, then subtly tweaks it, offering flowery, somewhat less obviously "appley" fruit, yet with the same dry reserve. Very good. Seems vaguely in the Premier Cru league, so I'd say it's good value.

295 NIS.

Guigal, Condrieu, La Doriane, 2008

Is this really the type of wine that Condrieu has based its reputation on? There's a hint of minerals and honeyed luxury, but it's a depressing luxury, like a courtesan that fell asleep in her clothes. Pass me the La-Las, please.

499.90 NIS.

Domaine Henri Boillot, Meursault Premier Cru, Les Poruzots, 2008

Price-wise, at least, this should have been the star of the show (Condrieu not really being my cup of anything these days), but it takes time to open and I'm not sure it really ranks high up with the better class of Meursaults that I've tasted. Slow to open, it eventually shows flint and a hint of mushrooms and savory acidity. The oak is there, but not obnoxiously so, and there are almost no flaws or quirks to wrap a tasting note around.

499 NIS.

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

I love Rieslings, I love Loosen, and I've already had this wine, so the only surprise here is a note of guayavas that caught me off guard, as it wasn't present in the past. Lovely, taught, minerally - and it makes me tingle.

129.90 NIS.

Dr. Loosen, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Urziger Wurzgarten, Riesling Spatlese, 2009

Repeat the above, with greater depth and breadth. Drink when necessary, which might turn out to be more often than not.

159.90 NIS.