Monday, August 29, 2011

The Cote de Beaune Appreciation Society (Aug. 22, 2011)

A postcard from paradise

A collection of white Burgundies, organized by Daniel Lifshitz and Zacki Rosenblum, chez Yossi Hillel.

But first, something completely different:

Hagafen Cellars, Riesling, Wieruszowski Vineyard, 2007

Petrol, peaches and some red fruit. More limpid than the bottle I tasted at the winery three weeks ago (travel shock?) - not complex, nor deep, but tasty for sure.

36 USD

Bouchard, Aligote, 2009

Sulphur-ish, lean and saline in a marine way that resembles Chablis, but is not quite there. The nose is better than the palate, but this is a fine quaffer. In the best sense of the word.

WineRoute, about 50-60 NIS.

Etienne Sauzet, Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru, Champs-Canet, 2003

A woefully complex nose with pleasant oxiditive notes and hints of white meat. Almonds on the palate! A 2003 wouldn't be my first choice for a Bourgogne white, but I'd drink up half a bottle of this, at least. Because it's tasty, and because the aftertaste is surprisingly lively.

Burgundy Wine Collection, the 2008 sells for 430 NIS.

Jobard, Meursault Premier Cru, Genevrieres, 2002

Aw, bugger! Another premox.

For years, Tomer Gal has been making promises about the aromas of white meat that lurk in the wines of Jobard, and the initial pour at home sure felt like it. However, by the time we drank up a few hours later, the wine, white meat and all, was dead and gone.

Burgundy Wine Collection, recent vintages cost about 400 NIS, but I probably paid a bit less, six years ago.

Ramonet, Chassagne-Montrachet Permier Cru, Ruchottes, 2002


The Chassagne feel is obvious even on the nose, with its rustic dry grass and flint, and also on the palate, which has typically coarse elegance. The nose grows more complex, more minerally and deeper. Deep and multi-layered on the palate. Simply excellent.

Burgundy Wine Collection, this cost me just 250 NIS six years ago. This used to be an amazing bargain; sadly, six years ago, 250 NIS was still steep for me, so I only bought one bottle.

Bonneau du Martray, Corton-Charlemagne, 2001

Austere nose, mostly minerals, and very, very discrete fruit with a touch of floral sweetness. Tasty salinity; excellent length, without being overbearing; elegant without being very complex or deep. Coulda been a Puligny or a Les Clos. If this was a chick, she wouldn't be drop dead gorgeous, but you'd kill to feel the touch of her skin.

Burgundy Wine Collection, upward of 650 NIS.

Bouchard, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, 2004

Great minerality, complexity and depth on both nose and palate. Fantastic grip, length and almost surprising (in light of its power) finesse. Juicy acidity. A bit of marine minerals, which only grow deeper. A knockout.

WineRoute, about 700 NIS.

Bouchard, Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru, 2006

As fruity as Bourgogne can get, with a hint of minerals that grows stronger. Very young. An impressive name, but today, not a wine that lives up to the price, although to be charitable, with a price tag like that, few wines could.

WineRoute, about 1400 NIS

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ishmael Arroyo, Val Sotillo, Ribera Del Duero, Gran Reserva, 1996 (Aug. 18, 2011)

A belated 16th anniversary with my love.

"Why didn't you bring a '95?"

"I'd rather drink a good wine than obsessing about bringing a '95. Well, I do have a '95 of this wine that I think it will last longer, so I'll save it for a future anniversary."

"Uh, okay. Thanks."

It was a great evening, in a laid-back way that you can only manage when you're more or less on equidistant distances from forty and have a common history drenched in both love and hardship. Both of us basking in the newly athletic bodies we'd carved for ourselves over these last few years, enjoying a good, not great dinner at Cafe Italia (the choice of dishes, recipes and raw material were excellent, the execution a bit off-hand - was it because I wasn't recognized sans my better-connected wine mates, I wonder?), relishing a wine good enough for discerning wine geeks.

If this wine was a real-live person, this is the man I'd want to be. Gruff, yet sensitive, in a latter-day Clint Eastwood way, black fruit laden with cardamon, smoked meat and sea salt. The whole of the package would be rustic, were it not tempered by a core of mellow fruit. I have a lot of good-to-great wines, you know, but I'm down to my last Arroyo Reserva and my last Arroyo Gran Reserva, and when they're all gone, I'll be damn sad. They're really one of a kind, on all the varying levels of quality. This is the top-tier level, costing about 350 NIS when it was offered by Giaconda a few years ago.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The One Napa Valley Winery I Visited - Before The Kids Forced A Visit To Jelly Belly (Aug. 3, 2011)

My wife had a casual encounter with Irit Weir a few weeks ago in Israel, and that interested her enough to suggest we drop in on her and her husband Ernie's Hagafen Cellars when we were doing the Napa Valley tour thing with the kids.

For the religiously inclined, Hagafen is kosher and mevushal, and well renowned for being one of the few, if not the only, wineries, to do mevushal without ruining the wine.

Sauvignon Blanc, Moskowite Ranch, 2008

Obvious signs of oak, but the citrus-drenched acidity tempers it and lends the wine focus. The winery says that, surprisingly, this is oaked for a longer period than the Chardonnay, but it really doesn't show it, for my tastes, so I wonder what the fruit was like before the mask of wood was lowered over it. Whatever, this is well executed, but stylistically, it doesn't hold my interest.

27 USD.

Chardonnay, Hall Vineyard, 2007

This just draws a blank, bewildered stare from me: what is this all about? What seem like tons of oak produce interesting, albeit somewhat off-putting, spices and reduce all flavors to a bitter broth. Sorry, I'm going back to Chablis.

36 USD.

Pinot Noir, Fagan Creek Vineyard, Block 38, 2008

The candied fruit on the nose give the game away: they hint at ripe, well behaved fruit and, while there are hints of Pinot spices in there, there is little of the aromatic depth of Bourgogne. Sorry, now I'm giving my game away. But that's my benchmark, Burgundy, and while the edgy tannins and sharp acidity lend enough excitement (and don't interfere with the fruit enough to cost the wine anything in terms of balance), at the of the day, this well made wine just isn't my bag.

50 USD.

Syrah, Napa/Sonoma, 2005

This was released by the winery last year so they obviously feel it needed time, but should now be ready to drink. Anyway, this is in a weird place for me, although I admit my knowledge of Syrah is limited to the Rhone, mostly, which also defines my expectations. So when I don't get any black pepper and meat notes, I grow sullen. There is a spiciness instead which reminds me of a young Barolo. This is a big wine whose tannins are a little rough and I regret the lack of purity and transparency of fruit.

65 USD.

Melange, Napa Valley, 2005

I enjoyed this. Sure, it's a little brawny for my tastes, but the brawn is in the way of an iron fist in a velvet glove thing, and the finish hints at a potential for the kind of savoriness that should win me over in five years or so. Good job.

75 USD.

Riesling, Wieruszowski Vineyard, 2007

Cheers, Ernie. While this doesn't make my spine tingle, it warms my heart and makes me smile with its deft balance of sweetness and sharpness. Beautifully balanced and tasty, and its mix of petrol, apples and peaches is going to make for great fun and games when I sneak it in a blind tasting.

36 USD.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sunnyvale, Drinking (Aug. 2, 2011)

Guy Breton, Regnie, 2009

This is good, very good, and highly enjoyable, yet without the vivacity, suppleness and succulence that make me sit up and pay attention to a Beaujolais Cru. But the black cherry and dusty aromatics are very cool indeed, and the purity of fruit makes for a delicious, if not complex drop.

St. Cosme, Cote-Rotie, 2004

The nose is a very proper expression of the North Rhone, with black pepper and just a hint of bacon. The palate is highly yummy, with a delicate touch of salinity on the finish. Methinks there is a touch of Viognier in there, will have to google it.

This is about 50 USD, thus excellent value for Cote Rotie. And so was the Breton, at 25.

PS. I googled St. Cosme. Couldn't find anything about the plots and grapes used for the Cote Rotie, but the during the search, it hit me. This is a Gigondas-based domaine, yet despite that, they produced a very classical Cote Rotie.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Misc Notes (July 2011)

Bouchard Pere & Fils, Volnay Premier Cru, Caillerets Ancienne Cuvee Carnot, 2004

It's tempting to call any '04 which performs well a "good effort for the vintage", and I'm going to let myself slide easily into that cliche: this is an enjoyable wine, but although it possesses decent structure, said structure is sorely over-emphasized by bitter, green tannins (which are tempered by air, but not enough) - while the red fruit and underbrush on the nose are tainted by a metallic streak. So the balance isn't very good, but it puts in a decent show - for the vintage. Second cliche: some food helps nudge it along nicely. (July 3, 2011)

WineRoute, about 220 NIS, as I recall.

Moreau-Naudet, Chablis Premier Cru, Montee de Tonnerre, 2006

A powerful wine with a dense structure, complemented by a pungent, stony nose, with layers of citrus peels. I only tasted Moreau-Naudet extensively once, and based on that tasting, I believed the wines needed age to show well, yet this is already in a good place (intense and burly, yet open enough to express Chablis typicity) and I will make a note to also open up my Montmains this year. (July 6, 2011)

Giaconda, 190 NIS.

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

Pink grapefruit and guayavas, with a gentle hint of salinity on the finish. Lovely. (July 8, 2011)

Giaconda, 117 NIS.

Emrich-Schonleber, Nahe, Monzinger Halenberg, Riesling Spatlese, Trocken, 2006

This was very aggressive and jejune three years ago, but now it's shining through with great clarity and purity. There is lovely green apple tinged fruit, with a hint of sweetness on both nose and palate and a long, dry, cerebral finish. Great lightness on the palate. As it opens, I find hints of minerals and summer fruits on the nose. (July 9, 2011)

Giaconda, 170 NIS.

J.J. Prum, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Wehlener Sonnenhur, Riesling Kabinett, 2007

It's Prum, a young Prum, and I don't know what to make of it. A melange of summer fruits and peel, ripe and tropical yet very light and elegant. There's a note of bitter peels which is a bit distracting. A hint of reduction appears later on, but it's an appealing kind. I keep a third for the next day, which I hardly ever do, and now it's still ripe, and that bitter note is still there. I guess it's true you can't drink a young Prum, although I'd read that this specific Kabinett was drinking nicely. (July 11, 2011)

Giaconda, 150 NIS

A. Et. P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise, La Fortune, 2009

The fruit profile is deep red, ranging just to the border of the black half of the spectrum, complemented by earthy, mildly spicy notes. Round, with very soft tannins. (July 15, 2011)

Tomer Gal, 110 NIS.

Marcel Lapierre, Morgon, 2009

Very fruity, at first, with very soft tannins and little in the way of non-fruity nuances. Then, after an hour or so, there are spicy, earthy notes vaguely reminiscent of, well, Pinot, the palate starts to exert its grip and even the color turns from purple to Bourgogne red. Throw in a hint of blood and juicy salinity, why dontcha? (July 17, 2011)

Tomer Gal, 130 NIS.

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

Ah, this is much like my previous notes. Very young, almost grapey, just starting to show hints of minerals. (July 22, 2011)

WineRoute, about 95 NIS on discount.

Chereau Carre, Chateau du Chasseloir, Muscadet de Sevre et Maine, 2009

A simple treat, comprised mostly of lime and saline minerals. Dry and crisp. (July, 22, 2011)

WineRoute, about 50 NIS.

Rebholz, Pfalz, Im Sonnenschein, Riesling Grosses Gewachs, Trocken, 2006

This is somewhat challenging. The nose shows the vibrancy and depth of a Riesling entering its maturity: apples, peaches, green tea, a hint of kerosene and a mineral essence that starts as wet stone and broadens and focuses at the same time. The palate finishes on a nice saline note and is where the challenge lies: whereas my favorite Riesling play out like Charlie Parker, with weird curlicues of flavors, this is more of a zipped version of Coltrane: overlapping sheets of flavors, compressed so there's no linear development, just a knot of flavors that you have to decipher on your own. (July 23, 2011)

Giaconda. This is one time my memory fails me regarding one of my bottles: I think it cost in the mid 200's, but I'm not quite sure.

Ogier, Cote Rotie, 2001

This is it. This wine is officially the final chapter of my birthday celebrations. And a minor knockout it certainly is. Classic in the way the cassis shifts into black pepper and bacon, and very deft in its finesse and balance. Juicy and savory, with a depth that defies its light, feminine touch.

About 50 USD at MacArthur.

Monday, August 1, 2011

2GrandCru Turns 45 - The Grand Finale (July 19, 2011)

Read slowly. These wines deserve a lot of praises, as do the friends who joined and shared their wines with me and with each other: Ran, Rani (the other birthday boy), Uri, Amir, David and Meir Ido.

Nicolas Feuillatte, Palme d'Or, Brut, 1998

Very complex on both nose and palate, with flavors that literally explode on the palate, and never at the cost of elegance. One of the best Champagnes I've ever tasted.

Dauvissat, Chablis Premier Cru, La Foret, 2002

A complete Chablis nose: chalk, lime, apples, fossils, rainwater. A completely integrated palate, whose complexity carries on all the way to the aftertaste. While reserved compared to the Champagne, this honey reinforces my opinion that a good Chablis is a much safer bet than any other white Bourgogne.

La Rioja Alta, Rioja Gran Reserva, Cuvee Centenario, 1973

There's an ethereal nose here,but let me discourse first on the finish, whose gentle touch belies its length and kick. Back to the nose now, where the Tempranillo footprint is very much in evidence here: red fruit, mushrooms, tea, earth. Sweet, mature fruit on the palate. The only drawback is that I've tasted a twenty year old 890 with as much grace that was coupled with greater power, so I'm not sure this wine really needed close to forty years of cellaring. But at least it didn't take up my fridge space for so many years.

Chateau Palmer, Margaux 3me Cru, 1995

A Rorschach test for Bordeaux, with its cedary/minerally bouquet and tannic elegance. Vibrant on both nose and palate. Despite the complexity and charm of the nose, the palate is still relatively one-dimensional. But the finish is very persistent and savory. Drink now for the power, or wait a few years for the palate to open up some more.
Chateau Mouton, Pauillac 1er Cru, 1989

The nose is a step up, very complex and deep; subtly earthy with a hint of meat. The palate also has great depth and length and is deviously tasty. Man, I just love the gentle sweetness of fruit that great Bordeaux develop with age. Elegance, balance and subtlety are the keywords here, so it doesn't need to go for the Palmer's ambulance punch.

Giacomo Conterno, Barolo, Cascina Francia, 1998

The nose attacks with red cherries, then spices, cured meat and touch of earthiness lend great complexity. The palate, also, is very elegant, clean, long and powerful, without any undue excess or the grainy rust I usually find in Barolos. Double terrific.

Kracher, Weinlaubenhof Burgenland, Welschriesling Trockenbeerenauslese, 8, 2001

My first Kracher is a very suitable epilogue to the best birthday lineup I've had yet. This is liquid cake and molten apricots and brown sugar. Despite the obvious acidity, it actually tastes sweeter than the desserts that accompanied it, without being cloying in any way.