Friday, September 30, 2011

With The Shermans At Rokah (Sept. 20, 2011)

The time proven formula of "BYO in your local restaurant" broke down, as sommelier Aviram Katz has departed for a new employer, Toto. Thus the BYO policy in Rokah is in a state of limbo and my corkage fee hit the ceiling. Look, I don't ask for freebies, but I do expect some consideration as a frequent customer. Given that I can find other fine establishments where I'm given a break on corkage, I think 55 NIS per bottle is excessive.

At least Aviram didn't take the good glasses with him.

Francois Jobard, Meursault, En La Barre, 2004

I really enjoyed this 2 months ago and I'd like to say lightning struck twice, and really, it almost did, except the experience was marred by some oxiditive notes on the nose. It still had plenty of flavor but lacked the zip that a Jobard should have.

Tomer Cal, 280 NIS.

Chateau Clerc-Milon, Pauillac 5me Cru, 1998

I bought this because the price was decent and it seemed like a useful wine to have around: a good, not great, under-rated vintage that should drink early. But, happily, this was a scrappy over-performer, a textbook Left Bank claret, bold, yet restrained, packed with suave black currants - who the fuck does black fruit better than Bordeaux? Tasty, savory tannins, too - who the fuck does tasty tannins better than Bordeaux? A touch grainier than the 1996 (granted, they're both a little rustic, but both have enough fruit to make up for that), this is in a good place right now, but feels like it has at least five years ahead of it.

WineRoute carries these, but then they carry most of the renowned names. This was bought in K&L for about 40-50 USD.

Chateau Canon La Gaffaliere, Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe, 2000

Wow. Complex, expressive, this makes the best of the Right Bank idiom and a great vintage. My shorthand notes read: "spicy, smoky fruitcake". Very yummy, too. The acidity is on the low side, so while this doesn't lack structure, the overall effect is hedonistic. Don't like Right Bank? This will convert you. This is the first 2000 where I can actually, finally, sense the magic at work, even if a good part of it is still around the corner. Not that I expect many 2000's of this level will be shining already, but happily this one, with a few hours of air, did.

I bought a few bottles of this all over the US, this specific bottle cost 100 USD.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Spread the Word - Austrian Intro Tasting (Sept. 15, 2011)

Revolution number eight

I came back from the first tasting of Eldad Levy's new Austrian portfolio with two conclusions. One: I need to get deeper intro these lovely whites (not my fault, I'd bought a few while abroad, but little was available locally until now, hence the urgency of the title).

Two: Hirsch rocks! I mean, Berger is a very good dark horse, but Hirsch knocked me out.


Kremstal, Lossterassen, Gruner Veltliner, 2010

The fruit profile of Berger's Gruners, on both nose and palate, display a green-ness that I've spotted in the handful of GV's that I've had in the past, and which doesn't come across as an indication of under-ripeness, but rather of freshness. Which I think is what the experts describe as snap peas, green beans, stuff like that. Beyond that, here I get reserved, gentle fruit on the nose, lime/lemon at first, hints of oranges later, subtle minerals and pepper. The palate is drawn in soft, yet bold flavors, framed by balanced acidity. No great length, but this does offer simple, tasty charms.

99 NIS.

Kremstal, Gebling, Reserve, Gruner Veltliner, 2010

The Austrian wine system is very strict about the use of the "Reserve" moniker, so it's no surprise that this offers greater complexity and depth than the Lossterassen, without increasing the volume, just more of the same, and better: greater power and a longer, spicier finish.

159 NIS.

Spiegel, Riesling, 2010

The debut of the first Riesling of the tasting provides a sharp contract, as the shift in aromatic profile is almost jarring. It's more mineral-laden, in a chalky vein and the fruit is more about (yellow?) apples, topped off by a pretty herbal streak. Like its entry-level GV counterpart, the Lossterassen, it is refreshing and friendly, but, naturally, there is a greater abundance of acidity here; it is Riesling, after all.

109 NIS.

Steingraben, Riesling, 2010

I think this is a Reserve, but Eldad's catalog doesn't say anything about that and I didn't get a look at the label at the tasting. But it's a step up in quality from the Spiegel, as well as off on a different tangent style-wise. The nose has pears and intense minerals that veer into an icy slate feel that I love in Rieslings, while the palate offers great purity and length and is more obviously immature than the Gebling.

149 NIS.


Kamptal, Trinkvergnugen, Gruner Veltliner, #8, 2009

From the first sniff, I like it more than the equivalent entry-level at Berger. Hirsch seems to stress the minerals aspect of his wines (at least, those that we tasted), and here there is an abundance of flint and gunpowder. The palate has a denser feel than the Lossterassen, with no loss of freshness. A wild child.

85 NIS. Terrific value.

Kammerner Heiligenstein, Gruner Veltliner, 2010

With this wine, we crossed the line into Excitment-ville. The mineral aromas are lovely, gruff, challenging, and unfathomable. It's as though I've encountered a new rock specimen, never seen before. Beneath that is the usual Gruner Veltliner stuff, though, and the palate is as lively and friendly as an entry-level wine, while offering the depths of a 1er Lage. For me, the most delicious wine of the evening.

129 NIS. A no-brainer buy.

Kammerner Lamm, 1er Lage, Gruner Veltliner, 2009

Somebody must have given the "minerals" dial a few turns, because this smells like a looser, slimmer Le Clos, chock-full of marine minerals. The palate continues this aesthetic, its sweetness of fruit and acidity combining for a dry effect. Grand indeed!

225 NIS.

Zobing, Riesling, 2009

This proves that Hirsch is a much better winemaker than Berger, because this is much better than its counterpart, the Spiegel. The nose displays a laser-sharp essence of icy slate and frozen sherbet, while the palate is bone dry without inducing any fatigue.

119 NIS. A good buy.

Zobinger Heiligenstein, 1er Lage, Riesling, 2009

Terroir. There is a very obvious family resemblance to the Gruner from this vineyard, with the Riesling character showing as an added dimension of steeliness and more grapefruit on the palate. Complexity, structure, presence as well as an orchestrated massage of the taste buds - the Heiligenstein has it all.

225 NIS.

Zobinger Gaisberg, 1er Lage, Riesling, 2009

This is the only wine in the tasting that is obviously closed down. What I do get is mint on the nose and less minerals than the other GC's, and an inkling of its light, elegant, reserved breed.

225 NIS.

Priced like good Bourgogne village whites, drinking like a Premier Crus at least, all the 1er Lages are highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Best Show In Town (Sept. 13, 2011)

A.K.A, Ran Shapira's 42nd birthday.

Gimmonet, Special Club, 1999

Classic brioche nose, lovely apple fruit on the palate. Tasty, flavorsome, balanced and long. The mineral aftertaste proves once again the uniqueness of the genre and why the contents of a bottle of a great Champagne like this can vanish almost instantly.

Eldad Levi, about 380 NIS.

Vincent Girardin, Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru, La Folatieres, 2004

A complex, well-deep nose, with an exquisitely lovely Bourgogne "stink" that blends rotting flowers and flint. The palate is reserved and I'm very pleased with the present stage in its evolution, as I've stopped gambling with white Bourgognes, so each (relatively) early drinker serves as corroborative evidence. Unfortunately, the next wine proves that sometimes you have to go out on a limb.

WineRoute, price unknown.

Bonneau du Martray, Corton-Charlemagne, 2004

Extremely closed, Lord have mercy, despite having been opened four hours before dinner. Even when we returned to it after the two wines which followed, progress was miniscule. There's an echo of minerals and a hint of fruit, and both whisper of what one day will emerge out of its time vault.

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 650 NIS.

Bouchard, Corton-Charlemagne, 2004

Much more open. On the nose, a gentle overlay of flinty minerals, with delicately sweet fruit, more gentle than the Folatieres, making it classier - even when the flint expands, it just doesn't need to shout as loudly. A very tasty palate, as well. I guess age would flesh it out even more, but it is very inviting now.

WineRoute, about 700 NIS.

Paul Pernot, Bienbenues-Batard-Montrachet, 1999

The mineral backdrop is a little wider, a little deeper, than the Bouchard, although I can't honestly say that it's a quantum leap, but enough for a solid win. It wins by refinement, see, which is always hard to gauge.

Not imported to Israel, price unknown.

Meo-Camuzet, Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru, Les Chaumes, 2002

A lovely animalistic-cum-minerally nose, with red fruit bordering on black. The palate more than flirts with sweet ripeness and needs more cellar time to get rid of its baby fat and tighten its grip. An hour in glass (which was in addition to three hours of lowered shoulders) serves that purpose as well, lending it complexity even as a slight hole in the middle is demurely revealed.

Tomer Gal, 650 NIS.

Henri Perrot-Minot, Mazoyeres-Chambertin, 1999

A step up. Stinkier, darker, better structured. Savory, tasty, almost leathery tannins resolve into a tantalyzing hint of minerals. Rustically charming and a (surprising, to me, because I've never heard of the producer) winner.

Not imported to Israel, price unknown.

Jean Grivot, Echezaux, 1999

Elusive refinement and complexity. Here again we have a mineral attitude complexified by a sweaty stink, which is made more mysterious by notes of violet. There's a nervy streak of spices on both nose and palate that gives it an edgy presence. Love it.

Burgundy Wine Collection sells recent vintages for about 800 NIS.

Meo-Camuzet, Clos de Vogeot, 1999

A deeper nose, in a way, than the Grivot, but somewhat less complex. Very fruity. Ah, then a minerally streak enters and adds interest. Complexity and class in surprisingly plaid trappings - this aristocrat is a little bored.

Burgundy Wine Collection sells recent vintages for about 850 NIS.

Guiraud, Sauternes, 1999

Marmalade and toffee, not enough botrytis. Alcoholic and simply not luscious enough. An example of why I've stopped buying Sauternes a few years back.

Price unknown.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Slaughtered Heifers And Wine (Aug. 25, 2011)

This lovely beast is grateful for the opportunity to accompany the following wines and thus be immortalized on the pages of 2GrandCru.

Falesco, Umbria, Marciliano, 1999

This is a Cabernet Sauvignon/Franc cuvee from a winery more famous for its Merlot, and it's damn fine. The nose is red and black cherries and saddle leather, there's a hint of black pepper then it fades, replaced by tar and chives. Solid tannins, gripping tannins that don't obscure the fruit. Savory, in short. Rocks steady.

Not imported to Israel. I see it listed for about 30-35 USD in Europe.

Gaja, Barolo, Gromis, 2000

Dark fruit, round with rustic, savory tannins. Tasty and deep, yet somehow not quite exciting. The Nebbiolo spices (musky dust) are in place, but oddly there's something a little Tuscan about it, to confound us all. I guess it's just too round for me, although it becomes more Piedmont in time.

WineRoute, about 270 NIS, although recent vintages cost more (but are often on discount).

Rocca Albino, Barbaresco, Vigneto Brich Ronchi, 1999

Red fruit and leather on the nose. Tannic, yet seems ready. For me, the Nebbiolo is obvious. But complaints abounded over lack of focus and acidity. People who'd tasted it in the past said it should show better, so I submit to their judgment. But I think it was savory and there was plentiful aromatic complexity. Since it's my bottle I might not be that objective.

I bought this for 50 USD in the States, but WineRoute are now selling newer vintages for about 270 NIS.

Ishmael Arroyo, Val Sotillo, Ribera Del Duero, Reserva, 2001

Great stink - bretty, yet with complexity. It only showed Arroyo typicity after it was revealed. Then I could sense the familiar sea salt and cardamon. Very good and tasty, despite the probable bottle variation.

About 220 NIS from Giaconda.

Tzora, Or, 2008

This is a Gewurztraminer dessert wine and I have enjoyed it in the past (an earlier vintage though). Anyway, this grapefruit and lychee juice, with a hint of botrytis funk, is just way too gulpable.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Misc Notes (Aug. 2011)

Pretty good wines in all, but the Auslese is a real homerun!

Koehler-Ruprecht, Pfalz, Kalstadter Saumagen, Riesling Auslese, 2001

This is finally in a good place once again, with honeyed fruit on a background of minerals and spices, even a hint of kerosene. The palate has a complex texture and fine depth born of bottle age and balances its sweetness with hints of salinity. This is an idiosyncratic style of auslese. There's obvious sweetness, yet it doesn't behave very much like a sweet wine, in fact it behaves almost like an alternative version of an auselse, which is always true of Koehler-Ruprecht's ausleses. Affirmation time: this is why I loved K-K in the first place and while this will live for a long time, I'm sure, it's just so very good now. In fact, the more I think about, the more I'm impressed that it is a moving wine, in its rugged way (that ruggedness being part of its charm) (Aug. 12, 2011)

Giaconda, about 160 NIS.

Pelter, Rose, 2010

Hmmm... I drank this in a crappy glass, but it impressed me nonetheless. Crisp, austere and mineral-laden, with a backdrop of mellow raspberries - in said crappy glass, the fruit is not very audible, but it really worked for me as a whole. This is made of 100% Temperanillo and I applaud the choice of fruit, even though it's hard to tell with the stemware - but hey, any wine that pleases in such a context has to have something going for it, right? (Aug. 13, 2011)

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

I needed to take a closer look, after a cursory encounter last month. Thus: black raspberries and beets, with more body than usual, yet that fullness of body is tempered by a welcome tartness. There's a streak of minerals in the background, that grows stronger, on both nose and palate. This really ain't no quaffer, or rather, it's like a quaffer injected with both cannabis and steroids. (Aug. 13, 2011)

Astrolabe, Marlborough, Durvillea, Sauvignon Blanc, 2009

Cat pee, minerals, tropical fruit sherbet, some green apples. Pungent, crisp and refreshing, and way more easy-going than the flagship SB. Buy more! (Aug. 20, 1011)

Imported by Mersch.

Marc Bredif, Vouvray, 2009

It's always hard to know what kind of Vouvray lurks in the bottle, especially with this house, which never labels its Vouvray with any indication of sweetness. This year it's off-dry (which I'm guessing is the mean average they aim for each year), with obvious, but not blatant, residual sugar. It's very attractive on the palate, decently complex, crisp (despite the RS) and well-balanced with a saline finish, and if it's not especially moving, it's actually quite charming. The nose shows Burgundian flint and summer fruits that flirt with both elegance and ripeness, and it is lovely as well. Excellent - amazing when the price is taken into account.(Aug. 20, 2011)

Imported by Hakerem.

Both of the above were purchased for about 75 NIS at discount at Wine Depot. Good values both.

Domaine des Baumard, Savennieres, Clos du Papillon, 2005

I loved this wine the first few times I drank, but an awful showing last year broke my heart. But, always the optimist, I thought that was either bottle variation or dumb period (yeah, yeah, that old excuse) and sallied forth again. And I found the following.

The nose is lovely, cantaloupe bejeweled in that blend of nuts, flint and clay that I usually find in Savennieres. The palate is wide and generous, without undue lack of focus, and there's a very palatable impression of sweetness. The more I drink Savenierres, the more I realize how intense a white wine it can be, but this is actually on the mellow side. (Aug. 27, 2011)

Giaconda, 171 NIS.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Recanati, Special Reserve, 2008 (Aug. 24, 2011)

Surprise, surprise!

I really, really like the Special Reserve this year. To me, it has a weird family resemblance to Bordeaux, with similar warm, musky, currant-y aromas and flavors, and just a hint of brett, that plays like an echo of a barnyard far away. And despite some sweetness in the background, it's elegant and its tannins are crisp and savory.

This is selling for about 200 NIS, even at bargain stores like WineDepot. Wow, now there's another surprise, and a rather disappointing one.

Sept. 26, 2011: Third surprise! Learned at Recanati tasting last night that this actually sells for 180 NIS at WineRoute before discount, so that makes it a reasonably priced Israeli premium (these days).