Friday, December 30, 2011

Thai House (Dec. 15, 2011)

Upon my return from our Thanksgiving weekend in the Big Apple, I regaled Fat Guy (a.ka. Eldad Levi) with recounts of our excursions into Asian cuisine. Salivating, he suggested we pit some of the workhorses of his Austrian portfolio against the fare at that venerable Tel Aviv institute, Thai House (which I've never posted about here, since I'd never attempted a wine pairing there, but it's great and local urbanites who haven't tried it should be excommunicated). Since a great idea for a meal never fails to attract wine lovers, a few friends joined and brought a couple of other whites, I brought a dessert wine and Eldad schlepped a Champagne for starters, in addition to two Austrians. The kitchen staff was given the green light to choose the dishes and a great evening was off to a running start.

Not all the matches worked (but some, like the Austrians, were a match made in heaven), but I never seek that kind of perfection anyway. Sometimes it's not only what a wine tastes like, but what it was like tasting it.

A. Margaine, Premier Cru, Brut Traditionelle, nv (based on 2007)

Classic, classy and fruity. Served too warm, it showed over sweetness at first until it cooled down some more. At the proper temperature, everything works and it shows a saline finish that could have complemented just about every dish of the meal. Very open whereas Margaine's Special Club 1999 was more austere (and I see Eldad is importing the 2002 now - man, I really need to catch up).

229 NIS.

William Fevre, Chablis Grand Cru, Les Clos, 2006

Although the bottle was opened in advance, the nose is very closed at first, showing traces of iodine and no more than that. Even at this point, the palate is delicious, although I feel it could give more in the future. Then the nose does opens and does the whole Chablis fossils and sea breeze thing, and the palate grows deeper and shows all of its lovely potential.

WineRoute is the importer and the official price is about 350 NIS.

Chateau Latour-Martillac, Pessac-Leognan, 2005

A low key song about lime. Elegant, mildly spicy. Very much a food wine - hell, it even smells like a food wine, as simply sniffing it makes you contemplate possible food matches.

Not imported, price unknown.

Salomon, Steiner Kogl, Riesling, 2009

A complex nose with a unique fingerprint of minerals and spices. At first its blend of minerals and spices reminds me of Champagne or even Gruner Veltliner, then it shows suitably apple-ish Riesling traits on both nose and palate. Its complexity makes it grand, its freshness and liveliness makes it accessible and fun.

129 NIS.

Schloss Gobelsburg, Gaisberg, Riesling, 2010

This is a lemon sherbet of a Riesling, which isn't a bad thing by any means, as it comes with a mineral veneer. A spicy, mineral finish that teases with its tang and bite. Perhaps less complex than the Salomon - at least now - but livelier and the contrast between the two showcases the versatility of Riesling.

159 NIS.

Hétszőlő, Tokaji, Aszú, 6 Puttonyos, 2001

The relevant chapter in Tom Stevenson's Wine Report calls 2001 a problematic vintage due to mold that called for ultra-careful selection. It looks to me as though Hétszőlő made that effort.

This is dried apricots in the form of liquid toffee. And then there's the botrytis. The effect of the botrytis here is so complex and patently different than what I have experienced in, say, Sauternes - dusty and finely etched on the nose, spicy on the palate, where the long finish kicks ass with little regard to finesse. The sugar, fruit, acidity and low alcohol work very well together, and it's probably a good thing this wine is relatively outspoken, as my palate would have missed any subtleties at this point. Lovely and I can only imagine what an aged specimen from a better vintage would do to my taste buds.

This cost me about 50 USD for a 500 ml bottle from K&L.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Yet Another Daniel Lifshitz Tasting - Nuits! (Dec. 14, 2011)

What an amazing wine town!

Nuits-St.Georges doesn't have a Grand Cru of its, which generally seems to lower prices across the board, so a Nuits Premier Cru will generally cost less than an equivalent Vosne or Chambolle. Yet these days, the quality is classy and consistent, and even if the wines can be a little rustic, its a very charming sort of rusticity. The proof is in the bottles, and this tasting was more consistent and interesting than our group's Pommard/Volnay and Clos de Vogeout tastings. Actually, the lineup included the best group of 2004 red Burgundies I've had yet.

De Montille, Aux Saints Juliens, 2008

A mellow, laid back wine. Fragnant and light, tasty if not especially ponderous, hitting the taste buds with an almost ethereal essence of Bourgogne.

Burgundy Wine Collection. If money isn't an issue, this is a food wine to drink on a regular basis. It's delicious and artisan without being presumptious. However, if money is in any way an issue, you might wonder where your 240 NIS went.

David Duband, Premier Cru, Les Pruliers, 2004

The nose here is a sharp contrast to the Saint Juliens, as it leaps where the former swayed. The fruit is ripe in a stylish manner, so it never obscures the minerals. The palate is less rewarding - simply put, this is hardly as tasty as the Village.

Price unknown.

Joseph Drouhin, 2003

The minerals on the nose are pungent in a way that recalls gunpowder, and there are typical Cote de Nuits spices in the mix as well. Tasty, if not especially complex or stylish. Feels as though the body was juiced up to Premier Cru proportions. Surprising well done for 2003.

I believe the Scottish Compay carries Drouhin, and I'd guess this is a 250 NIS wine.

Jacques Fredric Mugnier, Premier Cru, Clos de la Marchele, 2004

Ripe on the nose and palate, but the palate does back up the sweetness with structure and acidity. A little gamey on the nose. Tasty but still needs time.

The official price for recent vintages is like 299 NIS, but savvy shoppers can probably find it for 250 NIS and less, when it suits the powers that be at WineRoute to offer a discount.

Dugat-Py, Bourgogne, 2008

Ripe with oddly tropical fruit and more than a hint of sea salt! So it's not the most balanced wine in the world, but it's vibrant and unique and I like.

Burgundy Wine Collection, 170 NIS.

The following three wines are available from Burgundy Wine Collection for about 500 NIS each.

Meo-Camuzet, Premier Cru, Murgers, 2004

Sweet red fruit, sweet spices, cocoa, sweat, minerals. Deft balance of sweetness of fruit and tannic backbone. Very tasty and even luxurious - I don't think Meo is capable of making a rustic Nuits, certainly not from Murgers.

Jean Grivot, Premier Cru, Les Roncieres, 2002

The nose here is, dare I say, even better than the Meo, with a hint of sea salt again. Juicy acidity, clean as a whistle fruit. Decent complexity.

Jean Grivot, Premier Cru, Aux Boudots, 2006

This is somewhat more complex than the Roncieres and the fact that it shows such complexity so early on might be a terroir thing. The nose is fairly ripe while the palate frames the juicy fruit with ripe acidity and a saline finish.

Tomer Gal didn't manage to get his importing hand on this one:

Henry Gouges, Premier Cru, Vaucrains, 2004

Another great 2004 find! Red fruit, minerals and sweat meld on the nose. This isn't an easy wine to study right now - the palate is too ambiguous and backward, even if it presents enough interest for me to heartily embrace it. If you have a bottle, you know the drill - cellar it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Meanwhile, Back At Toto (Dec. 8, 2011)

I love Toto! I mean, the food is so tasty and creative, you don't feel pretentious for being a fuckin' gourmand!

And, it was fun showing my mother and sister how we savvy urbanites dine out.

Tua Rita, Guido di Nostria, Tuscana IGT, 2001

There's a story here, but not the one I thought I'd be getting tonight. To my thinking, these Super-Tuscans are supposed to be smooth Ivy Leaguers, well endowed and bright, yet just a little sappy. And certainly, previous encounters with this wine did little to prepare me for anything better. It was always too round and and ripe and sweet and full to offer any challenges or, failing that, at least crunchy, palate-cleansing food accompaniment. Yet here we both are, me a little wiser, the Guido di Nostri at eleven years of age, and finally the Tuscan magic is at force, and this little yuppie strumpet is showing that spicy Tuscan kick, while the slightly anise-ish acidity tames and delineates the fruit. This is terroir, people, if these Bordeaulais grapes and these obviously modern techniques produce a wine that shows more finely etched Tuscan character than most Sangiovese-based wines I've had in recent years.

WineRoute sold it for 250 NIS seven years ago. This was just about the last wine I bought based on its Parker score. Well, Galloni in this case - and in the event, he actually had amply valid reasons for his tasting note (but he still went way OTT with his score of 97).

Williams and Humbert, Pedro Ximinez, Twenty Year Old Solera Especial

It's been ages since I had this last, so I ordered a sample with dessert. I used to drink it out of Bordeaux wine glasses in the past, where the alcohol was less apparent (or else my five years younger palate less perceptive), but this was still fun, its dark, bitter chocolate personality so well in tune with the sweets and my mood of post-dinner bliss.

Should cost about 200 NIS per bottle.

Amphora, Inna, 2006

This is an attempt by Amphora to make home-brewn Madeira, which sommelier Aviram Katz wanted me to try. So I get the appeal of the oxidized Chardonnay fruit, but other than that, either I or the winemakers seem to be missing the point. Most great dessert wines of this style have something going for them beyond the O2, like flor or communal upbringing in the solera in Jerez. This wine offers nothing like that; on the other hand, to be charitable, the winery is not selling it commercially and so few wineries attempt something like this just for fun.

Not available commercially.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Clos de Vogeout Tasting (Nov. 29, 2011)

The bored aristocrat

For the time being, I still subscribe to the conventional point of view that the famous Clos is not the grandest Grand Cru around. It's consistent, in the hands of good producers anyway, and tasty, but despite the Cistercian origins of the vineyard, I think the wines themselves are very businessman-like in nature; while the pedigree is certainly present, I've found it to be the kind of stolid pedigree that infects the aristocracy with ennui.

This tasting did little to change my mind, even though the wines were high class and delicious and expressed both terroir and the makers' signatures. Actually, one wine was truly a Grand Cru, for my nose and palate - it was the sole wine to display vivid imagination and risk-taking.

First, though, a couple of appertifs.

Meo-Camuzet, Bourgogne, 2008

A very worthy Bourgogne, displaying juicy fruit and acidity, with earthy overtones, tart and lean on the palate but a good palate cleanser.

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

The nose is more feral than the Meo-Camuzet, the palate fuller. It, too, shows earthy notes and overall, this showing once again proves why it's my house wine.

Burgundy Wine Collection, 110 NIS.

And now, the Clos de Vogeouts themselves.

Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret, 1998

A complex and lovely nose, very mature yet not decrepit, just about all tertiary notes: forest floor, cola, stuff like that. The palate is complex and tasty, but not as powerful as I'd expect a Grand Cru to be; the structure sticks out like the ribs on an anorectic, instead of complementing and supporting the fruit.

Price unknown.

Domaine de la Vougeraie, 2001

The nose telegraphs potential power, with red fruit tinting towards black, forest floor, leather, exotic spices. Very tasty, and powerful too, but I think it lacks that extra oomph of grandeur.

Burgundy Wine Collection sold the 2008 for 595 NIS.

Robert Arnoux, 2001

Cork taint! Beneath that is potentially good stuff, but beyond a sniff and a sip to verify the TCA, we passed over it, of course.

Price unknown, although I recall WineRoute used to carry Arnoux and perhaps still do.

Jean Grivot, 2004

The minerals and forest floor on the nose are so very Grivot. One of the better red 2004's I've had and the best wine of the evening, due to the spicy kick of the tannic structure. Terrific.

Burgundy Wine Collection sells recent vintages for 640-680 NIS.

Meo-Camuzet, 2001

A ripe nose, bordering on liquerish. Oddly for a not-so-warm year like 2001, this starts out over the top and sweet on the palate, but there many strands of interest, just starting to congeal, that make me feel it is just too young and will show decent elegance in the future.

Burgundy Wine Collection sold the 2008 release for 860 NIS.

Finally, stepping out of the evening's theme:

Dugat-Py, Vosne-Romanee Vieilles Vignes, 2004

The nose presents a complex tapestry of red fruits and minerals and is very impressive, indeed. The palate is ripe and sweet, quite long, and not as complex as the nose.

Burgundy Wine Collection, 580 NIS for recent vintages.

Another Daniel Lifshitz production!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Jean-Paul Thevenet, Morgon, Vieilles Vignes, 2008 (Nov. 25, 2011)

An impromptu Thanksgiving dinner, just Efrat and I, in Tribeca.

Beaujolais Crus need to be appreciated for what they are, yet I can't help but make comparisons; despite being so one of a kind, at their best, they're hard to peg down without external references. Here, the sous bois and iron speak of Bourgogne, then a mineral note is echoed by cedar - which somehow evokes Bordeaux (not that a Bordeaux would ever rest on such a ephemeral frame)! The palate is compact and light, yet it doesn't seem hollow or incomplete, rather its weight is just right for it, just right to support the subtly spicy Gamay fruit and its savory, sanguine finish. As it turns greener after a couple of hours, I'd think this isn't a cellar candidate (even if you were tempted to cellar this low-sulphur wine in great Bojo vintages). Once again, all things taken into account, Thevenet proves to be a stellar example of Beaujolais, and while I imagine his star would shine anywhere, this seems like a perfect marriage of man and terroir. (Nov. 25, 2011)

Bought at Gordon Wines, Waltham, for about 30 USD.

Friday, December 2, 2011

TNweets (Nov. 2011)

Is it very obvious that Anat and Rafaella
from Giaconda delivered my stash this month?

Huet, Vouvray, Le Haut-Lieu, Demi-Sec, 2009

My first Huet, ever. The nose is melons elegantly laced with minerals. By now, the character of Loire Chenin minerality is blatantly specific, to me, after three years of perusing the stuff, and here it shows a wet clay surprisingly complemented by a substratum of quasi-Chablis marine fossils. The palate is yummy and carries its 14% ABV quite deftly. Now, as much I like the grape when it hails from its homeland, I sometimes find rough on the palate, requiring me to sustain a very certain mood when approaching it - but this is more refined than any specimen I've tasted so far. Although the quirky Chenin acidity still needs time to tame. (Nov. 1, 2011)

Giaconda, 165 NIS.

Bourillon d'Orleans, Vouvray, Moelleux, Art Monia, 2003

This, of course, is a Vouvray I'm very familiar with. It shows the same aromatic signature of sculptor's clay, and there's fruit that's mellow with maturity and yet still has a pungent/spicy kick on both nose and palate. The structure shows no sign of fraying after eight years and offers a lightly bitter and spicy finish that saves the sweetness from becoming unctuous. (Nov. 3, 2011)

Giaconda, 130 NIS.

Domaine Guiberteau, Samaur, 2009

Fragrant red fruit, tart but not sharp, laced with minerals, tobacco leaves and forest floor, medium-bodied with prominent, yet savory tannins, the bright acidity keeping the groove on the one. I'll always have room for wines like this at home. (Nov. 5, 2011)

Giaconda, about 120 NIS.

I wanted to continue with the Loire but opted to take a detour through Alsace. I haven't been there in a while.

Albert Boxler, Riesling, Vieilles Vignes, 2007

The nose has honeyed apples, a fascinating herbal/soupy overlay and even petrol notes. Don't Alsatians seem to show petrol earlier in life than Germans? The palate is very fresh, with a core of sweet fruit braced by lively, green apple acidity. It's fairly complex but more than that, it's pure of fruit and expression and drinking well now, with a sweet/saline finish. (Nov. 8, 2011)

Giaconda, 140 NIS.

At this point, I let other importers share the floor. Starting with a bistro-style Beaujolais I brought to a family dinner.

Georges Dubeouf, Fleurie, Flower Label, 2010

I bought this on discount, thinking it was thee 2009, which I'd been meaning to re-purchase. Not a huge mistake, as I'd heard 2010 was another good vintage, but I was disappointed as I'd been looking forward to buying a somewhat more mature wine. Whatever, this is nicely tasty with black raspberries and a layer of pungent minerals and serviced the food quite heartily. What it lacked, sadly, was that touch of jism that makes Beaujolais lovers so hung up about the style and place. (Nov.11, 2011)

WineRoute, 65 NIS on sale.

Deux Montilles, Bourgogne Rouge, 2008

The Burgundian caste system breaks down with boutique wineries like the Montille siblings', because I think Bourgogne fans don't pay over 30 USD for a generic wine from an artisan outfit such as this without at least some interest in the origin. Case in point: I was hankering for a red B and remembered this as being soft in a Cote de Beaune way (as opposed to my other candidate, the Villaine Fortune, which is actually close to the Nuits, style-wise) and its very specificity made me curious. Whatever, this is light and spicy, with an appealing gaminess, gentle and soft, without being wimpy in any way whatsoever. The most obvious sign of its lowly origins is some stemminess in the background (besides the light frame, that is, but there are plenty of big names who show similar delicateness), but it's tempered nicely by the juicy acidity of the fruit and anyway, just serve it with the right food and no worries. (Nov. 12, 2011)

Dr. Loosen, "L", 2009

If you ever wanted a bistro-wine version of the Mosel, then this is it. Slate, apples, slightly saline, utterly thirst-quenching - this is actually the first time I'd ever opened a wine because I was thirsty. (Nov. 13, 2011)

WineRoute, 2 for 100 NIS deal.

And back to the Loire.

Domaine des Baumard, Coteaux du Layon, Carte d'Or, 2005

This concoction of cantaloup and botrytis is finally letting its relatively low acidity catch up with it. Not that it's fallen off a cliff or anything, more that I can sense a slightly downward slope for the first time, even as its Chenin character asserts itself as spicy honey and wet wool. (Nov. 15, 2011)

Giaconda, 117 NIS.

A couple, by the glass in Legal Seafood, Burlington Mall.

Dr. Loosen, Gray Slate, 2010

Very appley-y, even somewhat grape-y, aromas and flavors, without any overt sign of the acidity that I'd been warned about in 2010's. (Nov. 22, 2011)

About 10.5 USD by the glass.

Claude Branger, Muscadet Sevre et Maine, Le Fils de Gras Moutons, 2010

If Chablis was bred of lime and pond water instead of apples and sea water, this is what it'd taste like. And this is just the basic cuvee. (Nov. 22, 2011)

About 7.5 USD by the glass.

Chateau Thivin, Cote de Brouilly, 2010

Your basic, primal Beaujolais Cru at this stage: the nose hints at meaty complexity but on the palate it is rustic without being crude, well-endowed and tasty but still one-dimensional. Thus, adolescently charming, even if I do find a distracting band-aid streak in the mix. (Nov. 26, 2011)

Gordon Wines, 25 USD.