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.