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.