Monday, February 27, 2012

For The Very First Time In Israel - Domaine Baudry (Feb. 12, 2012)

The original idea was to get together with a few friends at the Basta in the Carmel Market and taste Baudry  and Itay "Vaniglia" Rogozinsky's garagiste Merlot.

Shvo, Chenin Blanc, 2010

This was on my shopping list and I'm glad to have finally tasted it, even if I found the quality not quite on par with the hype - but it sure is an interesting, "outside the box" approach. Let me give a short overview and then I'll explain what I find fascinating here. We have here a  great nose, a mediocre palate: sweet peas and a light overlay of minerals and spices; heavy and tired on the palate.

What makes it unique is it seems to me that winemaker Gaby Sadan, whether intentionally or whether he let the raw material dictate the style, turned the Chenin fruit into a wine remeniscent of Rhone whites. There's the fatty feel of Viognier on the palate, yet there's also the veggy, spicy flavor of a white CdP just before it goes dumb.

Knoll, Wachau, Pied Loibenberg, Smaragd, Gruner Veltliner, 2001

A complex nose with great depth, impressing with honey and petrol. Fruitier than the Shvo, but not fruity in the sense that would appeal to the layman, I wish the palate was better, but at least it's dense with grapefruit.

Not imported to Israel, price unknown.

Deiss, Gewurztraminer, 2004

One of my favorite sluts, with sculptor clay in her make-up. Should spark a lot debate. Like any Gewurtz would.

Giaconda, 207 NIS.

Domaine Bernard Baudry, Chinon, Le Clos Guillot, 2009

My expectations of Loire reds (from what I read, from my limited experience) is that they should approach the claret form from a juicier, redder, leaner direction. Which is what we have here. Juicy red fruit, tobacco leaves on the nose. Very succulent, savory tannins, food friendly tannins. This, I reckon,  is why Loire heads love Baudry.

This cost me about 30 USD in Chambers Street Wines in Manhattan. Here is a link to the domaine's site.

Vaniglia, La Famillia, 2010

Tasted after a few hours in decanter. A very Israeli nose, with carmel overtones. A very Israeli palate  as well, reminiscent of Ido Lewinsohn's work: the fruit is black, the tannins are dusty and there's very good acidity, yet that Israeli sweetness is there as well.

Not for sale, as Itay is content to drink his stash with friends.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Morey Than A Feeling (Feb. 8, 2012)

You'd think these wines deserve better than such a bad pun.

Deux Montilles, Bourgogne, 2009

I could't help but notice the label spells out "Pinot Noir" for the US crowd. And indeed it is more Pinot than Bourgogne at first. Then it shows a mildly earthy character. For now, the 2008 greatly outshines it.

Hubert Lignier, 2007

A perfumed, slightly minty nose that develops very nicely with only a little coaxing. The palate has ripe, solid acidity. There's a green, albeit tasty streak. I like it and I can see me fondling it over a meal but it doesn't bowl me over totally.

Not imported to Israel, should cost somewhat less than 60 USD.

David Duband, Premier Cru, Clos Sorbe, 2009

A modern, extracted nose that overwhelms with vanilla and leather even after decanting. Very precise and friendly.

Not imported to Israel.

Domaine Arlaud, Premier Cru, Aux Cheseaux, 2008

The nose is powerful without being modern like the Duband and the aromatics are nicely complex. There's even a hint of brett and the palate has a fruity core deftly balanced by tannins and acidity.

Expensive at 430 NIS at WineRoute but very tasty.

Ponsot, Premier Cru, Allouettes, 2002

Either corked or extracted beyond relief or otherwise spoiled by either man or weather. The nose is strange and while it gains clarity there's a wierd streak of brine. I find the palate is better and offers interest.

Burgundy Wine Collection, 450 NIS.

Christian Serafin, Premier Cru, Les Millandes, 2004

Complex aromatics of game meat, spices. Tannic, yet tasty and light. A very complete package.

WineRoute, 380 NIS. Terrific value if you can still find it.

Domaine Arlaud, Clos de la Roche, 2007

Earthy and meaty, with etheral finesse. This is an idealization of Burgundy that relies on purity and elegance and, even, mystery.

This, at 570 NIS, is a better value than the 2008 Aux Cheseaux.

Domaine des Lambrays, Clos des Lambrays, 2004

A different planet. The nose does offer fruit, but a dimension beyond purity of fruit: spices, sweat. The palate displays measured sweetness of fruit and marries power with elegance. Lengthy as well.

Louis Jadot, Bonnes Mares, 2001

The power here is implied rather than stated out loud. There's a warm, friendly elegance of sweet fruit at play and minerally, slightly pungent aromas. Each of the Grand Crus tonight offers a different aspect of Grand Cru-ness. This seems to me to be the most archtypical Grand Cru, that is, you can't say it's bigger or more intense or more elegant or more complex - it just feels like a Grand Cru.

WineRoute, about 500 NIS at the time.

Clos de Tart, Clos de Tart, 2008

Ripe fruit bordering on blue. So New World I can't bear it at this stage. Although I can sense the Bougogne she-lion sulking in the background. The palate is more delectable, but even it is more backward than any wine tasted.

Domaine Dujac, Clos St. Denis, 2004

Stinky, brooding. No hint of over or under-ripeness. Tasty and that's all: grand deliciousness.

WineRoute  again, not sure about the price.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Alzinger In Israel At Last (Feb. 5, 2012)

Once upon a time, Eldad Levy and Iggy Aloni had a bright idea. Import dry, white Austrian wines to Israel.

Arguably, Alzinger is the culmination of that bright idea: the winemakers' winemaker from Wachau, Austria's most famous wine district. Personally, because I have fond memories of this winery, I came to this tasting with great expectations and returned content for the most part.

The winery ferments only estate-grown grapes and produces only single-vineyard bottlings. The prices listed below are still tentative, but they shouldn't change significantly.

A champagne for starters.

Margaine, Brut Traditionelle, Premier Cru, nv

A bit fruitier and sweeter, and arguably less complex, than the last time I had this, with Eldad at Thai House. Still fun, though, especially once the brioche asserts itself with air. 229 NIS.

Frauenweingarten Federspiel, Gruner Veltliner, 2010

From a flat vineyard. Very much GV. Sweet peas, lightly peppery and spicy. Ripe yet crisp. A fruity, friendly wine. 120 NIS.

Muhlpoint Federspiel, Gruner Veltliner, 2010

The difference between this and the former on the nose is subtle yet pronounced: more precise and focused minerality; but the palate is where it trounces the Frauenweingarten due to its tighter grip. 135 NIS.

Muhlpoint Smaragd, Gruner Veltliner, 2010

The nose is deeper yet more reserved, with a hint of clay (?). Deeper and sweeter on the palate, as well. The aromas and flavors are cut from the same typical GruVe cloth.155 NIS.

Steinertal Smaragd, Gruner Veltliner, 2010

Corked. With the limited number of bottles Eldad and Iggy import from this esteemed vineyard, I hope this accounts for all the TCA we'll see from this wine in Israel. 250 NIS.

Loibenberg Smaragd, Riesling, 2010

Closer to a Gruner than to a Riesling from any other place that I know (well, I suppose there's also a resemblance to Australian Rieslings). Peppery, fiercely minerally. Focused, intense. 230 NIS.  Knowing from experience what this can turn to in time, the price is very competitive with local prices for German Grosse Gewachs, which is the my reference point for its level of quality.

Liebenberg Smaragd, Riesling, 2010

Again, closer to GV, showing spicy lemons, but softer and friendlier than the Loibenberg. Exotic and tropical, but in the way a pineapple is exotic and tropical - which isn't the same as kiwis and mangos, if you get my drift. About 230 NIS.

Hirsch, Heiligenstein, Riesling, 2009

Very minerally, with hints of petrol, even, which I can sense on the palate as well. The reduction stifles the fruit, though, and this wine should show better with air. 225 NIS.

Salomon-Undhof, Pfaffenberg, Riesling, 1996,

A strange, mysterious nose; honey, petrol, light botrytis. The palate feels stretched out, lemony, as though the fruit is starting to fall apart but is glued together by the acidity.

From the winery's library and thus not imported.

Iggy is the distributor for Bravdo Winery, so he brought some reds for the post-tasting asado. I forgot to ask about prices.

Bravdo, Merlot, 2009

Fairly elegant with a touch of green that I was okay with, but which might offend others.

Bravdo, Shiraz, 2009

Nice, better than the Merlot - but where's the Shiraz?

Lastly, Eldad pulled a nice 'digestif' from his cellar.

Dominique Laurent, Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru, Les Beaumonts, 1999

What an attractive context switch! Murky color, sous de bois, fragrant red fruit. A lightly tannic bite, tasty even if it's not as complex as I'd expect it to be, given the vineyard and vintage.

Not imported, price unknown.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Taking Care Of Business (Jan. 2012)

They say the story, hope it don't bore ya
about they day I was a horse  (The Vaselines)

Georges Dubeouf, Fleurie, Flower Label, 2010

Very Gamay, quite saline and tasty, finally showing the special savoriness I adore In Beaujolais Cru. Sometimes Capitalism works. (Jan. 5, 2012)

WineRoute, 65 NIS on sale.

Ishmael Arroyo, Ribera Del Duero, Reserva, 2001

I've had this wine with friends on numerous occasions and I promised myself that once, just once, I'd drink it alone at home and study it in detail. And the results are in. On the nose there is predominately black fruit, tell-tale cardamon and enough poop and leather to hint at brett. The palate is quite tasty, with sweet, not-too-ripe, fruit tempered by savory tannins. In short, my detailed study doesn't add greater depth or nuances to the mental picture I'd already built for this wine, indeed for Arroyo in general, and doesn't elaborate much beyond previous notes. So I guess all there's ever been to this wine is rugged yumminess, with Old World breed and mystique. And it tells a story. Always a plus. (Jan. 7, 2012)

Giaconda, 225 NIS. Maybe I need to revisit my first Ribera flame, Condado de Haza, to see how a 'base' wine that I haven't drunk in years compares to this obvious high-breed.

Müller-Catoir, Pfalz, Haardter Bürgergarten, Riesling Spätlese Trocken, 2007

This is one of the few dry Pfalz Rieslings that has me convinced, spicy with a fascinating mineral vein that imbues the nose with a sense of locale - not a locale that I could place on a map (although I'm pretty sure I could find the Pfalz with a couple of tries), just a sense of a wine coming from somewhere specific. Despite the "trocken" designation, the palate has such vivid freshness that the fruit feels sweeter than it probably is, without feeling riper than a Riesling ought to be. (Jan. 11, 2011)

Giaconda, 160 NIS.

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

The fourth and final bottle of one my house reds greets me, upon opening, with aromas of beets and upturned earth, these closely echoed on the palate. A touch of sous bois as well, good stuff all.(Jan. 12, 2012)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 110 NIS.

Ecker-Eckhof, Berg Wagram, Gruner Veltliner, 2010

Seeing as I'd just drunk and written about this, another tasting note would be rather superfluous, so let's talk about the food match. We had this with spicy Asian (from Zozobra) and I knew it would be a great pairing, what with the pepper and papaya/green peas combo on the nose and the interaction of salinity and sweetness on the palate.

This made me think how inappropriate the local wines are. I used to think Rieslings would work with this kind of fare, but you'd need a lot of mineral flare, which the local attempts don't produce. Same for Israeli Gewurtz. The local Chardonnays are too round for the most part and even the best just wouldn't have the right mouth feel (actually, Pelter's Unoaked is kind of tropical and might work, except it's not spicy enough). A Sauvignon Blanc might do the trick, but in the end, the only local candidate would be Sea Horse's Chenin Blanc. But I'll still stick with Ecker. (Jan. 13, 2012)

Wine Domains Of Austria, 119 NIS.

Santa Duc, Gigondas, Cuvee Tradition, 2005

Obviously Southern Rhone from the first whiff and sip, as the garrigue and ripe fruit attest. Now, 15% ABV isn't my first drinking choice, but at least here it's subdued by the fruit, so the overall effect is lush, ripe, sweet fruit with dusty tannins and not an alcoholic bomb. We had with cholent for lunch, which was apt, but since it's not an easy wine to finish off at lunch, a couple of glasses survived until evening, when it showed more minerals, especially iron. The final glass was especially complex, as the herbal and mineral notes combines for an interesting interplay. (Jan. 14, 2012)

K and L, about 40 USD, four-five years ago.

Hirsch, Kammerner Heiligenstein, Gruner Veltliner, 2010

This time, there is a minerally-citrusy overlay that recalls Chablis (in my first forays into GruVe territory, five years ago, I thought the grape a quirkier version of Chardonnay, so the resemblance here is an apt one). The palate is deceptively simple and round (deceptive because I've seen what it's capable of and am on to its tricks) and very gulpable, with an inviting saline finish. (Jan. 16, 2012)

Wine Domains Of Austria ,129 NIS

Domaine de Travallon, Vin de Pays de Bouches-du-Rhone (Coteaux d'Aix-En-Provence), 2001

This is 'only' a VDP due to an infringement of some AOC law or another (actually, this is half Syrah, half Cabernet Sauvignon, while the maximum Cabernet allowed under the AOC rules is 20%). A touch of brett on the nose, but the palate is more polished than I'd thought, excellent albeit a little monolithic in its excellence. Warm fruit, as opposed to ripe, which I think is the key to the charm of South France. A riddle I'd like to spend more time deciphering. (Jan. 23, 2012)

Giaconda, about 350 NIS. More than I'd spend on a Chateauneuf, which is what I'd figured to be the proper yardstick, but then it's more refined than most CdP's I've had in recent years.

Dr. Loosen, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Erdener Treppchen, Riesling Kabinett, 2007

Mosel Rieslings, especially Kabinetts, are like Smokey Robinson tunes: light confections, but insanely captivating ones. This here is classic apples and slate, with tints of petrol and even clay, and very racy and refreshingly sour. (Jan. 26, 2012)

Imported by WineRoute, where they're typically sold for about 120 NIS before discounts (and you can be certain they'll always be wind up being offered on some discount or another). Wine Depot still has a stock of 2007's for 109 NIS.

William Fevre, Chablis Premier Cru, Vaillons, 2007

Since I write about every single bottle of wine I drink or taste and since I drink a lot of Chablis, it's hard to come up with too many novel ways to describe the same experience, yet Chablis is important enough for me to try. This is the textbook, secret blueprint that the land, grapes and winemakers are weaned on. The nose is convincing it its salty attack while the palate adheres to the Hugh Johnson adage that Chablis should be "full but tense, limpid but stony". (Jan. 31, 2012)

WineRoute, usually about 130 NIS on discount.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Experiments

Experiment #1: Meyer-Nakel, Ahr, Dernauer Pfarrwingert, Spätburgunder, Großes Gewächs, 2005

Because I don't have much experience with German Pinot Noir, because this is a famous estate, and because the top cuvees are said to be rather oak-ish and I figured I might as well find out already whether they appeal to me.

The color is very worrying, with too brown a tint for a six year old plus Pinot. Two hours after opening, the nose has a metallic bent to it, but there's a decent whiff of cherries underneath. A further hour shows some interesting, earthy aromatics with decent complexity. The palate is low in acidity with bitter tannins. But at least it's not over-extracted, and grows palatable in time, so it just about passes muster. (Jan. 19, 2012)

This cost me about 50 GBP in London a couple of years ago, which in itself is a bad buy. What makes it worse is thinking about the bottles that competed with it for baggage space and lost out.

Experiment #2: Domaine Des Remizieres, Hermitage, Cuvee Emilie, 2004

Because I wanted to spoil myself with a Hermitage. Actually, since I'd bought this bottle for 30 USD, it was like opening a house wine, almost. So, although I knew this wine can be oaky in its youth and that Hermitages in general need at least a decade to show well, I decided to take the Emilie out for a spin.

The plan was to have a couple of glasses with a beef stew Efrat made for lunch and then finish it off over dinner, tracking its progress. The first glass displays very intense black fruit and iron, with dusty, bitter tannins that overwhelm the fruit flavors, even if they're at the stage where they've stopped puckering. There's obvious structure and complexity in there but I think it's still under the influence of the barrels; but at least they're only constricting the fruit as opposed to artificially flattering the palate. After about six hours and a few pours for samples that aired the bottle, I start to get a sense of the potential. The nose becomes earthier and finally shows signature black pepper and the powerful allure of Hermitage, while the palate develops a savory essence over solid acidity. Even then it's still disjointed so this should be left for another five-ten years. (Jan. 21, 2012)

Experiment #3: Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard, Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru, Les Vergers, 2006

Because it really sucked at Daniel Lifshitz tasting, which naturally raised some concerns about my personal holdings.

Much better. Citrus, dried grass, flint, a whisper of oak.There's some sweetness on the palate, but enough structure this time to contain it, so the whole thing finishes with the wry savoriness I love in white Burgundies - when they work. That having been said, I think I've drunk villages at this same level of quality. Comparisons are a bitch. (Jan. 25, 2012)

WineRoute, about 250 NIS at the time.

Experiment #4: Peteglia, Montecucco, 2008

Because I wanted to dip my feet into Italian waters. Meaning non-Piedmonte, non-Nebbiolo, Italy. Giaconda's new Italian catalog seemed a nice way to plan my return after several year's abstinence.

So, first of all this, is really a curiousity. The DOC is hardly an household name and the winery is low beneath the radar, with only this sole wine (and some olive oil, apparently) in their portfolio. And their site doesn't even have an English version.

The wine, then, is surprisingly light on the palate for 14% ABV (14%! I really wanted a lighter wine for my experiment!), slightly bitter with good acidity and some savoriness, and a fairly expressive nose of roasted Mediterranean herbs and red cherries. Quite nice for what it is, but marred by by increasing aromatic sweetness and dwindling complexity on the palate. 100 NIS. (Jan. 28, 2012)

Experiment #5: Roberto Anselmi, Capitel Croce, Veneto IGT, 2008

I've hardly ever had Soave, but I'm not even sure this actually counts as a typical sample. Hell, Anselmi even eschews the DOC.

The nose is oddly familiar: that melange of citrus fruit, nuts and mushrooms wouldn't be out of place in Champagne. The palate is a bit low in acidity, but manages to keep its balance anyway on sheer spicy flavor - it works, just like Rocky Marcciano worked. (Jan. 29, 2012)

Giaconda, 120 NIS. Good value.