Taking Care Of Business (May 2012)

Keller, Rheinhessen, Von der Fels, Riesling QBA, Trocken, 2007

Young vines from Kirchspiel, Hubacker and Morstein Grand Crus. While this doesn't possess the depth and intensity of an honest-to-goodness Grand Cru, it does have plenty of complexity and clarity, with green apples, flowers and notes of chalk/fossils. The palate packs offers quite a scintillating, acid driven focus and in all, this is how I like my dry Rieslings: when they offer the same purity and light elegance as the sweeter version -only, obviously, dry. It's worth noting that I like this more than I did the 2005 at a similar age. (May 4, 2012)

I think this is, in addition to all of the above, an example of the kind of wine that is sometimes labelled terroir-driven. Why do I say that? Because, as I drank it, I felt it was moving away from the place where its Riesling-ness was the key to its identity to a place where it spoke more of its origins than of its variety.

Giaconda, 160 NIS.

Bourillon d'Orleans, Vouvray, Moelleux, Tris de Nobles Grains, 'La Coulée d'Or', 2003

I find the nose intriguing. Beneath the spicy/wooly aromas of Chenin approaching maturity, I think I spy a hint of honeyed botrytis, but whatever is going on in there, the aromatics have a piercingly intellectual charm. The palate is sweet, of course, rich and hedonistic without, for me, going over the top, with a strand of botrytis funk that is even more obvious than it was on the nose.

Yet another dessert wine I prefer to Sauternes (even if I did have it with spicy Asian food, and even if, like Sauternes, it's not exactly bulging with acidity), but not enough for a repeat purchase. (May 5, 2012)

Giaconda, 243 NIS for a full bottle.

On Wednesday, my bosses explained to the team that a tough week was ahead.
I prepared over the weekend with some elixirs.

Recanati, Syrah/Viognier, Reserve, 2009

Better than I remembered, better than I'd hoped it would turn out to be. The Syrah showcases tell-tale black pepper and a hint of savory meatiness that borders on brett - which I think is just the Syrah being Syrah, but  it also combines with the meaty tannins to evoke Spain. The acidity is about the best that we can aspire to in the local climate, but there's a fine touch of salinity on the finish to make up for any deficit. (May 10, 2012).

120-140 NIS, your mileage may vary.

Leitz, Rheingau, Rüdesheimer Berg Roseneck, Riesling Spätlese, 2004

The petrol notes on the nose are at first too overt for me, but beneath I get apples and slate and the palate is vibrant enough to wash away any pressing doubts. Anyway, the first impression is not significant here, because the petrol fades away and the apples become less prominent as tropical fruits emerge (although never to the point where the wine reeks of a fruit punch; they merely add an exotic sweetness), complemented by notes of mint and talc. On the palate, the acidic backbone pairs with and balances quite deftly said tropical fruit, driving a long, tangy, expressive finish. Noble stuff that shows more and more complexity, purity and depth as it unfolds. (May 11, 2012)

Giaconda, 150 NIS.

Fuastino, Rioja Gran Reserva I, 1999

It's hard to tell whether Faustino has taken a step up in quality or whether they are being treated with more respect by their latest importer. I've written about this before - the previous importer, France-Israel Group, simply had no respect for their portfolio and their customers, and in their heyday, I'm sure this bottle would have already been fully mature. Instead, this seems rather young and adolescently lively, which is surprising since 1999 is supposedly relatively dilute in Rioja (my sources are the Hugh Johnston Wine Pocket Book and the Tom Stevenson Wine Report). The initial pour shows typical Tempranillo fruit (red fruit, pungent tobacco leaves) in its primary form, alongside the typical aromatic effects of American barrels. In time I find a hint of the vegetable stew that Gran Reservas can develop, but it still feels like this needs a few years to fully express all of its potential. Anyway, what you get now is juicy acidity and savory tannins - implying a fine future -, a sturdy palate and a somewhat surprising overlay of minerals (surprising because I rarely get it to this extent in Riojas, and never with Faustino). (May 12, 2012)

WineRoute, 150 NIS, 130 on discount during May (which is Faustino month in the chain). At this price, worth buying a couple to lay down.

The Shvo Rose is Big Pink!

Shvo, Rose, 2010

The best wine I've tasted from Shvo so far, and a really fine, really tasty Rose. Delicately expressive and sanguine, with fresh, earthy strawberry fruit that might not be very complex but is instead single-minded in its purity, rather than being simple (however you wish to use that term). (May 16, 2012)

80 NIS, your mileage may vary.

Moreau-Naudet, Chablis Premier Cru, Montee de Tonnerre, 2006

When I first tasted the wines from this estate, a few months after their arrival, I thought they were sullen and in need of cellaring. That was over three years ago and the bottles I'd opened since proved to be moving in a good direction. This bottle is back to sullen. It's a very proper Chablis, from the more mineral-laden side of the Chablis spectrum - in  this case a blend of chalk and sea shells (which I think is characteristic of this Cru) - with green apples melting into oranges. It's steely and crisp on the palate and seems to hide a lot of nervy energy inside an intellectually stimulating structure, which is expressed mostly in the lightly grainy finish. Yet today, its sullen pout is distracting and as a drinking experience (rather than tasting), it lacks joy. I guess I really should have tried harder to actually pair it with food - on its own, it was too much like drinking chalk juice at times. (May 18, 2012)

Giaconda, 190 NIS.

Marqués de Vitoria, Rioja Gran Reserva, 1996

This is apparently a small Rioja Bodegas owned by Faustino, which explains why it also appeared this month on discount at WineRoute. According to the winery's site, this sees 100% French barrels, as opposed to the Rioja norm of American. At sixteen years post-vintage, it's hard to tell the specifics of the oak, but Tempranillo and oak is the classic Rioja formula, and even modernists usually get it right. The oak here doesn't feel like on overt act of Modernism, or an attempt to court Parkerian favor, but the fruit feels a little tired and the whole hasn't congealed into the magic that can take place when a Gran Reserva has evolved into true maturity. Takes a while to open up and even then, it's a very nice, but hardly spectacular, version of Rioja, and not, to my tastes, up to the Gran Reserva standard. (May 18, 2012)

160 NIS at WineRoute, 110 NIS on discount.

Domaine des Baumard, Savennieres, Clos du Papillon, 2005

This has all the elements I found in previous bottles - canteloupe and the unique smoky, ashy signature of Savennieres - the difference, is, everything has finally come together. The fruit is fresh and vivid, without any sense of heaviness. There's a light bitterness on the finish, but it evokes grapefruit rind, rather than pips. After a couple of hours, a sweaty muck emerges, which reminds Efrat of piss. I find it very appealing. Whatever, this is an excellent, decently complex drop. (May 21, 2012)

Giaconda, 170 NIS.

Egon Muller, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Scharzhofberger, Riesling Kabinett 2007

I've never really smelled quartz, but, for some reason, this is what the nose reminds me of. Whatever, it's all about rocks and minerals, with some red apples making a coy appearance stage right, and there's a light overlay of petrol as well. The palate is the epitome of light, ethereal Mosel., very balanced and elegant, very tasty, with a somewhat dusty mouthfeel. (May 28, 2012)

Giaconda, 220 NIS. I had my qualms when I bought this whether any Kabinett is worth this much money, but this is leagues beyond any other Kabinetts I've ever drunk, packing loads of flavor and finesse in the light, crisp, austere body of a Kabinett.

Ramonet, Chassagne Premier Cru, Ruchots, 2004

The last of my small stock of Ramonet. And it's a classic. Spicy pears, nuts and rock. Fantastic acidity. Good structure, yet with a slight touch of wild hedonism. However... a note of perfumed sweetness creeps in after a while, which isn't my favorite aspect of 'classic' Burgundian whites, but at 16-18 degrees Celsius (which is the serving temperature of this wine), there is enough going on to offset that. Good, but - I hate to say it - not great. (May 30, 2012)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 380 NIS now, 270-300 NIS back in the days.