Sunday, July 29, 2012

Both Ends Burning - Birthdays Wines Of 2012

This year the celebrations extended over three separate dinner.

At Messa with Efrat and friends. (July 16, 2012)

Pierre Gimmonet, Special Club, 2002

Quite yeasty at first. Brioche and all that, but I have to admit I miss the fruit. I thought the overall effect would be purer. But its bracing lattice of minerals is very refreshing. Complex nose, excellent acidity.

Fat-Guy, 402 NIS.

Schloss Gobelsburg, Kamptal Reserve, Gainsberg 1er Lage, Riesling, 2010

Evocative of terroir. The sweet core of barely tropical fruit beneath the earthy Austrian spices is like an Easter egg. And another egg is the evergreen mint. I went long on this one, because I know where the smart money is.

Fat-Guy, 159 NIS.

Pontet-Canet,  Pauillac 5me Cru,1996

Classic Pauillac, typical of the 1996 style, if not quality. Still tannic, but the fruit around it is very pretty. Light brett, cedar. Red fruit that brooded until it turned black. A little one dimensional. I prefer Grand-Puy-Lacoste.

Vieux Telegraph, Chateauneuf du Pape, La Crau, 2001

Wild and furry. Very ripe. Almost a fruitcake. In a weird phase. Like a big blob of fruit, but fairly tasty.

With the family at Thai House (July 19, 2012)

Marcel Deiss, Rotenberg, 2004

This is one of Deiss' field blends, which in this case is dominated by Riesling. Oily semi-sweetness complemented by light bitterness and minerals. Apples, slate, hints of petrol, complex finish. Quite long. Best Deiss I ever bought.

Giaconda, 288 NIS.

And the Grand Finale (July 26, 2012)

Fellow wine geek Rani Osnat and I celebrated our birthdays with other geeks at Bertie, where the food manages to be complex and tasty while somehow devoid of any pretensions.

The wines Rani managed to corral filled in a couple of gaps for me. It was an extremely smart selection and he paired them perfectly with the food and got the order and airing time down to a tee. The guy must have been a sommelier in another lifetime. Thanks, man, for a dream experience!

Krug, Brut, 1996

Top quality. Complex nutty aromas, aided and abetted by brioche and baked apples. Such a tasty treat, delineated by very balanced acidity, with a long, mocha inflected aftertaste, full of flavors with no loss of elegance. Later on, the nose shows oranges, while on the palate the fruit explodes with grace and clarity. This is like adding a new dimension to the best champagne I ever tasted.

J. J. Prum, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Graacher Himmelreich, Riesling Spatlese, 2001

A classic Mosel and a great great Spatlese that doesn't try to mimic an Auslese (but then Prum's Ausleses are demure creatures themselves): petrol, peaches, dill, slate, clay. A terrific balance between all the elements a Mosel needs to titillate the palate, and it does it with exquisite grace.

A revelation!

R. Lopez de Heredia, Rioja, Vina Tondonia, White Gran Reserva, 1991

Here is a wine that opened up new vistas for me, and how often does that happen after ten years of drinking wine? Tasty in a mature, kinky way, every sniff and sip revealing something new: rocks, roasted nuts, smoked meats, leather, earth. I'm a white wine proponent, but still I had no idea a Rioja white could offer such an experience. Amazing. Montrachet who?

Col d'Orcia, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, Poggo al Vento, 1995

This is probably the best Brunello I've ever drunk, showing tar, earth, leather, spices, black fruit. It's still tannic, yet balanced, and the tannins are very elegant and integrated. Very long, with restrained power and a surprising purity of fruit.

Chateau Leoville-Barton, Saint Julien 2me Cru, 1996

This could thrive and grow for hours in glass, not that I managed to keep away from it for more than half an hour. This is my ideal of claret. Cedar, earth, pure black fruit. Elegant. Harmonious. Savory.

Kracher, Burgenland, Zwischen den Seem, Welschrieling, TBA, # 8, 2001

Toffee, marmalade, the works. Sauternes without the excessive alcohol. A hedonistic delight.

I'm not going to list prices for affairs like these. The participants were very generous, and I'd think it's appropriate to quantify their generosity.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Eclectic Company (July 5, 2012)

Four high tech professionals.

Four winemakers.

One wine importer.

Toto Restaurant, Tel Aviv.

The wines were on the eclectic side as well.

Domaine Aux Moines, Savennieres, Roche Aux Moines, 1994

Mute and austere. with a disturbing note of mildew at first. Not very pleasant on the palate, but the nose at least does pick up honeyed nuances and depth. And the acidity is surprisingly lively, even if there is little nuance, interest or fun.

Not imported to Israel, price unknown.

Pierre Gaillard, Saint Joseph, Clos de Cuminaille, 2007

A lovely, classic nose: pepper, bacon and flowers. Still a little unformed flavor-wise, but charming nonetheless with a tannic bite and gives a complete North Rhone experience. I'd buy more than a handful if I could.

Not imported to Israel, in the UK THIS costs about 165 GBP per case, in bond. Special thanks to Eran Pick for bringing this. It might not have been the greatest wine in the lineup, but I'd been waiting some time to taste Gaillard.

Chateau Sociando-Mallet, Haut-Medoc, Cru Bourgeois, 1998

Classic Left Bank, showing more cassis than currants, with cedar and minerals. Velvety despite a tannic bite. What a joy: due to the vintage, it's very easy to drink right now and will hold for several years.

WineRoute imports recent vintages for about 300 NIS.

Two local reds:

Savion, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009

Jammy, with spicy aromatic interest. This is sweet and has very little in common with the previous claret, yet there is some structure there. I think it's a typical Israeli boutique red that tries to curb the alcohol and ripe fruit as best it can.

Price unknown.

Arka, 2009

Segal's Avi Feldstein's latest project displays red fruit, sweet tannins and just a note of vanilla which does doesn't infringe on my sensibilities but rather reminds me the 2001 Dishon Cabernet. I will just regard it as Avi's fingerprint. Very nice, I will look it up upon release.

Not released yet, price unknown.

And back to France:

Chapoutier, Coteaux d'Aux en Provence, Terra d'Or, 2000

A modern and sweet nose, cassis, figs with spicy, earthy elements. Sweet tannins. Tasty and somewhat elegant despite the size.

The Scottish Company used to import this, I think for about 200-300 NIS back in the day.

Catherine et Pierre Breton, Bourgueil, Les Perrieres, 1995

Fresh red fruit, tobacco leaves, savory tannins. Bordeaux without makeup, with a juicy acidity that is more Bourgogne than Bordeaux. Saline finish. A very cool wine.  Intriguing.

80 USD from K and L Wines and worth every bit.

Chateau Talbot, Saint Julien 4me Cru, 2000

A big claret with meaty tannins and black fruit, and noticeable brett. A conservative wine, in the good and bad sense - it doesn't really take a lot of chances, unless the brett counts, but it gets the job done. Good acidity though. I expected a bigger spark from 2000. 

WineRoute imports recent vintages for about 450 NIS. If it were any cheaper, I'd say go for it.

Darting, Pfalz, Durkheimer Nonnehgarten, Kanzler Eiswein, 1999

Essence of  lychee and tofee. Very yummy, even if it doesn't have the raciness of a Riesling based icewine. Sweet and viscous.

Not imported, about 50 euros for a half bottle.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Euro Cup Wines

I saved some big guns for the final four.

Domaine De La Vougeraie, Gevrey-Chambertin, Les Evocelles, 2005

A big vintage combined with a meticulous producer with a clear, expressive approach to wine-making makes for a stylish wine. And I guess there's a good parcel at work as well. A wonderful nose. There's Gevrey gaminess that is focused and restrained, as well as exotic spices. And of course red fruit. And red fruit, and some black fruit as the wine opens. The palate is balanced and savory, with ripe tannins that are a perfect counterpoint to the juicy fruit - and I like how the mineral-laden mouth-feel winds up in a sanguine finish; I like somewhat less the relatively low acidity. I saved this for the Spain-Portugal game. (June 24, 2012)

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 250 NIS at the time.

For the Spain-Italy Finals:

William Fevre, Chablis Grand Cru, Bougros, 2005

The Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia says Bougros has the least frills of the all the Chablis Grand Cru, yet this is a few steps ahead of most of the Premier Crus in my collection, with a very vivid, detailed nose, that smells like Fevre strip mined the Kimmeridge soil: if you follow my Chablis notes then you know what to expect - fossils, sea breeze, green apples, apple skin - but the depth and intensity are on a totally different level. The palate is more of the same: saline, very long and penetrating, with the flavors echoing the aromas, and very poignant acidity for a vintage touted to be ripe and somewhat heavy. No frills? Maybe. But one hell of an intoxicating punch. (July 1, 2012)

WineRoute, 250-300 NIS.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Trocken/Not Trocken

The house's coat of honor
I don't often get a chance to do this: taste wines from the producer, same vineyard, same pardikat, same vintage, same grape: one dry, one classically off-dry. And on almost consecutive days, making for a relatively easy comparison.

Muller-Catoir, Pfalz, Haardter Burgergarten, Riesling Spatlese, 2007

The nose is showing good signs of development, with kerosene and smoky minerals over apple pie and a hint of tropical fruit. The palate is tasty and languid, and there is good acidity in there, yet somehow the overall effect isn't one that speaks to me of long term cellaring potential -just not racy enough. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, as I enjoy it a lot now, both for a certain clarity and for how it tastes. 9% ABV. (June 23, 2012)

Muller-Catoir, Pfalz, Haardter Burgergarten, Riesling Spatlese, Trocken, 2007

This sure ain't languid and it sure ain't too tropical. It's even more mineral-laden and saline. I'm guessing it could age better than its sibling, and it has have better poise and focus even now. In short, the better wine.   And it has that special quality of a great wine, that of discoursing its vineyard of origin: it lays out a map for you, and the map doesn't have recognizable names, it doesn't even have a compass to show you where the north is, but it gives you a handy picture of the layout of the land. 13.5 ABV. (June 24, 2012)

Both from Giaconda, 160 NIS.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Taking Care Of Business (June 2012)

Deux Montilles, Bourgogne Rouge, 2009

This wine raised many objections when we of the Daniel Lifshitz Burgundy Revue group tasted it a while back. Odd, as the objections had to do with the way the wine reflected the heat of the vintage and I didn't think 2009 was another 2003; figured it was ripe and big but not a monster truck. Anyway, by now, this has improved to the point where the nose has all the charms of a young Pinot - cranberries and dusty earthiness - with subtle clarity. But the palate is not as soft and charming as the 2008 was (and boy, was that ever a great value!) and the ripe, sweet fruit and soft, yet bitter, tannins reside on separate planes that need air to integrate. After said integration, the finish as an appealing savoriness to it, and you get that sense of magnification that lesser wines have in a big vintage, but it's a notch less brilliant than the 2008, where the acidity played a sexier hand. Or maybe it's difference in styles, rather than a great gap in quality. Still, it's nice that the Montilles have managed to create a generic Bourgogne that sparks such a lengthy note on a Friday night. (June 1, 2012)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 110 NIS.

Marcel Lapierre, Morgon, 2010

Oh, I like this more than the 2009. The nose is very interesting, with hints of earth and hints of apple cider over the more conventional red fruit. The aromatics grow deeper, more savory and more complex with air and it got a lot of air as the bottle was opened for lunch and finished over the course of the evening. The palate is tasty, with fine, savory tannins. (June 2, 2012)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 130 NIS.

Domaine de La Vougeraie, Cote de Beaune, Les Pierres Blanches, 2009

Lots of rotting leaves in the typical sous de bois aromatics, then red fruits and minerals, and soft, yet savory tannins. A tasty wine, with gently sweet (but not over-ripe) fruit and touch of salinity on the finish, exciting for the lowly appellation. (June 4, 2012)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 150 NIS for your Basic Burgundy Starter Kit.

Vitteaut-Alberti, Cremant de Bourgogne, Blanc de Blancs, n.v.

With my initial enthusiasm at actually drinking a new (for me) type of bubbly out of the way, I still find of enjoyment, if not complexity or depth, here. Today, it's perhaps more about chalk and yeast with the fruit somewhat one-dimensional (although there's that vague undertow of tropical fruit on the palate that adds some interest), and the mousse is rather coarse (and disappears quickly), but it's pleasant enough even if the yeast, chalk and fruit never make a coherent whole. (June 8, 2012).

Burgundy Wine Collection, 90 NIS.

Muga, Rioja Reserva, 2005

A better showing than last time. the nose is a little over-extracted for my tastes - with black fruit, espresso and tobacco leaves - leaving little room for sophistication. The palate is one-dimensional as well, but the finish makes up for some of the previous deficiencies with its savory tannins. All in all, a tasty little wine that displays varietal typicity and more of a Rioja personality that lat time, but really no great shakes. Just a little too obvious, I guess. (June 9, 2012)

WineDepot, 180 NIS.

A wine I always love, a name I hate typing out
Heritiers du Comte Lafon, Macon-Milly-Lamartine, Clos du Four, 2010

I love the Lafon Macon "spin-off" and what interests me this time is a subtle nod at the Meursault style (pears and nuts) that I suppose was always present in these wines, but which I never really picked up on. Wonderful minerality and acidity, too. And a savory, saline finish. (June 10, 2012)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 150 NIS.

Ecker-Eckhof, Zweigelt, 2010

A very pale rose, that is like someone someone put strawberry mascara on Gruner Veltliner. I mean, it has the same spiciness that yells out "Austria" to me, but with strawberry fruit and even more minerals (sort of upturned earth but with a layer of dirt I don't find locally) than I've found in Ecker's whites. A fun quaffer, with a semi-brainy, angular appeal. (June 12, 2012)

Wine Domains Of Austria, in other words Fat Guy again, 89 NIS.

Domaine Guy Roulot, Bourgogne Blanc, 2009

Risk-Free White Burgundy! Drink Now And Don't Worry About Premox! Acid Backbone In A Warm Vintage! Meursault Typicity With Unexpected Elegance! (June 15, 2012)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 140 NIS.

Huet, Vouvray, Petillant Brut, 2005

The Chenin is very obvious beneath the bubbles, this time, in the way the Brut speaks of summer fruits. There's also a very distinct mineral vein in there and a hint of brioche. Very tasty as always. But there's something wrong with mousse and it isn't very persistent. So this bottle is more of a Vouvray than a sparkler, in a way. (June 16, 2012)

Giaconda, 150 NIS.

Jacques-Frederic Mugnier, Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru, Clos De La Marechale, 2004

A classic Nuits nose - earthy red fruit, a touch feral - yet with exotic spices that wouldn't be out of place in Vosne. The palate has soft, languid, sweet 2004 fruit. The finish is both saline and would be terrific it were more savory - but I guess 2004 tannins just don't have it in them. (June 17, 2012)

WineRoute, 250 NIS about five years ago, 400-450 NIS for recent vintages. Sigh.

William Fevre, Chablis Premier Cru, Vaillons, 2008

Lime, pebbles and sea weed. Vaillons is a very refined Chablis and although I usually prefer the wilder, kinkier Premiers (Cote de Lechet, Montee de Tonnerre), the saline finish here lends a piercing focus to the elegance. (June 21, 2012)

WineRoute, 3 for 400 NIS.

Ecker-Eckhof, Landwein, Gruner Veltliner, 2011

I took this liter to Ahuva Kadouri for a Friday Night dinner, thinking it would be nice to have a lot of wine to go 'round for a change, but we finished the extra quarter very quickly, as this has the delicious, fresh-green, saline appeal of a GruVe, even if no one would mistake it for a first growth. Also, at the same dinner, my other bottle of the producer's Zweigelt, 2010, the pale rose making a charming pairing with fish and tomato sauce based dishes. Both wines were crowd pleasers. Which is nice, considering they're off the beaten track, for Israel. (June 22, 2012).

Obviously Fat Guy again, the GV is priced at 89 NIS, same as the Zweigelt.

Hirsch, Kammerner Heiligenstein, Gruner Veltliner, 2010

As always, this bargain-basement Grand Cru (which is what I believe the Heiligenstein vineyard to be), is a must-have for lovers of minerals. That's just the starting point; after that there's a bit of canteloupe and the typical green, slightly brothy, streak of sweet peas; and, finally, a sweet roundness that comes from  fruit, not residual sugar - all making this a great candidate for a white house wine. (June 30, 2012)

Fat Guy, 129 NIS.