Taking Care Of Business (July, 2012)

This month finds me totally in tune with the aesthetics of Austrian whites. Among other things.

Clerc Milon, Pauillac, 5me Cru Classe, 1996

A classic Pauillac: the currant-ish lift on the nose sets an example for all Cab-based reds. Of course, it's just Clerc Milon, so while there's a nice earthy/leathery/mushroomy overlay, it's not really profound or anything like that, but the aromatics whet my appetite, so it passes the entrance exam. Then there's the palate, with fresh red fruit and a rusty, savory tannic bite. The bottom line is: decent complexity, decent finesse, decent bottle-age wine-iness - and terrific food friendliness. (July 2, 2012)

About 80 USD.

Mount Etna
Can't you just imagine this weird old vine growing at
the crossroads where Robert Johnson met the devil?

Terren Nere, Etna Rosso, Calderara Sottana, 2009

So the hype is, as I wrote when I covered this rising star, is that the Etna Rosso DOC/Nerello Mascalese grape is the either the Bourgogne or Barolo of Sicily. The question is: which is it? With this cuvee, the vote is split down the middle, as the aromas (red cherries, flowers, a hint of salty sweat and the slightly cured spicines) have an affinity with both Pinot Noir and Nebbilo, while the palate has the light touch of the former and the tea-bag tannins of the latter. Approachable, once you get by the not-formidable-but-stubborn tannins, but this could go for as long as a decent Nebbiolo of a similar age, I think. (July 7, 2012)

Fat-Guy, 230 NIS.

Caruso and Minini, Sicilia IGT, Tasari (Nero d'Avola-Merlot), 2010

Very appealing rustic charm, without any chunkiness, just fresh, savory berry fruit with a hint of herbs and minerals. (July 8, 2012)

Fat Guy again, 69 NIS. Great value!

Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard, Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru, Les Vergers, 2006

It seems that every time I'm ready to write off Cote d'Or whites (in favor of their humble brethren from the south or their upscale competition from Chablis), along comes an affirmation. One that is especially surprising in this case, as I've had some mediocre experiences with Fontaine-Gagnard recently. But this bottle reminds me why my friends and I found this producer so appealing when WineRoute started importing the house five years ago.

This has an attractive nose that presents dried grass and matches (perhaps not the best image in an Israeli summer), with baked apples in the background, and lightly oxidative notes that add complexity without carrying over to the palate at the cost of freshness. The palate: the palate is tasty and supple, without any obvious fat, with a grainy texture tempered by the filter of finesse, and with a complexity worthy of the Premier Cru label and price tag. (July 12, 2012)

WineRoute, about 250 NIS., making this particular bottle an excellent value.

Alzinger, Wachau, Leibenberg, Riesling Smaragd, 2010

One of the things I look for in wines is a sense of fun, and Eldad Levy's Austrian imports are fun! I mean, they're drop dead gorgeous at times, but also (mainly?) fun and tasty.

I liked this at Eldad's introductory tasting, but my impressions were still embryonic, and now the shape of this wine is clearer to me. This has a tropical, exotic character but most of all, it is defined, for me, by a gorgeous evergreen mint note, with perhaps a faint echo of ginger. The structure has better focus now, and the spicy finish so typical of Austrian is more obvious. Plus, with more and more air, the vibrant acidity lends the fruit great vitality. (July 13, 2012)

Fat Guy, 209 NIS.

A. Et. P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise Blanc, Les Clous, 2008

Four years is a bit on the early side for this wine (depsite its relatively lowly price) but I find it approachable already. It's a very nutty wine, but rather in the way that Champagne is nutty rather than, say, Meursault is nutty. Beyond that, it's about citrus rather than apples and pears, with a compact stoniness on the palate. Good acidity, that blends in very well with the fruit. Needs an hour or two of air at this point for the fruit to reach its inherent purity.(July 15, 2012)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 110 NIS.

Salomon, Kremstal, Undhof, Kogl, Erste Lage, 2009

This, typically, starts out more Austrian than Riesling, with the balanced dose of spices and minerals that good Austrians bring to the game field embracing fruit that has an almost exotic aspect, without obscuring the innate clarity and purity of the fruit. Of course, this being Riesling, the aromas show more and more apples, and a pretty herbal streak, with air and time. (July 21, 2012)

Fat Guy, 129 NIS. Go for it, fanboys - wait, it's already sold out, I guess good news travels fast!

Dr. Loosen, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Erdener Treppchen, Riesling Kabinett, 2009

Oh damn, this is tasty. Granny apples, slate, parsley, dill and - grapes. Still a little fizzy. (July 25, 2012)

WineRoute, 90-120 NIS. Depends.

Dr. Loosen, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Bernkasteler Lay, Riesling Kabinett, 2009

Greater purity and breed here, compared to the Treppchen, even if this is somewhat less racy, but just as tasty. Hard to be sure without actually tasting them side by side, but I think this is the better wine. Certainly, it has a bigger reservoir of gems to draw from: starting with the usual apples and slate, as it opens, it shows flowers, mint, rainwater, even cherries.(July 27, 2012)

Same details as the Treppchen.

Chateau Charmail, Haut-Medoc, Bourgeois Cru, 2005

Cassis, licorice, earth, cedar, a touch of violets. Obviously a product of a very warm and ripe vintage, and to be quite honest, while it's obviously a claret, I'm not sure I'd recognize it as an actual Bordeaux, blind. There's a core of fresh fruit in there, but the tannins surrounding it are grainy and bitter, so despite the heralded vintage, I'm not sure about the future, despite a more optimistic reading a year ago. (July 28, 2012)

WineRoute, 2 for 300 NIS, when the 2005's came out.