|Newest house-wine candidate|
Midbar Winery, White 44, 2010
This "everything but the kitchen sink" cuvee actually feels as though every variety has a specific role in the blend, although I'm guessing the tone and volume of each one in the ensemble will change as the wine matures. This time, I think the Viognier and the Charodnnay are the dominant forces, as the 44 speaks now of spicy honey and apples. The Sauvignon and the Gewurtz harmonize in the background, with hints of gooseberries and lychee, respectively, that grow stronger as the two varieties come more and more to the fore. The Semillon probably adds texture, minerals maybe, I'm not sure. The only thing that mars the performance this time is a bitter, quinine finish, for which I blame the Gewurztraminer. (Nov. 4, 2012)
Midbar Winery, Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc, 2010
This is in a very austere stage - initially I thought it dumb. It's tasty, but so laid back it almost belies the depth it showed in the past. But there are still promising signs of melon and sculptor clay, and in time, this gains depth, focus and complexity, as well as a mineral-rich texture, enough to make me nod my head in consent and content. (Nov. 7, 2012)
Tzora, Judean Hills, 2010
This is very Israeli, ripe black fruit with typical 'Judean' spices, yet polished and not lacking elegance. There's also a touch of earthy minerals and leather. As always the case with Eran Pick's reds, this conjures up St. Estephe for me. It's not as outright interesting as some of the more esoteric local reds (Shvo, the Barkan Assemblage series, the various local Carignans), but it's tasty in a classic mold. (Nov. 8, 2012)
About 90 NIS.
Chateau Musar, Lebanon, Bekaa Valley, 2002
It's never easy to write about this wine; some tasting notes write themselves, off the cuff almost, but Musar is hard work. Maybe it's because it has a mystique that's highly publicized, yet after several bottles of two, three vintages, I'm not exactly in full agreement with the Musar hype. And that sort of conflict causes a mini writer's block, because I can't really put my finger on exactly why I don't go for it. Because I really should. What we have here is very much an endangered Old World species: funky claret, with sweet cherries, with an earthy, rusty overlay that hints at barnyard, and a light touch on the palate. But all these decidedly appealing elements coalesce into a clockwork with its gears out of whack. I mean, if someone offered me a glass and told me it came from the nether regions of Southern France, I'd be curious, but I'd never think this is a legend that warrants hunting down. (Nov. 10, 2012)
About 15 GBP in the UK.
Yannic Amirault, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Le Mine, 2009
Some of these Loire appellations sure have long names, don't they? Juicy, succulent red fruit, that is already developing a touch of iron, tobacco leaves, with soft tannins and a succulent finish. I've had more multi-layered and structured Loire Cabs, but this is most likely the tastiest. (Nov. 15, 2012)
18.5 GBP. Oh yes, I'd buy more if it were available here.
Heritiers du Comte Lafon, Macon-Milly-Lamartine, Clos du Four, 2010
This is more restrained than last time, but in a way, that makes it an even finer drop - restraint should be Burgundy's calling card. It's all about nuts and rocks, and its salinity and ripe, balanced acidity are both shining, and at this point really recalls the light, ethereal, yet deep and complex effect of my first encounters with Heritiers du Comte Lafon. A terrific wine for its price on yet another day that begged for escapism. (Nov. 16, 2012)
Burgundy Wine Collection, 150 NIS.
Jean-Luc Colombo, Crozes-Hermitage, Les Gravieres, 2010
Obviously Syrah, less a Crozes than it is a Colombo, although my experience is limited. Currants and cranberries and black pepper, with soft tannins and meaty notes. Gains complexity, length and depth with air, while the tannins become more prominent, and there's enough ripe acidity to lend it a fluidity that recalls Colombo's Cornas. Tasty and impressive, but doesn't seem particularly age-worhty and certainly not as exciting as Graillot, which I'd still buy by the case if WineRoute ever got off their asses and started importing it again. (Nov. 18, 2012)
About 18 GBP.
Tzora, Neve Ilan, 2011
I know, I told myself I'd age it. I'll have to hunt up another bottle with a chastity belt for the next vintage. Typical marriage of apples, flint, chalk and a whisper of oak that I love to find in classically molded Chardonnay, with acidity on the high side (which I always like). which serves the mitigate the tropical sweetness. (Nov. 21, 2012)
Albert Boxler, Alsace Grand Cru, Sommerberg D, Riesling 2007
The nose showcases green apples, minerals, honey and petrol, while the palate shows green apples imbued by a hint of tropical fruit. This must have been harvested very ripe, because even at 13.5% ABV, there's a hint of sweetness. A delicious, complex wine that mixes ponderous depth with a joyous wildness. (Nov. 23, 2012)
Giaconda, 186 NIS.
Montecastro, Ribera Del Duero, 2005
Hard as I try, I can't find a lot of classic Ribera in here, as it's rather closer to Priorat with its sweet ripe black fruit, but there's a smokey, meaty overlay of minerals, mint and tobacco leaves to temper that. Smooth at first, but with interesting aromatic complexity and both a more angular structure and a savory finish that are revealed with air. The acidity is low keyed but manages to be refreshing and balanced enough so its tasty core of ripe fruit shines clearly. (Nov. 24, 2012)
Giaconda, 160 NIS.
A. Et P. De Villaine, Mercurey, Les Montots, 2006
As much as I love de Villaine reds, this doesn't work, at this point in time. The nose is tired, even if it does show a certain earthy/spicy complexity, while the palate never grows past a faded attenuation. I hope this is the off bottle it seems to be. (Nov. 26, 2012)
Burgundy Wine Collection, 150 NIS.
Huet, Vouvray, Petillant, Brut, 2005
The nose creates a deep, poignant impression, using a relatively meager set of props: summer fruit, clay and brioche; while the palate carries along the same lines, elegant and light, balancing a sense of sweetness with an undertow of green under-ripeness. This is in a really great place, and I love it so much there's a good chance I'll never get to see what it turns into with more cellar time. (Nov. 29, 2012)
Giaconda, 140 NIS.
Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard, Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru, La Romanee, 2006
The nose is promising, showing a mineral influenced marriage of Chadonnay and oak that can be very satisfying handled with subtlety, and is the regional style anyway, no matter how much we like to romanticize upper-class Bourgogne whites. It's just that I've yet to decide whether Fontaine-Gagnard handles it right and the final test is the palate. At the start, there's a savoriness that is what I look for and I'm grateful that it manages to maintain a balance between that savoriness and the sweetness that some barrel regimes can impart to Chardonnay. Even if it lacks Premier Cru level focus and complexity, it certainly has the required weight, making it a passable Premier Cru. (Nov. 30, 2012)
WineRoute, about 300 NIS.