Taking Care Of Business (Apr. 2013)

Act 1: Drinking in Israel

Clos du Marquis, St. Julien, 2000

It's amazing to consider that when I bought this bottle, Adam wasn't even born. So I've been cellaring the Clos du Marquis for almost 10 years. I had it a month or so ago and that bottle seemed smooth and innocent and felt like it could keep for years, but without a lot of room for improvement. This, on the other hand, seems like it could improve over the next few years. Whatever, this is a classic claret, cedar-y and earthy, yet somehow without quite the finesse I'd expect from a St. Julien. It starts out harsh, before a sliver of sleekness starts to dominate. It never really winds up too modern, God forbid, and there's decent complexity and depth in there - although I do wish it was more savory. The last third, three hours or so after uncorking, is the best - yet this is one time I enjoyed the destination more than the voyage. (Apr. 5, 2013)

I only ever bought two vintages of the Clos du Marquis from WineRoute. The 1999 was the first Bordeaux I ever bought and it cost 160 NIS. This 2000 probably cost about 200 NIS. By now, recent vintages go for 350 plus NIS, as far as I recall.

Koehler-Ruprech, Pfalz, Kallstadter Saumagen, Riesling Auslese Trocken, 2005

Tasting the 2004 version seven years ago was where I feel in love with German Riesling. Can anything live up to such an epiphany? Not in this case. Maybe it's a bad bottle, but the oxidative notes here, while interesting in their own right, maim and kill whatever complexity and depth this wine should possess. The color is also on the dark side for a relatively young Auslese. On the palate, I find surprisingly lively fruit with clean acidity, but  not a lot of interest, at least not given my level of expectations from the vineyard, predikat and vintage. (Apr. 6, 2013)

Giaconda, about 150 NIS.

R. Lopez de Heredia, Vina Tondonia, Gran Reserva Rosado, 2000

Rosé as sherry? This bodega is probably the only one in Rioja (or anywhere for that matter) to label a rosé Gran Reserva and release it after ten-plus years. Weird shit for sure.
This is a very oxidized style of wine, even though I don't know how much this single bottle is representative of what this wine should offer. The first impression is of carmelized cashews, but then there's a pungent strain of sulphur growing stronger, that reminds me of the 1991 Gran Reserva Blanco I had on my last birthday. The palate is bone dry, with strawberry flavors you have to almost reach out for. This isn't what most people have in mind when they think of a rosé, and I actually think it smells and tastes more like an orange wine. Whatever, it's certainly worth the 20 pounds or so that I paid for it, even if only as an experience, and I might buy it again (or whatever vintage is on sale), the next time I'm in London. (Apr. 7, 2013)

Purchased at Fortnum and Mason for about 20 GBP.

Club des Sommeliers (Chateau de Hureau), Saumur-Champigny, Grand Reserve, 2010

Club des Sommeliers is apparently a negociant that packages wines from all over France for local supermarket consumption. And if you pay attention to the small letters on the label, you can find some amazing bargains, as I found out when I picked this up for 10 Euros at a Parisian suburb, because the label almost obscures the fact that this is a basic bottling by famous Saumur-Champigny producer Chateau du Hureau; which, coincidently, was the first Loire producer I ever tasted. And this is a charming wine, quite reminiscent of that initial Loire encounter, showing fresh red currants, that feel as though they had just been plucked off the tree, aptly framed by notes of lead pencil and a tobacco leaves. Not especially deep or complex, and arguably a little dilute before it builds up a lithe body in glass, but it's really tasty and deftly structured, once it fills out. (Apr. 8, 2013)

10 Euros. A bargain, didn't I say that already? This would be my house wine if I were living in France.

Tardieu-Laurent, Crozes-Hermitage, Les Lauzières, 2010

This is another supermarket bottling I bought on the strength of the producer, in this case Tardieu-Laurent, who's never disappointed me in the past. This is loosely structured and on the short side, but it properly displays typically languid and peppery Crozes fruit. Considering the price, this is remarkable QPR (at least in Israeli terms), even if it's not nearly as distinctive as the Saumur-Champigny above or one of the Graillot Crozes. (Apr. 9, 2013)

12 Euros.

Bodegas Faustino, Rioja Gran Reserva, 1999

On the one hand, this seems more mature then previous bottles, on the other hand, it's also oakier. But as is usually the case with Rioja, it's a nice oak, embellishing earthy red fruit, and the tannic finish leaves a very savory aftertaste. I still think it needs more cellar time. (Apr. 11, 2013)

Domaine Sylvain Gaudron, Vouvray, Moelleux, 2011

A tasty wine, without a lot of frills or complexity. The nose is somewhat reminiscent of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, with smoky tropical fruit that's a cross of melons and pineapples. The palate is rounder and sweeter than a Kiwi might be, though, so typicity is assured. The saline finish assures my attention, as does a note of sculptor clay, even if there's nothing very memorable about the structure, and even if the whole package is borderline over-seductive. (Apr. 13, 2013)

About 12 Euros in a tourist trap in the Loire. It's amazing what great QPR you can find if there's no middle man or shipping costs to be paid.

Drinking Grivot is its own reward
Jean Grivot, Vosne-Romanee, 2005

The fruit is on the subtle side, although still fresh - abetted by forest floor, as well as sweat and meat - with unexpected austerity for a 2005 (not closed so much as pouting and impetuous), until tannin and fruit fan out softly to produce a velvety mouth-feel with a delicately spicy finish. This is just about all I expect from a Grivot villages wine: an overachiever that is typical of both the terroir and the house style. (Apr. 14, 2013)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 250 NIS.

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

I wound up buying quite a lot of this perennial favorite. It's in perfect balance now, showing the most harmony and poise yet. If I were God and had to invent apples from scratch, I'd base them on a pretty Riesling such as this: the lithe, yet languid fruit perfectly framed by cool, nuanced touches of minerals and spices. (Apr. 15, 2013)

Giaconda, 150 NIS.

Act 2: Drinking in Bedford, MA

Domaine Tissot, Jura, Arbois, Poulsard Vieilles Vignes, 2010

Poulsard is a wine I've wanted to taste for a couple of years, if only to mark it down as an experience - and an interesting one it is. This smells like a funky, dusty Bourgogne, only even more pungent, and the palate is so tart at first it would make even a lover of lean Burgundies flinch. It remains tart, even as air rounds out its figure, and at the end it is no minor battle to get through it, an interesting novelty though it is. (Apr. 18, 2013)

20 USD.

Jean-Paul Thevenet, Morgon, Vieilles Vignes, 2010

Holy cow, I'm so glad I buy Thevenet whenever I can. This has a mineral and undergrowth laden nose that can go toe to toe with the best that the Cote de Beaune can offer at twice the price. The palate is equally gratifying and detailed, with silky, soft tannins and a lightly pungent finish. Truly one of the most spectacular, albeit young, Beaujolais Crus I've ever tasted. (Apr. 19, 2013)

Gordon Wines, 34 USD.

Chateau de Hureau, Saumur-Champigny, Tuffe, 2009

You can understand why I was eager for another shot at Hureau, since I loved the basic supermarket bottling. Thus, I bought this at Gordon Wines at Waltham, but the bottle was corked. So, as soon as the siege on the Chechnian terrorists was over, I went back to Waltham replace it. And my efforts were repaid in full. This has the same fresh red fruit as the supermarket bottling, the same trappings of tobacco leaves and lead pencil, only the "elegance" and "finesse" knobs have been turned up quite a few notches, and the overall effect is both purer and more focused, while at the same time more intense and pungent. Lovely. (Apr. 20, 2013)

Gordon Wines, 18 USD. Great QPR!

Champalou, Vouvray Sec, 2011

I bought this to get my senses around another Vouvray producer (this makes five), and it's a tasty, minor treat. Based on my limited experience, I'd say it's quite typical, with melons and a hint of Atlantic salt and sculptor clay on the nose. Savory and refreshing, with a saline finish - and a mineral essence that grows more intense with air, powerful, yet graceful as well. (Apr. 21, 2013)

Gordon Wines again, 20 USD.

Domaine Faury, Saint Joseph, 2009

A quite simple, yet gratifying and typical drop. Black pepper  and black currant on the nose, languid Syrah fruit, juicy acidity, soft tannins and a saline finish. Lazily structured without a lot of serious intent. (Apr. 22, 2013)

27 USD.

The man behind the Wylie-Fenaughty
Edmunds St. John, Wylie-Fenaughty, Syrah, 2010

Here's another producer I've been wanting to taste for a long time. The lively, succulent fruit makes a good first impression on the palate, belying the initially closed nose, which just shows traces of stone at first, before blooming into a complex, very pretty picture. As it opens, it displays a ripe, although not overly so, lithe frame, with notes of black pepper and bacon, not unlike a Cote Rotie, and that mineral overlay I spoke of. There's a good balance here-  juicy acidity abetted by savory, slightly sweet tannins - with good potential. Really fun, tasty stuff, that really lived up to my expectations. (Apr. 23, 2012)

Final wine from Gordon Wines on this trip, 33 USD.

Epilogue: Back In Israel

Jean Paul et Benoit Droin, Chablis Premier Cru, Montée de Tonnerre, 2007

Oxidized enough to somewhat obscure the  Chablis signature at first - the tell-tale sea shell aromas are there, they just need coaxing, while the palate is not as fresh and vibrant as I'd expected, although it does pick up intensity and definitions with air, as the fruity acidity comes to the fore. I'm not sure where it's going. I like it well enough now (the oxidation might work against Chablis typicity and would be more appropriate in a Cote de Beaune white with a decade more under its belt, but still it lends complexity and interest), but I suspect this bottle doesn't have a long life expectancy. (Apr. 27, 2013)

Giaconda, 170 NIS.

A. et P. de Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise Blanc, Les Clous, 2008

I thought I'd drunk up the last bottle, so this is a nice surprise, especially as it's in a very good place: flint and dry grass framing fruit that's caught in a limbo between apples, pears and oranges. Nothing overly complex on the palate, just pleasant harmony, saline inflected tastiness and a sense of place. (Apr. 28, 2013)

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 120 NIS.