Friday, August 30, 2013


After years of occasionaly tasting Astrolabe, I finally got a chance to taste (most of) their full Sauvignon range at my leisure.

Imported by Mersch.

Marlborough, Durvillea, Sauvignon Blanc, 2010

Tropical fruit cocktail with a light streak of minerals. A fun, bracing despite a sense of sweetness. (Aug. 2, 103)

I paid about 70 NIS.

Awatere Valley, 2012

An incredible twist on the paradigm: cat's piss on a guayava bush! I figured this might be wickedly tropical on the plate, but it's quite restrained and saline, although it riffs off the tropical fruit, as you'd expect from a New Zealand Sauvignon. (Aug. 5, 2013)

Kekerengu Coast, 2010

The aromatic and flavor profile are quite similar to the Awatere, although greater maturity has lent it more depth and restraint. This seems, to me, the better wine for food, but I prefer the vibrancy of the Awatere. (Aug. 6, 2013)

Both cost about 150 NIS.

Taihoa Vineyard, 2010

This takes the style to a higher level of intensity and depth, and you can get lost in the aromatic nuances in a way you can't, really, with the Awatere. For example, in the wisp of light smoke which morphs into sea breeze. Barrel-fermented with no hint of oak in the final product (unless that's where the smokiness came from), with a richness tightly contained inside its steely frame. Excellent. (Aug. 22, 2013)

About 300 NIS.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Other Recanati Reserves

I've been so hung up on the Recanati Carignan and Syrah-Viognier, I haven't had a chance to revisit the "other" wines in the Reserve series, the mainstream Bordeaux varietals.

Recanati, Reserve, Manara Vineyard, Merlot, 2010

A true claret, elegant with an earthy (almost clay-like) veneer over a backdrop of currants. Very good acidity, sweet, tasty fruit and dusty/savory tannins. Despite the 14.5% ABV, there's little heat and no sense of over-ripeness. The oak here is still obvious, but it's not more pronounced than what I'd expect to find in a Bordeaux of a similar age. With air, it grows fuller and more extroverted. Whatever, I do like it, before its barrel regine make itself too obvious. Give it two years to outgrow oak and I'll like it even more. (Aug. 1, 2013)

Recanati, Reserve, Lebanon Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010

A mediterranean Cab, with the oak less obvious than it was in the Merlot's case. They have a lot in common, the same earthy claret qualities, a similar coupling of sweet fruit and juicy acidity, with sweet tannins deeply embedded in the mix. To my palate and perception, it's the more elegant of the two, with just as much need for aging, if not moreso, judging by the tannins' progression from sweet to savory to bitter. (Aug. 8, 2013)

Both cost about 100 NIS. Both, from my perception and for my needs, would warrant a repeat purchase and some cellar age.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Taking Care Of Business (Jul. 2013)

Recanati, Reserve, Syrah-Viogner, 2010

This is, in my opinion, the wine that showcases what Israeli wines should aspire to be: ripe, yet structured; wild, yet elegant; true to the variety (well, to the Syrah, anyway) and tasty to the last drop. (Jul. 1, 2013)

140-150 NIS.

At Bertie, Jul. 2, 2013, with friends from the US, who really enjoyed the wines I ordered from the menu:

Tzora, Shoresh, Sauvignon Blanc, 2012

Restrained tropical fruit with an overlay of chalk. Captures the warmth of the land while remaining cool and racy. Smells like New Zealand and tastes like the Loire.

Shoresh, 2010

Pungent earthy black fruit, still very young, with a touch of leather. As always, I'm reminded of St. Estephe, although the ripeness is very Israeli, even if it never becomes very offensive.

Terre Nere, Etna Rosato, 2011

This has the same fascination factor as do the rest of the wines in the Terre Nere line, thus elevating its appeal beyond its admittedly tasty charms. Firstly, the color - a pale  mahogany I've yet to encounter elsewhere. Then the nose, which somehow manages to sign in as Italian, with a bouquet of red fruit veering close to the borderderline of red wine proper, while also presenting a salinity I wouldn't find out of place in Chablis. And also a light sulphurous note, reminiscent of a hot water bath, which In itself defies any pigeon-holing. The palate has the structure of a Grand Cru, as applied to the lightweight frame of a rose, and sneaks a tasty uppercut of pure Atlantic salt right before it fades away. (Jul. 6, 2013)

Fat Guy, 115 NIS. A decent price for what it offers objectively, expensive in view of my take regarding what a rose should cost.

Weingut Hirsch, Kamptal, Zobing Riesling, 2010

I like this seemingly simple workhorse from the Hirsch table, even if it took me nearly two years to actually buy one for home consumption. It's not as complex or high class as the Hirsch grand crus, but it offers plenty of interest in its mix of spicy apples, chalk and a green herb/pea-like overlay reminiscent (quite appropriately) of Gruner Veltliner.(Jul. 7, 2013)

Fat Guy, 125 NIS.

Midbar Winery, Semillon, 2009

Once again, that understated menage of lime, melon and minerals shows how much subtle complexity a white wine can express in the hands of a sensitive winemaker. This is pungent, saline, tasty, with a light undertow rainwater and still needs time to flesh out its restrained spectrum of flavors.(Jul. 13, 2013)

Domaine Gobelsburg, Neiderosterreich Riesling, 2012

Young, pure Riesling fruit: green apples and with a light salinity. Perfect summer gear that hints at rain and flowers. It's not particularly complex but it's fun, and there's enough going on to arouse interest (such as an intensifying mineral essence of no small magnitude), and it's more palatable than more expensive Rieslings I've had recently. (Jul. 16, 2013)

Fat Guy, 89 NIS.

Segal, Kerem Dovev, Argaman, 2009

True to Avi Feldstein's vision, this is... different. I can't quite put my finger on fruit profile, but it sure isn't anything resembling a Bordeaux/Rhone/Piedmont variety. However, there's an appealing interplay in mineral based aromas a la Graves and a salty/sour undertow which I love. Juicy acidity and soft tannins make for a very friendly drink, with a high interest factor. (Jul. 24, 2013)

90 NIS.

Tzora, Judean Hills, 2011

A very nice drop as always, recalling to me St. Estephe - as always (see my note about the Shoresh above). Deep red and black fruit with a touch of earth and leather. (Jul. 27, 2013)

A Holy Place of Riesling
Emrich-Schonleber, Nahe, Mozinger Halenberg, Riesling Spatlese, 2007

An intuitively genius expression of the vineyard in very complex, delicate and elegant brushstrokes. Peaches, apples, nuances of petrol, minerals: everything is measured out in perfect harmony and balance. After over six years of drinking various permutations of the Emrich-Schonleber Halenberg, all I can say is I'm the vineyard's bitch. (Jul. 27, 2013)

Giaconda, 180 NIS.

Etienne de Montille, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Aux Saint Juliens, 2009

Of course, it's perfectly normal to name a lieux-dit in Nuits after a famous Bordeaux village... Further irony comes in the form of exotic spices on the nose that is arguably more in a Vosne vein. Irony aside, there's a facade of black fruit, with red fruit showing between the cracks, and a tint of green that resembles old school claret. Quite nice. (Jul. 31, 2013)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 260 NIS. Provides almost exactly the level of quality and enjoyment you'd expect from a village NSG at this price point.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Another Birthday Post (Jul. 29, 2013)

Not my birthday this time, but that of a much more generous gentleman, who hosted us rowdy lot at his home, dined and wined us, and presumably cleaned up after us as well.

Another wow night.

Decelle-Villa, Auxey-Duresses, 2011

Pears and dry grass. A savory/saline finish offsets the oak. A very pretty white that should drink young enough to avoid the usual Bourgogne premox fears.

Etienne Sauzet, Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru, Les Perrieres, 2008

Fine, discrete fruit, shut down enough that the kiss of oak is still blatant both nose and palate. I've drunk mature Sauzet so I know it should get better than this.

Domaine Leflaive, Puligny-Montrachet, 2009

A gentler, subtler hand on the oak here, although it's obvious here as well. A hint of Atlantic on the nose and citrus. More balanced and detailed than the Sauzet, and the 2009 ripeness is well reined in.

Comte Lafon, Meursault, Clos de la Barre, 2008

Apples, slightly honeyed, with a vibrant streak of mineral. Very tasty and finessed, the lightest hand on the oak so far, with joyful acidity.

Alain Burguet, Gevrey-Chambertin, Cuvee Place des Lois, 2007

Pungent minerals, a touch of gaminess. Bright red fruit.  Light and rather short but fun.

Robert Groffier, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru, Les Sentiers, 2007

A wonderful nose! forest floor deluxe.  Sweet red fruit. The tannins are harsh but the overall impact of the fruit makes for a very appealing impression. Likely the WOTN.

Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillu, Saint Julien, 2me Cru, 1996

Green and earthy. A mean and lean claret, with savory tannins and acidity, with very low key fruit that gains better definition and deeper complexity in glass.

Chateau Angelus, Saint Emilion Premier Grand Cru, 1999

A complex, sexy nose. Earthy, very claret. Friendlier, sexier. Ripe and sweet, compared  to the Ducru, yet with a similar backbone of tannins.

Domaine Jacques Prieur, Chevalier-Montrachet, 2007

Rainwater on the nose, limpid and sweet. Not the best representative of the Montrachet name, to say the least.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Birthday Wines, Part 2 - The Annual Co-Production With Rani (Jul. 24, 2013)

The Anne Gros was corky, read about the rest below
Rani Osnat's birthday is on the 18th, mine is on the 19th, so we wind up drinking each year with our mutual wine buddies. This year, we chose Elba as the venue, which Rani and I both love dearly.

Gaston Chiquet, Special Club, 1998

Sometimes my notes are terse, not because the wine in question doesn't deserve a lengthier exposition, but because the glass is drained too quickly. This terrific Champagne is a case study, so here we go, get your stopwatches ready: Yeast, citrus and nuts. Deep, saline and tasty. Special Clubs rock!

Donnhoff, Nahe, Niederhauser Hermenschole Trocken, 2007

Petrol, dill, slate on the nose: very complex and a virtual bedrock of minerals. The palate is vaguely Alsatian: green apples followed by spicy grapefruit on the finish. The acidity is very proper and well balanced, but it does lack the nervy fire of the best of Donnhoff and I believe it to be in a dumb phase.

Dominique Laurent, Pommard Premier Cru, Les Epernots, Vieilles Vignes, 2002

Gentle earthiness, slightly astringent tannins that make for a savory spicy finish when paired with food. An attractive nose that shows ever developing complexity. Tasty and classical.

Next a flight of Barolos, followed by yet another Barolo at its peak.

Aldo Conterno, Barolo, Bussia Soprana, 1999

Paolo Scavino, Barolo, Bric Del Fiasc, 1999

The Bric Del Fino is the more tannic wine, and still closed, very blatantly so.The Bussia has a warm, acid driven finish, very ready and typical.

Aldo Conterno, Barolo, Granbussia, 1997

Fresh and elegant, with silky fruit and rose petals. A top quality Barolo, showcasing the feminine side of Nebbiolo that is usually more up Barbaresco's alley.

Huet, Vouvray, Clos du Bourg, Molleux, Trie Speciale, 1996

Spicy honey on the nose. Fruit in the background, on the austere side, even. The nose is much, much better: complex and inspired. I'm not sure if the palate will improve, but the next day, a glass worth of leftovers show riper, vaguely quince inflected fruit. All in all, a lot of intellectual interest, less useful as a bona fide dessert wine.