Friday, November 29, 2013

With Eran and Yotam at Toto (Oct. 31, 2013)

Will any local importer be so kind as to bring this to Israel?
 An evening with winemakers Eran Pick (Tzora Vineyards) and Yotam Sharon (Trio) was a good opportunity to spread the word on an excellent, relatively inexpensive white Bourgogne, and to re-discover (sort of) two reds.

Domaine Hubert Lamy, Saint-Aubin Premier, Cru Clos de Meix, 2010

Flinty, fresh,  balanced, pure. Just what I expected, just what I remembered from previous encounters, with a juicy finish reminiscent of Riesling.

At about 200 NIS, this is one of the better values offered by Bourgogne Crown.

Pierre Gaillard, St. Joseph, 2005

This is only Gaillard's regular cuvee, not the single vineyard Clos de Cuminaille, and at eight years of age, it performs like a cross between Cote Rotie and Hermitage, with a nose redolent of black pepper, violets, wood shavings and bacon (and, of course, black fruit). Illegally tasty and a downright amazing value at 17 GBP.

Chateau La Grave, Trigant De Boiset, Pomerol, 2008

A young ,tasty, pungently earthy, Merlot-based claret, made by Eran's mentor Jean-Claude Berrouet. Actually, I had this at a tasting last year, but it plays better on a dinner table than on a tasting bench.

Wine Route, about 230 NIS.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Nightcap With Lifshitz (Oct. 21, 2013)

Daniel Lifshitz and I met up at Elba for a few drinks.

Matrot, Blagny Premier Cru, La Piece Sous Le Bois, 2009

A very detailed nose: red fruit, upturned earth, a hint of flowers. Drinking very smoothly with lightly raspy tannins. My kind of Bourgogne, with just the weight I'd expect from a red Meursault Premier - which is basically what this is - and what's more, it has the presence of a Cote de Nuits Premier Cru.

70 USD. Not imported. Although Daniel regrets deciding against it, and after drinking the bottle I bought at Waltham, I wanted to punch his face in (but didn't, because he has a better physique and you know how crazy goalies are).

Domaine Blain-Gagnard, Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru, Clos Saint-Jean, 2011

A fantastic mineral laden nose, detailed and complex, text book Chassagne, with no intrusive oak. The palate is still nubile and oak-bitter, with enough fat to warrant and require two-three years of cellaring. And thank God it doesn't seem like it will sour before then, as is made obvious when the acidity calmly asserts itself.
Not imported, price unknown.

Alain Burguet, Gevrey-Chambertin, Cuvée  Mes Favorites, Vieilles Vignes, 2007

Animalistic with a touch of flowers, good savory length. There's purity and presence beyond a 'mere' villages (the grapes are sourced from a vineyard bordering on the Gevrey Grand Crus), and the character of the 2007 vintage makes it way beyond approachable.

Bourgogne Crown, about 350 NIS.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fun Times In Madrid

Some tasting notes from tapas bar and restaurant hopping on a short business trip to Madrid.

At a wine bar in the Mercado San Miguel (Oct. 27, 2013):

R. Lopez de Heredia, Tondonia, Rioja Reserva, 2002

Soft and velvety, old school. Fruity and a little one dimensional, and a decent portion only lasted 15 minutes in fairly decent stemware. Just what I'd expected from a 2002, from what I'd read. I assume there was no Gran Reserva in 2002, in which case perhaps better fruit than usual went into the Reserva, so it might flesh out with a little age.

Emilio Moro, Ribera de Duero, 2009

I'm not sure about the actual label. The wine menu offering is a fixed price for each region/designation combination. I paid for a Ribera Reserva but I don't see a Reserva listed on the winery's site, but it might only mean the winery is edging away from traditional labels. Anyway, the nose shows meat stink, and is more complex than the Tondonia, while the palate is lively and lovely, albeit ion need of time to gain focus. This is what I wanted to get in a Ribera: a mixture of old school and modern wine-making. Pretty much what I got, too, which seems to bode well for future purchases from Emilio Moro in general.

At El Brasero de Don Pedro (Oct. 28, 2013):

 Abadia Retuerta, Sardon de Duero, Seleccion Especial, 2009

Black, smokey, mineral laced fruit. Good balance and fine tannins. Fairly complex, especially the nose. I ordered it because its been ages since I last had an Abadia.  Based on the Seleccion's showing, as well as that of the Emilio Moro (which I preferred), 2009 sure seems like a good vintage in Ribera (Abadia, although technically in Sardon, is on the Ribera border).

Friday, November 8, 2013

Taking Care Of Business (Oct. 2013)

Start the month off with a Chablis or two. Seems legit.

Christian Moreau, Chablis Premier Cru, Vaillons, 2010

Very typical, light marine air, chalk,  apples and citrus. Lovely acidity. Not great, or especially complex (I'm not a great fan of Vaillons, for some reason), but fun, with less oak influence than the book on Moreau led me to expect. The gritty, saline finish especially encapsulates all that is Chablis. (Oct. 3, 2013)

Buergundy Wine Collection, 160 NIS.

William Fevre, Chablis Grand Cru, Les  Clos, 2006

Very mute at first, to the point where the bottle is suspect, there is a saline, tangy core nonetheless. There's little to the glory I expect from Les Clos, rather it is more about weight and presence and painting the marine colors of Chablis in bold strokes, with even less finesse that I find in good Premier Crus. It doesn't really work as well as expected, but at least its relative failures are mitigated by its yumminess. (Oct. 4, 2013).

Wine Route, this was on sale at 190 NIS, but the price is usually 350 NIS or so.

Midbar Winery, Semillon, 2009

Light and refreshing, with subtle depths, like a Beach Boys song circa 1965, but it fits autumn very well with its suggestion of rainwater. (Oct. 5, 2013)

This month's discovery!

Two wonderful surprises that Efrat and I had by the glass at NOPI, London (Oct. 11).

Le Coste di Gradoli, Litrozzo Rosso, Gradoli, 2012

What a tasty revelation! This comes from Lazio and is a cross between a lean Italian, such as Etna Rosso, and a focused French, say Chinon. Minerals, sulphur, black fruit, tobacco tang. Fascinating.

10.5 GBP.

Savia Viva, Classico Blanco, Pendes, 2012

This serves the same niche as does a good, basic GruVe, with peas and tropical fruit and a dash of minerals.

6.5 GBP.

And back in Israel:

Domaine du Tunnel, Cornas, 2007

An austere, youthful Syrah. Black fruit, kirsch, olives bacon and black pepper. Lean and focused, and too monolithic right now, with flavor-blockading tannins. I might have opened it too early for its (and my) own good, but reading up on the 2010 vintage in the Northern Rhone had whetted my appetite. (Oct. 14, 2013)

Berry Bros., 40 GBP.

Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco, 2007

Grocery list first: red cherries, dried spices, earthy, chocolate. Really closed initially, and a tannic bitch even when it opens, this offers surprising depth and complexity, and a touch of that magical Nebbiolo mysterioso. (Oct. 17, 2013)

Wine Route, 250 NIS.

Continuing the classic Italian theme:

Poliziano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, 2010

Dark cherries, minerals, cedar, with savory tannins that leave an appropriately dry, yet salivating, effect. Quite lovely despite a helping of oak and 14% ABV, both of which are well cloaked, this is a solid wine that should improve with three-five years of cellar time. (Oct. 18, 2013)

Wine Route, 140 NIS.

Reverting to my infatuation/exploration of Loire reds - as I've said before, Loire reds are  relatively inexpensive claret substitutes. Well, perhaps not substitutes, but the real thing, as it was before the days of Parker influenced modernization and globalization.

Bernard Baudry, Chinon, Le Clos Guillot, 2010

Fleshing out aromatically to show depth and detail (raspberries, flowers, leather and earth), but the tannins are still in need of further integration; nonetheless, tasty and lovely due to to the clarity and prettiness of the fruit. This, like the other 2010 Loire Cabs I've tasted, seems to be very Burgundian in character. (Oct. 19, 2013)

Wine Route, 120 NIS.

Recanati, Reserve, Syrah-Viognier, 2011

Another year, another Recanati Syrah-Viognier Reserve, once again weighting in at 13.5% ABV. Seems more sombre than previous renditions, more Northern Rhone than Israeli, with sappy, savory, lightly saline fruit framed by back pepper and leather. (Oct. 24, 2013)

About 140 NIS.

Domaine Buisson-Charles, Meurault, Vieilles Vignes, 2010

Every elegant and pure,  minerals and citrus, with a Chablis like limpidness. (Oct. 25, 2013)

Bourgogne Crown, sold out but available at Elba for 320 NIS (a fair markup).

Dr. Loosen, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Ürziger Würzgarten, Riesling Spätlese , 2009

There's every possible reason to age German Rieslings. They last decades and offer abundant pleasures at every step of their evolution. They're almost impossible to keep away from, so my stocks wind up dwindling. This is my last bottle, which I opened because I was looking for a low alcohol wine to drink before an early morning flight. And I convinced myself it's lush, creamy, hedonistic pleasures are best experienced young, which is a defensible stance. (Oct. 26, 2013)

Wine Route, 160 NIS.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Annual Lewinsohn Launch (Oct. 25, 2013)

Ido Lewinsohn makes great wines both at Recanati and at his (literally) garage boutique winery at his parents' home, where he produces both a white (read: Chardonnay) wine and a red (read: varietal makeup subject to change) wine. This is the second year he's launched his his latest wines in the setting of a very generous cheese and sausage luncheon. I missed the inaugural happening last year due to work commitments, but made damn sure to get to this year's.

I'm glad I did. On a personal level, I appreciate and love Ido, he's an insightful guy to taste wines with and terrific company, just the kind of wine geek you dream of sharing bottles with when you first catch the bug (not to mention the kind of guy you wish would make the wines you buy). And it really was a fun event and I got a chance to meet loads of friends, virtual and less virtual.

On a professional level, while I've tasted past vintages of both wines, the output of the Garage de Papa's of both colors is so small that this is the closest I can get to a horizontal/vertical tasting. I know, a setting like this can be distracting, but I trust myself to somehow manage three tasting notes even within the havoc of a big luncheon.

On to the notes then.

The Garage de Papa, Blanc, 2012 shows that Chardonnay, in the proper hands, will eke out chalk and flint notes from every terroir. In other words, it is very Bourgogne, playing similar notes as would a comely Cotes de Beaune village, only with different instruments. 140 NIS - and well worth it (especially with the launch day discount).

The Garage de Papa, Rouge, 2010 is a very clearly delineated wine, showing spicy, earthy and lightly leathery notes, with typical Israeli ripeness, balanced by savory acidity. It is comprised of what is commonly termed around these parts a "Mediterranean blend", as it is comprised of Syrah, Petit Syrah and Carignan. I would question the verbiage, but I know what people mean: varieties better suited to the local climate. Which is in contrast with the Merlot-dominated blend of the Garage de Papa, Rouge, 2008, also offered for tasting and purchase, a wine I found more austere while less clearly defined. The Merlot is quite obvious here, in a velvet-gloved iron fist kind of way, although I find the total effect lacks the charm and deliciousness factor of the 2010. The 2010 might well improve, but even if it won't, it's quite a charmer today and I would give a nod to the asking price of 140 NIS. The 2008, on the other hand, will not get any better than it is now, and its current performance is not enough to convince me to buy it at 150 NIS.

Peggie says: "I'm the real brains of this outfit!"