Friday, December 26, 2014

Most of the guests who stay here wouldn’t know the difference between Bordeaux and Claret

Wine is a constant reminder that God loves us and loves to see us happy
The rules of engagement were very simple, "bring a Bordeaux". Chateau, classification, AOC, vintage - all were left to the participants' discretion. Except we let an outsider white in, because we didn't have enough Bordeaux blancs and the venue, Halutzim 3, simply has too many tasty starters that beg for white wines.

Chateau Lafleur, Pomerol, Les Champs Libres, 2011

The first Lafleur white, ever, but our bottle was corked. But enough to obscure the vibrant acidity. This should have been a very lively wine.

Vigneti Massa, Colli Tortonesi, Montecitorio, Derthona, 2010

This wine is made of an almost extinct grape, Timorasso, that was rescued by Walter Massa. Amazingly enough, this is the second vintage I've shared with the same group (probably because everyone has been receiving travel advice in Northern Italy from the same source - Ido Lewinsohn). An interesting blend of sweet fruit, tumeric and minerals. A dry wine, detailed with fair complexity and good length. I can understand why Walter Massa fell in love with the grape.

Chateau Coucheroy, Pessac-Leognan, 2010

This breaks my private rule that if the name of the chateau is obscure, it's a Graves, as opposed to a Pessac. Whatever, this is fresh and tropical, almost New Zealand in character, but with greater focus. Very cute.

Clos du Marquis, Saint Julien, 2000

Saint Julien is Home. This, of course, was once the second wine of Leoville-Les-Cases, but is today a separate estate as far as vineyards and facilities go, and would rank as a growth if it was an actual chateau, based on its intrinsic quality. This evening, it was easily the tastiest wine, with currant fruit painted in bold strokes and framed by earth and cedar, well balanced as a Saint Julien should be.

Chateau Talbot, Saint Julien 4me Cru, 2000

Deeper and darker than the Clos Du Marquis, with a hint of brett. No real spark, despite the depth, and looking over past notes, the last 2000 Talbot was exactly the same - a  character study of a stodgy, conservative uncle you wish you liked more - while the 2009 was cut of similar cloth.

Chateau Giscours, Margaux 3me Cru, 2000

Two steps up over the Talbot. At least. Nuanced and sexy, yet firm and structured, with funky, supple sweetness that carries easygoing magic. Overall, the best of the night, with loads of potential.

Chateau Leoville-Barton, Saint Julien 2me Cru, 1995

This caused a glitch. The initial pour at the start of the evening showed a disease free wine. However, by the time we reached it, the winemakers in the group thought they spotted TCA, then backed off from that claim. Myself, I get TCA easily and TCA in a 19 year old wine would break anyone's bones. So not TCA. But any wine that makes you search for signs of TCA has some kind of fault, so I'll go by my initial notes, which probably represent the Leoville-Barton at its best: classic Left Bank claret, with cedar and minerals, and so long, harmonious and tasty that it's easy to dismiss its complexity.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Giaconda Beaujolais

Now you know I just love Beaujolais, right?

I wrote a post about George Descombes when I brought a batch over from Paris. I posted when Wine Route started importing Georges Dubeouf to Israel and I'm especially proud of my piece about the Beaujolais Cru portion of the Tomer Gal portfolio.

Now I write about the Giaconda foray into the fiefdom of the Gamay grape, a.k.a. the hunting ground for excellent, interesting, well priced wines.

Roland Pignard, Régnié, 2011 

Even in a perfect world where Beaujolais Cru is a household word, I expect most consumers would gyrate towards the better known AOCs: Morgon, Moulin A Vent, Fleurie, Brouilly even. Regnie would register a "what the?" reaction. I've only had one before, Charly Thevenet's rendition, which is great. This is a different animal. This an earthy, herbal affair with fresh red fruit, quite tasty, with initially timid tannins that grow more forceful. It's akin to a pretty, lower tier Cote d'Or red, with a plumper, yet rougher build, and without much of the airy, heady intoxication that even a lowly Bourgogne from a good producer often provides. (Dec. 1, 2014)

120 NIS.

So the Pignard is nice, but with the following producer, Giaconda picked out a pair of winners!

Potel-Aviron, Morgon, Cote du Py, Vieilles Vignes, 2011

This, of course, is from the more widely known Morgon (which probably accounts for 80% of all Beaujolais Cru imported to Israel). Not only that, it's from the more highly regarded Cute du Py sub-appellation. The sensual appeal is more immediate and intense, as the wine quickly registers that earthy, juicy impact created by a very good Gamay wine. It's meaty smelling, too - like a good Nuits-St.-Georges - the tannins meatier as well, compared to the Pignard, and savory and saline. On the other hand, the fruit is languid, so it's both meaty and languid. And very, very good, on par with Foillard and Thevenet, the kind of wine that builds up in glass, strips, teases, unfolds and seduces. (Dec. 4, 2014)

120 NIS.

Potel-Aviron, Morgon, Moulin A Vent, Vieilles Vignes, 2011

This is more reticent than the Morgon, although its relative silence is not enough to hide its qualities. It's arguably finer and more floral, while still projecting the same fresh, languid core of fruit, as well as fetching salinity. The Potel-Aviron Beaujolais Crus are both in need of time, but while the Morgon could use a year or two to gain more refinement and clarity, for the Moulin A Vent it would be time well spent in fleshing out the details and nuances.  (Dec. 5, 2014)

130 NIS.

Well, that was fun. Thank you, Giaconda.

Now, some observations about Beaujolais Cru in general.

One. It's easy, if not tempting, to call Gamay a country cousin of Pinot Noir. But it's not that the wine are much less refined, so much as different: it's like God took a Cote d'Or cru halfway between village and premier and grilled it as opposed to slow cooking it.

Two. The local imports are of such high quality (and we're still not getting any Clos de la Roilette, Guy Breton or Jacky Janodet, so there's still room for improvement) that I'm just about  in tears. Along with the local Loire reds, someone like me finally has ample choices for house wines.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Taking Care Of Business (Nov. 2014)

Domaine des Rémizières, Hermitage, Cuvée Émilie, 2004

The initial face of the wine was stewed and flat, so I was thinking, this doesn't seem like a great vintage for Cuvée Émilie. But then the stingy bastard starts putting out, giving iron, black pepper, bacon, with lithe fruit sculpted by etched tannins - and basically showing the elegant side of mature Syrah. It's a little shallow, though, so maybe it really isn't a great vintage for Cuvée Émilie, at that. (Nov. 1, 2014)

29.99 USD, instead of 65.99.

Charly is doing his old man proud
Charly Thevenet, Régnié, Grain & Granit, 2012

This is brilliantly fun and tasty - probably better than any vintage of Lapierre Morgon I've tasted, just to put the quality in context - with complex earthiness and juicy, savory fruit. As well, there's dash of raw meat and spices. (Nov. 4, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 120 NIS.

Man, I've been drinking the father's wines for almost four years now!

Jean-Paul Thevenet, Morgon, Vieilles Vignes, 2012

This is a more sombre, nuanced wine, and, what's more, a good bottle, which I have to say is an iffy proposition for pere Thevenet. But when his wines are good, such as this surely is, they sure are deep and trenchant. This has subtle, fresh strawberry fruit, with almost Pinot-ish spices, and the same lean angularity, soft and inviting at the same time, as the defunct Rene Engel or the very much alive Maison Romane. (Nov. 6, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 130 NIS.

A great Champagne we opened for a family dinner as an early celebration of Efrat's birthday.

Vilmart & Cie, Cuvee Rubis, n.v.

This is one of my favorite Champagnes, probably the best non-vintage available in Israel, easily on par with any excellent vintage Champagne. It has the lush, yet at the same time lean, expressiveness of a Bourgogne Grand Cru, earthy, supple and spicy - married to the mushrooms and brioche of Champagne. (Nov. 7, 2014)

Fat Guy, 259 NIS.

Domaine Buisson-Charles, Aligote, Sous Le Chemin, 2011

Oh, my! The Aligotes in Daniel's catalog are about Bourgogne as much as they are about the grape. So this beauty decorates the salty lime of the variety with the funky flint and dry grass we purists love about the Cote de Beaune village whites. Salivating. (Nov. 8, 2014)

Bourgogne Crown, 120 NIS.

Tzora, Judean Hills, Blanc, 2013

This Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc blend has a pretty tropical/floral element in the background, but other than that is all about smoky minerals,a la Puilly-Fume. Yummy. (Nov. 10, 2014)

About 90 NIS.

Vitkin, Israeli Journey Red, 2012

Really surprising. A nose redolent with minerals, a hint of smoke, sweet currants. A deliciously saline finish. (Nov. 12, 2014)

Luciano Sandrone, Barbera d'Alba, 2010

I never liked the label, so I was putting off opening the bottle. And the dark color upon pouring immediately alarmed me. And the initial aromas are modernly styled. But there's a nice mineral/leathery tint on the nose, and friendly warmth in the mouth. (Nov. 13, 2014)

Wine Route, 170 NIS.

Midbar Winery, Semillon, 2009

I was offered a taste at Wine Depot, and was wowed. I've always been a fan of this wine, Yaacov Oryah's baby, so much so that I went through my stash within a couple of years. Yaacov told me to wait and he was right, because the aromatics are so funky and complex now. (Nov. 14, 2014)

Delas, Cornas, Chante-Perdrix, 2005

Delas has been slipping under the radar for years, both locally and, from what I've read, abroad. But I've enjoyed the few mature bottles I've encountered, and so purchased this on a whim and opened the same day. Interesting, Not great, but interesting, and of course it's always fun to drink a relatively mature Rhone. There's plenty of the requisite black pepper on the nose, and a herbal note that is distracting at times, but not enough punch and power to play in the major leagues. I mean, the complexity is decent, but it feels like faded. (Nov. 14, 2014)

349 NIS. A high price considering not only the quality and the alternatives, but the fact that hardly anyone buys Delas in Israel any more.

Domaine William Fevre, Chablis Grand Cru, Les Clos, 2007

Excellent, one of the best Fevre GC's I've had. I could list the various marine descriptors, but that's grown very old already. So I'll just note that they interplay with complex and deep citrus fruit in a manner that is funky and slightly dirty, yet clear and focused at the same time. Which elevates the wine and the experience even beyond the breed displayed by the long, saline finish. (Nov. 15, 2014)

Wine Route, I suppose it's in the mid 300 NIS range, although I probably - hopefully! - managed to pay less.

Produttori del Barbaresco, Langhe Nebbiolo, 2012

An unflashy, straightforward. lithe and light rendition of old school Nebbiolo. Floral, dusty and mouth cleaning, perfumed with a enough details and nuances to keep me on my feet. A style I really appreciate. (Nov. 21, 2014)

Wine Route, 120 NIS.

Jean Foillard, Morgon, Cote du Py, 2011

I saved the best of my recent Beaujolais splurge for last (of course, I've had this before, and will again). This has the perfumed, invigorating minerals cum sous bois that always suckers me with similarly lithe Bourgognes. This is precise, concise and tasty, with understated complexity and charming fruity vinosity. Bitchin'! (Nov. 22, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 140 NIS.

Vitkin, Carignan, 2010

Assaf Paz did an excellent job here! The nose is varietally typical, ie. ripe and spicy, but aptly tamed, with a hint of garrigue; while the fruit has juicy acidity producing a salivating and velvety effect. This shows what I think of as languid warmth, exactly what I look for in Mediterranean wines. (Nov. 23, 2014)

Domaine Huet, Vouvray, Le Haut-Lieu, Demi-Sec, 2009

Yowsah, once again! A complex, smoky nose, with apricots, orange peels and roasted cashews. The palate echoes these aromas and serves up a balanced cocktail of sweet and bitter flavors. There's a density of fruit that's only obvious by deduction, once you realize something is totally obscuring the 14% ABV. That probably also explains why the acidity is only obvious as a quite pleasing sourness on the finish. This is not sublime or great, simply an excellent source of pleasure. (Nov. 29, 2014)

Giaconda, 150 NIS.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Thanksgiving (Nov. 27, 2014)

Perhaps my wine year should end at Thanksgiving, the better to enumerate the wonders and discoveries of the passing year. And thank the people who made the wines I savored, the people who imported them and the people sold them.

And, war and all, 2014 was fun! I suffered through work, only to dance through my wines.

Blaufrankisch, the red grape of Austria and the next king of the world. At the hands of Moric, the funnest wine ever!

Michel Redde, fantastic Pouilly-Fume artist, long may he prosper and remain under the radar.

2014 was the year that Daniel Lifshitz' portfolio really exploded. While I had already gotten acquainted with the bigger names in 2013, in 2014 I discovered Guyot, Bizot and, most unlikely of all, Domaine Ballorin, the lovechild of a young couple who bought up parcels in the backwaters of the Cote d'Or's, in villages I'd bet my last Cuvee Rubis you've never even heard of. Their Cote de Nuits Villages, from a vineyard in Comblanchien, was perhaps the best surprise of the year.

The perfect Scheurebe, drunk in the most beautiful guesthouse ever: Andreas Laible, Baden, Durbacher Plauerlain, Scheurebe Spatlese, Erste Lages, 2013.

Tzora, Shoresh, which was likely the best local white wine sold in Israel. Coming in second on my annual list, careening wildly with the most idiosyncratic style produced locally, the Askar, Iqrit, Sauvignon Blanc.

Lallament was the star in the firmament of what turned out to be the year my love for Champagne fully erupted. And when I can't afford the real thing, my favorite 'expatriat'e sparkler has become the Tissot, Blanc de Blanc Cleve en Fue.

Halutzim 3, my favorite place to drink all of the above. And many more. Naama and Eitan, you rock!

And, of course, as another year passes, more and more wines in my collection mature. To wit. Hmmmm, how should I put it? The best GG experience of the year?

Schäfer-Fröhlich, Nahe, Bockenauer Felseneck, Großes Gewächs, Riesling , 2008 

A crystalline expression of the purity of Riesling. As complex as this is (and it is - in time it's beguilingly, movingly, complex), its trump card is terroir laser-focused through depth of fruit, with smoky aromas of red apples, pink grapefruit and decisive sweet/saline flavors, backed by acidity that whispers "hello, I'm ginger". This is regal and aloof in the classic Old World sense, yet shows the vigor of a young adult out to conquer the universe.

Giaconda,  320 NIS.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Champagne Time (Nov. 23, 2014)

Incredibly, Margaine still slips beneath the radar!
 A. Margaine, Special Club, Blanc de Blancs, Brut, Premier Cru, 2004

There was no de facto special reason, no obvious occasion, to open a classy Champagne on a weekday, but a week of reading through Michael Edwards' Finest Wines Of Champagne had quite obviously whetted my appetite. So I made the occasion. Or, should I say, the wine made the occasion. Someone should just invent a Festivus for wine geeks, no? This is still incredibly fresh and vibrant, full of zesty complexity, with expressive aromas of citrus fruit, roasted walnuts and sauteed mushrooms and combines mature Champagne vinosity with fresh vibrancy. Delightful. Classy. Tasty.

Eldad Levy, 329 NIS at the time, 2006 vintage is 345.

As for the book itself: very informative and the tasting notes are highly enjoyable, and I'm struck by the incredible numbers of growers and houses the book lists, producing what is, to me, an almost inconceivable number of bottles. The only drawback is that criticism comes in a very polite, diplomatic British tone. Imagine Hugh Johnson sans the barbed, dry wit.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Two Of Us (Nov. 2, 2014)

If celebrating the twentieth anniversary of our first date isn't an occasion to open a Dönnhoff Hermannshöhle, then I don't know what is. It might have been more appropriate to actually have opened it on the signature date, and I would have enjoyed more rock and roll, but still, you can't get more celebratory than a bottle of Dönnhoff Hermannshöhle.

Dönnhoff, Nahe, Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle, Riesling Spätlese, 2006

Donnhoff wines usually display meticulous precision, and of course Hermannshöhle is the estate's flagship vineyard, but this is not a perfect wine, nor is it a great one. I was going to write it off as a tapestry in need of a restoration, because there's obvious class and  breed here, but little jism. However, once it gets an hour of air and more, the vibrancy I'd expect comes to the forefront and the bottle shows aromatics that are kinky and interesting, dominated by green tea and sugared apples, with hints of broth, chalk and kerosene. The palate is tasty, its ripeness tempered by a tantalizing, savory finish - but there isn't a great deal of complexity there, I have to reach for the wine, it doesn't come to me, and it eludes me until the very end.

So the earth didn't move, but perhaps this specific incarnation of Hermannshöhle proves that life goes on while you're busy making other plans.

Giaconda, 270 NIS.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Taking Care Of Business (Oct. 2014)

Oh, is October over already?

Weninger, Mittleburgenland Reserve, Blaufränkisch, Alte Reben , 2007

Weninger rates four stars in the Austria chapter of Hugh John's Wine Pocketbook, and I've yet to understand why, after tasting and drinking through three bottles, including this one. After seven years, the oak is still obvious, and while it's not awful, the final effect is one-dimensional and too eager to impress. failing at even producing superficial flash. I'll just wait until Eldad Levy starts to import Moric, I guess. (Oct. 1, 2014)

About 25 Euros.

Alain Graillot, Crozes-Hermitage, 2011

The initial impression of olive brine quickly resolves into typical fresh Syrah fruit with trappings of black pepper and raw meat. The palate, while still nubile, offers a savory mix of acidity and salinity. Like the 2011 Saint Joseph, this could use three years or so. (Oct. 3, 2014)

WineRoute, about 200 NIS these days.

Gunderloch, Rheinhesses, Nackenheim Rothenberg, Riesling Großes Gewächs, 2007

Got it now: seven years is the sweet spot for GG's. This smells and tastes like someone poured grapefruit and apple juice inside an oyster shell. There's only fair complexity here, but great purity and breed. (Oct. 4, 2014)

Giaconda, 260 NIS.

Weingut Ralf Trautwein, Baden Kaiserstuhl, Spatburgender Kabinett Trocken, 2011

This is the only Spatburgender I brought back from Germany this summer, and the reason is I really enjoyed its light, lithe frame, making me think I should seek my Teutonic Pinot pleasures at the Kabinett level. This comes off as reminiscent  of the colder areas of the Cote de Nuits, perhaps Marsannay or a feminine NSG. Except that, where a fine Bourgogne caresses you on the finish with the famous peacock feather effect, this will make you sit down to do your homework before you frolic off to have your fun. (Oct. 5, 2014)

25 Euros.

Christian Moreau, Chablis Grand Cru, Valmur, 2007

Cool. A bottle that I forgot to enter into Cellar Tracker and found in the fridge. The nose is typical of what attracts me to excellent Burgundies - minerals,  apples, citrus peel, a hint of baked spiciness - and a touch of pungent, salt flecked beach sand that is trademark Chablis. The palate shows sweet-sours apples framed by salt and dust, and the granny apples persist on the finish. Very good, excellent at spots, but not great. (Oct. 7, 2014)

Selbach-Oster, Mosel, Zeltinger Schlossberg, Riesling Spätlese * trocken , 2012

A Giacometti sculpture made of apples and granite. (Oct. 9, 2014)

Fat Guy, 169 NIS.

Segal, Unfiltered, 2008

Earthy red and black fruit, with a light note of vanilla, that is very typical of Avi Feldstein's at Segal. Quite tasty and balanced, very Israeli, without any overhanded oak. Good job. (Oct. 11, 2014)

220 NIS.

Recanati, Reserve, Merlot, Manara Vineyard, 2011

This is a delightful local version of Merlot, with a unique herbal/earthy fingerprint. It really is too young, right now, with traces of oak on the nose and dusty tannins, but I enjoyed it. (Oct. 13, 2014)

About 110 NIS.

Reinhold Haart, Mosel, Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, Riesling Kabinett, 2012

One of the few times where I could just quote my previous note: "The nose is complex and ever morphing, almost Sauvignon Blanc like with its grassy and tropical (guayavas) notes and minerals, while the palate is pure Riesling: sweet, yet racy, with fine grip and structure, and excellent length driven by green apple acidity. A memorable, lightly funky character." (Oct. 14, 2014)

Fat Guy, 139 NIS.

Dopf Au Moulin, Schoenenbourg Grand Cru, Riesling, 2010

A very fine Grand Cru that could seduce me into buying more Alsace Rieslings. Or at least, more Dopf Au Moulin Schoenenbourgs, assuming it was imported without a huge markup and assuming it improves with age. Mineral lead, with apples and quince and terrific acidity. (Oct. 17, 2014)

About 30 Euros at the winery.

Jean Paul et Benoit Droin, Chablis Grand Cru, Valmur, 2007

A complex and intense display of iodine and minerals, pungent and convincing, with a deep foundation of citrus fruit and major league salinity. (Oct. 18, 2014)

Giaconda, 320 NIS.

Koehler-Ruprecht, Pfalz, Kallstadter Saumagen, Riesling Auslese trocken, 2005

I was bound to eventually find a decent Koehler-Ruprecht. Maybe it's due to the qualities of the vintage. I was just discussing my bad luck with K-R with a friend the other day. I told him they don't age and he said maybe my taste had changed over the last seven-eight years. Well, this bottle proves it's a little of both. While I prefer my Rieslings more vibrant, this has matured relatively well (even if not exactly what you'd expect from a nine year old Auslese) and offers a subtle minerality and really unique aromatics, one that offers an almost obscene quotient of kerosene. And yet, not particularly fresh. (Oct. 22, 2014)

Giaconda, 170 NIS.

Elio Altare, Barolo Vigneto Arborina, 1999

I deserved an expensive wine after a hard week. I'd heard this was fairly modern, and I think it is, and marked by oak, but it also has an undeniable affinity with the classic mold, with red and black fruit spearheaded by that telltale spicy/dusty nose that nods at garrigue. I believe the tannins will remain dry forever, but the aromatics are just great, deep and complex. This needs a cow. (Oct. 23, 2014)

Wine Route, I believe about 350 NIS.

Francois Raveneau, Chablis, 2010

I bought this because, having grown frustrated at the scarcity of Raveneau and Dauvissat in Israel (which basically means I'm very low in the pecking order and other customers have an on-going permanent allocation), I wound up begging the importer to let me have at least one bottle of the village bottling. And it's not an inexpensive bottle, but as good as other producer's premier crus, I'll give it that, so I won't complain about the price. It's quite typical of all good things Chablis, with pungent marine/oyster-shell aromatics and palate that feels fuller than it probably is in actuality, with fruit halfway between apples and lime. (Oct. 24, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 250 NIS.

Recanati, Reserve, Syrah-Viognier, 2011

Last year, I thought the 2011 was too low in acidity for my tastes, and it still is, but nonetheless, the two previous vintages were so much my Israeli  wine mistresses that I'm still willing to give this the benefit of a doubt. And so, yeah, my objections stands, but the peppery/smoky/funky nose is still such a Syrah poster child and some nuances do manage to get through the barrier of the low acidity. And, after a couple of hours, I start to get a feel where this might wind up in a couple of years. (Oct. 26, 2014)

140 NIS.

Georges Descombes, Fleurie, Vieilles Vignes, 2010

This is quite earthy and sulking, red fruits with soft tannins akin to Pinot, yet without the silken envelope of the Cote d'Or. I enjoy tracking the nuances that emerge: clay, flowers. (Oct. 28, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 130 NIS.

Comte Armand, Auxey-Duresses, 2011

I usually prefer the vegetal aspects of Bourgogne to show prominence: flowers, sous de bois, spices. Comte Armand, I've found, is more about iron, Clos des Epeneaux being the quintessential showcase of the house style - although the signature shows even in the lesser, lighter, softer wines, such as this. Sometimes I suspect the house style may be forced upon lesser fruit, and I took that into account when I opened this bottle. I wanted to chew on Beaune rocks, and I got that, complemented, as it turned out, by red fruit and a touch of spices. Nothing earth shattering here, but I enjoyed and got exactly what I wanted. (Oct. 30, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 170 NIS.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Armchair Traveller Passing Through The Loire

The more I drink Loire reds and whites, the more I want to soak in everything this wonderful place has to offer.

Huet, Vouvray, Le Haut-Lieu, Demi Sec, 2009

This is superb, with an  almost outlandishly (and unexpectedly, I might add) funky nose that is equally toasty and mineral-laden, appropriately backed up by deep, pure apricot fruit. Good traits all, echoed on palate. I know the stuff can age, but this is so great right now, I think the only reason to wait is for further complexity to develop on the palate to match that already in place in the aromatics. (Sept. 27, 2014)

Giaconda, 170 NIS, a great value.

Michel Redde, Pouilly-Fumé , Les Champs des Billon, 2011

Every time I drink a Redde, I think, "wow, who would've thought Sauvignon Blanc could be so good!" This is still the most backward of the Redde wines imported to Israel, but there is already a lot of limey, smoky, rocky depth and a saline finish, that, if you have any love at all for classic French wines, will bewitch you within a few minutes. Any well made wine can keep, that is stay alive, for a few years, the question is will time actually evolve it? With Redde in general, and this wine specifically, I think there are stories waiting to be told. (Oct. 10, 2014)

Fat Guy, 259 NIS.

Yannic Amirault, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Le Mine, 2009

Yes! I finally located this misplaced bottle, this misplaced lovely bottle. Oh, it is a lovely drop indeed, and how highly you rate it will depend on how much you actually prize drinkability and taste, as opposed to, uh, all the other things tasters score wines for. With decently complex scents and flavors, raspberries laced laced with rust and tobacco leaves, this feels, amazingly enough (this being the entry level Saint-Nicolas in the Amirault portfolio), as though it needs more time. (Oct. 16, 2014)

About 20 GBP.

Chateau du Hureau, Saumur-Champigny, Fours a Chaux, 2010

Classic. An appetizing nose with black fruit, violets and lead pencil. The palate is fruity, soft and friendly yet chewy and savory. I really should have bought more, as it is delightfully fresh and a great value, drinking well now with an upside of a few years. (Oct. 20, 2014)

Fat Guy, 140 NIS.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Double Birthday Bash (Oct. 2, 2014)

Pierre Gimmonet, Special Club, 2002

Champagne=love. Gimmonet Special Club=love at first sight, and then forever. This is very refined, with a nose probably still as fresh as when it was first disgorged, with minerals and brioche, an effect carried over on the palate. The essence of elegance.

Weingut Wittmann, Rheinhessen, Westhofener Morstein, Grosses Gewächs, 2002

My notes show I always like the Wittmann GG's, even if I wouldn't call it mad, gushing love. This has a fine melange of petrol, dill, apples and slate, as well as a great sense of focus and a light hint of sweetness on the lovely complex finish.

Our appetite for German Riesling suitably whetted by the dry rendition, we moved on to a flight of Auslese by two masters.

J. J. Prum, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Auslese, 1999

The nose displays what most would expect from a mature Auslese, i.e., petrol a little smoke. Beyond that and the requisite apples and slate is a hint of mint. I wasn't wowed by either, as both are less complex than I'd have thought, but of the two, this is the livelier bottle. Livelier than the Brucke but both are less complex than I'd have thought. Although I think the donnhoff is slightly more complex.

Dönnhoff, Nahe, Oberhauser Brücke, Riesling Auslese, 2001

While more complex than the Prum, this comes off a little tired - actually, way more tired than I'd have thought a 2001 Donnhoff Auslese had any right to be. Just blame it on the dry cork. An interesting nose, though, with tea, minerals and a funk I can't quite elucidate. 

Next up, two Barolos that strayed so far from the reputation of their maker I could hardly even write up a note. .

Paolo Scavino, Barolo, Cannubi, 2000

Black fruit, tar.

Paolo Scavino Barolo, Bric del Fiasc, 2000

A little more reticent.

Both were deep in the ripe end of the classical idiom, with a forced extraction not that palatable to me. In short, a minor fiasco

Can't beat a great Bordeaux vintage for blowing your blues away. Not only did this flight throw the dull, foursquare impression made by the Barolos into even greater relief, it was a short seminar on the stylistic differences between Pauillac and Margaux.

Chateau Rauzan-Segla, Margaux 2me Cru, 2000

A very classic claret, with blackcurrants, cedar and earth melded with typical Margaux elegance. Not only is it more drinkable than the Lynch Bages, its trappings are much more obvious.

Chateau Lynch Bages, Pauillac 5me Cru, 2000

This is still tannic, needing more time in glass to show the grand power of Pauillac in its facade of tobacco, coffee and a hint of meat. Both the Lynch Bages and the Rauzan-Segla have wonderful acidity and still need 5-10 years to peak.

Willi Schaefer, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Graacher Dombprobst, Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel AP#11, 2005

At first sniff and sip, a cut above the other Rieslings. Deeper and purer, with enervating acidity. It is, however, at that monolithic stage in a great Riesling's revolution that you just yearn for a time machine.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Taking Care Of Business (Sept. 2014)

Huet usually walks away with the house wine WOM medal
 Serafin Pere et Fils, Bourgogne, 2008

Sniff. Sip. Drink. Definitely the Gevrey landscape: this is animalistic, pungently earthy and true to the appellation idiom; rusty, savory, saline, almost salty, with village wine level heft (like many fine growers, this is de-classified Villages), the only drawback is tannins that grow very dry after an hour. 2008 may well be the most underrated Burgundy vintage of the century. (Sept. 4, 2014)

Bourgogne Brown, 155 NIS.

Telmo Rodríguez, Gaba do Xil,Valdeorras, Godello, 2012

Telmo Rodríguez is a sort of wandering winemaker, exploring backwoods vineyards harboring forgotten varieties, utilizing old school techniques. Or that's the way the story goes. Of the wines imported to Israel, Godello is the only grape that could be said to be half forgotten, although it has been going through a renaissance in recent years. And this is hardly an old school wine, even if there is nothing overtly modern about it. It is clean, with just enough haphazard dirt thrown in for interest, it obviously displays the effects of barrel regime, but the oak is very integrated. I get citrus fruit, a Chassagne-like combination of dry grass and spicy pears, a touch of Gruneresque green herbs, a round mouth feel with no annoying flab, and a spicy finish. Charming and tasty, with a modicum of depth and complexity, but at the end of the day, it doesn't feel like a revelation. So I'm glad Rodriguez is making wines like this, I just don't have a great urge to thank him personally for introducing me to Valdeorras or Godello. (Sept. 7, 2014)

Wine Route, 95 NIS.

However, the Mencia, 2012, which is the red sibling sold for the exact same price, is a wine I'd thank the guy for. It's a joyous, juicy wine, reminding me of a Loire Cab with its light, earthy, red fruit with suggestions of smoke and brine. No excessive complexity, length or depth here, but really tasty and bags of fun. Oddly, although I like it more than the white, I do think 70 NIS would be a more appropriate price. I wouldn't really consider going out for more of the Godello, but the Mencia would make a good case for a repeat purchase, were it priced lower. (Sept. 10, 2014)

Alain Graillot, Saint Joseph, 2011

Graillot is back in Israel, with a 30% price increase, alas. The last vintage for the Saint Joseph was 2007, so we missed the great 2010 vintage here in Israel. I love the way this exhibits the Graillot style: ripe, languid fruit livened up by very juicy acidity, creating a savory, crunchy effect. Not only that, it has that textbook Saint Joseph black pepper and raw meat signature. As well, the soft tannins as usual make for a velvety mouth feel and early drinkability. So yeah, too expensive right now, from a historic perspective, but still a damn fine drink at a price competitive with, these days, a Cru Bourgeois or a generic Barbaresco.Which leads me to two conclusion: prices are crazy in general and we don't get enough Saint Josephs in Israel. I have also drawn a third conclusion. As much as I've always admired Graillot, this is actually at least a small step up from the 2007 (even though I sense 2007 is rated higher in the North Rhone), and I suspect will age longer. (Sept. 12, 2014)

Wine Route, 210 NIS.

Delamotte, Champagne, Cote de Blancs, Brut, n.v

Given my current state of infatuation with Champagne, every tasting note flirts with reiteration and repetition. I really liked this last month, and if you liked last month's note, you can just refer to it, and I'd have you know this bottle shows more roasted nuts, brioche and mushrooms than the previous one. (Sept. 13, 2014)

Fat Guy, about 270 NIS.

Alain Burguet, Bourgogne, Les Pinces Vin", 2011

All the "Bourgognes" in the Bourgogne Crown catalog are young vines or declassified Village crus, and this is arguably the best sample. It shows the more earthy/floral side of Gevrey,with only a touch of hide. It's quite refined and cool, and easy to drink. You could debate the merits of this in terms of depth or complexity, if you think you actually need to do that for a declassified Village wine, but you would not be able to deny how tasty it is. (Sept. 14, 2014)

170 NIS.

Domaine Gobelsburg, Neiderosterreich Riesling, 2012

The world is full of tasty working horse wines. The thing, with a house as excellent as Gobelsburg, even the estate wine is a filigree working horse.This is a simple thing that deftly balances fruit and salinity. (Sept. 17, 2014)

Fat Guy, 89 NIS.

Olivier Guyot, Bourgogne, 2010

A declassified Marsannay, and likely one of the better values in Daniel Lifshitz' catalog. Earthy red fruit, tasty, and clean (as in no oak). (Sept. 19, 2014)

Bourgogne Crown, 100 NIS.

Koehler-Ruprecht, Pfalz, Kallstadter Saumagen, Riesling Auslese trocken, 2007

Like many K-R bottles over the years, this is a dud. There an interesting, mineral-laden, sweet-sour personality at play here, but it just doesn't have the thrilling vividness of a star Riesling. I've been drinking the dude's wines for years and it's been a downwards curve. You know how a great Riesling captures fire and ice, the warmth of summer and the silence of snowfall? This is like being dragged along by your mother on a rainy, boring Sunday to buy a coat, and you hope that the shopping center where the coat store is will at least have a drugstore with a comic book stand. Instead, all it has is another coat warehouse. And it's Sunday, so all you have to look forward to is going back to school on Monday.

Sorry about that, you just got a glimpse into my childhood in Long Island.

Of course, there's always the chance I'm just not getting it and the wine just needs to open. (Sept. 22, 2014)

Giaconda, 160 NIS is what I paid for it about 5 years ago, now the asking price is 200 NIS for club members.

But let's move right along, folks. I love it when a white Burgundy gets it right.

Domaine William Fevre, Chablis Grand Cru, Les Preuses, 2008

This yells Chablis Grand Cru from the first sniff and sip, from the funky iodine and sea shells on the nose, to the long, complex saline and sour finish. Excellent and fresh. (Sept. 23, 2014)

Wine Route, 300-350 NIS (I paid less, but there you are, quality costs money).

Some notes from a Rosh Hashana dinner (Sept. 25, 2014):

The Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, 2007 was all I expect and want from a Classic Tuscan: mellow red fruit, savory, mildly sour, full of earth and chives.

The Selbach-Oster, Mosel, Zeltinger Himmelreich, Riesling Kabinett halbtrocken, 2012 played more like a regular Kabinett, all granny apples and slate. It had so much of the same electrical vivacity of the amazing 2012 Kabinett that I had to check that I hadn't opened the wrong bottle. And the acidity blazes away straight through to the core of something important I can't put my finger on - which is a trick common to all great Mosels.

Earlier, the Ben-Shoshan, Ovdat, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 seemed, to me, to display typical desert character, sour red fruit and earth. I do think, though, that the bitter tannins display wine-making shakiness.

Koehler-Ruprecht, Pfalz, Kallstadter Saumagen, Riesling Auslese trocken, 2004

Fool me once - shame on you. Fool me twice - shame on me. I figured if I have a bunch of duds in the fridge, I might as well find out now for sure and free up the space. On to the backup bottle.

Huet, Vouvray, Le Haut-Lieu, Demi Sec, 2009

This is superb, with almost outlandishly (and unexpectedly, I might add) funky nose that is equally toasty and mineral-laden, appropriately backed up by deep, pure apricot fruit. Good traits all, echoed on palate. I know the stuff can age, but this is great right now, I think the only reason to wait is for further complexity to develop on the palate to match that already in place in the aromatics. (Sept. 27, 2014)

Giaconda, 170 NIS, a great value.

Andre et Mireille (now Stephane) Tissot, Cremant du Jura, Blanc de Blanc Cleve en Fue, n.v.

What I've learned from this second encounter (read about the first one here) is to better appreciate where it approaches and swerves from the Champagne paradigm. Unfortunately, that bit of wisdom is not so easy to articulate. But I'll try. The nose is lovely and exotic and that signature of salty cashews  and vegetable broth is simply delectable, but there's a funk to it that I haven't encountered in a Champagne BdB, only when some Pinot is tossed into the blend. Then, the palate, while quite tasty and refreshing, is lighter than the original, playing Macon to Champagne's Cote d'Or. (Sept. 29, 2014)

Giaconda, 165 NIS.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Halutzim 3 - Have I Told You Lately That I Love you? (Sept. 18, 2014)

It was a late, impromptu birthday party, about two months after the fact. Some of the wines shone, some didn't, and some were just educational. But when the chef in your favorite eating ground not only kicks ass but puts together a playlist that includes Bird and Sun Studios period Elvis, you know the evening will be fun!

The whites...

Rene Geoffroy, Premier Cru Brut, Empreinte, 2006

The descriptors number brioche, nuts, oranges, minerals. Most of the interest is on the nose, as the palate starts out sweet-ish, probably approaching the upper boundaries of the sugar levels allowed in a brut. I can understand why this is one of the less famous names in the Terry Theise catalog, but I'm not sorry to have picked this up in the US; it is tasty and decently complex, just doesn't make you want to sit back and savor every sip for hours.

R. Lopez de Heredia, Tondonia, Gran Reserva, Blanco, 1991

We all agreed that drinking a live, twenty-three year old white wine is hardly a common experience. And it is very much alive. The fruit is still lively, and while the oak is obvious, it is very integrated and the package is elegantly embellished by sulphur, minerals and brine. As for me, while I did enjoy it, this bottle suffered by comparison to a spectacular bottle I drank two years ago.

Didier Dagueneau, Pouilly-Fume, Silex, 2006

I really want to be careful about criticizing a late legend, but while it's impressive to drink an eight year old Sauvignon Blanc, there is nothing too special about the place this quite expensive wine wound up in. The nose is quite mineral laden, taking time to divulge anything approaching exceptional interest, while the palate makes a ripe, sweet impression and takes time to resolve and display the dry dynamics I look for in a Loire Sauvignon Blanc. Honestly, for 400 NIS or whatever this costs these days, I'm better off seeking my thrills with Redde at half the price and twice the excitement.

... and the reds
Jacques Fredric Mugnier, Nuits-St.-Georges Premier Cru, Clos de la Marchelle, 2007

I've enjoyed quite a few Marchelles over the years, but this specific bottle carries enough brett to obscure the Bourgogne character, even though it would work better with other grapes. So while it tastes good, it could have been a Saint Joseph for all purposes.

Francois Villard, Saint Joseph, Mairlant, 2010

Now this is bona fide Saint Joseph. Here the Brett works with the black pepper and complements the fruit. The local market for North Rhone has plenty of room for growth, importers!

Niepoort, Duoro, Batuta, 2005

This is a nice wine, but quite modern and top heavy, if you know what I mean - but spicy, lively and savory, for all that.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Yotam Sharon's 40th Birthday (Sept. 11, 2014)

Wine creates a special kind of bond, which is formed when you recognize you and a wine friend both love a wine because of stylistic preferences that reflect your personality and aesthetic philosophy. It's not just a paraphrase of the old Seinfeld routine: "You like Chambolle? I like Chambolle! Let's be friends!"

It is actually about sharing a love for something that moves you.

The first time I met Yotam, he brought a Pegau 2001 to a tasting. Good call. If you do bring a Chateaneuf to a tasting, better make it Pegau, a sane man's CdP. I don't mean that to be a back handed compliment. It really made perfect sense that night, and it was a lovely bottle. It was a good omen, a precursor for a bunch of fun evenings. I really enjoyed Yotam's humor, observations and insights then, and I've enjoyed them ever since.

Anyway, thanks for company, man, and thanks for giving me the opportunity to share good wines with you over the years.

Col d'Orcia, Brunello di Montalcino, Riserva, 1980

Very mature, yet still fresh, the fruit still lively and the acidity perfectly juicy, a touch of mildew, cedar and mushrooms adding complexity, chives adding Tuscan character. It's not a great bottle at first, but quite tasty and improving to such a degree we were actually considering this might be a case of yet another wine fraud  - I mean, a 34 year old Sangiovese?

I need to get some Col d'Orcia - I rarely drink Brunello, yet I see that I had a Poggo al Vento 1995 three years ago that I thought was the best Brunello I ever had.

Serragilli, Barbaresco Riserva, 2007

Typical nebbiolo nose, with rose petals, spices and red fruit. It's quite tannic, yet also ripe, so while I think  that the balance works, I have to agree with comments that the wine-making shows signs of imprecision.

Luccarelli, Bianco Salento, Chardonnay Malvasia, 2011

Lime and spices. Enlightening, in a way, but doesn't really convey, to me, any special character or sense of locale.

Vilmart & Cie, Cuvée Rubis, n.v.

So Pinot, so Champagne! Or should I put it, Champagne laced with the exotic magic of Pinot that lights up the taste buds. I could die happy drowning in this earthy, brothy and complex concotion.

Chateau Beaucastel, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 1999

The best CdP I've had in the last five years. A very spicy, animalistic,  furry nose  and very complex. The palate is reasonably lively, and I think this works better than a more vaunted vintage would.

Petit Figeac, Saint Emilion, 2009

The second wine of Chateau Figeac is an excellent young claret, with red and black fruit, tasty tannins, and an obvious Merlot character. To my tastes, it plays a meaner guitar than the Beaucastel at half the price.

Domaine Garon, Cote-Rotie, 1999

Black pepper and blood define the rules of engagement. A lovely luncheon wine, fresh and vivid, soft and comforting, the fruit mellow, the tannins resolved.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

What Becomes A Legend Most: Redde and Allemand in Tel Aviv (Sept. 9, 2014)

Thierry Allemand - or is that Avi Feldstein moonlighting in Cornas?

 Elad Levy and Uri Kaftori put together a joint presentation of their two latest gems, Michel Redde and Thierry Allemand. I'd already tasted through 80% of their Redde offerings quite recently, so basically I came along to taste the Champs des Billon, which I had laid away as the domaine recommends to age it  further - and of course, to taste the legendary, rare, expensive Cornas legend, Allemand.

It was nice to drink the first four wines without any compulsion to take down tasting notes. I will, however, say that the differences between the Pouilly bottlings and the Sancerre are very obvious in the context of a tasting, the Sancerre  showing very clean and fruity, the various permutations of Pouilly very funky and minerally. Uri says the domaine Pouilly and the single vineyards see oak to give them a smokier character, although from my experience, the Sancerre also shows a somewhat similar mineral laden attitude given time and air.

And as for the bottle I hadn't tasted:

Michel Redde, Pouilly-Fumé , Les Champs des Billon, 2011

Monolithic, yet more elegant than the Cornets (the other single vineyard, similarly priced), showing lime and minerals. The Cornets is really more likeable right now but damn, they're both great - so buy them both. Hell, buy 'em all, even if it means cutting down on your Chablis! (259 NIS)

But I really came for Allemand, didn't I? And his wines performed as advertised.

Thierry Allemand, Cornas, Les Chailliots, 2011

The nose shows manure at first, then aged meat over black fruit. I'm struck by how the terrifically juicy fruit shows such great focus and depth. And what length! This has the weight of Hermitage with the clean purity of a juicy Saint Joseph, and, although outrageously young, is already very complex and elegant due to its fine tannins.

Thierry Allemand, Cornas, Les Reynards, 2011

This cuvee is sourced from old vines, up to 90 years old, whereas the Les Chaiiliots comes from younger vines, 5 to 40 years old (still fairly mature at the extreme of the range), and as is usually the case, the older vines offer more of everything. Thus, this is more reserved, more tanninc, longer by at least a leg length, and overall feels more 'serious' and moody. As well, it's more refined and the meat aromas are tempered by black pepper. In both cases, I am struck by the purity. These are classics that will likely carve in a niche in your heart.

The pair costs 950 NIS and are not sold separately.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Taking Care Of Business (Jul. - Aug. 2014)

I suppose I could just have called this the Summer of Champagne

Marc Hebrart, Champagne, Mareuil-Sur-Ay, Premier Cru Brut, Rose, n.v.

This is a grower from Terry Theise's portfolio that Eldad Levy doesn't carry (yet ?) and it's very, very good.  Interestingly, it's comprised of 47% Chardonnay, the rest Pinot Noir, including 7% still wine, so there's citrus and apples in there along with the more expected strawberries. It has very decent complexity for a non-vintage, with brioche, salted nuts, even a hint of flint and flowers, and it's very saline and dry, in a reserved, ladylike manner. Like the the other grower Champagnes I've tasted, this feels as though someone had managed to merge the freshness of fruit with the salivating, brothy warmth of crisp, freshly baked crust of bread dipped in bouillabaisse.

56 USD.

Simon Bize, Bourgogne, Les Perrières, 2010

Even though I thought this wouldn't reward drinking before 2015/6, I gave optimism a chance (mostly because it'd been a few weeks since I had a red Burgundy), but this is still nubile and oaky. Beneath the oak I can spot red fruit and flowers. I don't know if it's the vintage or the winemaker, but this just isn't tasty right now, and while time might absolve its sins, there are too many contenders I can opt to drink instead. (Jul. 20, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 140 NIS.

Ashkar, Iqrit, Sauvignon Blanc, 2012

This is more delicate than I remembered, very pale colored, all lime and grapefruit with a racy, chalky streak and terrific acidity. It's one dimensional, but packs a lot of charm into that one dimension. As much a pleasure the second time around. (Jul. 24, 2014)

Not that easy to find, I scored it at Goodies in Tel Aviv for 70 NIS.

Pierre Péters, Champagne, Le Mesnil Sur Oger, Brut Rosé, For Albane, n.v.

Right. I've waited for a long time for Eldad to reel Peters in. This is quite dry and austere, with oranges almost crowding out the red fruit, the Pinot Meunier in the cuvee (it's the sole red grape) lending a very earthy character. No brioche or nuts here, and I wind up liking it less than the less expensive Herbrat, even though it feels more refined if I limit my inspection solely to its structure. (Jul. 29, 2014)

Fat Guy, 399 NIS.

Delamotte, Champagne, Cote de Blancs, Brut, n.v.

Another very nice non-vintage, from the only producer in Eldad Levy's catalog that's an actual Champagne house (albeit a small one) and not a grower. Chalk, nut and citrus comprise a very mellow Champagne for an evening by the fire - 'cept we had it in the midst of yet another heat wave. Efrat says, and I agree with her, that this, too, gives more pleasure than the Péters Rosé. (Aug. 1, 2014)

Fat Guy, about 270 NIS.

L. Aubry Fils, Jouy-Les-Reims, Brut Premier Cru, n.v.

The blend is heavily into black grapes, 45% Pinot Meunier, 25% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay and the remaining 5% are ancient varieties that few besides the Aubry twins grow: Arbanne, Petit Meslier, and Fromenteau. Unlike most non-vintage blends, the reserve wine (40%) comes from not from a back vintage or two, but from something akin to a sherry solera system, with the juice dating back to 1998. My bottle was disgorged in January 2013, which means the non-reserve juice (60%) is 2010, and it also means it has had a year on the shelves to settle and age. The final result is lovely, with the nutty/brothy/bready nuances that have already wreaked havoc on my heart when I 'discovered' Lallament earlier this year. It's in a similar funky style, although a less intense rendition. (Aug. 17, 2014).

About 50 USD.

Jean-Louis Denois, Limoux, Brut Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs, n.v.

Disgorged Dec. 2012. I've been craving Champagne so much lately that I was content with a ringer, but this faced the handicap of being drunk while the memory of the charming and funky Aubry was still fresh in my mind. But it's still a tasty sparkler, with nuts and mushrooms and fresh Chardonnay citrus fruit underneath. (Aug. 18, 2014)

Fat Guy, 105 NIS.

Pierre Gimonnet, Champagne, Blanc de Blancs Brut, 1er Cru, Cuvee Gastronome, 2008

And here we go again. This is the low-rung vintage wine, a step up from the Gimonnet n.v., right before the "big gun" vintage wines, but still a treat (even if, as some on Cellar Tracker have written, it is a tad too sweet): a cloud of roasted nuts and mushrooms floating over bright apples and citrus fruit, with a structured laced with chalk. (Aug. 21, 2014)

Fat Guy, 279 NIS.

Prager, Niederosterrich, Hinter Der Burg, Gruner Veltliner, Federspiel, 2013

Typical GruVe: melon, apples, green peas, white pepper, mint. Decently complex, long and very pure and moreish. Really a wonderful little wine, whose finish lingers like a Grand Cru. (Aug. 22, 2014)

18 euros.

Pierre Péters, Champagne, Blanc de Blancs Brut, Cuvée de Réserve, .n.v

As in the case of the Gimonnet Gastronome, the floral Chardonnay fruit is very obvious, lending the wine  clean purity, with brioche lending nuances initially, followed quickly by a layer of chalk and nuts. Since the Peters non-vintage is sourced from a perpetual 'solera' (Terry Theise: "in principle this is half of the current-prevailing year and half a cuvée of all the preceding years"), I expected a more mature character, but this is amazingly fresh, with a finish that complements citric sweetness with a dash of salt. Good breed. (Aug. 23, 2014)

Fat Guy, 289 NIS.

Weninger, Mittelburgenland, Blaufränkisch, Saybritz, 2012

I bought this at the wine store in Egg, Germany, at the recommendation of the owner, after he noticed I didn't like the oakier wines he let me taste. He said the 2012 version saw less oak than the earlier vintage I was looking at. Well, there is oak in here, at first complementing the peppery aspects of the grape nicely, then subduing it, and it's not as light and lithe as the Moric, Schloss Gobbleburg and Brundlmayer reds I've tasted (which I'd drink by the gallons, if I could get any). I guess the wine store guy got it right, or I was too optimistic. (Aug. 28, 2014)

16 Euros, but what does the price mean anyway? I bought it in a town way out in the hinterlands, it would probably be 10-12 Euros in a major Austrian city, but anyone importing it to Israel would probably have to charge the equivalent of 20-25 Euros.

Ashkar Winery, Iqrit, Shiraz, 2012

The label might say Shiraz, but it smells and tastes like a warm vintage, Old World, Syrah, yet at the same time very Israeli as well. Lots of black pepper and spices, sweat, red and black fruit, maybe even a hint of bacon. Ripe, yet reined in at the same time - sweet, with a touch of sanguine. Smells great, tastes yummy, albeit rustic and grizzled. (Aug. 31, 2014)

90 NIS.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Summer Of Riesling, 2014

I can't explain - I think it's love

Selbach-Oster, Mosel, Zeltinger Himmelreich, Riesling Kabinett halbtrocken, 2012

I think this is the first bottle I've opened that's labelled Mosel instead of Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, and I'm grateful for having less to type in going forward. Anyway, we have here apples, melons and guyavas, a combination that makes for a vaguely tropical effect, except it's tightly reined in by a minty leafiness and slate. Hmmm... that's one long, spicy complex finish over the deceptively light, crystalline frame. (Jun. 27, 2014)

Fat guy, 115 NIS.

Selbach-Oster, Mosel, Zeltinger Schlossberg, Riesling Kabinett, 2012 

Of course, if I had my way, all Mosels Kabinetts would be like this more traditional rendering (unless you subscribe to the view that classic German Riesling is dry, and I'm not getting into that argument -  I simply know too little on the subject): light, lithe and ethereal, all succulent apples and slate and thrilling acidity, as refreshing as jumping into a cold lake on a hot August afternoon. Quite honestly, this puts just about every Kabinett I've had to shame, except benchmark Egon Muller. Especially when an hour of air releases some chalk into the mix. (Jun. 30, 2014)

Fat Guy, 135 NIS.

Dr. Loosen, Mosel, Bernkasteler Lay Riesling Kabinett, 2012

This is always a dependable Mosel Kabinett, apples and slate and all, fantastic acidity, and even if it doesn't have the electric, refreshing thrill of the Selbach-Oster Schlossberg, there's very little to find fault with in a dependable Mosel Kabinett. I mean, it's so yummy that it's not boring even in repetition.(Jul. 4, 2014)

Wine Route, about 130 NIS.

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

It's been a fun ride, but I'm finally down to my last bottle. This is showing ripe red apples and lime with delicate trimmings of stone and petrol, as well as zippy acidity, very good grip, length and depth. This is just as fresh and tasty as it was six or seven years ago when I first tasted it, but age has turned it into a complex statement of place and character. (Jul. 8, 2014)

Giaconda, 150 NIS back when I bought it years ago, remaining stock is now being sold for 180 NIS.

Reinhold Haart, Mosel, Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, Riesling Kabinett, 2012

The nose is complex and ever morphing, almost Sauvignon Blanc like with its grassy and tropical (guayavas) notes and minerals, while the palate is pure Riesling: sweet, yet racy, with fine grip and structure, and excellent length driven by green apple acidity. A memorable, lightly funky character. (Jul. 9, 2014)

Fat Guy, 139 NIS.

Weingut Josef Leitz, Rheingau, Rüdesheimer Berg Schloßberg, Riesling Spätlese, 2007

This is even better formed than the Roseneck 2004, formulating a clearer, more complex, more crystalline statement. The fruit is purer, even tastier, with a smoky veneer of minerals, lingering on forever. A better vineyard and a better year, I guess. (Jul. 11, 2014)

Giaconda,  180 NIS.

Karthäuserhof, Ruwer, Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Schieferkristall, Riesling feinherb, 2012

The back label calls this a kabinett, and it certainly has the lithe body of one, with intense green apple acidity. The nose shows the same green apples, as well as lime, pungent minerals and a hint of coffee. Tasty and fun, with good complexity, a unique aromatic signature and a very persistent finish. (Jul. 16, 2014)

31.49 USD.

Emrich-Schonleber, Nahe, Monzinger Halenberg, Grosses Gewaches, Riesling, 2008

At this point, I was certain my distrust of aging trockens or grosses gewaches was a healthy one, but this six year old really begs for more time. An intense, highly detailed and complex nose of apples, lemons, and slate. The palate is intense as well, long and vital, driven by incredible acidity. One of the most focused wines I've ever drunk, in the way it marries grand cru concentration with clarity and purity of fruit, as well as an elegant, light touch. (Jul. 19, 2014)

Giaconda, 330 NIS.

Selbach-Oster, Mosel, Zeltinger Schlossberg, Riesling Spätlese * trocken , 2012

A lot to like here: from the complex nose that leads with green apples and slightly oxidative notes, before it opens up to showcase a bedrock of minerals; to the fine acidity that makes for a very long finish, with a hint of honey. An excellent dry Riesling (a Grosses Gewaches for all practical purposes) and, for my money, ready to drink. (Jul. 26, 2014)

Fat Guy, 169 NIS.

Selbach-Oster, Model, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, Riesling Spätlese, 2012

A fantastic marriage of sweet fruit and electric acidity that makes every sip feel as though one is biting deep into the core of a perfectly ripe, freshly plucked apple. Already complex, with notes of slate and mint, but it has enough balance to cellar and develop for a decade. (Jul. 27, 2014)

Fat Guy, 155 NIS.

Emrich-Schonleber, Nahe, Monzinger Halenberg, -R-, 2007

As focused and pure as a diamond, with lithe green apples that perfectly marry acidity and sweetness. A complex nose, showing green apples, granite, iron, kerosene - intense and funky, yet light and elegant, the same wonderful paradox resides on the palate as well. There's a whole lot of sides to this wine, but at the end of the day, as is my usual experience with the Emrich-Schonleber Halenbergs of all pradikats, what I take away is the aloof purity. (Aug. 3, 2014)

Giaconda, 220 NIS.

Weingut Wittman, Rheinhessen, Westhofener Kirchspiel, Riesling Großes Gewächs , 2007

The intensity here is so focused that the final effect is that of elegance. The aromas and flavors, are of apples and peaches, grapefruit pits, spices and minerals, with depth and complexity beyond what the mere list can convey, and the finish is long, saline and complex. As I was drinking it, I thought: "mein gott, I really haven't had a dud this summer!" (Aug. 27, 2014)

Giaconda, about 300 NIS.

Of course, excellent Rieslings are also produced outside of Germany.

Schloss Gobelsburg, Kamptal Reserve, Gainsberg 1er Lage, Riesling, 2010

I've been following this for about three years, almost always getting off the crystalline veneer of the icy slate, here complemented by green apples, sweet grapefruit and a note of spice inflected tropical fruit reminiscent of botrytis. A thoroughbred, that marries the spiciness of the Austrian idiom with a sweet Spatlese-like veneer. (Aug. 2, 2014)

Fat Guy, 159 NIS.

Weingut Markus Huber, Traisental DAC Reserve, Berg 1er Lage, Riesling , 2012 

An appetizing, complex nose: green apples, lime, iron and a slender, yet intense, aromatic spike that is equally of minty green leafiness and spices as of pungent minerals. And is that a shy flower lurking in the cracks of thawing slate? As good as this summer's batch was to begin with, this was of the finest filigree and arguably the most distinct, almost ready to go, except the finish needs time to soften. (Aug. 25, 2014)

30 Euros.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Redde, Steady, Go!

So this is the new guy that Uri Kaftori and Eldad Levi are bringing in. While the domaine is not enough of a household name for Cellar Tracker to hold an entry for every wine and vintage, it seems to be an under the radar gem and the producer site is very well designed and elegant.

And how were the wines?

Well, fresh, saline, honest and classic are words that come to mind. The Petit Fume might strike you as a simple table wine if you drink a glass or so, but if you delve into a bottle over a couple of hours, it's going to offer more than a mild surprise. The Les Tuilieres and La Moynerie have noses McNamara and Troy couldn't build for a million bucks. And the Les Cornets is easily the equal of a Chablis Grand Cru. What a voyage these wines took me through!

Pouilly-Fumé , Petit Fume, 2013

This serves very, very well as an entry level wine, fresh and tasty, showing an austere, chalk laden version of the Sauvignon Blanc fruit, very nicely built: i.e., with no glaring faults, while, on the other hand not a technical wine, with the saline finish riding some tasty acidity raising my interest level. In short, fully complies with what I look for in Sauvignon these days. (Jul. 25, 2014)

109 NIS.

Sancerre, Les Tuiliéres, 2012

I don't have enough experience to tell  Pouilly-Fume' and Sancerre apart, but I somehow always expect a Pouilly-Fume' producer to perform worse in the Sancerre climat - and vice versa, of course. Well, I'm drinking through my purchases days apart, so I can't really make a valid comparison, but this hints, just hints, at the New Zealand style, cat piss and gooseberry, but classically formed, not tropical, with a solid backbone of minerals that sparks a salty finish. These minerals, in fact, capture the aromatic spotlight as center stage - in fact, you might not believe Sauvignon Blanc could be this mineral-laden. It may be softer than the Pouilly-Fume's, but doesn't feel like a step down.(Jul. 30, 2014)

149 NIS.

Pouilly-Fumé, La Moynerie, 2011

The nose here offers dried grass in addition to fossils and gunpowder, the fruit leaning towards green apples and fuller than the Les Tuiliéres. Differences in descriptors apart, this is just much more of the same, quality and style wise, of all the Les Tuiliéres have to offer. It's inscrutably better, at the very least more impressive - easily as good as an excellent Chablis Premier Cru. (Jul. 31, 2014)

149 NIS. Jesus, what great value!

Pouilly-Fumé, Les Cornets, 2011

Like I said above, a Chablis Grand Cru, except it wouldn't necessarily need 7-10 years in the cellar, but it would fool you in a blind tasting (however, Chardonnay has a dollop of baby fat even in lean years that this doesn't). The similarity is quite fitting, as this is the one wine in the Redde portfolio sourced from strictly Kimmeridgian soil, like the best of Chablis. The nose is more elegant and suggestive than the La Moynerie, the fruit leans towards lime this time, but here, too, the mineral essence has an almost three dimensional, sculptured feel. (Aug. 24, 2014)

259 NIS.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Great Escape - A Family Vacation In The Black Forest (Aug. 2014)

Just an FYI: I didn't expect to taste and drink so many wines on a family vacation, but it's so easy to find tasty, interesting, relatively inexpensive wines in Europe, I could probably have lived off the super market selections alone for the entire two weeks.
August 4: Egg, Austria

There was this weird wine shop right next to the zimmer where we were staying, with a small selection of wines, actually smaller than the collection at the supermarket next door. They were formally closed when I stepped in, but the owner was sampling some new arrivals with friends and they let me join. I liked the white and rose but was underwhelmed by the reds.

Kress, Muller-Thurgau, 2013

I think this is my first Muller-Thurgau. Fruity and lightly tinted with minerals, like a simple Sauvignon Blanc. Charming and fun. I didn't write down any details from the label, and Google only comes up with a Seegut Kress in Baden, which I doubt is the wine we tasted as all the wines in the store were Austrian.

Ploder Rosenberg, Sudoststeiermark, Rosa Rot, 2013

Strawberry and dry, a hint of sweetness. Oddly, it's only 10.5 ABV, but it doesn't feel too light, limpid or sweet.  I like it, but I wouldn't go out of my way to buy it.

Weingut Wallner, Sudburgenland, Eisenberg DAC, Blaufrankisch, 2011

Starts out nicely with black fruit and black pepper before what, to me, is heavy handed oak ruins the good start. Incredibly, Terry Theise is the US importer, so either he doesn't understand reds as well as he does whites, or this needs years and years to overcome the oak. I don't know quite what to make of it.

Markus Iro, Burgenland, Special Blend, 2013

A Pinot Noir, Merlot, St. Laurent blend. Oaky again, and I object to blending Pinot with anything in the first place.

The following wines accompanied our dinners at the zimmer:

Weingut Pockl Monchhof, Burgenland, Solo Rosso, 2010

This is pure Zweigelt and it's also oaky, but here there's enough earthy/spicy fruit, enough black pepper, and enough time that has passed to counteract the oak. Yet the tannins remain dry and bitter. So it's a pleasing effort although, not that much more. Kinda like a dependable Crozes-Hermitage; and for the same price Brundlemayer's Zweigelt (see below) is much more fun. 15 Euros. (Aug. 5, 2014)

Weingut Josef Jamek, Wachau, Jochinger Berg, Gruner Veltliner, Federspiel, 2009

I'm not sure how highly Jamek ranks in the Austrian scheme of things (Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book gives him one star whereas most of the producers in Eldad Levy's catalog, for example, have at least three and Giaconda's Pichler has four) and I'm not sure where the vineyard and bottling fit into the Jamek hierarchy - but this is a very good wine caught right beyond the initial throes of youth. It's a deceptively simple style of Gruner, but very harmonious on both nose and palate: green apples, a hint of flint and melon, white pepper, and beneath that the typical greenness of the grape. In short, a classic rendition. 10 Euros. (Aug. 6, 2014)

Wili Brundlmayer, Langenlois, Zweigelt, 2012

This is the tastiest red wine I had on the Austria leg of the tour, just fresh berry fruit with a substantial backdrop of minerals. Simple, but crafted with great care and honesty. Austria has such lovely red grapes, but some producers are still in the stage where they'll throw the entire Black Forest into their juice. 10 Euros (Aug. 7, 2014)

Aug. 8: Ammerschwihr, Alsace

Alsace never came as readily to me as Bougogne, Bordeaux and the Loire, so I wasn't as excited as you might expect to sleep right next to, and to jog inside, the famed Grand Crus. But with an unknown (to me) winery at every street corner, many of which are never seen outside of France, I would have had a great time exploring the place if I didn't have a family to chauffeur.

Driving into Riquewihr, I spotted a name that rang a bell and my family conceded me a short winery visit where I picked up a few bottles, one of which was consumed at our crappy one star motel in abysmal glasses.

Dopff au Moulin, Vourbourg Grand Cru, Gewürztraminer, 2009

An elegant Gewürztraminer with all the varietal accruments: lychee, rose petals, white pepper, ginger. There's enough residual sugar to overcome the spice attack in mid palate. Surprisingly zesty, for a Gewurtztraminer. (Aug. 8, 2014)

We also tasted the Schoenberg Grand Cru Riesling and Pinot Gris 2011 at the winery. Both were intense, the Riesling still austere but the Pinot Gris already open for business. The regular Riesling bottle, on the other hand, was solid, a little thin, not something I'd expend luggage space on. The winery's style appears to be elegant and understated. As well, we tasted the Bartholdi, a non vintage Cremant, which is very fruity while devoid of any nutty/minerally complexity. Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book calls Dopff Au Moulin pioneers of Cremant, but I found nothing compelling about the Bartholdi or the other cuvée we tried. This was my first Cremant, so I don't know - is this representative of the style?

Aug. 10: Oberkirch, Baden, Germany.

We didn't have time to buy any local wines when we arrived in Baden, so on our wedding anniversary, we opened another of the Alsace purchases: Dopff au Moulin,  Schoenberg Grand Cru, 2011. For me, a better wine, or at least a more enjoyable wine, than the Gewurtz, perhaps because I prefer Pinot Gris to Gewürztraminer. I consider it the quintessential Alsatian grape. Gewürztraminer is a slut and Riesling not only has to compete with its German kin, but with Austria, which can produce more balanced versions of the same spicy, dry style. But what do I know anyway? I just found out there's dozens, if not hundreds, of producers in Alsace that I and my friends have never heard of, so there's good odds I could find a few Rieslings to my tastes. But even if I underestimate the other two varieties, I do know that no other grape but Pinot Gris manages to blend luscious, oily fruit with decent-plus acidity. In many ways it is the white version of red Bourgogne, when it works, providing hedonistic and cerebral pleasures, the same image of a sage priest strolling through an Eastern bazaar. And any grape that manages to make me re-examine my notions of what it's capable of each time I open a bottle deserves an entry in my wine biography.

Anyway, back to the Schoenberg PG. It's in a likable, feminine, fruity/floral style, and at first only that. I prefer minerals in my wines, and my man in Alsace, Albert Mann, has delivered that with high intensity in his Pinot Gris Grand Crus the past, but I can appreciate and enjoy this. It shows honey and quince and little by little displays the minerals I look for. It certainly has the complexity and depth I expect from a Grand Cru. In short, a very satisfactory discovery that has whet my appetite.

The PG and Gewurtz, together with the 2010 Schoenberg, cost 48 Euros at a special discount at the winery store.

Aug. 12: Weingut Andreas Laible, Durbach, Baden.

I did my homework. Orentau is one of  the outstanding wine regions in Baden and Durbach is the important wine town. And Laible, a VDP producer, is one of the big names in Durbach, working a single vineyard, Plauerlain, which is exceedingly steep. Except for the Scheurebe Spatlese, these are backward wines right now, in need of time, yet already showing elegant intensity. They are honest without extravagant flash. The whites, anyway.

(Prices quoted are at the winery door)

Riesling, Plauerlain, Grosses Gewaches, 2012

Mineral laden and quite good. Very detailed. In need of time. 19 Euros.

Riesling, Plauerlain, Achat, 2013

More of the same, slightly more tropical, also in need of time. 17 Euros.

Scheurebe, trocken, 2013

Exotic with a lot minerals. Great fun to drink, but in need of food.

The Spatlese was friendlier and even better, floral with sexy sweetness. Both 11 Euros.

Spatburgender trocken, 2012

Very earthy but not for anyone looking for a Bourgogne lookalike as it is of a curt, Teutonic character. Which I might enjoy exploring at home but decided against carrying on the plane. 14 Euros.

Spatburgender, Plauerlain, Grosses Gewaches, 2011

This will need much more time. Oaky, but impressive in a points winning style. After later tasting the Trautwein, I think the Laible reds were trying too hard to impress and I was trying too hard to like them. 27 Euros.

Aug. 14: Stuhlingen, Germany

Still in the Black Forest, another fabulous zimmer in a different town. I decided to open a bottle of the Laible Scheurebe, and it's even better than at the winery, so let me give you the wine's full demarcation:

Andreas Laible, Baden, Durbacher Plauerlain, Scheurebe Spatlese, Erste Lages, 2013

A technical aside: Erste Lages is equivalent to Premier Cru in Burgundy. Most of the better wines are listed on the winery's site as Erste Lages, except for a trio of Grosses Gewaches. A GG must be dry according to current VDP regulations. So I'm not sure if the label here reflects that this a Spatlese and not a dry wine, as opposed to originating from a lesser parcel in Plauerlain, but this is fabulous stuff, floral and sexy, with detailed aromas and flavors that are full of life and joy and reverberate with red grapefruit and minerals. This is very complete and speaks of the essence of the grape, which is, at its best, all about the perfect marriage of fruit, sugar and riveting acidity. Even if I wasn't already a Scheurebe fanatic, this would make a lifelong convert out of me.

The next day, at the Gasthaus Schwanen restaurant at Stuhlingen, accompanying a dinner comprised of, for me, mainly wild boar.

Weingut Ralf Trautwein, Baden Kaiserstuhl, Spatburgender Kabinett Trocken, 2011

I like this rendition of Pinot a lot, with its earthy red cherries and cranberries and a hint of coriander. If Burgundy is Charlie Parker, joyfully expounding on his brand new approach to improvisation, then this is John Coltrane succumbing to the mathematical implications of applying his dark psyche to the same structures. Actually, Burgundy encompasses both aspects, so just imagine someone applying a Lutheran character to a lightly oaked Marsannay. I think it's good for me that this is 'only' a Kabinett - anything higher would be too ripe for me, as this was very balanced for me at 13% ABV.

25 Euros at the restaurant, which is about the price it would be sold for in Israel were it imported, so it's at the same price niche as a good generic Bourgogne.

And on the 16th, a couple of glasses on our last evening before returning to Israel.

Weingut Hug Pfaffenweiler, Oberthein, Muller Thurgau, 2013

A well made quaffer with no outstanding nuances.

5.50 Euros per glass at the Gasthaus Schwanen restaurant.

Weingut Ralf Trautwein, Baden Kaiserstuhl, Sauvignon Blanc, Qualitatswein trocken, 2013

Lightly exotic fruit (kiwi, grapefruit) with an excellent backbone of minerals. At first I thought that, as excellent as it is, it doesn't have that much to give it an edge in the global SB market, but its mineral fingerprint grew to create quite a blazing impression. No one in Israel (and arguably anywhere) is going to bother to carry a German Sauvignon, which is a shame - albeit an understandable one - because this SB shows the same clarity as a good Riesling. This Trautwein dude is good!

6.59 Euros per glass at the restaurant.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Double Feature (Jul. 28, 2014)

Pavelot - The Man!

Lamy - Also the Man!

Yet another Bourgogne Crown tasting, after a short hiatus. I can understand why Daniel Lifshitz paired Pavelot and Lamy for a tasting: two producers from undervalued villages who don't go for excessive and untoward flash. Tasty wines with a quiet, chiseled beauty.

Domaine Pavelot, Savigny Les Beaune, 2011

Classic, savory and tasty. Red fruit, spices, a hint of leather, fairly complex for what it is. Rustic tannins, comparatively speaking, for Beaune: for my tastes, rusty but not coarse. 165 NIS.

Domaine Pavelot, Savigny Les Beaune Premier Cru, Aux Guettes, 2011

A step up in intensity, if not necessarily in complexity, with a hint of flowers and minerals thrown in for good effect. The nose is certainly quite pretty and charming even now, while the tannins suggest a need for a short term rest. 260 NIS.

Domaine Pavelot, Savigny Les Beaune Premier Cru, La Dominode, 2010


Domaine Pavelot, Savigny Les Beaune Premier Cru, La Dominode, 2011

Deep and too tannic for true pleasure at this time. But the minerals and rust on the nose are a pleasure to sniff even now. And the pleasure grows greater when the nose expands to show some flowers. A welterweight Pommard, perhaps? 290 NIS.

Domaine Hubert Lamy, Saint Aubin Premier Cru, Derrière chez Edouard Rouge, 2011

If the Dominode is a wine considered by many to require time, than what can I say about this? It even smells closed, and, although the palate is more inviting than the Dominode's, I can almost sense the jism it seems to be keeping back, as even a short time glass reveals very expressive minerality and fantastic acidity. Great potential. 275 NIS.

Domaine Hubert Lamy, Saint Aubin Premier Cru, Clos de Meix, 2011

Citrus, minerals, almost masquerading as a Chablis Grand Cru, great acidity, a hint of minerals. 295 NIS.

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

More developed than the 2011, more about lime than about minerals at first, more elegant and finessed, cleaner. The 2011 is flashier right now, but the 2010 is the date that makes your knees quiver when you realize at the end of the evening how truly, deeply lovely she is. So I guess I'm saying that 2010 is the better vintage, but then we all knew that, right? 280 NIS.

Domaine Hubert Lamy, Saint Aubin Premier Cru, Derrière chez Edouard Blanc, 2011

Minerals again, more finesse than the Clos de Meix 2011 displays, with a quiet depth akin to the Clos de Meix 2010. A certain sweetness of fruit is deftly counterpointed by the acidity. 300 NIS.

Domaine Hubert Lamy, Saint Aubin Premier Cru, Clos de la Chateniere, 2011

I think the balance of fruit and minerals is really spot on, here. So, while the impact of the minerals in the previous wines was quite impressive, it is more complete and complex here, because it's not as obvious. I always prefer subtlety. 360 NIS.

Domaine Hubert Lamy, Saint Aubin Premier Cru, En Remilly, 2011

We drank this last and my conclusion is that Lamy shines in each of his terroirs. He takes a handful of pure fruit and mixes it with a thimbleful of minerals. The exact quantities may vary, but the end result is a great balm for the mind and soul. 360 NIS.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

World Cup Wines

France vs Switzerland, 5:2 (Jun. 20, 2014)

Alain Burguet, Bourgogne, Les Pince Vin, 2008

Funky, mineral nose. Tasty and floral/herbal. No other wine I know of this level of quality is this drinkable, so it pleases both the mind and the senses.

Bourgogne Crown, 160 NIS.

Chateau Troplong-Mondot, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 1998

A very dusty, mature nose with interesting complexity. The palate is tired, even though it's still tasty, and anyway it gains life in glass as the acidity asserts itself. I expected more complexity, but the end result is good, if not inspiring.

About 150 USD.

Domaine Bizot, Bourgogne, La Chapitre, 2011

Once again proving this is a great wine that is a mere Bourgogne only because French bureaucrats were too busy licking their own balls. That may be an exaggeration, but La Chapitre is a unique terroir in a corner in Burgundy that isn't even classified at village level. Amazingly fresh fruit with an earthy complexity that leaves you with a yearning pang. You know that feeling when you wake up with the remnants of a half remembered dream and want to just shut your eyes and reenter the dream world? That's Burgundy.

Bourgogne Crown, 375 NIS.

Olivier Guyot, Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, 2007

Another fresh wine that seems as if the winemaker was totally hung up on letting nature do all the work. Great juice. A Grand Cru whose sleight of hand is all about complexity and not power.

Bourgogne Crown, 540 NIS.

Italy vs. Uruguay, 0:1 (Jun. 24, 2014)

Jean-Louis Denois, Limoux, Brut Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs, n.v.

Disgorged Dec. 2012. Fresh and more exciting, at least at half time, than the game itself, this again presents the same facade of apples, oranges chalk and mushrooms as the previous bottle I drank. Simple, yet endearing.

Fat Guy, 105 NIS.

Brazil vs. Chile 1:1, 5:3 in penalties (Jun.  28, 2014)

Pierre Gimonnet, Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut, 1er Cru, Cuvee Gastronome, 2008

A bigger game deserves a bona fide Champagne.  This really has everything I love in a young Champagne on the cusp of maturity: the fresh citrus/apple fruit, hints of brioche, the mature notes of nuts and mushrooms starting to assert themselves. Lovely, albeit without the complexity of a really great vintage cuvee.

Fat Guy, 279 NIS.

Argentine vs. Switzerland 1:0 (Jul. 1, 2014)

Sphera, White Signature, 2012

A flagship blend of undisclosed varieties. A very complex, lightly pungent, mineral-laden (chalk and clay) nose. The palate,too, is pleasantly pungent and, as well, layered. Some grapefruit, peaches, a hint of sweetness offsetting the pungency. Very good, almost excellent, as good as, say, a Village Cru Burgundy, but not good enough to bring cheer to a game dull enough to bring one to tears - a game like this, you'd need a Montrachet to overcome the drudgery, or a Messi to set up the winning goal in a flash of genius at the last minute.

150 NIS.

First Quarter Finals (Jul. 4, 2014)

Germany vs. France 1:0
Brazil vs. Colombia 2:0

Dr. Loosen, Mosel, Bernkasteler Lay Riesling Kabinett, 2012

This is always a dependable Mosel Kabinett, apples and slate and all, fantastic acidity, and even if it doesn't have the electric, refreshing thrill of the Selbach-Oster Schlossberg I drank a few days earlier, there's very little to find fault with in a dependable Mosel Kabinett. I mean, it's so yummy that it's not boring even in repetition.

Wine Route, about 130 NIS.

Second Quarter Finals (Jul.  5, 2014)
Argentine vs. Belgium 1:0
Holland vs. Costa Rica 0:0, 4:3 in penalties

Christian Moreau, Chablis Grand Cru, Valmur, 2008

Lime and stone. Good and tasty, quite savory, yet not especially complex or compelling.

Burgundy Wine Collection, 270 NIS.

On to the big time! And was there ever as appropriate wine pairing as the following one!

First Semi Finals, Germany vs. Brazil 7:1(Jul. 8, 2014)

Weingut Josef Leitz, Rhenigau, Rüdesheimer Berg Roseneck, Riesling Spätlese, 2004

It's been a fun ride, but I'm finally down to my last bottle. This is showing ripe red apples and lime with delicate trimmings of stone and petrol, as well as zippy acidity, very good grip, length and depth. This is just as fresh and tasty as it was six or seven years ago when I first tasted it, but age has turned it into a complex statement of place and character.

Giaconda, 150 NIS.

A boring game, but a wine that actually made for an exciting evening.

Second Semi Finals, Argentine vs. Holland 0:0, 4:2 in penalties (Jul. 9, 2014)

Reinhold Haart, Mosel, Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, Riesling Kabinett, 2012

The nose is complex and ever morphing, almost Sauvignon Blanc like with its grassy and tropical (guayavas) notes and minerals, while the palate is pure Riesling: sweet, yet racy, with fine grip and structure, and excellent length driven by green apple acidity. A memorable, lightly funky character.

Fat Guy, 139 NIS.

And then, dear friends, I flew to Boston on a business trip right on the evening of the Finals of this (great? interesting?) Mondial - so no tasting note for the grand event. Which is a shame, as it would obviously have been a great Riesling.