Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pot Luck Tasting With a Few Gold Nuggets (Feb. 24, 2014)

Austria: douze pointes!
Vouette et Sorbee, Fidele, Extra Brut, nv

100% Pinot Noir, from a small grower and with about six years of cellaring on it. Earth, apples, pear, mushrooms, as well as terrific acidity for my taste. Great fun with good structure, and I wish I had a bottle to 'study' alone.

Schloss Schonborn, Rheingau, Hattenheimer Nubbrunnen, Riesling Auslese, 1976

The color is light mahogany but it smells and tastes very fresh and balanced. There's some petrol, but it shows even more green tea and a touch of musk, a la some sweet Chenins.  I'm not sure what its ideal drinking window should have been, but it doesn't seem at all over the hill.

Domaine de la Vougeraie, Bonnes Mares, 2004

Broad and complex and surprisingly tannic for a 2004. The nose is full of tertiary aromas and much better than the palate. Perhaps I should elaborate. One of the givens for a good Grand Cru is that the palate should be better than the nose, with power or complexity or finesse - something to give you pause, and I don't find that here. Likely this specific bottle should have been drunk two-three years ago.

Chateau Monbousquet, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 2009

I didn't take notes of too many descriptors, but even if I had, I would have probably stuck to the basics here: an ugly, bitter, extracted finish. Not good, Eran Pick, not good.

Moric, Burgenland,  Blaufrankisch, 2007

Back to the real Old World. This is broad and complex on the nose and very tasty with youthful vigor. This evoked comparisons with one of the lesser North Rhone AOC's, which for me is a good place to be. A delightful surprise.

Jean Baptiste Senat, Minnervois, Le Bois des Merveilles, 2011

Insolent, slightly bretty fruit. In time the brett overwhelms the fruit, lending a bitter impression. I'm not impressed.

Perrin et Fils, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Les Sinards, 2004

Rustic. Flat. I'm not surprised.

Baron Bich, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 1982

A Right Banker that no one had heard of, it's tired and fragile. After some debate, we even accused it of cork taint, but it wasn't obvious and although I don't see how the TCA wouldn't have been glaring after over thirty years.

Romano Dal Forno, Valpolicella Superiore, 2004

Sweet, over the top and awful. Might improve, I just can't see it possibly getting any worse. But I'm glad we tasted it, because it was educational; because in the context of Veneto, it's an important style and and an important winemaker to study and know; and because it's interesting to compare my impressions with what the winemaker has to say about the wine. I dunno, I gather Romano sees his wines as contemplation wines - I shudder to think just what he contemplates when drinks this stuff.

Jaboulet, Hermitage, La Chapelle, 1999

Too modern for my expectations of a Hermitage, but after the losing streak, this an improvement. With sweet tannins and typical black pepper, it's tasty, but one dimensional, especially given the terroir; although as I recall, 1999 was smack in the middle of the Jaboulet family soap opera, so it figures.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Burgundy 2007 at Yaffo Tel Aviv (Feb. 16, 2014)

A minor classic
Another night for the history books, orchestrated by the illustrious Daniel Lifshitz. Lows and highs: a DOA white and a contaminated Nuits; a white Burgundy for the ages, a lovely and unique village Pommard and a Vogue.

Served blind in flights of two.

Comte Armand, Pommard Premier Cru

Clean red fruit with a touch of spices and sweat. A good wine that is somewhat hedged in by the tannins, I get the feeling that the muscular style of Clos De Epeneaux is applied to lesser fruit.

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 300 NIS.

J. F. Coche-Dury, Pommard Les Vaumuriens

Funkier than the Comte Armand, , arguably more Old World, longer with better focus. Flowery to the point you could be fooled into thinking this is a Chambolle. Lovely. A village lieux-dit abutting Rugiens that Daniel says is the most flowery of all Pommards.

Not imported, price unknown.

Henry Gouges, Nuits-St.-Georges, 2008

The only ringer in the lineup, being a 2008. A deep, dark spicy, complex, sweaty wine, balanced in an underhanded way. And tasty. True to the Gouges style and an overachiever.

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 200 NIS.

Henry Gouges, Nuits-St.-Georges Premier Cru, Clos des  Porrets-St.-Georges

Muter. There was much debate round the table whether it is corky. I'm usually sensitive to cork taint, but I don't spot any TCA. Whatever, it is not showing as well as the Village.

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 300 NIS.

Joseph Drouhin, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru, Hauts Doix

A reticent nose but an expressive palate, without any glaring imbalances. The nose opens to reveal flowers and very red fruit. The fruit is quite soft, yet there is a languid structure giving it a refined form.

Price unknown.

Comte Georges Vogue, Chambolle-Musigny

An expressive nose and a complex, long palate. Broad without being heavy, flowery as well as exotically spicy. A step ahead of the Drouhin, no surprise given that it contains a large helping of Premier Cru fruit and that this is, well, Vogue.

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 700 NIS.

Domaine Arlaud, Morey St. Denis Premier Cru, Aux Cheseaux

A detailed, powerful, extroverted nose with lovely, lively manly stink over red cherries.

Wine Route, about 400 NIS.

Arlaud, Clos De La Roche Grand Cru

A slowly fading wine, eventually dying in the glass. An off bottle, or badly stored along the way.

Wine Route, about 500 NIS. This bottle was purchased from Wine Route, unlike the other bottle that  was bought in the US.

Carillon, My Wayward Son

Louis Carillon, Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru, Champs-Canet

Incredible. This is a lovely, citrus inflected, savory white B, laced with minerals and a hint of menthol, and very deftly balanced. Just what a white Bourgogne should be when it's really great: laser sharp focus with amazing acidity, that is like biting a green apple fresh off the tree.

Not imported, price unknown.

Domaine Leflaive, Puligny-Montrachet, Les Pucelles

Totally premoxed. If the Carillon is the reason I haven't given up on the search for the Holy Grail of white Burgundy, bottles like this one are the reason I remain an agnostic most of the time.

Not imported, price unknown.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Taking Care Of Business (Feb. 2014)

My first go at a 2011 red Cote d'Or was the funnest wine I had at home this month

Alzinger, Wachau, Leibenberg, Riesling Smaragd, 2010

This struck me as exotic and tropical in the past, but now it plays in a more typical, classic Austrian style: green and baked apples with a mineral overlay, on a happy-natured, mentholated background. Very pure, but not uncommonly complex. (Feb. 3, 2014)

Fat-Guy, 209 NIS.

Recanati, Reserve, Syrah-Viognier, 2011

Very much a North Rhone ringer on the nose, a cross between Crozes and Cornas, with that tell-tale black pepper signature, while ripe, chocolate-y fruit betrays its true origin. The palate is deep and spicy, but too low on acidity - which saddens me, as this is my local favorite when the vintage and/or bottle is totally in tune. (Feb. 5, 2014)

140 NIS.

Another one of Ido's love children turn out to be even nicer than the one he turned out above in his day job.

Lewinsohn, Garage de Papa, Rouge, 2010

Lovely. Blind, I would have guessed Languedoc, and the varietal mix is not that far off, being a Syrah-Petit Syrah-Carignan blend. This is clean and elegant, developing an interesting mineral overlay: dry mud and a hint of garrigue even! (Feb. 6, 2014)

140 NIS.

A. Et P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise, La Digoine, 2009

Villaine used to be one of my house reds, and I was buying loads from the 2006 vintage to the 2009. The only reason I stopped is there were other petit Bourgognes at the price point vying for my attention, and, besides, I never could figure out what the upside of aging both reds and whites was. This, however, is shining right now with strawberries and pine needles on the nose and light, elegant fruit buoyed by juicy acidity. I might need to re-think my buying strategy. (Feb. 7, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 140 NIS.

Hugel, Jubilee, Riesling, 2001

Just great, another Alsatian has gone to meet its maker, not before spending a few months in my fridge. Excessive kerosene on the nose, oxidized apple cider on the palate. (Feb. 8, 2014)

Wine Route, about 200 NIS.

Jean-Louis Denois, Limoux, Chardonnay Extra Brut, n.v.

This is a very refreshing sparkler from the Languedoc, with bright citrus fruit, chalk and sauteed mushrooms, that should appeal to newbies and afficionados both. (Feb. 12, 2014)

Fat Guy, 105 NIS.

Terre da Vino, Barbera d'Asti, San Nicolao, 2012 

A very basic Barbera, with tart cherries and strain of upturned earth - tasty with crunchy salinity, but not much besides that, rather boring in fact.(Feb. 14, 2014)

Wine Route, 90 NIS.

Louis Jadot, Pommard Premier Cru, Les Rugiens, 2005

A good Jadot at last! Funky, ripe, with a good balance of acidity and tannins; a hint of oak on both nose and palate that is mitigated by smoky/earthy spiciness and a touch of iron and blood. Gorgeous. (Feb. 15, 2014)

Wine Route - this is probably a 300-400 NIS wine these days, but I think I bought it for about 200 NIS.

Vietti, Langhe Nebbiolo, Perbacco, 2010

This is my first Vietti, actually, and it's a declassified, young-vines Barolo. And what you really do get here is a ready-to-drink, mini Barolo: that is, it's muscular and rusty/dusty like a Barolo (not the relative fluidity of a Barbaresco) and is resolved with a youthful complexity that is deprived of any nuances that come with bottle age. (Feb. 17, 2014)

Wine Route, 130 NIS.

Bernard Baudry, Chinon, 2010

Lovely, tangy fruit with trappings of lead pencil and pungent earthiness. I haven't had this in a few months, but I'm sure glad I bought more. (Feb. 18, 2014)

Wine Route, 85 NIS.

Shvo, Sauvignon Blanc, 2012

Yo, Gabi Sadan! You got me following three vintages of the same Israeli white!

This is, once again, a very Burgundian Sauvignon, with a lot of flint, perhaps a hint of cat's pee. This ought to be an eye-opener to anyone brought up on New World samples. A class act. (Feb. 20, 2014)

80 NIS.

R. Lopez de Heredia, Vina Tondonia, Rioja Reserva,  2001

This is, again, a very classical Rioja, drinking fresher than the tertiary aromas (balsam, dusty carpets, mildew) would have you think, due to the savory combination of mellow fruit, ripe acidity and soft tannins. (Feb. 21, 2014)

Fat Guy, 235 NIS.

Carmel, Single Vineyard Kayoumi, Riesling, 2012

This really is lovely, and worthy of the hype it has garnered since its release. It strikes a balance between green apples, stone fruit, lime peel and salty flavors, while the nose displays similar aromas, adding a touch of slate as well. (Feb. 22, 2014)

85 NIS.

Midbar Winery, Semillon, 2009

This finally wound up in a very sweet spot, after two years, with a flint overtone midway between Chassagne and Chablis, with the slightly fatter, melon-inclined fruit of Semillon. And the acidity is one of the best I've had in Israel - probably because the wine is an early harvest, which, as I wrote in the my first review of this wine, can be a positive distinction only in the Land Of Milk And Honey. It's a shame, though, that Yaakov Oryah left Midbar, because my intuition tells me that with a few more years of working with the vineyard, he'd have timed the harvest to get the same electric jism in the acidity, with a little more phenolic ripeness. (Feb. 23, 2014)

George Descombes, Fleurie, Vieilles Vignes, 2010

George Descombes was one of the first Beaujolais Cru producers that I drank and I found him wonderful. So, understandably, my expectations here were high. And initially not met. The nose is fine and typical, pungently earthy, but the palate starts out flat and short, growing considerably fuller and longer. At the end, it's not profound, but does repay my patience. (Feb. 25, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 130 NIS.

Domaine de la Vougeraie, Cote de Beaune, Les Pierres Blanches, 2011

Once again, a wonderfully scented, delightful village wine, with crunchy red fruit and exotic spices. At this level on the Bourgogne food chain, it's obviously not going to be the most complex, long or weighty of wines, but it has enough charm to transport you to the magical kingdom that is Burgundy, enough presence to hint at what treasures a fat wallet can buy you there, and it makes out with the palate with sweet fruit that is well balanced by savory acidity. I'm trying to split my Burgundy budget between the Tomer Gal and Daniel Lifshitz catalogs, otherwise I'd be buying multiples of this. (Feb. 27, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 170 NIS.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ecclecticity (Jan. 30, 2014)

The token claret - because we had to drink a claret
Local winemakers can be a rowdy, sarcastic lot: it's a good thing I brought along Roi Peretz, another Good Samaritan, to contain the talented group that gathered at Halutzim 3 to sample and enjoy a pot luck collection..

Trio, Chardonnay, 2012

Yotam Sharon brought this, as well as the Haut-Marbuzet. It's his own creation but I told him to feel free to showcase his stuff, especially as I found the bottle I opened at home to be on the mute side, aromatically, and wanted to give it a second chance. This was an improvement, and everyone was deservedly impressed. I find it very flinty, tasty and savory, right up my alley, as good a Chardonnay as I've had from Israel. Just a touch of rustic sweetness, but fine and definitely a "buy again".

About 100 NIS.

Domaine de Chevalier, Blanc, 2008

Eran Pick's bottle - he does seem to like Bordeaux for some reason. This a Sauvignon Blanc heavy white, 85% , topped by 15% Semillon. More elegant than the Trio, but on the mute side at first, until it blossoms with shrapnels of minerals. Good acidity, lots of stone fruit and a saline, lengthy mineral finish.

Wine Route, about 350 NIS.

Movia, Veliko Belo, 2007

OMG. This has a weird apple-cider ,oxidized nose, with botrytis-like mustard. I know this is considered a top class winery in Slovania, but is surely not for lovers of crisp elegance. An albino orange wine perhaps? Roi's offering.

Giaconda, 160 NIS.

Foradori, Teroldego, Granato, 2010

Ido Lewinsohn always brings interesting stuff from his travels. This is just lovely and super savory, bringing to the table black fruit with a tangy, tobacco-leaves effect. Memo to self: drink more Italians.

Price unknown.

Edmunds St. John,  El Dorado, Fenaught Syrah, 2011

Mine, and I really expected more. It's a young, supple Syrah with the requisite black pepper, but very simple-minded right now, and on the ripe side.

35 USD.

Chateau Haut-Marbuzet, Saint Estephe Cru Bourgeois, 1999

This is a really classic claret in a lithe body, with savory, tangy tannins, smoky black fruit and a light mineral/brett overlay. I'm not sure many would pick it for a 99, blind, it's too complete and doesn't seem to be going anywhere in a hurry. Maybe 1999 is not as mediocre and short-lived as its public image suggests?

Prince unknown.