Friday, April 25, 2014

Bourgogne Crown White Tasting (Mar. 21, 2014)

There's more than one way to build up a Burgundy portfolio. One is to hook up with the obvious marquee names, and Tomer Gal has already cornered the local market with the obvious suspects, leaving Daniel Lifshitz and Bourgogne Crown the low road: find a bunch of relative unknowns through a lot of hard legwork and passion.

This installment of Daniel's annual tasting covers the white wines, which showed their origins with great clarity and typicity: the Chassagnes were the sturdiest, and Corton-Charlemagne exotic, the Pulignies showing the most finesse and purity while all the duds were from Meursault. Even the lesser known appellations seemed to say, "I come from a really interesting place".

Domaine Blain-Gagnard, Chassagne Montrachet, 2011

Flint and apples, quite elegant, especially for Chassagne. A very tasty and pretty village wine. 215 NIS.

Domaine Rapet, Pernard Vergelesses Premier Cru, En Caredeux, 2011

Compared to the Blain-Gagnard, there is greater saline complexity on the nose, as well as flint. The palate is heavier but still refreshing, not at all tiresome. 250 NIS.

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

A cool and initially reticent nose that shows pure minerality, as well as flowers. Full yet elegant. 295 NIS.

Domaine Morey-Coffinet, Chassagne Montrachet Premier Cru, Les Caillerets, 2011

A mute nose, with hints of clay, and no sense of oak on the palate. Fresh and focused, with Chassagne spiciness, sans the four squareness that often characterizes the terroir. 300 NIS.

Domaine Alain Chavy, Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru, Les Clavoillons, 2011

Typical nose, with some dry grass, along with apples and flint. A savory wine that is among the most balanced of the night. Really excellent with almost lime-y acidity and hardly a trace of oak. 330 NIS.

Domaine Buisson-Charles , Meursault Premier Cru, Gouttes d'Or, 2011

Lightly oxidized on the nose at first, then shows baked pears and some minerals. Alas, the palate is too sweet and heavy for me at this time. 530 NIS.

Domaine Marquis d'Angerville, Meursault-Santenots Premier Cru, 2011

A piercing shot of flint on the nose. Terrific Puligny-like acidity, with a mineral aftertaste, but despite the great focus, it lacks the depth and thrill I'd expect from a Premier Cru, especially at this price point. 550 NIS.

Domaine Matrot, Meursault Premier Cru, Perrieres, 2011

Still a blank, acidic page. Good, mute fruit, a hint of minerals, but a disappointing performance at this stage. 650 NIS.

Domaine Benoit Ente, Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru, Folatieres En La Richarde, 2012

Wow! what fantastic nose: detailed, complex, almost three dimensional in its presence. And a mouth to match, with great presence, delineation and stuffing and a savory, saline finish. 590 NIS.

Domaine Rapet, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, 2011

Flint again on the nose, which is also lightly tropical and exotic. Powerful yet balanced. Less elegant than the Benoit Ente, as I'd expect from a Grand Cru that often shows more intensity than finesse. 500 NIS.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Just Rewards (Apr. 16, 2014)

My deal with the universe is, I run an important race, I get to open a Champagne. Not that I necessarily need an excuse, but it does make a potentially astonishing drink an even more memorable experience.

Case in point:

Jean Lallament, Verzenay Grand Cru, Reserve Rose, n.v.

What a focused, yet expressive nose: all the vital energy deep inside the earth of Verzenay seems to flower in a a display of strawberries, minerals, mushrooms and brioche. The palate, too, is a geology lesson - long, detailed, savory, fully echoing the portrait that the aromas paint. This is, unsurprisingly, an elaboration of the Lallament house style, as depicted in the regular non-vintage cuvee, and an uncommonly funky thing of beauty I could thrive on forever.

Fat Guy, 319 NIS.

We drank through the Lallament way too soon (Eldad Levy, I will call you shortly!) and needed more wine to top off the night, so I chose what some might call a minor wine, but which I find to be a relevation.

Benoit Ente, Aligote, 2011

My friend Gal Zohar calls this the best Aligote he's ever tasted and I tend to agree, because it surely matches the Lallament in its nigh defiant individualism. The nose so pungent with minerals you could almost use the olfactory memories as a real estate statement, while the palate is fresh and lively, with a hint of olive brine and vibrant acidity. It's a little wine, make no mistake about it, but it's a great little wine.

Bourgogne Crown, 90 NIS.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt (Mar. 13, 2014)

One day I'll drop by and thank them personally for their Clos St. Jean Rouge
I was trying to find an apt title for a red Bourgogne tasting that Daniel Lifshitz presented and it struck me that the title of this D.J. Shadow track somehow nails Burgundy: creating an ephemeral presence with the bare essentials. That, and a supple core of minerals.

Most of the wines tasted are from Daniel's Bourgogne Crown catalog (the site is not up to date at this time, but here's the link for posterity's sake), with a few 'guests' contributed by the participants.

The idea was to taste village level reds, but Daniel had a couple of leftover bottles from a trade tasting he had held earlier in the day, so we started out with a couple of bonuses.

Benoit Ente, Bourgogne Aligote, 2011

Hey! Aligote works (but I've known that for years)! This is focused and long, tasty, stony with palate cleansing acidity, the fruit coming across as somewhere between a lean Chardonnay and a Melon de Bourgogne.

100 NIS.

Olivier Gouyot, Bourgogne, 2010

Earthy red fruit. Good aromatic complexity and character. The palate is short and and direct, but very tasty. The grapes are actually sourced from Marsannay village crus, making this a good value.

100 NIS.

On to the tasting proper and the first 'guest star', whose purposes seemed, in hindsight, to prove to the audience what happens when you try to age a low level wine, indifferently made, from a vintage not renowned for its staying power:

Faiveley, Cote de Beaune Villages, 2007

Tired nose. Dead palate, short, flat.

HaKerem, about 90 NIS.

Back to the world of the living:

Joseph Drouhin, Savigny-Les-Beaune, 2008

Nice nose, not great but with a taste of the spicy red fruit I love. Terrific acidity with fruit that needs to fill out and complement the acidity, which I expect to come with airing, not aging.

Scottish Company/Tiv Ta'am, 160 NIS, I suppose.

Domaine Pavelot, Savigny-Les-Beaune, 2011

Terrifically vibrant and enticing. Earthy, full and balanced. Pure, elegant with focused and friendly power. Just lays out on your palate with effortless ease.

165 NIS.

Two more guest stars.

Domaine Jacques Prieur, Beaune Premier Cru, Clos De La Feguine, 2005

Dark, extracted - too extracted! - earthy, black fruit, encumbered with oak. A Bourgogne for lovers of Ribera. Prieur (like Jadot, both of which are carried by Wine Route) used to be a good place to start exploring Burgundy, but the style is really a blend of lackluster and vulgar wine making and today we in Israel simply have too many better options.

About 200 NIS, I'd guess.

Domaine Denis Carre, Pommard, Les Noizons,1999

This wine has a handsome mix of black fruit, black pepper and minerals, and shows respectable maturity without having gained profound depth from its age. Foursquare, a wine as exciting as an accountants convention.

Source and price unknown.

Marquis d'Angerville, Volnay, 2011

As d'Angerville, along with Montille, is one of the stars of Volnay, even his village wine should be interesting, but this bottle just didn't deliver. Oak forward, soft fruit with a lean, acidity driven core adding a lithe punch. A hint of flowers. And that's just about it for now.

265 NIS.

The star of the night.

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

A classic Bourgogne nose, reminiscent of perhaps Chambolle due to a flowery overlay. The most elegant wine of the night. Lovely and lively, delicately expressive in an off the cuff manner. Good, caressing fruit and acidity.

235 NIS.

I won't judge the hosts' decision to add guest stars to the lineup, but my notes for their showing speaks for itself (although the Drouhin is fine drop). I enjoyed the company and hospitality and the evening was educational and fun.

On the drive back with Daniel, I drank a couple of more leftovers from his earlier tasting. The d'Angerville, Bourgogne, 2011 (160 NIS) was drinking better than the village, with a fuller presence. As I was drinking from a Bordeaux glass, the Volnay character was subdued, but it sure was tasty. The Alain Burguet, "Les Pinces Vin", 2011 (a Gevrey village sold as a Bourgogne), was flowery and elegant, less animalistic than I would expect, whether because of the glass or whether because it comes from a cool parcel in the village.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Taking Care Of Business (Mar. 2014)

Alzinger. Leo Alzinger.
 A. Margaine, Special Club, Blanc de Blancs, Brut, Premier Cru, 2004

This was a hell of a steely Champagne in its youth, but now it shows the nutty and mushroom aromas of bottle age as well as a faintly biscuit-y mouth-feel, with acidity that is thrilling and understated at the same time. A complex, special creature that is almost too tasty for its (or my) own good - even if the mousse is not very persistent - because while it pairs excellently with food, it is in many ways a contemplation wine. (Mar. 1, 2014)

Fat Guy, 310 NIS.

Chéreau-Carré, Comte Leloup de Château de Chasseloir, Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine, Cuvée des Ceps Centenaires, 2009

Clean and pure, lime with clay notes. Tasty, with hardly a hint of the complexity these are reputed to have with age, a cross between Bordeaux and Macon whites. (Mar. 4, 2014)

Wine Route, 84.90 NIS.

Simon Bize, Bourgogne, Les Perrières, 2010

The nose is less expressive than I'd hoped, dusty cranberry with a touch of spice and hide, as well as an obvious, if not overdone, touch of oak. The palate has greater presence and length than I'd imagined, though, as well as tasty, sappy fruit; however, since here, too, the oak is felt (albeit not too obviously, again), I'd give it another year. A raw, nubile, overachiever. (Feb. 6, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 140 NIS.

Henri Gouges, Nuits-St.-Georges, 2006

Another 2006 with low sex appeal factor, this is ready to drink, with earthy red, but mostly black, fruit and sweat and spices that suggest the Nuits brand of masculinity. The palate is fairly complete, not especially long, with supple, mellow fruit and low keyed acidity. As is usually the case with many Villages, the complexity is mostly in the bouquet. (Mar. 8, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 200 NIS.

Roger Sabon, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Cuvee Prestige, 2004

I'm almost through my CdPs. Thank God. After this, only the really good stuff (Pegau, Beaucastel, Vieux Telegraph) remain. This is Hell's Angels, muscle-bound, leather-bound stuff with dusty spices somewhat closer to Piedmont than to Provencial garrigue. Not as bad as I'd feared, very good within its style, to be quite honest, with good complexity on the nose and enough old school character and charm to overcome any deficits vis a vis finesse. I may not like Chateauneuf any more, but even though Sabon is controversial in my wine drinking circle, this specific bottle is a good reminder of how the village got its reputation in the first place. (Mar. 9, 2014)

Wine Route, 250 NIS.

Bernard Baudry, Chinon,  Le Clos Guillot, 2010

Red fruit with a pungent streak of minerals and tobacco leaves, and a light touch of brett. A good tannic structure that is somehow coupled with languid fruit for a tasty impact on the taste buds. Although two-three years will give it a much more idiosyncratic complexity. (Mar. 10, 2014)

Wine Route, 125 NIS.

Müller-Catoir, Pfalz, Haardter Bürgergarten, Riesling Auslese, 2007

This might not have the thrilling, acidity-driving pizzazz of the best Teutonic Ausleses, but it sure is a delicious confection, with botrytis and a touch of dill and slate to complement the apricot toffee and marmalade. (Mar. 11, 2014)

Giaconda, 170 NIS for a half bottle.

Jean Foillard, Morgon, Côte du Py, 2011

Oh my, this is in such a good place right now! The earthy fruit is just so full, deep and vivid, the saline finish so tasty. Easily on the quality level of a good Cote d'Or village cru, at the very least. (Mar. 14, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 140 NIS.

Jean Lallement, Champagne Brut, Verzenay Grand Cru, n.v.

I had this just two months ago and I've been waiting restlessly ever since to come back home again, where salty cashews and chicken broth marry foamy citrus fruit and minerals in an elegant funk of pure umami. I've had better champagnes, but few as unique as this. (Mar. 16, 2014)

Fat Guy, about 280, 300 NIS, something like that.

Domaine de la Vougeraie, Beaune, La Montée Rouge , 2011

Very much in keeping with the Vougeraie house style (never too ripe, clean, with just a touch of offhand imprecision to keep things interesting), this offers perfumed, savory red fruit, with a lithe acidic/tannic backbone and a somewhat earthier tone than the cheaper Les Pierres Blanches, but also arguably more complexity. Another '11 that is very much fun to drink young - and Vougeraie is alwys fun to drink. (Mar. 17, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 190 NIS.

Selbach-Oster, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, Riesling Spätlese, feinherb "Ur Alte Reben", 2012

A fine, young Riesling, just about all fruit now, lightly tropical with a hint of mint, with a supple structure, great depth and much potential. (Mar. 21, 2014)

33 USD. Will some kind importer pick up the gauntlet?

Terre Nere, Etna Rosso, Calderara Sottana, 2009

This shares the complex dusty/spicy black fruit aromatics of a good Nebbiolo, with the pondering heaviness on the palate, which often takes years to settle down. Instead, this is light and tasty, yet with the depth of a good Barolo. (Mar. 22, 2014)

Fat Guy, 230 NIS.

Hubert Lignier, Gevrey-Chambertin, Les Seuvrees, 2008

Man, I wish we had more excellent Bourgogne vintages that are as underrated as 2008 is, with its freshness, vividness and elegance. This sample is, once again, droolingly tasty. (Mar. 23, 2014)

Wine Route, 250 NIS.

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

I've  had this several times and this is turning into a very tasty, savory sparkler that could give some non-vintages a good fight, albeit in the citrus, steel and mushrooms side of the spectrum rather than apples, chalk and brioche. (Mar. 27, 2014)

Fat Guy, 105 NIS.

Leo Alzinger,  Wachau, Loibenberg, Riesling Smaragd, 2012

This youngster comes from one of Alzinger's two top vineyards, the other being Steinertal. I suppose it was early to open it, but I really was curious and I have two more bottles (plus another pair from 2010), so I'm still in a good place with my stocks. The aromatics are still in the green herbs and peas phase, which I find typically Austrian. The palate is full and friendly, with sweetness that is braced by a raspy, spicy, mineral cut, with a only a hint of the complexity and personality that the vineyard's pedigree promises.

But good wines offer a journey, and here, although progress is glacial, there is a wisp, a hint of shimmering, mentholated slate, that serves as an innuendo, a suggestion, rather than an actual road mark, of what's ahead. And heck, the landscape sure looks good - got a lot of baby fat to burn off, though. (Mar. 30, 2014)

Fat Guy, 231 NIS.