Friday, March 13, 2015

Taking Care Of Business (Feb. 2015)

Weingut Wittmann, Rheinhessen, Westhofener Morstein, Riesling Auslese, 2007

A good dessert wine should be a hedonistic treat, without fatiguing the palate. An excellent one should convey depth and complexity, while a great one should achieve all of that with the most ethereal of touches. This is just excellent. It's also quite young, so the immense, incredibly layered mass of fruit and sugar, while refreshed by terrific acidity, still has some years to shed a lot of fat before we can consider greatness. What it offers now is an incredibly intoxicating confection of tropical fruit and peaches, delicate minerality and botrytis. (Feb. 6, 2015)

Giaconda, 220 NIS.

Domaine des Baumard, Quarts de Chaume, 2006

This is another example of an excellent dessert wine, complexly balancing summer fruit with wet wool and minerals, as well as a hint of nuts; incredibly long and multi-layered, the sweetness tempered by grapefruit peel and candied ginger. (Feb. 7, 2015)

Giaconda, 335 NIS.

Domaine Leroy, Bourgogne Aligote, 2008

I loved the bottle I drank last month so much that, going against my usual practice of pacing myself, I rushed off to open another one, just to see if the magic was still there. And it sure was, lovely flint and light toast on the nose, subtle lime fruit on the palate, acidity that carried the finish out of the ball park. (Feb. 10, 2015)


Recanati, Reserve, Wild Carignan, 2011

I've always liked this, and the bottle tonight has reinforced my affection. The nose is an extrovert, with iodine, and herbs, black fruit and burnt earth, and my mind's eye can just see the hills of Judea browning in summer, The body, on the other hand, is elegantly chiseled, with lovely acidity, and is simply a delicious drink. (Feb. 11, 2015)

149 NIS.

Shvo, Sauvignon Blanc, Gershon, 2011

Gaby Sadan makes a very miniscule quantity of this special cuvee from a small parcel and just a few bottles make their way to selected restaurants in Tel Aviv, where they sell for 200 shekels plus. I drank a bottle at Halutzim 3 and my verdict is it smells like a good Pouilly-Fume or Cote de Beaune Premier Cru, smoky and flinty. There's oak, too, and at times it seems overdone, or least too much for the fruit to handle, especially on the palate. But the fruit is tasty, long and deep, 'with good acidity, and I believe will outgrow the oak, and if not, future vintages will. Because I believe Gaby is not only that good a winemaker, I want his wine-making approach and philosophy to win. And also because Gershon is the name of my dog. (Feb. 12, 2015)

And what do we drink on Valentine's Day, kids?

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

This isn't just a Champagne tinted pink-  this truly captures the essence of Pinot. Which is apt, since Jean Lallement is one of the masters of Verzenay, a village at the heart of Pinot country. So you get fresh strawberries and you get forest floor and you get minerals, but, because this is a Champagne, you also get oranges, roasted nuts and brioche. All this, in a complex, tightly sculpted structure that restrains, but can't completely hide, a simmering, feral streak. (Feb. 14, 2015)

Fat Guy, 319 NIS.

La Maison Romane, Marsannay, Longeroies, 2011

The Maison's wines are always full of Bourgogne jism! This has lovely red fruit and forest floor, a touch of spices, wrapped in rusty tannins that build to a savory finish. It's always tempting to try and find a hint of Premier Cru in a Village wine, so let me say right off that this is just a Village (albeit one with almost scathing aromatics). Yet Oronce's wines have so much personality that there is always an added interest factor beyond the formal AOC demarcation. (Feb. 15, 2015)

Bourgogne Crown, 220 NIS.

Vitkin, Grenache Blanc, 2013

Another first for Vitkin, this is quite mineral driven, with mellow yellow fruit and hints of rainwater nuts, with a long, spicy, lightly pungent finish. Yes, it speaks of Southern France, but it also alludes to Italy. (Feb. 18, 2015)

90 NIS.

Château Canon-la-Gaffelière, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 2000

It's Family Day, and I've just gone through a 50 hour work week. Definitely a job for Bordeaux! This is classic claret, with dense black fruit with notes of cedar and earth. This is still young and monolithic, but the tannins are soft, yet dusty enough to provide grip. There's something rough about it and even though it's a 2000, I expected a Saint Emilion to be readier, given my past experience with this wine, but this seems like it will need another five years. But it's tasty and quite wonderful to follow as it opens up and unfolds (revealing, for example, definite signs of bacon) - and best of all, it's so savory, even after the aftertaste fades, every swallow conjures up its tannic finish. (Feb. 19, 2015)

About 120 USD.

Michel Redde et Fils, Pouilly-Fumé, Les Cornets, 2011 

This is just my cup of tea, a lean austere white, with trappings of smoky minerals, a lightweight that punches hard to the guts. I draw parallels here with, say, a Chablis Grand Cru, Hubert Lamy, Donnhoff even. This a wine that goes beyond varietal characteristics, in that it talks of minerals and a sense of place, and not about Sauvignon, but if I had to refer to the grape, then I'd say the Redde family make the best Sauvignon Blanc I've ever drunk. A great catch for Uri Kaftori and Eldad Levi. (Feb. 20, 2015)

Fat Guy, 259 NIS.

Vitkin, Riesling, 2013

This is technically the flagship white at Vitkin, but I think the Grenache Blanc kicks its ass these days. It's a floral, spicy white with subtle earth notes, and while the nose is complex, interesting and inviting, the palate today is not as inspiring. or, for that, matter, aspiring. Although, after tasting an aged version lately, I'm all for giving it a chance in the fridge. (Feb. 22, 2015)

110 NIS.

Jean Foillard, Morgon, Cuvée Corcelette, 2012

There should be no reason why any sane person would write a tasting note about the same wine less than two months apart. But this is just so fresh, so drinkable, yet at the same time so full of the complexities and nuances that go beyond delicious fruit and make wine an art form. (Feb. 26, 2015)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 150 NIS.

Domaine Christian Moreau Père et Fils, Chablis Grand Cru, Les Clos, 2008

Maybe 2007 was a better vintage for Moreau's Les Clos, or maybe 2008 needs more time, but while this is a very fine, elegant and complex wine, with typical Chablis marine scents and flavors, it feels as though it hasn't quite emerged from its youthful shell. And like many such adolescents, every time it seems to open up, it clamps down and grows even number, (Feb. 27, 2015)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 270 NIS.

Marcel Guigal can keep his barrels
Domaine Jasmin, Côte-Rôtie, 2006

I love all of the Northern Rhone AOC's, but my favorite is probably Côte-Rôtie, because it not only expresses Syrah as brilliantly and as typically as the best (black pepper, bacon, flowers), it is likeliest to display mellow, almost feminine fruit, languid yet structured, that writers like to term "Burgundian". The Jasmin is a wonderful example - liquid magic that, at 40 GBP, goes easy on the wallet. Like other producers that aim at a similar "Burgundian" model (I'm thinking of Graillot, Cuilleron, Gaillard), this is wrought of succulent black fruit and sour cherry acidity that are made for haut cuisine rather than the showroom. (Feb. 28, 2015)

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