Thursday, April 30, 2015

White Stones

Getting my rocks off
I'm going to talk about two wines from a negociant that doesn't always make it to the short list of Burgundy afficiandos, but which I've been following for several years, Domaine de la Vougeraie. And I'm not even going to write about any major cru, just two village wines from Beaune (a town that, as the Vougeraie site points outwhile quoting the words of the architect Viollet-le-Duc, is the only town in the world where you actually want to fall ill). These wines deserve a post of their own for a simple reason: I just felt like it. They mad me feel happy and content and they're decently priced.

A few words about the the domaine. It's owned by the Boisset family, which has been around for ages, but the domaine itself was created as late as 1999, consolidating and re-branding their holdings. The current winemaker, ever since 2005, is Pierre Vincent and they're bio-dynamic. Damn, summarizing the web sites PR bores me, so let me cut to the chase. The wines are always tasty and savory, with well-delineated, crunchy fruit. I haven't had a major dud yet. And they don't ever impress me as over-hyped bombs.

Domaine de la Vougeraie, Cote de Beaune, Les Pierres Blanches, 2012

Les Pierres Blanches is a perennial favorite for me, but two and a half years post-vintage, the 2012 is the youngest tasting version I've had thus far, and it's not like I ever manage to be patient enough to age the stuff significantly. It's at the stage where good Pinot fruit delivers a very pleasant tartness, and here it frames the juicy red fruit, culminating in savory salinity and complemented by wet earth, forest floor notes, even hints of spices, on the nose. This is very moreish and tasty, and that tartnes -, and those persistent, albeit soft - tannins might be enough to help curb my enthusiasm enough to age this. A bit, at least. (Apr. 16, 2015)

The Domaine also produces a white wine - Chardonnay, needless to say - from the very same parcels, and the 2012 is a beauty of a Village wine. The aromas of marine minerals and fossil that decorate the citrus based fruit might trick you in blind tastings into calling it a Chablis, same for the saline finish. This is a wine that, despite the so-called lowly designation, calls for serious sniffing - asides from the marine stuff, I get clay, flowers and a light toastiness that surely doesn't come from any barrels: Tomer wrote roasted sesame seeds in the catalog, and while I hate to quote an importer, he's a good taster and he got it right. Anyway, 2012 was a disaster in Burgundy as far as quantity is concerned, so this is already sold out, but I definitely need to buy more next time.  (Apr. 17, 2015)

Burgundy Wine Collection, each is 180 NIS.

The Beaune AOC's are among the most confusing in Burgundy. There's the Beaune AOC, which covers the vineyards in Beaune itself. The Cote de Beaune AOC actually covers a somewhat smaller area, as it's limited to the Montagne de Beaune hill above the village -and I expect both to be on the same level of quality. Then there's the Cote de Beaune Villages AOC, which you might expect to be of higher quality, like the Beaujolais-Villages AOC is more highly ranked than simple Bueajolais. But it's not; it's actually a generic designation midway between Bourgogne and Villages level.

And then, there's Savigny-Les-Beaune and Chorey-Les-Beaunes. Goodness gracious me.

You should also be aware that Vougeraie also has a straight Beaune red called Montée, which is priced a little higher at 200 NIS. I liked both the Montée and Pierres Blanches in 2011 and, quite honestly, could not make a clear call which is the better wine. Whatever, I'm going to hold on to the Montée and the remaining bottle of the Pierres Blanches 2012 for a few years. Or try to, I realize I keep making and then breaking these promises.

PS. Besides the Beaune Montée vineyard, which is a Villages and the source of the other wine I mentioned - there's also a Beaune Prenmier Cru Montée. Do these people ever find time to be fruitful and multiply?

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Mimouna Wines (Apr. 11, 2015)

Burn down the disco!
Another "what have I done to deserve this evening", a Mimonua party with a couple dozen delirious wine geeks. And not just any delirious wine geeks - wild-eyed Bourgogne freaks!

A. Margaine, Special Club, 2008

Fuck, fuck, fuck - now I have to once again re-adjust my buying list. This has fantastic aromas that at first made me turn around to check whether I was standing near a steaming buffet, so intense were the mushroom and chicken broth aromas. And then there's the precise focus on the palate that has turned me into a Champagne addict,

Jean Lallament, Reserve, n.v.

I'm never going to be able to choose between a great Blanc de Blancs (such as Margaine) and a great Pinot based Champagne. And why should I? I very much like this and it just grows and grows on me. But then, I'm a sucker for Lallement in the first place, who always seems to nail the quintessential funkiness of Pinot-based Champagnes -  which for me is mushrooms and chicken broth. Except that I just used those terms for the Margaine, which had no Pinot at all. So let me just be self referential and say that if you've ever tasted the regular Jean Lallement non-vintage bottling - this is more of the same with warmer bass notes.

Pegau, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Reserve, 2003

Great jumping behemoth, this sure is a surprise! A great nose, with leather and other good stuff, the palate much more restrained that I'd ever imagine a 2003 Chateauneuf would be. Do they even make CdP's like this any more? (Analytically, my guess is that in a hot vintage like 2003, the other grapes in the blend had an easier time to catch up with the Grenache, so the overall affect is, counter-intuitively, more balanced).

Because of the characters involved in this annual event, there were plenty of Bourgognes, so let's travel up the Burgundy Food Chain, shall we?

Serafin, Bourgogne, 2008

Good, complex nose for a supposedly lowly wine. Forest floor, hide, minerals. Very nice presence.  

Leflaive, Bourgogne, 2011

Great acidity, minerals. Terrific Bourgogne! RIP, Anne-Claude.

Domaine Confuron-Cotedidot, Vosne-Romanee, 2011

Forest floor, a touch of spices, very young. Savory tannins.

Comte de Vogue, Chambolle-Musigny, 2009

This, of course, isn't a bona fide Village, as it contains a great deal of Premier Cru juice. This is very young, with an intense nose, redolent of raw meat and a great deal of breed. I've heard comparisons to Hermitage and that's all wrong. What it reminds me of is Cote-Rotie, which is fine by me; mature, old school Cote-Rotie reminds me of Burgundy.

Domaine d'Arlot, Nuits-St.-Georges Premier Cru, Clos Des Forets Saint Georges, 2008

I love the smell of forest floor in Bourgognes, but this is the first time I've even run across over-extracted forest floor! Looks like great terroir done wrong, which sucks because I have a few bottles of d'Arlot 2009's, back from when the hype suckered me in, which I assume would be even riper than this.

Domaine Bernard Moreau, Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru, La Maltroie, 2012

Another wow, an adroitly painted nose of minerals and apples, and a long, savory finish. Very, very good.

Olivier Guyot, Clos St. Denis Grand Cru, 2007

From a double magnum. Fresh, young fruit, laced with minerals. Vivid is the keyword here, with Grand Cru poise, depth and length, although, at this stage only middling complexity - understandably, given the  large container. Wham, bam, thank you, ma'am!

Just Desserts:

Willi Schaefer, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Graacher Domprobstת Riesling Auslese #14, 2006

Petrol, minerals and great delineation of smokey apples and lime on the nose, but the great fun is what happens on the palate, where the delicious, succulent purity digs deep. In short, the vivid electricity will get you for sure. And if it don't, better make an appointment with your cardiologist.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tasting Bourgogne with the Dynamic Duo (Mar. 31, 2015)

Eldad Levy and Daniel Lifshitz have teamed up to position Daniel's Bourgogne Crown imports under Eldad's patronage and partnership. I'm still trying to figure out which of the two is the sidekick, but it's great to have these two great minds cohorting and scheming.

Formally, the subject of the tasting was the latest property Daniel managed to charm his way into, Pierre Duroche, but we also tasted a couple of other properties the two have lined up, an old favorite from the Bourgogne Crown portfolio - and to round the evening off, a great Champagne from a local and personal favorite.

Domaine Pierre Duroche, Bourgogne, Blanc, 2013

Lightly tropical and floral, yet restrained fruit. 100% Gevrey fruit, with a veneer of minerals that starts to assert itself. A classical, restrained cut, different yet a little plain.

Francois Carillon, Bourgogne Aligote, 2013

A rebranching/rebranding of the original Louis Carillon estate. This is typical Aligote with electric acidity and a dirty nose, with floral trappings.

Francois Carillon, Bourgogne, 2013

The sentimentalist in me wants to prefer the Aligote, but this is the better wine for my tastes. The acidity might be slightly tamer, but there is greater purity and complexity. A mini-village.

Pierre Duroche, Gevrey-Chambertin, Le Clos, 2013

There is a lot of pure, nubile red fruit here, very fresh, floral with a touch of minerals. I like it, but it's for the hardcore purists who don't need immediate gratifications. Daniel says it will develop and the fruit certainly seems to be made of fine cloth, despite the youth of the vines in the Duroche Clos holdings.

Pierre Duroche, Gevrey-Chambertin, Le Champ, 2013

This, on the other hand, is a much more immediately impressive and typically powerful expression of Gevrey sauvage, with similarly fresh fruit in the background. acidity driven to the point where the tannins are subtly hidden.

Pierre Duroche, Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru, Lavaut St. Jacques, 2013

The beast unleashed. Intense animalism, intense minerality: blood and rock. Here the acidity can't quite hide the tannins. Great power tempered with ease by the balance.

Pierre Duroche, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru, 2013

Here there's a hint of tobacco leaf green morphing into forest floor. Blind, you'd think the Lavaut was the Grand Cru, if your comparison of the two was based on power only, but this is surely the more elegant wine. If you can only afford one bottle of the two, buy the Lavaut. If you can buy just three bottles, purchase two of the Lavaut, and one Charmes. If your budget allows only two bottles, well, it'd break my heart having to choose between one of each over two bottles of the Lavaut.

Domaine Georges Noellat, Vosne Romanee Premier Cru, Petit Monts, 2012

Minerals and gently exotic spices. Breadth and balance. Really lovely, the kind of Burgundy that elicits a gasp and a moan. Tied for wine of the night with the Lavaut.

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

Incredibly funky, dirty, beautiful aromas, and the palate follows suit. Factoring the depth, complexity and the offhand precision, even the slight fat and sweetness is offset to the point where it's downright moving.

Gimonnet, Oenophile, 2005

The last Oenophile I tasted, the 2000, was almost challengingly dry, but this borders on lush, with intense fruit creating a sweet impression - despite the zero dosage - and an incredibly intense concoction of nuts and apricot pie on the nose. Yet the final effect is of fine elegance, the lushness somehow cloaked in old school Gaul reserve.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Taking Care Of Business (Mar. 2015)

Weingut Hirsch, Zobinger Heiligenstein, 1er Lage, Riesling, 2009

This is almost ridiculously at ease with the Grand Cru designation, starting with the complex, mineral-laden nose with that lures you in with granny apples, hints of dill, petrol and hot water baths and an icy veneer - and ending with the elegant palate that is so drinkable and moreish that you want to just sit and finish it off, only it's so classy and intriguing that you slow down to relish the view. Falstaff says this has great aging potential. I say it's great now and feels as though you're drinking an immortal. (Mar. 4, 2015)

Fat Guy, 225 NIS.

Sphera, Sauvignon Blanc, 2014

Sphera is one of the five or so local wineries I buy from regularly. This is an extremely young Sauvignon, currently leaning towards the New Zealand tropical, gooseberry style, yet with enough smoky mineral aromas and aftertaste nuances to satisfy me. More than enough, in fact. Above all, what captivates me is its purity. (Mar. 10, 2015)

105 NIS.

Moccagatta, Barbaresco, Cole, 2001

I bought this for about 60 USD, five, six years ago. I think it's all too typical, with truffles and tar and dusty tannis. It's fairly elegant - I wouldn't call it a masterpiece, but it's lovely artifact, with a mellowness reminiscent of herbal tea. (Mar. 11, 2015)

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

Like an infatuated lover showing off his woman, I'll make a bore of myself telling you what a treat this is. It's always the same, yet always... different. This time, while I still find the chicken broth, roasted nuts and sauteed mushrooms I love so much, the minerals and juicy fruit are much more prominent, almost as though the fifth of Chardonnay was pulling its weight. (Mar. 13, 2015)

Fat Guy, 269 NIS.
If you can dream it, Donnhoff can make a wine out of it
Donnhoff, Nahe, Norheimer Dellchen, Grosses Gewaches, Riesling, 2007

As is always the case with Donnhoff - any pradikat, any vineyard - this is a precise wine, expressive in an insinuating manner. The aromatics are complex, leading with apples and minerals, and hinting at tropical summer fruits as well. Other things, too; this is the kind of wine that gives and gives, a small handful at a time, so it takes a while until I find ginger and mint tea. What about the palate, you ask? Refined breed, with the coy dryness of a Grosses Gewaches and the ineffable friendliness of a Spatlese. (Mar. 14, 2015)

Giaconda, 300 NIS.

Chateau Beaucastel, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 1998

Not the ripe blockbuster I've come to expect - and and fear - in a CdP. In fact, I rather see it as a complete failure in that idiom (is this particular bottle a Parker 79 perhaps?), which makes it very suitable for me. The nose is deeply nuanced, with garrigue and clay, but little barnyard/leather funk, while the palate is surprisingly subtle, albeit drying out. (Mar. 16, 2015)

Wine Route, the original price was 210 NIS, which is very irrelevant these days.

Potel-Aviron, Beaujolais-Villages, 2011

Continuing my exploration of Pote-Aviron. Tart, floral fruit with a hint of minerals and white pepper. A tasty, enjoyable wine. (Mar. 20, 2015)

Giaconda. It's a style of wine I really enjoy, but whereas the Vieilles Vignes are terrific values at 120-130 NIS, this is only so-so QPR at 100 NIS.

Marie et Paul Jacqueson, Bouzeron, Les Corderes, 2011

I'm a fan of Aligote. If you choose wisely, you can find some very interesting wines at decent prices: Leroy, Ente, Buisson up at the Cote, de Villaine at Bouzeron - and now this. This has nutty, citrus aromatics of decent complexity with hints of gunpowder, and what is, for Aligote, an almost fat body that is balanced by the grape's limey acidity. With all that nuttiness to the fore, it almost comes across as a Meursault, but I actually prefer the Aligotes from up north, even though Bouzeron is legally the Aligote AOC. (Mar. 21, 2015)

Giaconda, 120 NIS.

Marie et Paul Jacqueson, Roully Premier Cru, Margotes, 2011

Sometimes a wine jumps at you and says, I'm good. Not excellent, mind you, but good, If you love white Burgundies, then you know what to expect, and this delivers: green apples with the pungency of their skin, a touch of oranges, an overlay of chalk, a hint of dried grass and iodine. This is not especially complex or unique, but it's cute in the best sense of the word, well crafted and deftly balanced, tasty and pure, with no untoward intrusion of oak. (Mar. 23, 2015)

Giaconda, a lot of honest fun for 150 NIS.

Recanati, Reserve, Marselan, 2012

This Grenache-Cabernet Sauvignon hybrid is showing a rich nose, with black and blue fruit, but surprisingly, the richness doesn't put me off, as it's complemented by an mineral layer that is reminiscent, as well, of olive brine, The palate, too, balances its own richness with a very healthy dose of acidity. Tasty. (Mar. 24, 2015)

149 NIS.

Marie et Paul Jacqueson, Roully, Les Chaponnières, 2011

2011 is a really fun Bourgogne vintage to drink now. Indeed, I am not sure I see a great upside in cellaring this Roully, for instance, but it sure is deft, fresh and vivid lightweight now, with a heart-warming earthy overlay. (Mar. 26, 2015)

Giaconda, 150 NIS.

Vitkin, Carignan, 2010

I was more impressed last time. It's still a very good wine, but the heat of the 2010 vintage is more obvious in the sweetness of the fruit. It's still well balanced and tasty, with charming aromas of earth and leather, but the last bottle gave the impression of pulling far ahead of the pack, and this bottle isn't in that place. (Mar. 27, 2015)

Delamotte, Blanc de Blancs, 2002

The 2002 vintage, with its freshness and precision of the fruit, combines with the clarity of Chardonnay to produce a very refined, pure and elegant wine, This bottle is still young, with green apples and complexity derived from minerals and freshly baked bread, and only slowly opens up to reveal the more mature nuances of mushrooms and nuts. (Mar. 28, 2015)

About 50 GBP.

Marie et Paul Jacqueson, Roully Premier Cru, Gresigny, Blanc, 2011

This immediately impresses as a heavier style of white Bourgogne than the Les Chaponnières, the same elements combining with notes of spicy pear for a Chassagne-like effect. What might elevate this beyond the four-squared character that you might expect from the comparison is if the clean, fresh green apple and citrus fruit asserts itself in a couple of years, as development in glass seems to prophesy. But even now, it offers good, solid drinking at a nice price. (Mar. 29, 2015)

Giaconda, 150 NIS.