The original themse was to taste Crois de Labrie, a small garagiste from Saint Emilion that Shimon and Dan have started importing, but since they only had sample bottles of three cuvees, they also added a few Tuscans and a rose from Languedoc-Roussillon. I was especially enamored of the Old School Tuscans, a really moving pair of classics - the Brunello and the Grandi Annate. I've forgotten how much I love this stuff when it's spot on.
Domaine de Montmarin, Les Oliviers, Cotes de Thongue, 2013
This orange colored rose is very dry and minerally, much drier than even the roses I usually imbibe. It has a lovely scent and in all, a refreshing, interesting quaffer. 70 NIS.
Gianni Brunelli, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, 2006
A deep nose, alcoholic and muscular, clenched yet detailed, showing spicy black fruit, chives, leather, a hint of violets. Very tannic on the palate and, again, muscular as well as detailed, full yet not bombastic. Needs a decade, but already shows the glory of Tuscany. 495 NIS.
|The I Poggetti vineyard, birthplace of the 2011 Grandi Annate|
If the Gianni stood in the corner, counter punching lithely, this dances around slipping punches. The nose is even more detailed than the Brunello and shifts and expands all evening, showing a regal rendition of classic Tuscany (again, spicy fruit, chives, leather). The bottle wasn't decanted and it's awfully young and closed tightly on the palate, but 10+ minutes in glass and it shows fine fruit, that while almost crushed by the tannins. 495 NIS.
The Grande Annate is the flagship wine and Avignonesi promise it will be the best expression of pure Montepulciano Sangiovese, That does not necessarily mean a single vineyard wine, although 2011 was sourced from 40 year old vines in I Poggetti.
Avignonesi, Grifi, IGT, 2010
A modern, much more accessible wine, showing Tuscan character on the nose, but a letdown on the palate. It's hard to appreciate coming right after the Grandi, as the sweet fruit clashes with the bitter tannins. I guess there's a commercial reason for making such a forward super-Tuscan, but it's hard to reconcile the two styles made by the same winemaking team. 300 NIS.
A few days later, at home, I also tried the Avignonesi, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, 2011, which, at 150 NIS, offers a taste of the same Tuscan typicality as the Grandi Annate, yet without the same depth and intensity. It's still young and awkward, the tannins still bitter and gritty, a lot like the Grifi in that regard. But you know what? That only serves to underline, to me, what a great wine the Grandi Annate is.
On to the Right Bank.
Les Hauts de Croix de Labrie, 2012
A fruity wine with a light layer of minerals, not very complex but attractive in a manner reminiscent of the Loire. It offers immediate pleasure, although not necessarily a lingering one.
140 NIS (for a six pack and up).
Chapelle de Labrie, 2011
This lives up to the hedonistic label the critics have tagged on this small garagiste, providing pleasure as well as moderate intellectual depth. The palate has decent acidity and moderate tannins, while the nose has the typical bass-heavy Merlot character. Considering the Right Bank is always highly priced, this is a comparative bargain.
248 NIS (three bottles and up).
Crois de Labrie, 2007
More of what the Chapelle had to offer. At first the hedonism overwhelms the more interesting structural aspects. Then, it calms down and the structure asserts itself, always keeping true to the forthright personality, while the nose shows more details. I think it's now a very good example of Right Bank Merlot, and it would be interesting to match it against the second tier names - although, since everyone - owners and critics, admit it's a wine to drink on the early side - matching it against more ageworthy wines would be awkward yet fun. But on its own, it's highly enjoyable and the high price is in line with the current market as well as the very limited production - as well, it's a very solid showing for 2007!
The 2006-2008 vintages sell for 590 NIS and are in their drinking window.