Birthday Wines, 2015

Stage I: with the family

Foradori, Fontanasanta, Manzoni Bianco, Vigneti Delle Dolomiti, 2012

Nuts and minerals, pears, ripe apples bordering on cider without going over the top, honey, underbush.  Manzoni is a cross of Riesling and Pinot Bianco, but because this is actually an orange wine, the effect is that of a light Pinot Noir - just try it blindfolded. Very unique, fascinatingly unique -  I wouldn't have called it my cup of tea but now that I've tried it, I want a second shot at the mother. (July 18, 2015)

Giaconda, 150 NIS.

Jean Lallement, Verzenay Grand Cru, Cuvée Réserve, n.v.

This is one non-vintage that will want time in the wine fridge. It's very like the regular cuvée -with that same funky chicken broth turned up a few notches - with the fruit is so deep, that despite the minimal dosage, it feels sweet aching to shed some baby fat. Which becomes evident as it becomes lean and focused with time. (July 19, 2015)

Fat Guy, 299 NIS.

Stage II - with friends, at Halutzim 3

Selbach-Oster, Saar, Riesling Kabinett, 2014

Hans Selbach makes this out of bought grapes from the Saar and it's going to be a hit. You might be fooled into thinking it's just a simple wine, because it's so tasty you can't possibly get past the electrifying mint laced lemon fruit to notice the structure and breadth.

Larmandier-Bernier, Longtitude, n.v.

What a fantastic nose: brioche, baked apples, mushrooms, chalk, the whole gamut, just jumps out and grabs you without being over the top. And that's just the nose, mates, the palate is classy and tasty as hell, the balance of fruit and acidity nailed perfectly.

Vilmart, Coeur de Cuvée, 2006

The first impression is a bigger blast than the Larmandier, almost monolithic within its facade of green apples, until it starts to calm down and show nuances of sauteed mushrooms. It's sweet and ripe with convincing balance and great purity, freshness and depth. You can sense the tense potential, but it's not ready yet, still far from its peak.

Produttori dei Barbaresco, Barbaresco, Pora, 1996

Hey hey hey! This is a very good specimen of mature Nebbiolo, with red, dusty, spicy fruit. The varietal tannic backbone is there, but the fruit is soft, warm and inviting, just what you'd expect from old school Barbaresco, and strays far from the muscular showcase Barolos.

Couly-Dutheil, Chinon, Clos de l'Echo, 2002

A little mute at first, but then shows subtle depth. There's a greenness here expressed as tobacco leaves, a touch of earth, saline, savory. A charming wine that has aged well and can keep going for years. Gets even redder and purer with air.

Alas, there were two TCA victims in the lineup. In the case of the Chateau Gruaud-Larose, Saint Julien 2me Cru, 1995, the TCA took time to show, so for a couple of hours after opening, you could still get the classic claret bouquet of currants and earth, although the TCA eventually killed the fruit, leaving just drying, bitter tannins. The Serafin, Morey-Saint-Denis Premier Cru, Les Millandes, 2002 was even worse, although it must have been a better wine to begin with, since you could get a much better sense of the great fruit.

Coldstream Hills, Yarra Valley, The Esplanade, Pinot Noir, 2012

The nose is a nice riff off the Bourgogne mold, fresh Pinot fruit, a touch candied, although the palate is sweeter and the whole package is much cleaner and more, well, obvious, than Burgundy. It's a nice discovery, although I'm not sure how much it would command my interest beyond a glass.

Drinking this is like meeting your future wife
Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac Premier Cru, 1998

Great Bordeaux wear their greatness with ridiculously effortless ease, and this is not only great, it's so delicious the palate remains in post coital bliss when you're done with the contents of your glass. And what's in the glass, you ask? Black fruit, graphite, full bodied yet light and insinuating. Very finely tuned, complex and detailed.