Bertie, Brett, Keller, Schaefer, etc. (Sept. 24, 2015)

Wine-making: it's all about choices. In the case of Emidio Pepe, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, 2011 the wine-maker's choices are apparently conductive to brettanomyces . At least, that's how I interpret the end result here, which is reminiscent of cured meats braised in bretty Amarone. To be honest, I don't understand why some consider brett an expression of terroir; it grows on the grape skins, I get it, but so do various strains of fungi, not to mention ignoble rot - and reasonable winemakers avoid those. But even if you do allow for brett, there is too much here for the bottle to contain.

With the Golan Heights Winery, Rom, 2006 the choice is pick late, pick ripe, work hygienically and age in new barrels. The wine-making is almost passionately precise, but that's the only expression of passion in this lifeless, oaky beverage.

I have just described one of the most "challenging" pair of wines I have ever tasted. Ironically, they were the centerpiece of a very fun evening with great friends at Bertie, one of my favorite food havens. As for the wines, well, it could have been worse. For example, if we hadn't brought any Rieslings.

Keller, Rheinhessen, Dalsheimer Hubacker, Riesling Grosses Gewaches, 2007

Mellow dryness, complex on both nose and palate, where it shows (surprise, surprise) minerals,red apples and red cherries . The kind of finish that is a 90+ pointer in its own right; as for the nose, only a philistine would attempt to reduce that to points.

But before the Keller, we were presented with the kind of wine that would stump many blind tasters.

Salomon, Kremstal DAC Reserve, Lindberg, Gruner Veltliner, , 2006

This starts off cider-ish and cumbersome before it starts to show minerals, green herbs, apricots and red apples, with a herbal finish and off-dry.

For dessert, we had Willi Schaefer, Mosel, Graacher Domprobst, Riesling Auslese, 2013, which was fresh, floral, honeyed, and brimming with potential.

But before we could bask in post-coital bliss with the Schaefer, we had to contend with two clarets, which demonstrated that basing your purchases on the Bordeaux classification is only good if you know the properties to begin with - which really defeats the whole point of using the classification as a quick and dirty consumer's guide.

The Roc de Cambes, Cotes de Bourg, 2006 isn't classified and it's rustic and muscualr, yet tasty. It's not very obscure, as it's owned by François Mitjavile, owner of Château Le Tetre-Rôtebouef in St-Emilion, but it's still off most people's maps. Uri Kaftori used to import it, but I didn't pay attention, so I don't know what the price was, but I'd guess 200-300 NIS. Which is what Chateau Pontet-Canet, Pauillac 5me Cru, 2000 used to cost, but by the 2006 vintage it probably cost at least twice as much and these days close to three times. We have all heard of the improvements in the Chateau over the last decade, and the explosion of Parker scores, both of which led to the price increases (some of us may have even tasted the wine) but my limited experiences with the old regime, which is basically comprised of 1996 and 2000, is that it was a boring, one dimensional wine,