Lewinsohn, Garage du Papa, Blanc, 2014
I probably should have waited a bit, or opened an older vintage, but my curiosity got the better of me. There's good substance of Chardonnay fruit here, with the mineral trappings people like me crave , which will come even more to the fore once it escapes the clutches of the oak - which are actually very soft clutches, Ido Lewinsohn has a light touch here. Anyway, I'll shut up now. There's only so many ways to say "a very good wine in need of time". (Oct. 2, 2015)
Lewinsohn, Garage du Papa, Blanc, 2011
This shows what that time might bring out, as it displays the type of flint and dried grass that Burgundy styled Chardonnay can offer. Aromatically, it's just about Macon, with a piercing sharpness. On the palate, though, it's a bit dilute, so I should probably have gotten to it last year. (Oct. 7, 2015)
Emidio Pepe, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, 2008
After the debacle with the 2011 last month, I was eager to see whether the brett is limited to specific bottles, or specific vintages, or even specific provenances for that matter, and indeed, the initial pour seems promising, at least to the extent that the brett is almost bearable. Alas, in time it grows beyond my level of enjoyment while the aggressive acidity makes it unpalatable. (Oct. 3, 2015)
Giaconda, 200 NIS.
Emilio Lustau, Palo Cortado, Almacenista Vides 1/50, n.v.
After the Pepe went down the drain, I felt I needed the most abrupt change of pace possible and opened a bottle of Sherry my daughter brought back from Barcelona for me (I'm training her, you see). I used to drink Sherry quite a lot ten years ago and Lustau was one of my favorites, and Palo Cortado was just about my favorite style. Glad to see the magic still works for me, with this hardcore, bone dry rendition, with its typical rancio (carmelized and oxidized) notes, full of iodine and nuts on the nose, lemon, nuts and salt on the palate. Almacenista is the term for private soleras that families in Xerez have inherited and maintained for generations that are marketed by Lustau as a premium label and they're usually very distinct and unique due to the small size of the solera (50 barrels in the case of the Vides Palo Cortado). I'm necessarily skipping over a lot of Sherry terms, so let me just point you here for a good glossary. (Oct. 3, 2015)
About 20 euros for a half bottle.
Domaine de l'Horizon, Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes, Rouge, 2010
I think this used to be labelled a Cote de Rousillon Village, but the domaine have left Syrah out of the blend, making it incompatible with the AOC regulations and thus downgraded to Vin de Pays. That subtle point may be of interest to someone. This is vaguely rustic, most definitely peppery, with the broad, ripe fruit typical of both the Grenache and Caringan in the blend, with grainy and rusty, yet savory, tannins. And a little of touch of brett to show that it can work in small quantities.
That's France for you, even their rustic wines are more fun than most. (Oct. 4, 2015)
Domaine Henry Pellé, Sancerre, La Croix au Garde, 2012
Like the other Domaine Pellé wines that Giaconda imports, this is a delightful everyday wine. Gets the job done, with a ripe melons, a fair amount of pungent minerals and decent focus. (Oct. 5, 2015)
There's been a bit of local buzz about Bar-Maor over the last couple of years, but it took me a while to follow up.
Bar-Maor Winery, Cabernet Franc, 2013
Cabernet Franc. While just about every local winery either tries its hand at the classic Lennon/McCartney of the Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) or the so called Mediterranean varieties (Syrah, Petit Syrah, Carignan), few willingly attempt a varietal Cabernet Franc. Even though this weighs in at 14% ABV, there is a harshness, a greenness, to it, not only on the palate, but on the nose as well, where notes of ripe currants combine with a herbal note of pine needles. Even three hours does little to soften or sweeten this, maybe a few years? (Oct. 9, 2015)
The Bar-Maor, Red Moon, 2012, the flagship wine, on the other hand, is 85% Merlot, complemented by Cabernet Franc, and combines the same herbal/pine needles/eucalyptus thing with Old World minerality. Old World - that's the keyword to understanding this winery. This is tough, but not muscular tough, rather slick and lean tough. And it holds its shit together within the same greenness that many Israeli reds avoid like the plague. I'm more optimistic about its future than the CF's, though - I think the Merlot will add a little plushness in two-three years and make for an overall unique impact. (Oct. 22, 2015)
Graci, Etna Rosso, 2012
Like the Terre Nere wines, the only other Etna wines I'm familiar with, the aromatics resemble Nebbiolo, with a similar tarry/dusty character and fresh black cherries. I feel, though, that it reverses the old cliche and comes off as a velvet fist in an iron glove, with its core of languid fruit guarded by a rocky facade. An interesting wine. (Oct. 16, 2015)
Giaconda, 130 NIS.
Sphera, Riesling, 2014
Many of Doron Rav-On's wines show his fingerprint more than the grape's. On the other hand, his signature is pure wines with a veneer of rainwater, flint and chalk, so I wouldn't complain, really, if this was his excellent Sauvignon Blanc and or even the more excellent Charodnnay. This being Riesling, however, I would have liked to get a better sense of the grape. But I'm quibbling and I'll just have to buy more and follow up, as the bottles of the Riesling I've had seem to be thorough a clarification process, where each bottle is purer than the previous one. This is a great winery. (Oct. 17, 2015)
About 100 NIS.
Dr. Loosen, Mosel, Bernkasteler Lay, Riesling Kabinett, 2013
You might prefer the weight of a Spatlese or an Auslese, but even at raw youth, few wines are as outright drinkable and tasty as a Mosel Kabinett. This is as electrifying as biting into a freshly picked granny apple, with slate and grapefruit adding to the complexity and hinting at the future. (Oct. 23, 2015)
Wine Route, about 100 NIS.
Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Rose, 2009
This is the perfect sparkling wine for our brunch, as the red fruit accents made for a great match with tomato shakshuka, as well as the saviche. Terrific price, too. (Oct. 24, 2015)
Domaine Fourrey, Chablis Premier Cru, Côte de Léchet, 2014
This is a new addition to the Wine Route portfolio, and it's probably way too young for a judgement call. It's too round and sweetish right now, but it does have the requisite sea weed, sea shell, iodine notes. And at 130 NIS, it should be a worthy gamble on a few years in the cellar to temper the sweetness and get rid of the baby fat. (Oct. 24, 2015)
Domaine Faury, St. Joseph, Vieilles Vignes, 2012
I know it's a well rated house, and I know Kermit Lynch imports it to the US, but somehow I have never quite quite taken to it. I think they take a long time to open up in childhood - with this one, it took me three hours to tentatively decide I'd like it in five years. (Oct. 28, 2015)
Sebastien Dampt, Chablis Premier Cru, Côte de Léchet, 2013
This was such a welcome surprise when I drank it a couple of months ago that I just had to go back and confirm the first impression. So yes, it is typical Chablis, lean and crisp and recalling the seaside and romancing the heart; yes, it is surely Premier Cru in character and quality; yes, it will age for several years; and no, you can't buy it, it's already sold out. (Oct. 30, 2015)
Wine Route, 200 NIS (2 for 300 on discount).