|It's OK, I'm a wine maker|
Recanati, Marawi, 2014
This is the wine that has had the local wine scene a-buzzing for several weeks. It's the first wine made of a single indigenous grape (there has been a blend or two before, but this is the first made of a single grape) and because it is a table grape and not a wine grape, the wine has somehow gotten criticized for its actual existence before it was ever tasted. But it's a pioneer wine and it wasn't easy to get a hold of a bottle, so I can understand why people wanted to get in on the conversation. Anyway, we finally got a chance to taste it! Because its creators were present.
It's different. It's a little wine, by design, it was never crafted for greatness or for cellaring. The idea was to see what could be done with a grape that grows nowhere else in the world. You could call it a gimmick, but isn't that just the kind of gimmick that makes the world of wine so special? Remember how it felt to discover Aligote or Muscadet for the first time? That pleasant, light, moreish impact on the palate, the salty flavors that go so well with seafood, the sheer excitement of discovering something new? So, that.
William Fevre, Chablis Grand Cru, Preuses, 2008
Onwards. Moving from such a light wine to the Grand Cru of Preuses is not a kind gesture towards the palate. But taking that into account, this was not a good showing. Fevre is not today my favorite producer of Chablis, but for my palate, the Preuses is the best wine the house makes and, while it shows a waxy, minerally character, this bottle displays too much oak at the expense of Chablis typicality. Even though this may have been an off bottle, it is one more notch in my on-going tally of underwhelming Chablis Grand Cru. Barring Raveneau and Dauvissat, I've tasted Grand Crus from just about all the obvious producers, and they're batting less than .500, which is disturbing.
Domaine Jean Charton, Chassagne-Montrachet, Les Benoites, 2008
This is just a shame, over the hill, sweet and oxidized. I'd think 2008 from a good producer should still be thriving.
Kumeu River, Coddington, Chardonnay, 2007
At this point, Eran Pick made a bold move and unscrewed this. The Old World took a shameful exit and left the stage for this lovely New Zealand white. This has fresh, lively, beautiful fruit with trappings of flint, great acidity, decent complexity and an exorbitantly indecent sense of fun.
Avidan, Cabernet Franc, 2013
People are still dead sure I never drink Israeli wines, which isn't true, of course. But since I do focus my attention elsewhere, I mostly limit my local forays to the produce of friends, and it's a good thing I have talented friends. Yotam Sharon made it, and despite winning a Decanter bronze medal, it seems to have flown right under the local radar. The fruit is so fresh, it's a surprise to find out it has 14.5% alcohol. It really reminds me of some excellent entry level Cabernets from fine Loire producers.
Bernard Baudry, Chinon, Le Clos Guillot, 2011
Yotam also brought this, for comparison's sake. I'm glad he did, because the first bottle I tasted of the 2011 Guillot cast doubts, which this dispelled, with its smoky, meaty personality, and no sign of overoaking.
Dry River, Martinborough, Pinot Noir, 2013
Eran brought this, too, and it's good, very good. But, to be politically correct, it's not really Pinot in an immediately recognizable form, more like an excellent Syrah in a Saint Joseph vein. Still, a style of wine I enjoy in its own right.
Guillaume Gilles, Cornas, 2007
This is the wine that I brought. The North Rhone lovers in the group (all of us, basically), looked for black pepper, which was present when I opened the bottle at home, but was replaced by the time we actually got to it by pork and olive tapenade. The excellent balance of fruit and acidity should ensure enough longevity for it to achieve greater complexity.
Chateau Haut Batailly, Pauillac 5me Cru, 2007
The kind of brett tempered claret where you wring out your hair trying to decide if the charm you sense in the wine is simply brett adding complexity to mundane fruit. And then, when you finally run out of hair, you decide this much brett is a nuisance and you can't decide how good the underlying fruit is anyway. 2007 for you. Or Haut Batailly, the sterner critics might say.
The last two wines were more wine makers in the group pitching fastballs.
Mia Luce, 2014
This is a garage winery run by Recanati's Kobi Arviv's. The vintage I tasted in the past was varietal Carignan, but this is mainly Syrah this time. If the Carginan based wine was funky, this is clean, tasty with an understated structure. Very good.
Segal, Unfiltered, 2008
And this is Cowboy Avi Feldstein's masterpiece from way back when he was on Barkan's payroll. Full and peppery, New World in weight and ripeness, but without being over the top, a powerful but sleek heavyweight (I'm not going to label Muhammad Ali on him yet, not until I taste a sample at transcendent maturity, but I'm willing to call this a Larry Holmes).