|Kishor Savant Riesling|
The best local wine you've never heard of
Pure, languid fruit, with no sign of the brett that shows up in the Maison's Macons, this is truly all you could ever want of a young Burgundy, the kind that shows no brooding youthfulness. It doesn't develop in glass so much as it blooms, the fruit building up enough mass for a sneaky punch that culminates in a salty/sour finish. What's really interesting here, because I didn't get it at the Maison Romane tasting a few months ago, is a touch of chalk. Wonderful, just wonderful. (Feb. 4, 2016)
Bourgogne Crown, 280 NIS.
Tscharke, Barossa Valley, Touriga Nacional, Matching Socks, 2012
Since I wrote a post about this just last month, this note is simply to indicate that the honeymoon is not yet over. (Feb. 4, 2016)
Mersch, 104 NIS.
Kishor, Savant Red, 2012
This is one of the many local wineries that never got into my sights, but it seems to have been overlooked even by more ardent consumers of the local trade. Itay Lahat, one of the brightest minds in the industry, consults there, and he turned me on to their wonderful Riesling, and, to a lesser extent, their reds. Actually, what I had previously tasted were the 2014 and 2013 Savant Red (a "Bordeaux" blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc, as well as Petit Verdot). Those were pure of fruit, while this has obvious influences of oak on the nose that bother me, albeit none on the palate, which balances sweet fruit, acidity and smooth tannins and winds up in a spicy, saline finish. The lack of pretensions is very welcome. Yes, I know how snobbish that sounds. (Feb. 6, 2016)
About 100 NIS.
Kishor, Savant, Riesling, 2014
There are few Israeli Rieslings, and even fewer that are off dry and low in alcohol in the classic Mosel/Nahe mold, like the Kishor Savant is. This is the third vintage I've had recently, and in each one I found something to distinguish it from its German peers. This time, there's an intense, alluring fragrance of mint tea. The palate is demure, subtle and delicate, in a classic kabinett frame, that you don't even find in Germany that often lately. (Feb. 8, 2016)
About 90 NIS.
Dr. Loosen, Mosel, Bernkasteler Lay, Riesling Kabinett, 2013
At this point, I was interested in comparisons with the motherland of Riesling. Mosel is arguably the home of the most delicate Rieslings, yet this kabinett, while poised and focused, plays at a higher weight and pitch, with thrilling mineral intensity and green apple acidity, but without the languid mellowness of the Kishor. So, two different creatures, each a beauty - I need both in my life. (Feb. 11, 2016)
Wine Route, about 100 NIS.
Dönnhoff, Nahe, Norheimer Kirschheck, Riesling Spätlese, 2008
This is one of the best values in the world, balancing red apples, peaches and sea water in an ethereal, complex blend that is driven by laser focused acidity. Great depth in a deceptively light frame. (Feb. 13, 2016)
Giaconda, about 160 NIS.
Domaine Buisson-Charles, Meursault, Vieilles Vignes, 2010
This is a wine that should enthrall me. A producer I love (his Aligote should be legally declared a house wine), a great vintage, old vines... But this is not a commendable bottle, in many ways an example what an off bottle is like. Buisson can knock you out with funk and acidity, and I've had very enjoyable bottles of this wine, but this bottle is limpid and foursquare. What saves it is that I do get a sense of the acidity and mineral cut I love, trying to chip their way out of middle aged fat. (Feb. 15, 2016)
Bourgogne Crown, 280 NIS.
Tzora Vineyards, Shoresh, Blanc, 2014
What I always adore about this wine is the tug and pull between almost playful tropical fruits - subtly hinting at red currants - and flinty, chalky restraint. And then, the acidity takes it to a different, sourer corner, with saline sprinkles. Lovely. (Feb. 17, 2016)
Jean Lallement, Verzenay Grand Cru, Cuvée Réserve, n.v.
I forgot I meant to let this age. But I always manage to find an excuse for infringements of my resolve. Some recent bottles of the regular seemed cuvée to be a little oxidized. I'm not sure how much it's bothering me, but I get that here too, although the Reserve has so much body and fruity/salty acidity that the light oxidation really comes across as a stylistic twist on the funky broth and sauteed mushrooms that Lallement sprinkles over the baked pears. There are are also ample hints of red cherries. (Feb. 18, 2016)
Fat Guy, 299 NIS.
Kishor, Kerem Kishor, Syrah, 2013
This is even better right now than the more expensive Savant Red, just fresh red fruit with that telltale Syrah pepper. A tasty bistro wine. (Feb. 19, 2016)
Bestheim, Alsace Grand Cru, Schlossberg, Riesling, 2013
I'm not a big Alsace fan and my cellar rarely holds more than a couple of bottles at a time. But I dabble in it every now and then. I usually aim at second tier stars, who provide expressiveness and individuality without the price associated with cult status. Or honest craftsmen that provide typicity at good prices. Ah, Alsatian typicity: I can take it in small quantities, I don't always enjoy the bitter quinine finish of the Rieslings or Pinots, nor the lush, exotic come-on of Gewurztraminer. Not on a regular basis. But this, despite the Grand Cru origins, expresses another Alsatian trait, food friendly spiciness, with such unpretentious ease that it wins me over. (Feb. 20, 2016)
Wine Route, 110 NIS.
Sphera, Chardonnay, 2014
I consider this the best Israeli Chardonnay. It's pure, with the same sense of quiet tension that I find in Chablis, but with a different aromatic and flavor profile. More rainwater and puddles than seawater. Which is a trait I find in just about all of Sphera's wines. (Feb. 20, 2016)
Mia Luce, Rosso, 2012
I loved this last year, but I didn't really think it had a lot of cellaring potential, but a year has given it greater meaty/herbal complexity, without loss of fruity freshness. The meaty stink might come from the character of the Carignan, it might be brett, but it works. (Feb. 21, 2016)
Ellena Giuseppe, Barolo, 2011
I still like it, even though this bottle is more advanced than the last one, more about dust, tar and spices than flowers. But I can't really complain about such a lovely Old School Barolo. (Feb. 23, 2016)
Wine Route, 199 NIS (2 for 300)
Vitkin, Petite Sirah, 2007
This is the most complex of the limited 'library' vintages the winery has re-released recently to its club members. The typical signature - black fruit adorned by graphite and black pepper - has gained further depth, not because any new elements have been introduced, but because the interplay between the existing one is more subtle and interesting. (Feb. 26, 2016)
The kind of wine where the fruit takes a back seat, and that that you used to find a lot of in France but not in Israel. Low key flavors on a neutral background without any loss of complexity. I like the demure mineral personality and the pastel -like notes of tropical fruit. (Feb. 27, 2016)
Moric, Blaufränkisch Reserve, 2012
I don't know why it's so hard to find good Blaufränkisch. You can find lovely reds in Austria - supple, peppery Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt - but so many are modern, extracted or oaky. Or all three. So basically you have to buy the entry level reds, where producers don't try to impress the big bucks out of tourists's wallets. Or fall back to Moric (and hope the bottle won't be corky, like my last one). There's a tart, palate cleansing freshness, lithe tannins, a herbal/peppery freshness on the nose. Moreish on many levels, in its freshness, succulence and vividness. (Feb. 27, 2016)
Fat Guy, 235 NIS.