|Exciting new import|
I had a sudden Nebbiolo craving, Italy was playing Germany in the Euro quarter-finals, the air conditioning was going full blast - suddenly, drinking Barbaresco in July made sense. This is a solid effort, with Old World charm, decently complex if not especially expressive or deep. The fresh - if stoic - black fruit, the rusty tannins and the aromas of black tea grains and rotting rose petals nail the idiom. This is the kind of wine where the fruit dries up before the tannins, yet the tannins are so savory and saline that they can sustain the show in their own right for a few years.(Jul. 1, 2016)
Wine Route, about 250 NIS.
Sphera, White Concepts, Chardonnay, 2015
This has just about every fruit you might find in Chardonnay - green apples, citrus fruit, even guayava - but it's far from being a cacophony of flavors of aromas. It's very tightly reined in, so much so that it's on the limpid, austere side, with the flavors markedly saturated with chalk. (Jul. 3, 2016)
About 100 NIS.
Frederic Mabileau, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Eclipse No. 9, 2009
The Loire is full of producers most of us have never heard of. While it's full of excellent, fair valued wines, shopping is hard. Most of my purchases are made online, the result of copious amount of Googling. This seemed like a good buy at K and L Wines, but what my searches missed was that, in the 2009 vintage, Mabileau's barrel supplier, Vicard, sold him overly toasted barrels for this, his flagship wine, and the laws of the jungle dictated that this small producer was stuck with them. I was worried about a possible charred character, but further research indicated that the barrels are 600 liters and that only the juice that survived the ordeal was bottled as Eclipse. Without any framework for comparison, as I have no experience with other vintages, I can say that I get oaky notes on the nose and a drying finish, but nothing that seems, to me, to be specifically charred. With air, the oak transforms into an interesting, spiciness. Maybe this is an example of good wine-making somehow making a decent, if not overly exciting, wine under the circumstances? (Jul. 6, 2016)
K and L Wines, 35 USD.
Château du Hureau, Saumur-Champigny, Fours à Chaux, 2010
This just so much better, a great example of Cabernet Franc, at a ridiculous price. Hureau can be bretty, but the fruit here is remarkably pure, lithe and peppery. The aromatic complexity and beauty of it need time to show, while the fruit is as succulent as a roasted pig and supported by its acidity rather than tannins. (Jul. 7, 2016)
Fat Guy, 115 NIS.
Recanati, Reserve, Petite Sirah, 2014
I always overlook this. It's the cheapest wine in the Mediterranean Reserve series, and the Carignan and the Marsellan seem to get all the press. It seems like a holdover from the Lewis Pasco days, even though the Zinfandel is gone from the blend for good. Yet, when I do open a bottle, it comes off as further proof that Petite Sirah is a candidate for a local signature grape, along with Recanati winemaker Ido Lewinsohn's use of it in his boutique winery and its de facto stature as Vitkin's flagship wine. This is certainly ripe, but not overripe or extracted, and the black fruit and black pepper on the nose is a very pretty combination, at times reminiscent of a good beef and vegetable stew. And if the finish is still constricted, tannic and bitter, that seems to me to be a promise for cellaring potential rather than a permanent fault. (Jul. 15, 2016)
About 100 NIS.
Domaine Huet, Vouvray, Clos du Bourg, Moelleux Premiere Trie, 2002
In pristine shape, this should be one of the best dessert wines in the world. The color was way too burnt, though, the nose and palate reticent. So I was worried. But the nose blooms slowly, showing wet wool and brown sugar. The palate lacks the liveliness that would spark it towards greatness, but it's still an interesting, worthy wine that captures a moment. (Jul. 19, 2016)
About 50 USD.
Domaine Denis Berthaut, Bourgogne, Les Prielles, 2014
Berthaut is one of the recent additions to the Bourgogne Crown catalog, and one I was very curious to taste, having read about the domaine in Bill Nanson's guide. This is a very fresh, refreshing Bourgogne, with delicate minerality. A lovely house wine that epitomizes the style of the portfolio - wines that win over your heart and aesthetic sensibilities by their silken finesse, even though you would be tempted to gulp down a bottle without pause. (Jul. 20, 2016)
The village wine, the Fixin, 2014 is, as you'd expect, better formed, longer and more precise, the greater aromatic detail showcasing a distinct floral aspect. The dense, dark-red fruit is buffeted by more persistent, grainy tannins and a tart acidity that I find lovely. Still a little raw, yet very pretty for all that. Now I'm tempted to try the lieux-dits that the Crown imports (the les Crais and the les Clos), but I should probably hold off on them for a few years.(Jul. 25, 2016).
Domaine Buisson-Charles, Aligoté Sous Le Chemin, 2013
This is a regular buy for me, year in, year out. The 2013 is relatively reticent and takes an hour to open up and show a pungent mix of lime and minerals on the nose and a flavorsome finish. Very typical, for its lean body and pungency. (Jul. 21, 2016)
Bourgogne Crown, 100 NIS.
Château de Beru, Chablis, Terroirs De Béru, 2014
This is the classic Burgundian tale of the prodigal son returning to the family domain revitalize it - only in this case, it's the prodigal daughter, Athénaïs. She's got a good hand and the Château's site claims the family's vineyards are located in the slopes of the Grand Cru foothills. it took me a while to find it on the maps - it looks like a good 5 miles away, but anyway, this is really good, a textbook Chablis, very clear and sea-shell saline, tense and limpid at the same time. It doesn't have the breadth and depth of a Premier Cru, but rather feels like a very pure distillation of the basic appellation. (Jul. 24, 2016)
Bourgogne Crown, 145 NIS.
A. Margaine, Special Club, Blanc de Blancs, Brut, Premier Cru, 2004
This was lean and tight years ago but now is a perfect mix of apples, orange blossom, salty rock and mushrooms, complex, deep, endless, with an almost mentholated lift. Many Chablis Grand Crus I've tasted were not this good. (Jul. 26, 2016)
Fat Guy, 329 NIS back in the day.
Lahat, Red, 2014
Itay Lahat, former Barkan winemaker, is a very busy consultant for various wineries around the country, also heading the Tel Hay College wine program. He has released a couple of vintages of whites under his boutique label. This is the first, much anticipated red. This a Syrah-Cabernet Sauvignon blend, dominated by Syrah, I think, at least aromatically (black pepper). It is well made and fault free, which is not damning with praise, in Israel - there is very good balance here, no excessive heat, sweetness or tannins to wear out the palate, giving the fruit ample stage. (Jul. 27, 2016)
About 150 NIS.
Vitkin, Petite Sirah, 2009
A funky, sweaty, local rendition of Crozes or Cornas, with blue fruit, black pepper, fruitcake and iodine, capped by a tannic crunch. (Jul. 28, 2016)
Château de Pibarnon, Bandol, Rosé, 2015
Explorative curiosity, that's why I bought this. It starts out nothing much more than a pink-hued Sauvignon Blanc, and while it grows beyond that to display minerals and herbs, nothing about it is distinctive enough to teach me what makes Bandol rosés special. (Jul. 29, 2016)
Wine Route, 150 NIS.
Domaine Ferret, Pouilly-Fuissé, 2014
Me being curious again. I read in the Wine Route newsletter about this new import, thought I'd give it a try. The funny thing is, the salesman was trying to talk me into buying a Jadot Bourgogne - I told him I wasn't into Jadot and he didn't bother to tell me this domaine is owned by Jadot. I'll try to be objective. The fruit here is very decent, very clean, with nuances of flint and dry grass and good acidity. The oak is a little obvious, though, and I think it's too pricey, but the saline personality is promising. (Jul. 30, 2016)
Wine Route, 220 NIS.