Taking Care Of Business (Feb/Mar 2017)

Sphera, White Signature, 2014

I think this runs a longer distance than most local whites and I always catch it at a reticent stage. Right now, this Chardonnay based (or was it all Chardonnay in 2014?) wine shows a character that is just about all lightly spiced pears, with plumpness akin to old school Meursault. (Feb. 15, 2017)

About 150 NIS.

Hubert Bouchard, Pouilly Fumé, 2015

Wine Route have a new Loire producer in their portfolio. Maybe they wrote it up in their newsletter and I missed it. I found it scouring the shelves. It's solid and shows enough potential to lure me back for more, especially if Wine Route has also brought the old vines and single vineyard bottlings the producer's site mentions. Maybe they have and they advertised the fact in the newsletter I missed. It's a lean wine, very saline and moreish, and even if there are hints of tropical fruits, they only serve to counterpoint the minerals and acidity, rather than take it too far down the New Zealand stretch. Very good. (Feb. 17, 2017)

About 110 NIS.

Tenuta delle Terre Nere, Etna Rosso, Guardiola, 2012

My personal wine map of Italy is very bare, Piedmont in the north, then a huge blank desert (that I don't bother to fill in) and finally Sicily in the south. And not even the entirety of Sicily. Just one DOC. And actually, just a single winery. But a damn great one, producing wines that have been prodding me to explore the area further.

What everyone notes with the Terre Nerre reds is the tarry, spicy, dusty bouquet that immediately references Nebbiolo, and it is truly on display here, as well as hints of flowers. 2012 is considered a hot vintage and the wine weighs in at 14.5% ABV, but I don't feel excessive weight or sweetness on the palate, but rather a bitter, astringent finish that challenges my palate. (Feb. 18, 2017)

Fat Guy, 225 NIS.

Hugel, Classic, Gewurztraminer, 2013

This is a rather basic Gewurtz, and the upside of that is you get a soft rendering of the variety and not the revved up turbo it can be when it is ripe and extracted. Thus, it shows rose petals and litchi - and less mustard/ginger/white pepper spiciness -  as well as hints of sculptor clay. A good quaffer, albeit an expensive one. (Feb. 20, 2017)

Wine Route, about 130 NIS.

I'm going to start cellaring my serious Loire reds as though they were mid-tier Bordeaux, otherwise I'm never going to enjoy them at all.

Château du Hureau, Saumur-Champigny, Lisagathe, 2009

I bought this bottle before Eldad Levy started importing the house with the 2010 vintage. I wish I could find a way to capitalize on this kind of omniscience. This is a very typical Cabernet Franc, so typical that some might object to the green streaks in the bouquet. I find them minty green rather than pepper green, and the discreteness of the fruit helps center a certain pungent earthiness in the foreground. The fruit, initially buried in its own womb, shows a fresh, red aspect after a couple of hours, but even though it has emerged, it is not free of the cumbersomeness of youth, and is still raw and one dimensional. (Feb. 25, 2017)

30 USD.

Rapet Père et Fils, Pernand-Vergelesses Premier Cru, En Caradeux, 2014

This is a hidden germ in the Bourgogne Crown, one that I always try to unveil to the world. If you're looking to nail the white Burgundy experience -  pungent apple skins, dry grass and flint, thrilling acidity, a savory finish characterized by roasted herbs - you've come to the right place. The En Caradeux will intrigue you all night long. (Feb. 26, 2017)

290 NIS.

Tzora Vineyards, Judean Hills, Misty Hills, 2010

The first Misty Hills produced in consultation with  ex-Petrus winemaker Jean-Claude Berrouet is rich in earthy and mineral aromas and flavors, almost muscular, with the warm ripeness that is the local DNA - which winemaker Eran Pick manages to tame. I've tasted every vintage since 2009, and the 2010, despite a very hot year, was the first in a string of very successful wines. (Mar. 7, 2017)

220 NIS.

Nothing says I Love Me like Champagne. 

Larmandier-Bernier, Longitude, n.v.

We drank this to celebrate another half marathon under my belt. Forget the other two, those were just getting the race over with - this one I'm proud of. Anyway, Larmandier. Larmandier has a style that marries a direct delivery and purity on the palate - that comes from broad, ripe fruit - with very precise nuances on the nose. This is a Blanc de Blancs, a blend of a couple of vintages and various Larmandier Premier Cru holdings, with a low dosage, so the ripe, near sweet flavors come from the fruit and make for a upfront effect, an incredibly fresh and moreish one, rather than an overdone one. And that's just what it does to the palate. As far as aromas, you get sauteed mushrooms and chalk, which are echoed on the palate, where their bracing impact balances the ripeness. (Mar. 13, 2017)  

Fat Guy, 350 NIS. 

Vieux Telegraph, Chateuneuf-du-Pape, Le Crau, 2005

I sometimes wonder, if I went back in time a couple of decades, would I still be turned off by the style? Is the thickly muscled style a product of terroir, vintage and grapes, or the meddling of Robert Parker? A historical property like Vieux Telegraph should be a good place to find some answers, but I've got to tell you, I still don't know for sure. I'll tell you what I like about it. It's impressive without kissing ass and the nose has plenty of pepper, pungent earth and garrigue. The palate, with its rusty tannins and bitter, espresso finish, wrestles the palate to a standstill. So that's a very welcome authenticity there, although not one I'd want to deal with too often.

Based on my experiences with the 2001, 2004 and finally this, I'm willing to hypothesize that the domaine went through a bad patch where they paid too much heed to the US reviews and may be navigating themselves out of that mess. (Mar. 18, 2017)

Wine Route, 250 NIS.

Ahat, 2015

There are rules. One is, don't write tasting notes for the same wine less than six months apart unless you have something new and/or meaningful to say. Two, don't compare a Chardonnay to Burgundy unless it can stand up to scrutiny.

I follow my rules, and this definitely has the dry grass/flint and salinity of a white B, which was not this obvious when I first drank it, married to a much more ephemeral body. Well done, Nitzan. (Mar. 20, 2017)

120 NIS.

Domaine Pierre Duroche, Gevrey-Chambertin, 2014

Great! I was in the mood for a Bourgogne and opened this, thinking I was opening my last bottle. Turns out I have another one. Do you really need a formal note or can I just submit excitement as evidence for the defense? But if you really want a note, this is a lithe wine, with floral freshness, the Gevrey funk expressed in the higher registers and a tart, welterweight frame. (Mar. 21, 2017)

Bourgone Crown, 205 NIS.

Moccagatta, Barbaresco, Bric Balin, 2008

I was warned Moccagatta is a modern winery, has modernistic tendencies, something modern. Apparently, they age the wine in barriques. The Bric Balin doesn't impress me as modern. This has very classic Old World charm, with a nose evoking exotic spices and herbs, tea, tar - that sort of thing, rough yet sensual aromas. A compactly muscular body, firm with rusty tannins and fiery acidity, looms over red fruit that is much softer than appears at first glance. I like it a lot, more than I did the 2001 Cole. Even though I had the Cole at fourteen years of age, after it had developed more tertiary aromas, the 2008 Bric Balin is clearly superior - rightfully so, since its considered Moccagatta's top cru. (Mar. 23, 2017)

40 Euros.

Willi Schaefer, Mosel, Graacher, Riesling Feinherb, 2015

The focus and lithe intensity of the sour apples and slate is a remarkable forecast of the quality of the upper echelons of the Wili Schaefer catalog. That's all. (Mar. 24, 2017)

Fat Guy, 99 NIS.

Guy Breton, Morgon, Vieilles Vignes, 2013

Piercing aromas of fresh red fruit, forest floor and iron, a healthy meaty stink, and a sleek, elegant body. A touch of Pinot lightness of being without losing the more rustic character of Gamay. Very Gevrey, in fact. (Mar. 25, 2017)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 130 NIS.

Le Domaine d'Henri, Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume, 2012

I must have written hundreds of words on Chablis, trying to nail its essence and the myriad ways producers express it. Various things marine play a part - saline aromas and flavors akin to sea shells, sea breeze, sea weed - as well, as tart fruit flavors that recall green apples and apple skins, and sometimes a touch of citrus fruit. But if you just list these out, you still don't really capture it, because Chablis is also a unique texture, steely and cold on the one hand, yet porous and chalky as well. That's how Chablis should be, but of course the different crus, vintages and house styles contribute to the final effect. In my experience, Fourchaume across different producers and years tends to refine and culture the marine effect and shows a focused elegance reminiscent of Puligny. The Henri version is exactly what I expect of the vineyard and is made with the same excellence and clarity I find the Bourgogne Crown's best white wine producers, such as Lamy, Ente, Leflaive. (Mar. 25, 2017)

Bourgogne Crown, 165 NIS.

Château Olivier, Pessac-Leognan, 2000

If I'm being honest with myself, this isn't a great Bordeaux, but I was being honest with my expectations when I ordered it, so I'm not disappointed. This is appropriately earthy, with mellow black fruit and a touch of lead pencil, but with its lackluster astringency denying it any sex appeal, this is just about the least impressive 2000 I've had, rather an expensive bistro claret. (Mar. 27, 2017)

60 USD.

La Maison Romane, Marsannay, Les Longeroies, 2014

Punching out of the corner with tart black cherries, iron and a hint of underbrush - then comforting with its fresh fruit, sweet and saline at once - this, like every Longeroies Oronce de Beler crafts, is so appealing in its youth, the quantity so small, that I haven't been able to keep away from any long enough to age them. (Mar. 28, 2017)

Bourgogne Crown, 240 NIS.

Dönnhoff, Nahe, Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle, Riesling Spätlese, 2008

If the elegance and depth sketched by the detailed shadings of slate, sour apples and spices on both nose and palate isn't enough to convince you of the pedigree of the Hermannshöhle terroir, then the thrilling bond of fruit and acidity would have you speaking in tongues. (Mar. 29, 2017)

Giaconda, 270-280 NIS.