Niepoort, Duoro, Vertente, 2014
The major portion of the wine is sourced from sixty year old vines, the rest thirty years old (mostly Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca). This is an everyday wine and to begin with, it's closed without being harshly or overtly tannic. It needs time to unveil its medium body and length, and then I like it for its pungent earth and tobacco aromas, for the floral notes it develops slowly and charmingly and for the freshness and refinement of the fruit.(Jun. 3, 2017)
Porto, 109 NIS.
I also tasted a glass of the more expensive (180 NIS) Redoma, 2014, which is round, with sweetness of fruit. It's claret like and needs age to develop complexity. Of course, Niepoort's reputation was won by its ports, before they ever ventured into table wines. Colheita, 2005 is a vintage tawny port. It's subtly tertiary, combining and contrasting savory and sweet aromas and flavors: chocolate, cherries, nuts and cured meat. It's an excellent value at 160 NIS even if you're not a huge Port fan. At this point, I admit Pato and Alvaro won me over much more quickly, but I recognize that the Redoma needs at least five years while the Vertente is not meant to be profound in the first place. In other words, I need to taste more, and buy more Colheita for winter.
Eyal Mermelstein, who imports Neipoort as well as the other Portugese producers I mentioned aboive, has also started bringing in another Duro estate, owned by the romantically named Roboredo Madeira. I tasted a white, Carm, Duoro, Reserva, 2015, which consists of yet more odd indigenous grapes: larinho, rabigato and viozinho. It's a reserved wine at present, showing yellow fruit with a herbal edge, and only hints at the exotic aromatic profile that the Portugese varieties show at their best.
A celebratory Champagne
Pierre Gimonnet, Cuis Premier Cru, Special Club, 2004
Here's why I don't score wines. A good Champgne doesn't need a score and a bad one doesn't deserve one. When a great Champagne such as this hits its peak, it delivers such a perfectly balanced blend of apples and citrus fruit, brioche and sauteed mushrooms that even a self-dubbed cognoscenti stumbles trying to compare it to others of its breed. In Burgundian terms, it has the intensity, complexity and length of a Grand Cru. I don't think I would be able to recognize the Cuis terroir blind, but I think can comprehend by now the character of a pure chardonnay Champagne (pinot noir would add a touch of strawberries and forest floor). In the end, you wind up remembering the little things, like the way the sweetness of the fruit morphs into a savory, salty finish. (Jun. 10, 2017)
Far Guy, 350-380 NIS.
Château de Beaucastel, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2004
Bemoaning how I used to love Châteauneufs and now I don't enjoy the style - that's tedious and I've really worn that song out. But this is really rich with useless beauty. There're some points of aromatic interest: the dried fruit, the lead pencil - they're not very complex, but they do evoke decadent abandon. Much later on, the nose starts to show Châteauneuf's signature garrigue - as much as I try to avoid grocery lists of flavors and aromas, you do need to know if and when garrigue notes show up in your Châteauneuf. As for the palate, well, oddly enough, despite the mushy sweetness, there's a convincing, tannic tension on the finish, yet the attack and mid-palate are very obvious and pulsate with rich warmth as though I was coping with a huge bite of rare fillet. (Jun. 13, 2017)
Wine Route. I stopped buying the stuff so long ago that I have no idea what it sells for these days, but I probably bought it for 250-300 NIS ten years ago and I assume it now sells for 400-450 NIS. Good luck to them.
Domaine Taupenot Merme, Saint Romain, 2013
I've been waiting to this for three or four years. Not this specific vintage, of course, but any vintage at all. The producer's sensual style had captivated me in the past and the little village's underdog status piqued my curiosity. It's one of those villages without even a Premier Cru to boast of. I'd tried a couple of Saint Romain whites - found them honest and appealing, capturing the classic Burgundian style with no frill but no overblown pretensions, either - but never a red. I have no idea why this particular wine was always out of stock. Maybe the price point appealed to the restaurants (I can just picture cartons stashed away in the back of HaBasta). Anyway, when the Bourgogne Crown 2017 catalog came out, this was the first wine I ordered.
I've milked the build up for all it's worth. Like I said, Taupenot Merme, sensual style; Saint Romain, unpretentious town. This is what you get. A wine whose aromas and flavors suggest the freshest red fruit, adorned by young flowers. There's a mildly rustic grit, but mostly you just get soft, mouthfilling fruit and the thrill of its visceral vividness. But you know something? That's just its first phase. An hour of air, and it picks up a darker, earthier, more profound aspect, all the while maintaining the same forthright personality.
Beaucastel, looks like you've been outplayed! (June. 15, 2017)
Bourgogne Crown, 165 NIS. Merits multiple purchases.
Domaine Rapet Père et Fils, Chorey-les-Beaune, Vieilles Vignes, 2014
Chorey is another Beaune town with no Premier Crus to its name. Rapet is a domaine I adore for its white wines - they seem to have many Premier Crus in Aloxe and Pernand; I'm only familiar with their Corton-Charlemagne and Pernand-Vergelesses, but I've developed a crush on them. Compared to the Saint Romain, this has more forward sweetness,with darker, fuller fruit, yet with a slightly more astringent finish. Despite the Vieilles Vignes designation, it's not especially long, and, slow to open, looks to need some medium term bottle age, despite its lowly origins. (Jun. 16, 2017)
Bourgogne Crown again, 155 NIS.
Benoit Ente, Bourgogne Blanc, Golden Jubilee, 2014
This is only a regional wine, the lowliest Burgundian AOC, but it's made by a man who's already proven himself to be a masterful winemaker, and he's based in Puligny, so I assume the grapes come from either declassified village vineyards or close by. Look, it's not meant to be very complex or broad, and it's even on the lean side (which I like, because that's where my tastes usually take me). but Benoit brings a lot of purity and clarity, as well as Puligny character - meaning a filigree balance of fruit and minerals, a touch of dry grass, as well as the clarify I spoke of - without being especially special. (Jun. 17, 2017)
Bourgogn Crown, 175 NIS.
Tzora, Judean Hills, Red, 2015
I used to optimize my Tzora buying budget by ignoring the Judean Hills and heading straight for the Shoresh and Misty Hills, but this year, it just didn't make sense. The red and white were just too good. If there's one thing I learned from Eran Pick over the years is that talking about balance may sound pretentious, but balance makes for tasty wines. This grounds its earthy red fruit in abundant acidity, so it's neither overripe nor astringent. It's not especially tannic, but its tannins are savory and meaty. (Jun. 18, 2017)
Schloss Gobelsburg, Kamptal, DAC Reserve, Renner Erste Lage, 2012
This is the least renowned/exceptional of the house's Gruner crus, and thus priced accordingly. It's a fine wine in its own right - and the price makes it very attractive. It strikes me as lighter than the Lamm and the Grub, the domaine's great Gruner Veltliner crus, but the nose is quite stirring, even though it evokes with rather broad strokes. (Jun. 24, 2017)
Fat Guy, 185 NIS.
Catherine et Pierre Breton, Bourgueil, Trinch!, 2015
Breton was one of the first red Loire producers I encountered. I have very fine memories of a mature Les Perrieres, 1995 I drank with the embryonic version of my current tasting group. This is a Bourgueil meant to be enjoyed young and I certainly did that very thing. I would compare it to a Beaujolais. It certainly has the same succulent, fresh fruit. It doesn't have the greenness usually associated with Cabernet Franc, but the fruit is joyfully red, before it turns a little darker and conjoins with the lead pencil typical of the grape when it's at its most comfortable in its homeland. To me, it even has a scent of apple cider, before it starts to show raw meat and, finally, iron. The tannins are soft, not astringent, even though they do make a rasping impression on the finish. I don't want to carry on with the descriptors for too long - it feels like that would ruin the immediacy and intimacy of it. But the thing is, it does get surprisingly complex as it opens up. (Jun. 25, 2017)
Bought in Amsterdam for 20 euros.
Pintia, Toro, 2010
15% ABV, 95 Parker points, this is really far out from my sweet spot. Aromatically complex, evoking dry herbs, it does belong to the same stylistic school as Chateauneuf, that is, big, meaty fruit lanced by bitter tannins. The main point of interest, for me, is that Parker reference to "plump, rounded tannins". The tasting note is from 2013. His judgement was always suspect, but was his palate also gone at that point? (Jun. 26, 2017)