Domaine Vacheron, Sancerre, 2016
While there is no way you would not be able to tell that this is a French wine, a Loire white, finally a Sancerre, this arguably serves even better as a blueprint for Sauvignon Blanc. It's leafy and saline and laced with minerals - the things that make it Sancerre - but it encompasses so many aspects of the grape you feel that a few twists of the dial would transform it into any of the various identities of the grape. Up the minerals and add a touch smoke - Pouilly Fume. Zoom in on the fruit and crush the leaves - New Zealand. (Feb. 2, 2018)
Wine Route, about 150 NIS.
Domaine Pierre Duroché, Gevrey-Chambertin, Le Clos, 2015
Pierre Duroché, bless his soul, bottles a generic Bourgogne, a basic Gevrey and three Gevrey village lieux-dits. So you have plenty of variety to play around with before venturing into the Premier and Grand Crus of this rising star. I learned tasting through his lineup a couple of years ago that the Le Clos shines young, so I turned to it when I needed my monthly Burgundy fix. Pierre's precision is the reason the Bourgogne fanatics have made the domaine a cult, and, indeed, this is very pure and precise, with notes of flowers, forest floor and minerals. (Feb. 3, 2018)
Bourgogne Crown, 185 NIS.
Agur, Karka, 2014
Eran Pick is a very Catholic Bordeaux lover. His consultant at Tzora is Jean-Claude Berrouet of Chateau Petrus fame. But he somehow wound up planting Oseleta, an almost extinct grape from Veneto, which is kind of like Hendrix picking up a banjo at a jam. Go figure. At least he remained true to form and sold the grapes off to Shuki Yashuv from Agur before ripping up the vines. There's a passing resemblance to the tale of the turtle and the scorpion at play here. Never mind. This comes off as a very rustic wine that nods and leers at Italy. I wouldn't say Veneto, necessarily. Actually, definitely not. The tannins are a little too full of iron and rust for that. With those sour cherries on the finish, you could easily go west to Piedmonte. My neighborhood bistro has a small stock and it's a very good choice. (Feb. 8, 2018)
Château de Beru, Chablis, Terroirs de Beru, 2015
This is typical of the house style, always juggling ripe and racy and walking away from that act with the Chablis character not just intact, but also quite aptly represented. (Feb. 9, 2018)
Bourgogne Crown, 155 NIS.
Lewinsohn, Garage de Papa, Blanc, 2015
Lewinsohn reminds me of Beru. Seriously. Always among the top five-ten local whites, this is the best local spin on all the things that make white Burgundy a gourmand pleasure. A very decently complex display of flint, citrus fruit, sea shells, dry grass. (Feb. 10, 2018)
Bar-Maor Winery, Tammuz, Rendzina, 2014
The romantic in me loves the notion of terroir and anyone who's read enough of this blog knows I expect more of wine than to be just a beverage. But there's the analytical side of me - I did wind up in hi tech instead of art school, after all - and that side of me has a problem with the message the back label is trying to get across: "With no irrigation, the vineyards reveal a true and unique expression of the place and year of harvest". In the first place, why would irrigation interfere with the "true and unique expression..." - god, I can't even bear writing it out in full again, it's really just too pretentious - and in the second place, how can you possibly tell? Nobody's been making high quality wine in Israel long enough to be that sure about anything. Besides, how the hell do you go about proving that lack of irrigation expresses the terroir better than any other agricultural ploy. And, does any terroir in Israel have enough of a track record for anyone to know what it's supposed to express?
I wish people wouldn't force their new age philosophy down my throat (unless we share the same new age philosophy, and then it's fine) because it can really ruin a good thing. I like this wine and it really is quite expressive, in its gruff, macho way. I'm just not willing to be so easily convinced it's driven by terroir. It's got this old school, old world, dusty thing going. It almost crosses over to rancio territory and that is something that would bother me, except...it works here. Even the drying tannins work. And if you put it in a blind tasting with local and foreign peers - I'd say Duoro and Languedoc would be good parallels - it would get noticed and remarked upon. And not because it's flashy wine, quite the opposite. But it's probably less complex than Rami reckons it to be. (Feb. 12, 2018)
Denis Race, Chablis Premier Cru, Montmains Vieilles Vignes, 2015
Denis Race is yet another Chablis producer that Wine Route is indulging us with recently. It's not very intense, complex,or original - just a textbook landlocked Chablis, apples peels and chalk rather than seashells. The market has come very far if Chablis has started to evoke ennui. (Feb. 18, 2018)
2 for 300 NIS.
Martín Códax, Rías Baixas, Albariño, Marieta, 2016
Even though today its portfolio is not really the Bacchanalian Wonderland it used to be, Wine Route still comes up with curveball offerings to the hipster crowd. They may turn out to be tax writeoffs for the huge cash inflow generated by their Blue Nun holdings, or marketing ploys to bolster the chain's credibility after the same mega-brand marred it - but they can be quite pleasurable. For instance, this graceful, saline white which should successfully court the wily sommelier looking for a BTG offering for light lunches. (Feb. 19, 2018)
70 NIS or so.
The more classically labelled Albariño Rías Baixas of the same year, similarly priced, is the one to go for. It's steelier, purer and you can feel the pedigree. Both are everyday wines, but this will put more sparkle into your everyday.
And check out the Martín Códax site if you care for a tour through Google Translate gone bad. For example, this. No one and nothing will ever quite trump "RAISING: It hasn't".
Argyros, Santorini, Assyrtiko Estate, 2016
Greece has also become trendy, although just about all I know about it as wine country is that the names are as hard to pronounce as they are to spell. Actually, Argyros and Assyrtiko, the local indigenous grape, are not that hard to spell. This is a leap beyond the Albarino, a really lovely, special wine, firm and delicate at once, all mineral nuances with a bit of wax thrown in. The acidity is simply delectable, playing against the fruit to produce a finely focused sour and salty finish. (Feb. 20, 2018)
Wine Route, again, about 120 NIS.
Twenty shekels more will buy you the Argyros, Santorini, Assyrtiko, 2016, which is made of old vines and plays almost like a Grand Cru version. I love it and it's very delicious, yet you can just sense all that potential all clenched inside it. It's a back up the truck kind of wine. Get a case and drink a bottle a year.
Margalit, Paradigm, 2015
Thirty years after it was one of the heralds of the re-discovery of the Bordeaux grapes in Israel, Margalit has gotten around to making a, ahem, Mediterranean wine. If that's really what you want to call the classic formula of Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre. I have taken this wine to my heart. Margalit hasn't gone for a blockbuster. GSM doesn't have to be that. What Margalit got out of it is very elegant black fruit with trimmings of black and white pepper, clarity and character, a lithe frame with fine focus. (Feb. 23, 2018)
Les Jamelles, Vin de Pays d'Oc, GSM Sélection Spéciale, 2016
This GSM is from Languedoc Roussillon, so it fairly close to the appellations that pioneered the blend, for what it's worth. Other than that, it's of interest solely for its fruity drinkability. (Feb. 24, 2018)
Wine Route, about 75 NIS.
Larmandier-Bernier, Champagne, Rosé de Saignée, Premier Cru, n.v.
This is the kind of champagne rosé that really captures that autumnal character of Pinot Noir, strawberries flanked by rotting leaves. This comes from the premier cru village of Vertus and, like, its Burgundian counterparts, it gains both weight and definition from airing, as well as an intoxicating floral facet. Lovely and needs more bottle age. (Feb. 26, 2018)