Monday, April 16, 2018

Taking Care Of Business (Mar. 2018)

Quinta de Saes  (Alvaro Castro), Dão, Reserva, Estagio Prologando, 2011

A sort of limited edition, with a long elevage, of the 'regular' field blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Alfro-Cheiro and other grapes. Just about the best Portugese red wine I've had so far, this hearty wine shows a very good balance of blue fruit, iron, acidity and tannins. (Mar. 2, 2018)

Dalton, Sémillon, Single Vineyard Elkosh, 2013

This is the oldest israeli white I've had in a long time and seems to be past its best. The nose is simple but interesting - sweet spices, ripe apricots, an almost sur-ripe character tempered by a hint of minerals - but the palate is short and bitter. I'm disappointed and that's a shame, as I'd heard good things about it and was looking forward. (Mar. 4, 2018)

Vitkin, Cabernet Franc, 2014 

I'd like to turn DNA on its head and claim Cabernet Franc is what happens when you cross Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc: a green, spicy wine that needs years to show how the unholy marriage has added red shadings to the black fruit. Right now, you can drink the bottle over a couple of nights to allow the spiciness and the tannins to recede and let the red fruit shine. (Mar. 6, 2018)

Yaacov Oryah, Old Musketeer, n.v.

This is really a fine, unique wine, playing out like sherry sans flor, nutty and oxidized without sherry's cured meat paste and iodine.  (Mar. 6, 2018)

Mia Luce, Syrah and Stems, 2015

I think this has lost some the initial, early charm and freshness. It's not exactly fat now, but it's not sprightly, either. On the plus side, it's deeper now than it used to be. It's tasty and balances sweet and salty flavors for a complex effect. (Mar. 6, 2018)

Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco, 2012

What I love about Produttori is this: mellow Old World - as opposed to hard Old World - clean, but not spotless, wines. They never fail to delight me, even when young and tongue-struck. This is tarry/dusty with salty/sour-cherry flavors and it carries across the flavors of the grape and the town without resorting to any extravagant gestures,. (Mar. 13, 2018)

About 200 NIS.

Domaines Ott, Bandol, Château Romassan, 2013 

At the very least, this is interesting aromatically -  I suppose Mourvedre always is - back fruit with meaty notes, as well as the mineral and herb suffused inflections that I tag as garrigue. The palate is a different matter. I hate having to contend with low acidity, and metallic tannins are even worse. This might be the price to pay for opening a Bandol so young. I've never had a mature one, actually, but my candidate for cellaring sure isn't going to be the arseheaded idea for a bottle the Romassan came in, that's for sure. The low acidity is the real deal breaker, but that bottle shape is as tacky as the old Chianti straw covers. (Mar. 23, 2019)

WineRoute, 210 NIS.

Simon Bize, Savigny-lès-Beaune Premier Cru, Aux Vergelesses, 2008

I like Bize, but I can't say he always knocks me out. This, though, is a beauty, the nose elegant and pure of fruit - and roughed up just right by the autumnal trappings typical of Pinot. Like many of the 2008's I've had, it thrives on lithe, well formed fruit, not very intense but not thin or unbalanced either, delineated by acidity and by rasping tannins. (Mar. 242019)

320 NIS.

Wind Gap Wines, Sonoma Coast, Syrah Armagh Vineyard, 2008

I drank the 2014 as an infant and it was very backward and brooding. This mature brother expresses the best of California - my expectations of it, anyway: clean black/blue fruit, a plump body buoyed by judicious acidity - and nods at the Rhone with hints of bacon and olives, all draped with black pepper. Lovely and classic. (Mar. 272019)

K&L Wines, 50 USD.

Sphera, Sauvignon Blanc, 2015

All the varietal wines made by this white wine specialist are among the best local wines I drink and would fare well in a comparative tasting with international peers. This is no exception, with its restrained, Old World values and profile, favoring minerals and green herbs over overt fruitiness, with a warm ripeness that doesn't collapse or veer off to the tropical. (Mar. 292019)

Château Bourgneuf, Pomerol, 2009 

That Petrus and Lafleur are unranked is an annoyance that is not that hard to explain, given how the history of Bordeaux progressed, and for the most part it hasn't really bothered anyone in the last half century. But not every property is a Petrus, or even a Hosanna, and Bourgneuf would probably not rank higher than a Cru Bourgeois, although Hugh Johnson says the wines are savory and have improved since 2009. I think I got the "savory" part when I bought this wine about six years ago. Other than that, it's a rough wine that is almost tempered by the ripeness of the 2009 fruit - tempering by acidity would have worked out better and maybe brought out some complexity. As it is, this is rather pedestrian, almost - but not quite - redeemed by a suggestion of Pomerol lush. (Mar. 312019)

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Domaine d'Henri Tasting (Mar. 26, 2018

I consider Domaine d'Henri, owned and managed by the Laroche family, one of the top three or five houses in Chablis. It's certainly near the top of my Chablis shopping list and at the very top of my Chablis enjoyment list. And all that  on the basis of one premier cru; I have added the Troesmes and the basic village wine to my list after this tasting. 

Why do I love the domaine's wines so much? Well, Chablis is a gilded cage. Five years ago I wouldn't have imagined that I might become a bit bored with that oyster shell and sea weed thing. I may not have quite reached a plateau of ennui, but it's certainly growing harder to find something new to write about Chablis.

The Laroche family, however, seems to mine great purity and focus beyond the norm, bringing nuances of origin into crystal clear relief.

Petit Chablis, 2016

This carries a surprising dash of quality Chablis character and finesse. Although maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, since, as I said, this is one of my favorite domaines. QPR. 70 NIS.

Chablis, 2014

At 80 NIS, this is an even better value. More body and character, more of that classic marine character, viewed through a very clear and focused lens. As though the sun has come out over the sea after the rain had cleared the air the night before.

Chablis Premier Cru, Fourchaune, 2013

The first Premier Cru tasted is less forward than the straight Chablis, the fruit more subtle, seamlessly embellished by wet pebbles and moss. While it is not quite electrifying, it is very detailed and gratifying, complex enough to sate the heart and mind of anyone of meaningful artistic bent. 130 NIS.

Chablis Premier Cru, Fourchaune, 2015

Round and inviting, not yet very complex at first, this needs air and/or time. I'm pretty sure of that seeing how it develops a piercing minerality. It will never be a very tense wine, but I think it will show a complex array of minerals befitting a Fourchaume. 

Chablis Premier Cru, Fourchaune, 2012

Caught mid-step between 2013 and 2015, showing the purity and focus of 2015 with the ready complexity of 2013.

The 2014 is sold for 130 NIS.

Chablis Premier Cru, Troesmes, 2015

I find a different aromatic and flavor profile here, greener, perhaps, mintier. Clearer as well, and I prefer it for that. As though someone dropped Puligny into the vat. A pittance at 120 NIS.

Old vines Fourchaume

Chablis Premier Cru, Fourchaume Heritage, 2015

I usually expect to find great concentration in old vines, but this is more about purity and steely tension. Like someone beat your palate with a steel whip. 

Chablis Premier Cru, Fourchaume Heritage, 2014

Decanted. I admit to bias; I expected, if not greatness, then at least the highest pedigree. Not disappointed. Generous, yet focused, aromas with a hint of sweetness. Not overt sweetness, but rather the sweetness borne of concentration of fruit that people used to swoon over decades ago, because it was rare. It’s not that rare today, but it’s still special and appealing in this context, when it cuts across the steely tension and breaks the marine mold, without diluting the mineral framework.  It’s close to Grand Cru breadth, without having been subjected to the barrel regime some producers put their Grand Crus through. And the price is to drool over: 200 NIS.

Chablis Premier Cru, Fourchaume Heritage, 2012

This has lost some of the initial vigorous punch of youth and the sheen of its steely frame, and has not gained the inviting complexity the regular Fourchaume 2012 already shows - but it does show that thread of sweetness I noted in the 2014. If you missed its initial flowering a couple of years ago, you'll just have to wait a few more years for its second bloom.