Might As Well Face It, You're Addicted To Wine - Apr. 2018

Tzora, Shoresh, 2016*

When you drink such a young wine at this level of quality, all you can really get at first is a sense of the balance of the prerequisite elements (fruit, tannins, acidity), but the soundtrack can be mute. Or overwhelming. Which is how good wine tasters make their reputation, by amplifying or filtering the soundtrack for the audience. I'm not good enough to give you an easy comparisons with previous vintages (although it's a safe assumption it would be a better wine than the 2015, given the weather conditions of that year). I can tell you a few things, though. One is that you get the dust and earth and minerals that are the trademark of this quality red - although you do need a couple of hours of airing to get to it. Secondly, that "balance of the prerequisite elements" which I mentioned above is fine indeed. Finally, I'd like to share a thought that this wine sparked, although it's not strictly about this wine.

I used to think of myself as an Old World guy. I'm not sure what that means, really. I suppose it means I'm supposed to prefer an austere, rusty nails kind of wine that needs a couple of decades to soften. Nowadays, I think I'm basically a Francophile who likes reserved wines, not necessarily austere wines. And I do love fresh, vibrant youngsters.

If you took a bottle of Shoresh back to the 19th century in a time machine and offered it to the owners of the Bordeaux chateaux that invented the Old World "austere, rusty nails kind of wine that needs a couple of decades to soften" style... wait, they didn't invent it, not really, that was usually the best they were able to make, given the vagaries of the weather and the technology they had. Anyway, if you gave them a bottle of Shoresh to drink you know what they'd say? That this is the wine they'd love to make - if only the weather was better and they could get their workers to harvest the grapes fast enough and clean the barrels well enough - better yet, if they could afford better barrels. 

I guess that's why they blended Hermitage into their clarets under the counter. (Apr. 13, 2018)

160 NIS.

* The white Shoresh 2017 also rocks and as usual is a tasty combination of vaguely tropical fruit and vaguely salty minerals. The end result is not vague at all, though, but delivers a flavors and presence with great precision.

Now on to the rest of this month's wines.

Domaine Vacheron, Sancerre Rouge, 2015 

More delicate than even the lightest of Bourgognes, this would make a Volnay seem like a Pauillac. (Apr. 2, 2018)

A lovely deal at 2 for 300, unless you need obvious fruit extract to feel you've gotten your money's worth.

Château Larrivet-Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan, 2009

This is the first tasting note the chateau itself would have you see for this wine on its site:

"Very beautiful deep garnet-red colour with a complex, charming bouquet featuring roasted and toasty aromas as well as hints of black fruit and vanilla"

Why would anyone boast of roasted and toasted aromas and only hints of black fruit? I guess they're trying to lure in American consumers. At least they're honest. The toasted oak bothers me, but there's good acidity and savory fruit in there as well, more than a hint, which may overcome the oak in time. (Apr. 6, 2018)

180 NIS in futures at Wine Route.

Domaine Fourrey, Chablis Premier Cru, Mont de Milieu, 2015 

A humdrum showing this time. Plays the Chablis paradigm without really being exciting, although I found it creeping up towards excitement with some air. (Apr. 7, 2018)

Luis Pato, Beira Atlântico, Vinhas Velhas (Branco), 2016 

This is already at what I take to be its peak, where it plays like pineapples roasted with Atlantic salt, that is, it's savory with hints of tropical character. (Apr. 8, 2018)

Royal Tokaji Wine Co., Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos, 2013 

This is a minor marvel. Not a great wine, because the acidity is on the low side and the dusty/spicy botrytis jabs without a lot of finesse. But it's such a tasty treat, sheer liquid marmalade really , and what pedigree! An aszú 6 puttonyos at 20 euros is a steal even with no fancy vineyard designation. (Apr. 11, 2017)

Markus Molitor, Mosel, Bernkasteler Badstube, Riesling Kabinett (Green Capsule), 2015 

There is something atypical about the profile here. Its definitely Riesling, the taut acidity bracing the sweetness of the fruit is definitely German, but I'm not sure I'd have gone for Mosel blind. It almost seems like a kabinett version of Grosse Gewaches, rocky aromatic veneer married to a lithe frame. I might have said Pfalz or Baden given its notes of guayavas and salt. (Apr. 12, 2018)

Wine Route, 130 NIS.

Sphera, Chardonnay, 2016

Like its peers in the top tier of Israeli Chardonnays (Lewinsohn, Tzora), this proves that Israel is capable of providing flinty, saline whites. Doron Rav Hon has been very consistent throughout the entire lineup since day one and the wines are always very balanced and pure. Most need a year or two to take the edge of an initial bitterness, though. (Apr. 14, 2018)

Guimaro, Galicia, Ribeira Sacra, 2016 

The bare facts: Guimaro means "rebel". It is a twenty year old winery from one of those Spanish hinterlands whose recent rise to fame is so new it makes Priorat seem as ancient as the Cote d'Or. It is the lovechild of one Pedro Rodríguez. This is the unoaked, entry level red, made of Mencia, which some claim shares the same DNA as Cabernet Franc. And it is actually as lithe and moreish as as any young Loire red. A wholesome wine, winsome for its lightness, pure red fruit and sheer pleasure factor. The Wine Advocate, aka Public Enemy Number 1, scored the 2015 vintage a 91. Maybe the old man wasn't such a villain, after all. (Apr. 16, 2018)

Fat Guy - the introductory price, 75 NIS, was also a pleasure.

Guimaro, Ribeira Sacra, Finca Meixeman, 2015

This is the first single vineyard wine Rodriguez made and it is rife with flowers. Floral and athletic, but not quite gelled yet. I feel disappointed after the regular Ribeira Sanca and I can't really pinpoint why, besides a generic "too young". (Apr. 26, 2018)

195 NIS.

Prunotto, Barbaresco, 2012 

Is Prunotto underrated? Overlooked? I almost never see Prunotto mentioned in articles about Piedmont. Or on my Facebook feed. Only one friend has ever brought a bottle to a tasting. This is lovely, structured without being severe, fairly complex even at this young age. It's just well made, without pretension. It's in a good place,rusty and savory, playing off dust and spices more than fruit. I should really try and find a cru, now.

P.S. The cork is gorgeous, too. (Apr. 17, 2017)

HaKerem, 155 NIS.

Zarate, Rías Baixas, Albariño, 2016

Albariño crops up so often in my online wine reading material that I have already pegged it as the hipsters' darling. Why else would even Wine Route start importing it? Zarate, the latest addition to  Eldad Levy's portfolio is even better, marrying the green apples, lime and understated exoticism of the best of the Iberian whites with salty, marine aromas. (Apr. 19, 2017)

80 NIS.

Verónica Ortega, Bierzo, Quite, 2016

Bierzo also seems to be trendy these days. But forget trends and think about this: an entry level wine made of sixty year old vines? That's not something you run into a lot. This is very fresh and vivid, a marriage of fruit and minerals that reminds me of Beaujolais - although the specifics of the saline flavors on the finish and the silky texture have no parallel in that area of France. (Apr. 21, 2018)

79 NIS.

Vitkin, Grenache Blanc, 2016 

I'd heard rumors this was the best Grenache Blanc from Vitkin yet. This is true.Very true. Intense aromas of flint and matchsticks patched unto peaches and lemons, the palate echoing that, with a hint of sensual fat counterpointing a touch of quinine. (Apr. 24, 2018)

There's a red too, you know.

Vitkin, Grenache Noir, 2015

The debut was a tough act to follow, and no one considers 2015 a good vintage in Israel anyway. It doesn't have the cool, floral flair of the 2014, but rather more typical candied fruit and earth. Also, it's shorter than the 2014.  (Apr. 27, 2018)

Christophe Mignon, Champagne Brut Nature, n.v.

100% Pinot Meunier by a Vallee de la Marne producer. Chalk and flowers and a mushroom broth that always seems to me to come from Pinot. The fruit is ripe enough to feel full even with zero dosage, but that ripeness doesn't really coalesce with the acidity right now. I don't think that has to do with the quality of the fruit or winemaking, but is rather a matter of age. This 2012/13 blend just needs a couple of more years. I was impatient to try it out and it had been a couple of months since my last Champagne, so... (Apr. 25, 2018)

40 euros.