January- Third Most Common Month for Madness

Matsu Toro project imported by IBBL
Vintae, Proyecto Garnachas de España,  Ribera del Queiles, La Garnacha Salvaje del Moncayo, 2016

The background story for this wine is a bit long winded. Vintae is a relatively small firm (50 employees), founded in Rioja in 1999, with vineyard holdings and winemaking teams across fifteen different Spanish DOs (Denominación de Origen) and over ten different sub-brands. The wine here is part of the "Proyecto Garnachas de España", which is a set of 6 varietal Grenache wines from different DOs, in this case Ribera del Queiles in Navarra. Well, technically, Ribera del Queiles is just a Vino de la Tierra, a step below Denominación de Origen (Mocayo is a mountain in the DO, salvaje is a Catalan words that translates as "forest). The wine itself, aged for only 5 months in French oak, shows a very youthful and fresh aspect of the grape, red fruit with very soft tannins and appealing nuances of herbs and spices. Moreish, if not complex. I'm very delighted that things like this are imported. (Jan. 19, 2019)

IBBL, about 75 NIS.

Vintae, Matsu, Toro, El Picaro, 2016

The "Matsu" (Japanese for "wait") label specializes in old vines from the Toro DO, one of those regions where the vineyards are very old simply because the wines were never profitable enough for replanting to be economical. Even this, the least expensive wine in the portfolio, comes from 90 year old vines. Matured for a few months in concrete tanks, the fruit is fresh with a mineral tang and surprising length, complexity and aromatic intensity. Clean without being anonymous, it shows the charm of the Old World and of the Tempranillo grape (known locally as Tinto de Toro). Seriously good value. (Jan. 20, 2019)

IBBL, also about 75 NIS.

Louis Jadot (Château des Jacques), Morgon, 2014

Jadot bought Château des Jacques, a property dating back to the 17th century, in 1996 and it's an independent operation, run by a farily young winemaker, Cyril Chirouze. The Chateau makes various configurations of single vineyards and village AOCs from prime vineyards across the Beaujolais Crus. This is a blend of various vineyards in Morgon, including the esteemed sub-appellation, Côte du Py. This is in a fatter and smoother style than Foillard, Lapierre or Thevenet (or God knows who the current Gods of Beaujolais are) and there's plenty of juicy character and forest floor seasoning. (Jan. 14, 2019)

Wine Route, about 120 NIS.

Luis Pato, Bairrada, Vinha Formal, Branco, 2016

The companion piece to the Vinha Formal Parcel Candido, a varietal Cercial, this is dominated by Bical (100% in some vintages according to the Luis Pato site). Like the Cercial, it displays an array of exotic spices, tropical fruit and alien rocks. Although it, too, is a hedonistic white, it is more reserved and focused. Despite the relative reserve, I recall I once called the 2013 "Chassagne dressed up for Mardi Gras" and that still fits. (Jan. 15, 2019)

Quinta do Crasto, Douro, Reserva Old Vines, 2015

Painfully primary, at first, showing the ripe, untempered fruitiness of young Iberian reds, this is a blend of dozens of varieties indigenous to the Duoro valley (like most of us, the only one I know is Touriga Nacional). It hints of minerals, iron and spices but, thankfully, not of oak, and picks up enough nuances over the course of the evening to make me very optimistic about its future. Because of the rustic tannins enfolding its soft core of fruit, this is a good wine to be revisited around its tenth birthday. (Jan. 5, 2019)

Hakerem, 170 NIS.

Chateau Golan, Geshem White, 2017

I've been waiting to try a bottle for a long time. For a long time, the only bottle I was able to spot was a 2015 from questionable storage. And now this. Rhone white grapes are almost de rigueur in Israel these day, but I believe this Grenache Blanc/Rousanne blend was among the very first. Typically for these blends, there's an interesting interplay of nutty/earthy aromas and tropical flavors, but the palate has a somber, reserved backbone that keeps the tropical flavors in check. Possessing aromatic complexity, texture and presence without undue weight, needs a couple of years to evolve and settle down, at which time  the mineral streak that shines after a couple of hours of air will become more prominent. (Jan. 17, 2019)

About 170 NIS.

Chateau Golan, Geshem Red, 2014

Opaque and inscrutable, on all senses, it doesn't present the overblown front of the Southern Rhone GSM blends it purports to model itself on. Rather, it has aromas and flavors of cherries, rust and minerals that recall a good Barolo, but with a fatter shape on the palate. An expansive step ahead of the 2015 and worth the fridge space the fat bottle it comes in requires. (Jan. 6, 2019)

About 220 NIS.

Produttori di Barbaresco, Barbaresco, 2014

Coming into focus as the months slowly pass, this is a true Barbaresco, with a soft center belying the 14% ABV, red flowers tinted by dried rose petals and a hint of tar and rare steak, and, finally, a rusty finish. (Jan. 8, 2019)

Wine Route, about 200 NIS.

Domaine Langlois-Château, Crémant de Loire, L'extra Langlois, Brut, n.v.

Just a tasty, everyday sparkling wine, nothing deep or fancy, just summer fruits with a touch of chalk and bread. (Jan. 9, 2019)

Hakerem, about 90 NIS.

Vinhos Sogrape, Vinho Verde, Moncao e Melgaco, Alvarinho,  Morgadio da Torre , 2014

Never had a 4 year old green wine and what can I tell you, it's not green anymore! If anything, it has the gritty, mineral bite of a Duoro or Dao white, with apricots and a dollop of honey. Nice and interesting both. (Jan. 22, 2019)

About 80 NIS.

Willi Schaefer, Mosel, Graacher Himmelreich, Riesling Kabinett, 2017

Even this young, the complexity of the aromas is stirring, a concoction of green apples, mint and those pungent scents that suggest minerals. The fresh, harmonic lightness of the fruit and its bracing acidity bely the substance underneath. One of the best kabinnets I've ever had, the finish, especially, is a delight. (Jan. 26, 2019)

Fat Guy, 145 NIS.

Domaine Robert Arnoux, Bourgogne Fin, 2014

There are basically three reasons for choosing a mid week wine: because it's ready, because you need to clear some fridge space and because it's a Bourgogne. I admit I opened this because of the second and third reasons, but I was surprised by how much focused richness it has to offer right now. Punching above its weight, the exotic spices on the nose recall Vosne, the sappy mouthfeel - Chambolle.(Jan. 28, 2019)