Terre Nere, Etna, Il Quadro delle Rose Feudo di Mezzo, 2015
It's been seven years and odd days since I attended my first Terre Nere tasting. Wow. I should buy more. I always love the reds whenever I drink them. In fact, just about the only Italian wine I drink outside of Barolo and Barbaresco is this house in Sicily's Etna DOC. Which is appropriate since both Nebbiolo and Nerello Mascalese show tarry, earthy aromas and pack a dense, complex lattice of tannins and acidity into a deceptively lithe frame. In this case, this is especially true since the Feudo di Mezzo vineyard, which the winery classifies informally as a Premier Cru, is located relatively low with mild inclines, making for a friendlier wine than the other crus, lighter and superficially more elegant. (May 11, 2019)
Domaine Vacheron, Sancerre, Les Romains, 2016
Sauvignon Blanc as a geology seminar, this is foremost a wine geared towards intensity of expression, rather than complexity, extreme in its display of shells and chalk, with a touch of leafiness adding marginal additional nuances. I think this is an excellent Sancerre, but please excuse me if I prefer the house's Pinot Noirs. (May 3, 2019)
Wine Route, 280 NIS.
Pierre Gonon, Saint Joseph, 2014
This confirms Gonon's reputation as the king of Saint Joseph. A very complete, complex nose of olive tapenade, bacon and pepper heralds a mellow, yet persistent palate: silky tannins, balanced, lingering acidity and lovely, elegant fruit. Close to Cote Rotie in texture, depth, finesse and quality. Also, in the way so many flavors are densely packed unto a deceptively light frame. (May 4, 2019)
Domaine Joseph Drouhin, Nuits-St.-Georges, 2011
A long time ago, a 2003 Nuits convinced me that Drouhin was one negociant that deserved my money. Everything has to work perfectly to make wine work at the village level and although 2003 was from from a perfect vintage, the ripeness of the 2003 vintage actually provided more heft and depth than you'd expect from a village wine. Since many 2003's were flabby and/or over the top, I award all credit to team Drouhin. 2011, on the other hand, is one of those vintages where you feel that every aspect is somehow lacking: the wines are a little too light, the finish a little too short, the tannins a shade or two less than fine, the aromatics missing a bit of complexity and definition. The 2011 NSG illustrates all of the above, especially since 2011 was a vintage of suspect durability. Thus, although the aromatics are pleasant, forest floor and iron tinged with balsamic vinegar, the tannins and finish are stern and drying. On the plus side, the fruit is still clear and fine. Drink up and enjoy. (May 19, 2019)
Quinta da Pellada (Alvaro Castro), Dão, Jaen, 2011
Jaen (or Mencia as the grape is known in Spain, especially Bierzo where it is most famous), is another of those grapes often compared to Pinot Noir. And I can get that. It shares a similar silky texture and lightness of being. And this specific specimen also shows a distinctly floral character on the nose, almost as though the Chambolle rose petals had been hung out to dry among the bushes of the Iberian peninsula. The tannins are integrated and everything is in perfect balance, yet the Jaen still seems youthfully fresh and impresses as a wine that could easily develop for another seven-ten years. An excellent, lovely wine, one of the best Portuguese reds I've had - at the end of the day, one that doesn't need comparisons to Pinot to shine. (May 21, 2019)
Chateau Branaire-Ducru, Saint Julien 4me Cru, 2008
A tasty claret, well made, quite ready, a typical expression of Saint Julien finesse. Brainaire-Ducru is not a great house and 2008 is a classic Left Bank year with all the classic Left Bank drawbacks, so the cedar-tinged aromas, although very friendly and charming, are austere without a lot flair, while the tannins outlast the drying fruit on the finish. But it also has all the classic Left Bank charms, which used to be about drinkability years ago.(May 24, 2019)
Wine Route, a very good purchase at 250 NIS, prices we won't see again, even for a relatively modest chateau.
Domaine Pavelot (Jean-Marc et Hugues) Savigny-lès-Beaune Premier Cru, La Dominode, 2011
Had I known Bourgogne Crown and Pavelot would eventually part ways, I'd have bought more. Even though it seemed, at the time, that I had bought quite a handful across the range, I did not buy enough of the house's crown jewels, the La Dominode. If you know your Burgundy, then you know 2011 is a vintage valued more for charm and approachability than for intrinsic qualities of complexity, heft and depth - and indeed, at a tasting a few years ago, the 2010 impressed as a dense, muscular wine with many years of cellaring potential, while the 2011 seemed more meandering and less focused.
The Dominode 2011 has come into focus in the intervening years. The finish is now firm, fresh black cherries buttressed by rusty tannins, the fleshy texture and aromas and flavors of iron, rotting leaves and animal hide making for an impressive character that is a cross between Pommard and Gevrey, with the true weight of the excellent Premier Cru that Dominode is. I love it. (May 26, 2019)
About 290 NIS.
Gunderloch, Rheinhesse, Riesling Drei Sterne Auslese ***, 2007
As soon as I read the label, I knew the 13% ABV meant I wasn't going to get a classic Auslese. The nose is rich and laden with candied botrytis spices - if ever could a bouquet could be called unctuous, this is the one. The palate feels like a dessert wine with all the sugar leeched out of it. At first I thought it was awful, but as it found its footing, I found it oddly intriguing. I suppose a 52 year old Auslese would taste this way, but for a 12 year old it's a little too weird. (May 25, 2019)
Château Haut-Bergey, Pessdac-Leognan, 2008
This is a very dependable château. I've never tasted a bad wine or read any bad tasting note for any of their wines, but in the eight years or so since I first tasted its wines, this is the first bottle that went beyond the house's modern style to show any classic Pessac traits: food friendly acidity, savory tannins (still not fully integrated at this point), a form that has shed the impact of the barrel regime to show firm, yet mellow fruit with a touch of iron, earth and cedar. Much nicer than I expected. I guess it's a wine that needs 10-15 years. (May 31, 2019)
Wine Route, about 150 NIS in futures.