Corona, Late April 2020

Jean-Marc Millot, Côte de Nuits Villages, Aux Faulques, 2017
After the third time this wine popped up on my Facebook feed, I broke down and got a bottle. Local readers, FYI: the domaine, and this wine specifically, is another great find by Bourgogne Crown. It should cost around 200 NIS, and you might be surprised at the pricing for a 'simple' Côte de Nuits Villages wine. The secret is it comes from a vineyard located in Comblanchien just south of Premeaux i.e. south of Nuits-Saint-Georges. The thing is, Comblanchien never received its own village AOC, and based on this sample and couple of others, it has a strong claim for one. Aux Faulques is located a few hundred meters from the Clos de la Maréchale Premier Cru. I don't think the geographical proximity alone merits comparisons with the more renowned vineyard, but the wine in the bottle is certainly convincing. It has the complexity, nuances and finesse of a Premier Cru, and almost as much weight and depth after an hour of air. Stylistically, it comes off as a cross between Saint-Aubin and Nuits-Saint-Georges, gorgeous to sniff and contemplate, with aromas and flavors of red/black fruit and earth, hints of wintergreen, and with enough meaty tannins that need a couple of years in the fridge to integrate with the fruit. The bottom line is the price is just fine for a small, up and coming domaine and for a wine of village-level quality at least and arguably even higher. (Apr. 24, 2020)

Cascina delle Rose, Langhe, Nebbiolo, 2018
This is an estate I'd wanted to try (and visit) ever since I read about it in Kerin O'Keefe's great book, Barolo and Barbaresco: The King and Queen of Italian Wines. Made from presumably young vines from their Barbaresco's vineyards, and aged in steel, it's lithe and velvety in texture and body. It's more about fun and joy then complexity and contemplation, but there's a bounty of earth and truffle aromas to satisfy any craving for the Barbaresco magic. Also imported by Bourgogne Crown and sells for about 150 NIS. (Apr. 25, 2020)

Giuseppe Cortese, Barbaresco, Rabaja, 2016
A gorgeous, harmonious, always morphing Barbaresco. Despite coming from a stellar vineyard from an excellent producer, it is approachable now because the fruit is so lovely and balanced beneath the grainy tannins, which are actually quite flavorsome and savory in their own right. The nose, black cherries, truffles and rotting rose leaves, is already detailed, nuanced and moving. The palate will catch up. (Apr. 27, 2020)

Domaine Berthaut-Gerbet, Fixin, 2016
This is in a lovely spot. It still has the vital, floral freshness I noted in December and has picked up additional earthy complexity. Even though some might find the tannins too scratchy and rusty, I just find tons of personality to delve into, especially the contrast between the floral and sous bois aromas and the rusty finish. (Apr. 18, 2020)

Weingut Heinrichshof, Mosel, Zeltinger, Riesling trocken, 2017
I'm not that crazy about dry Rieslings from the Mosel. They can be too austere for my tastes. This just about escapes the trap of austerity. It starts linear and tonic-like, but the salty, spicy finish punches like a skinny featherweight with Popeye forearms. The aromatics are complex and stony, with underlying purity of green apple fruit and skins. (Apr. 21, 2020)

Castel, Grand Vin, 2013
Wow, it seems the last time I had a GV was the 2008 over 4 years ago. Castel may have originally aspired to Bordeaux, but this seems more like the old time California Cabernets I have read about. It's ripe, yet elegant and decorous: the tannins sweeter than what you'd find in any Bordeaux of a decent vintage, yet the fruit is not over the top and the oak is gently integrated. An excellent winemaking hand that has kept the quality of the brand and its flagship red at the very top of the pack.
What I remember of the GV's I drank a decade and a half ago is they seemed, to my less informed palate, to be mimicking the cedar flavorings of Paulliac, while this is more of a mineral-infused wine, graphite and earth elegantly and finely delineated. Which, in my experience, is a more faithful signature of its Judean Hills origins. (Apr. 29, 2020)