Odds and Ends

Castello di Verduno, Barbaresco, Faset, 2006

When Barbaresco scion Franco Bianco married Gabriella Burlotto from Castello di Verduno, he incorporated his family's Barbaresco's holdings with the venerable estate's village vineyards (the wines are vinified in his family's establishment in Barbaresco and matured in the Castello's cellars). I found this at a local shop in Tel aviv, the salesperson admitted it had been on the shelves "for a long while". So it was a gamble. The strawberry fruit is still firm and muscular, with a long, tannic finish, and hardly softens up - in fact, up until the very end, it only emasculates the taste buds,  but then it lightens up and shows a delicate side to the fruit. The nose seemingly explodes with tar and spices - a note of mint shows up late in the game and spears my heart. I should really get more as it's not fully ready yet. Just hope the next bottle is also in good shape. (Oct. 3, 2021)

Merry Edwards, Russian River Valley, Meredith Estate, Pinot Noir, 2017

A bottle I bought at a visit two years ago. Dark, sweet fruit, 14.5% ABV. Doesn't sound very promising, does it? I have to wonder, how long was the bottle open at the winery, prior to the tasting? Because I definitely dug it at the time. I recognize it now for a Pinot Noir, and even though it's one of the most New World Pinots I've ever drunk, still I find myself harboring a bizarre attraction for it. While the bottle lasts. The magic isn't strong enough for me to wish I could buy more (the Pinots I tasted that very same day, two years ago, at Freeman Winery, now those I really want more of). (Sept. 22, 2021)

Flam, Camilla, 2020

Flam, proud member of the second wave of Israeli boutique wineries, took their sweet time rolling out a flagship white wine, a blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The nose explodes with a trump of blast of tropical fruit, which, thankfully, is later buried under a slab of chalk. The flavors are long and savory, reminiscent of yellow apples. A worthy contender, but not quite a champ. (Sept. 23, 2021)

Domaine des Roches Neuves, Saumur-Champigny, Les Memoires, 2018

A new domaine imported by Bourgogne Crown, who's been graciously picking up crowns from all over France, Italy and Spain. Made from a very old vineyard, whose oldest vines were planted in 1906, there is very astute and sensitive craft here, making an exemplary wine out of what must have been fantastic material to begin with. The tannins are lithe and chalky, powerful without masking the fruit, providing structure and length without imposing astringency. The fruit is clean and flavorsome, the acidity is very balanced. The nose is pretty, almost playful, dark red fruit with a touch of rotting violets and damp earth. (Sept. 29, 2021)

Raziel, 2018

Am I drinking it too early? I mean, wouldn’t drink the Grand Vin, or even the Petit Castel this young, would I? Castel wasn’t the first Israeli winery to work Bordeaux varieties, but they were the first to successfully and consistently aim at a Bordeaux style. Now, they’re like the 50th winery to make a wine out of the so-called Mediterranean grapes (Syrah and Carignan in this case). I think, though, that it is not innovation what we should be discussing but rather style and finesse. Although Eli Ben-Zaken is largely auto-didactic, he always brought the refinement of an experienced and sensitive artisan to the Grand Vin and Petit Castel, and the same elegance is self evident here, beneath and around the earthy, herbal red fruit. Very nice, as the red fruit unfolds and reveals a layer of black pepper and green herbs, but in need of time. (Oct. 2, 2021)