Another Saturday Night, Another Restaurant, Another Corky Bottle (Sep. 14, 2008)

It was Toto this week, an excellent Italian restaurant in Tel Aviv and in my opinion an improvement over last week's Raphael, despite the lack of choice steak cuts on that particular night and a pistachio shell in one of the desserts.

Lanson, Champagne, Noble Cuvee de Lanson, 1998

A very fine vintage Champagne showing aromas and flavors of yeast and citrus skin. Very focused, elegant and long. Without knowing when it was disgorged, I must say it gave an impression of youth and I feel it could still age well and gain complexity although its current freshness is absolutely charming. Price unknown, it scored a unanimous silly grin around the table.

Georges Vernay, Condrieu, Terrasses de l’Empire, 2006

At first, all I could get was flowers and traces of alcohol on the nose and palate. It did open up to reveal greater aromatic nuances and more fruit and minerals but the palate remained one-dimensional. This did not show as well as the 2004 and after a few disappointments with Condrieu over the past two years, I'm just about to write off Viognier-land. Imported by Wine Route, I don't really recall the price but I do remember it was higher than the 50 euros I paid for the 2004 in France so I'll pass.

Jean Collet, Chablis Grand Cru, Valmur, 2002

TCA. Again. Another bad bottle of Chablis Grand Cru 2002. Again. So far, 40% of my Chablis Grand Crus have been off (two out of five but it's still 40%). This one cost 60 USD in San Francisco three years ago. Damn.

Chateau Beaucastel, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 1989

Every bottle tells a story. Although I would have expected greater aromatic complexity (more game, more barnyard, more herbs), this Beaucastel showed a lot of muscular breed. Only the Old World could have produced such extract of flavor while weighing in at only 12.5%-13% alcohol. Despite being a very virile adult, it's more youthful, monolithic and tannic than I remembered from a tasting four years ago. I can't argue it's a terrific drop right now but I'd have cellared this specific bottle a few years more.

Chateau Calon-Segur, Saint Estephe, 2000

Though very young, this wine already rendered an interesting tale as it slowly opened and hinted at its future maturity. Elegant and balanced with an intriguing mineral finish. Fighting my usual lustful impatience, I waited until I was rewarded with signs of tobacco-infused complexity. Excellent.