Thursday, November 27, 2008

J. L. Chave, Saint Joseph, Offerus, 2003 (Nov. 27, 2008)

Sex sex sex!

Did I get your attention? Because I want to tell you about a really sexy wine, religious image on label (which is not easily noticeable) nowithstanding.

Recently, I've been sticking the wines I open at home in the monthly "Misc Notes" post but this lovely creature really deserves a post of its own. Costing about 130 NIS on discount at WineRoute, these days, as the world hovers on the brink of financial ruin, I still open wines at this price point at home for my own private pleasure and it's probably the best red wine I could find for that price. How good is it? I've never tasted Chave's big Hermitages but I imagine it's a better introduction to his magic than his negociant Hermitage, sold by WineRoute for about 20 shekels more.

This is a wine that belies the warmth of the 2003 vintage by being both fresh and structured. The nose is classic, elegant France. I mean, it has that class about it that is common to Bordeaux, Burgundy and, at times, Rhone. The nose is ripe, yet restrained, with meaty, earthy notes that are so well counterpointed by the suave fruit that they never become rustic and there is also a light hint of bottle stink that is very precocious in its fashion. The palate is just as gorgeous, round fruit complemented by savoury tannins and that rusty persona that gives mid-tier wines that extra gallon of gas. I can imagine it going for a decade more but in the spirit of this post's introduction, let's be blunt and go for a direct, sexist metaphor: if this was a woman, I'd want her right here, right now, not later, no matter how well she might mature.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday Night Tasting Chez Ido Meir (Nov. 15, 2008)

Willi Schaefer, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Graacher Domprobst, Spatlese, 2005

This wine reminded Ran Shapira of the Jos. Christoffel 1994 Spatlese we all love dearly and we all walked into the same trapdoor with him, agreeing with him. At least we got Mosel right, but how did three responsible adults who drink German Rieslings regularly screw up the vintage so badly? Excuses, excuses: I'm not saying it's aged prematurely but the fruit isn't upfront anymore and while there's no petrol aromas, there's enough dill notes to suggest age. In hindsight, I found some apple pie and dough to suggest youthful yeasts, but hindsight is worthless. I would say it's delicate enough and the alcohol low enough that its utter drinkability fooled us all.

Price unknown.

Gaja, Barolo, Gromis, 2000

We serve the wines at our tastings blind and the sport is to try to identify them and you don't really want your wine to be identified too quickly. This was my wine and when, two sentences into his anlysis of the wine, Amir Sheinman said it reminded him of the Gromis, I blanched. A wine of two minds in that its nose is very modern and barrique-infested while the palate has length, depth, terrific acidity and an Old World personality. Actually, I'm a bit harsh in my short depiction of the nose: it's not as outstandingly oak-ish as my mini-rant may read, it's just that when you taste the excellent fruit, you realize a more introverted winemaking style would have produced more complex aromatics. Drinking well, albeit needing time in glass. And food.

Imported by WineRoute, sold for 250 NIS-ish about three years ago.

Chateau Canon, Saint Emilion, 1990

I thought it was a super-Tuscan and when Amir wanted to know why, my logic was very convoluted. The thing is, I really know shit about Bordeaux but Ran Shapira can usually spot the village and I can often reverse-engineer his logic and spot the specifics that led to his deduction. But this wine seemed lack a certain specificity at first, despite its obvious quality, and I had a hunch Ran wouldn't be able to place it. Not the clearest of thought processes, I admit, so I was relieved when Ran confirmed that, had he not known what the wine was, he probably wouldn't have been able to make a successful guess. It's very elegant with few Cabernet Franc green notes and keeps unfolding and undressing, showing chocolate and leather. A winner.

Price unknown.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Walking Down Memory Lane - Italian Tasting Notes

This is a collection of notes pre-dating the 2GrandCru blog that I never got around to uploading. As far as I can tell, I've changed so much over the past couple of years that some of these notes might no longer reflect my personal taste or even my writing style but it sure was fun reading them over. I've marked with a question mark wines I doubt I could stand to drink these days.

Paternoster, Aglianico del Vulture, Don Anselmo, 1997

A fascinating Old World wine. Browning yet solid color. The nose has a signature of cherries at first, then black fruits, but as this wine isn’t really about fruit, the prominent notes from the first are of an intriguing herbal mix and some earth. The palate shows good acidity, the kind that backs up a solid core of fruit and doesn’t make a lot of noise; a spicy, lingering finish; bitter tannins that are very well integrated; and it’s so well balanced you don’t feel how full the body is. Took some 2+ hours to open. (Nov. 29, 2006)

Imported by Anavim, this must have been badly stored somewhere and others bottles I'd had were not up to notch. I bought it mostly at discount for 150 NIS. Who knows what went wrong? A shame as when this wine is in good condition, it is unique.

Paternoster, Aglianico del Vulture, Rotondo, 1998 ?

The first impression is that of a closed, tannic, serious wine. A color of ink black with browning at the rims, with good legs. On the nose, the fruits are masked by something slightly unclean I couldn’t quite place. As the wine opens, the nose shows in turn sour cherries, black fruits, oak and leather, freshly turned earth, flowers and finally a big bang of chocolate. Full bodied, intense with good length. Grows sweeter and fruitier winding up as sweet as it was tannic at first, a good food match (don’t think steak, think cow!) that took over 2.5 hours to open. Should hold for a couple of years more at least. (Jun. 5, 2005)

This was Wine Of The Month at VinoCigar and so it cost me 120 NIS. I don't remember what its shelf price was. I think within a year, this style would become too modern for me.

Francesco Rinaldi, Barbera d'Alba, 2003

The cork was very damp. A bright ruby-red color and a nose that was initially very reticient, but opened up quickly to show red fruits, plums and vanilla with a nice overlay of spices. A spicy plate, with soft tannins and a pleaasantly bitter, reasonable length of a finish. A very good food wine of no great complexity. (Sep.19, 2005)

Cascina Orsolina, Barbera d'Asti, Bricco dei Cappuccini, 2000 ?

A heavily oaked wine, anyone’s call whether this is appropiate for a Barbera. Me, I don’t have enough experience to be biased, but I did feel the oak overwhelmed the fruit, and if the fruit ever regains its footing, it would be a much better wine. Very enjoyable within it’s own style, with heavy aromas and flavors of vanilla, coffee and chocolate hiding the fruits at first, but after 90 minutes or so, it’s more like cigar box harmonized with crushed currants and wild berries. (Sep. 25, 2005)

Cascina Orsolina, Grignolino d'Asti, 2004

Almost rose in color. Nose of strawberries - that later turn to cherries - and spices, with maybe a hint of leather. Medium bodied, with balanced acidity giving it a nice sort of tartness. Opens nicely in glass even showing some coffee. (Aug. 28, 2005)

Bianchi, Ghemme, 1999

Starts out rather promising, with a nose of red fruit and dried cherries, and a hint of toasted bread. Then the nose turns towards black fruits and vanilla and other barrel-derived spices. The palate is fairly balanced with nice acidity but somehow doesn’t feel special enough, just another little Old World appelation with a New Wave tweak. I assume it will soften in time but not improve. (Dec. 4, 2006)

The last four wines were imported by the Doosh. Doosh offers an alternative in Piedmont to the well traversed path offered by WineRoute. Sometimes it works.

Planeta, Chardonnay, 1999 ?

Complex nose that took hours to decipher: tropical fruits, candy, honey, maple, some spices perhaps and through it all, lots of vanilla and oak. At first, the abundant oak made me think the bottle was off, but in time, the oak became the framework and not the picture. Full-bodied with a long aftertaste. (Apr. 12, 2004)

Subsequent tastings and personal growth lead me to believe I would no longer find the oak here merely "the framework". Imported by France-Israel Group and overpriced, as is their wont.

Planeta, Merlot, 2000 ?

Initially a plummy, chocolate-y, modern - even internationalized - modern version of Merlot, this one develops notes of roasted coffee and herbs in glass to show distinct Mediterranean character. Full-bodied, long, tannic and austere on the palate, it looks to be 2-3 years before its peak. (Oct. 26, 2005)

Umani Ronchi, Rosso Conero, Cumaro, 2000 ?

Deep purple color. It has a nice nose: mature red fruits turning into black, with funky sweat and later cofee and herbs. The palate startes succulent but turns heavy and a bit over-oaky, with a grainy feel and a drying, bitter finish. (Feb. 12, 2006)

Give HaKerem credit for importing a wine made entirely from Montepulciano grapes. Then fine them 200 dollars for pricing it at over 100 NIS and send them directly to jail...

Avignonesi, Vendemmia Tardive, 1993

Gold colored, with butter, honey, dried fruits, spices and hints of petrol on the nose. Balanced sweetness on the palate with honey and melons with a mildly pungent streak thoughout. Still refreshing despite its age and I’d guess it’s drink now and for a couple years more. (Aug. 6, 2005)

Bought in Table and Vine for about 30 USD for a half bottle. I still don't know what this wine was and I was never able to find a review anywhere. An alternative to Vin Santo.

Castello di Gabbiano, Tuscany, Alleanza, 1997 ?

A New World wine that manages to masquerade as an Old World wine for some time after opening, showing red and black fruits, with some olives and oak and a good dose of acidity. Then the oak takes over, allowing for a very grainy texture on the palate, while numbing the rest, mostly the acidity. A full-bodied, tannic, long wine, that was probably opened at least 2 years too early. Not my cup of tea, but well-made, though not in the Super-Tuscan major league. (Nov. 7, 2005)

I've since recognized that this sort of wine deceives you into thinking it just needs more time. Bought in Atlanta for 40-50 USD.

Marchesi de Frescobaldi, Tuscany, Mormoreto, 1996

An elegant wine. A complex nose with red and black fruits, spices and characoal, though I must admit the latter overpower the fruit at times. Very structured on the palate, fine, ripe acidity and enough tannins for a few more years. Very smooth and quite long and though packed with flavors, it still feels like the palate should develop more nuance to live up to the label’s reputation. (Oct. 26, 2006)

Bought on sale at Anavim for 150 NIS.

Terrabianca, Tuscany, Campaccio, 1997

A deep nose to kill for: mature black fruits frames by spices and roasted meats. A whole dinner, in short. The palate is broad and long, complex, powerful yet harmonious; and it goes downhill after an hour or so. But its really a wine to share with friends, anyway. Approaches greatness. (Jan. 9, 2006)

Carpineto, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva, 1998

A nose of sweet red fruits, sweet spices and herbs, a hint of sweat and leather. The palate shows less spices but is succulent and has a slightly salty and minerally on the finish. Medium-full bodied and elegant with silky, integrated tannins. Seems like on a peak stretch of a few years. (Jul. 4, 2005)

Bought in VinoCigar for abour 160 NIS. I should start buying these again.

Falesco, Umbria, Montiano, 2000

Fantastic nose of ripe red and black fruits, saddle leather, chocolate. The palate echoes the nose yet remains austere and tough and not entirely together for a couple of hours. A mix of old and new that lack some complexity right now but I suspect that will come in time. I like this wine without quite being able to explain why. (Apr. 16, 2006)

Falesco's 100% Merlot has had fluctuating prices due to overlapping importers over the years. The shelf price at Anavim was close to 300 NIS while 2004's were listed at about 180 NIS by WineRoute and finally offered on sale at two for 300.

Allegrini, Valpolicella, La Poja, 1995

A modern wine that displays the Allegrini elegance. Black cherries, spices and lots of chocolate on the nose. The palate is deep and broad, full-bodied and still damn tannic. In fact, something about this wine is still young and closed, at least in the first 30-60 minutes. To sum it up, it’s like dark bitter chocolate with a dash of chilli. Drink in the next 3-4 years at least. (Aug. 10, 2005)

Bought at Sam's in Chicago for 50 USD.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday Night Tasting (Nov. 8, 2008)

Sometimes I think my wife considers these Saturday night do's to be an Upper Class Twit Club...

Louis Jadot, Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru, Combe Aux Moines, 2002

This was at first very discrete aromatically, even though the bottle had been open for an hour after letting down the shoulders a bit. Quality Pinot fruit was clearly present but it lacked detail. The palate too was unassuming, soft and elegant yet lacking the presence you'd expect from a Cote de Nuits 1er Cru and the power you'd associate with Gevrey. Twenty minutes later I was at the end of my glass after a small refill and finally the nose became a more fully fleshed Bourgogne nose of of a somewhat glossy disposition while the palate became more muscular while retaining that elegance. Quite good.

Imported by WineRoute, this was sold, as far as I recall, for something in the mid 200's (NIS).

Tardieu-Laurent, Cornas Vieilles Vignes, 2000

This is Tardieu-Laurent's premier Cornas cuvee and while the next wine beat it easily, it was arguably an uneven match. In its own right, this was a fine wine, though a bit too round and sweetish for my taste (like the other 2000 Cornas I'd tasted) though most of the sweetness was well counterpointed by juicy acidity. The nose will get you anyway, with Provencal herbs (never really smelled the real thing but this isn't the first time I've whiffed this aroma in wines described in reviews as showing Provencal herbs so I think I've finally earned the right to use the term), flowers and cocoa floating over a black-dominated fruit profile.

I bought this bottle in D.C. for about 50 USD but back in the days when WineRoute imported the 2001 version, it was sold in the mid 200's.

Tardieu-Laurent, Cote Rotie, 1997

This was the real deal, holy shit (quite literally, in a way). The nose made me shiver. It was just what Rhone freaks adore: Cherries topping black fruits, herbs again but best of all that gutter stink that quickly blew off to reveal gorgeous smoked meat aromas. The palate might have been even better because this bottle offered zero palate fatigue, so savoury and saline with a structure that carried a lot of flavors without letting them get out of hand.

Price unknown but other vintages were imported by WineRoute and sold for 350-400.

Alion, Ribera del Duero, 2000

This wine, to me, shows the fallacy of scoring wines, because it was objectively as good as the Cote Rotie was, arguably technically better, but it just didn't move me as much. So what would be the point of acknowledging that it's a 92 pointer? It would mean something if I were a professional critic but inasmuch as I'm not attempting to write a Consumer's Guide here, I'll just ignore the score. However, if you like classy, very, very well made wines that don't ignore their origins, this is a wine for you, with its round black fruit complemented by hints of spices and earth and excellent length. I look forward to tasting a well-matured Alion from a better vintage and learning to love it and not just appreciate it.

Imported by HaKerem and its price ranges from 250 to 350 NIS, depnding on where you buy it and who you know. And if you don't like that, write a letter to your Congressman.

Chateau Guiraud, Sauternes, 2000

This was just a nice wine and interesting in that its faults somehow offered intellectual interest. It was not very long - okay, it was short - but complex enough for all that. And despite its low acidity, it had enough spicy apricot flavors to balance its sweetness so it came off as structured if not racy.

Imported by WineRoute. It's a Bordeaux so its price varies from year to year.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Giaconda Friday Noon Tasting (Nov. 7, 2008)

This was one of the periodic tastings that Giaconda hold on Friday late mornings/noons.

First off was a German Riesling, the first wine imported by Giaconda to reach it's third consecutive appearance in Israel: Heymann-Lowenstein, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Schieferterrassen, 2006. As usual, it is an off-dry, yet crisp, wine, with a sweet nose dominated by apples and notes of peaches and mild spices. It breaks from the 2004 and 2005 by possessing a more subdued acidity and some bitterness on the finish; while it is almost as slick as they were, it hints at more bulk and its structure doesn't flow as naturally, the sweetness and acidity not yet integrated. It's still a good wine and a very good value. 107 NIS.

Following that were two reds from Ribera del Duero. Val Sotillo, Crianza, 2004 is famed winery Bodegas Ishmael Arroyo's entry level wine. Arroyo is one of the clasic names in Ribera, and, allowing for the fact that like most Israeli wine collectors I've only had encounters with four-five other names from the area, I'd say it's very typical. Forward fruit tempered with an animalisic essance on the nose and a mineral streak on the palate. Back in the days when a wine like Condado de Haza was the pinacle of my wine drinking aspirations, I'd have bought a case of these but these days I just see it as a nice enough wine though I'd rather pay more for the Reservas or Gran Reservas and get more stuffing and structure. I might buy a couple for entertaining laymen friends and I'm sure it should go great in restaurants. 108 NIS.

Montecastro, 2005 is a much more modern winery but while it is made in a different style then the Val Sotillo Crianza, I don't see the differences in terms of Old vs. New World. It has the sweeter fruit but a finer structure and is much less forward. It should obviously be compared to the Val Sotillo's Reservas and upwards, but since it was presented side by side with the Crianza, it's hard to avoid comparisons and in that context, the Montecastro comes off as a much more interesting and idiosyncratic wine.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Walking Down Memory Lane - Spanish Tasting Notes

This is a collection of notes pre-dating the 2GrandCru blog that I never got around to uploading. As far as I can tell, I've changed so much over the past couple of years that some of these notes might no longer reflect my personal taste or even my writing style but it sure was fun reading them over. I've marked with a question mark wines I doubt I could stand to drink these days.

Vina Alarba, Calatayud, Pago San Miguel, 2001

An oddball I enjoyed as a visit but I’m not sure I’d want a steady diet. Deep dark black-red, with a nose that initially smelled like those vicious cherry-liquor filled chocolates my aunts would force on me in childhood. Thankfully, the palate wasn’t like that at all, more like succulent cherries with a hint of moccha and at any rate, after an hour or so, the chocolate blew off and revealed sweet black cherries, some olives and a hint of boiled cabbage. The tannins are soft, the length is okay, not amazing, and there’s a good acidity that at first seemed to be at odds with all that chocolate on the nose. (May 9, 2005)

I bought this 100% Grenache at Atlanta for around 20 USD in 2005.

Borsao, Campo de Borja, Tres Pico, 2003

A different facet of Grenache than I had encountered before. Very pure red fruit on the nose and on the palate, initially with very little other nuances. Opened up after an about an hour to show some spiciness but that was more or less it. Very modern and utterly unlike the other Borsao wines I’d experienced before. (May 13, 2005)

Borsao used to be imported by WineRoute and they used to quote the Parker score for this wine, which is the one they did not carry. However, the labels WineRoute sold were much more Old World and thus more to my liking, especially the 1996 Reserva. Bought in Atlanta for about 18 USD.

Artazuri, Navarra, Santa Cruz de Artazuri, 2001

A vibrant dark ruby color with no sign of browning. Shows aromas of red and black fruits, camp fire, leather, spices. The palate is disjointed and austere at first and needs 2 hours to open but then is long, rich, minerally and savoury. Still on the young side for my taste and should keep well for 4-5 years. (Apr. 23, 2006)

This 100% Grenache was sold by WineRoute for 150 NIS.

Condado de Haza, Ribera del Duero, 1996

A bottle bought from a very warm store in Madrid. High filled neck, very very damp cork that was starting to push out. A very opaque purple-brown color. The nose is very meaty, with currants and cherries, sweet herbs, cocoa and coffee. Very full-bodied and still tannic at nine years of age, with balanced acidity and a minerally and almost cheese-like finish. After half an hour, the fruit recedes and the nose becomes spicier then the components fall into harmony again. It’s a very thick wine, almost grainy in texture and while similar to the 1999 and 2000 vintages which I’m familiar with, it seems like a monster-truck version of those two vintages and upon pouring a glass, it feels like it’s unceremoniously flexing its muscles before calming down. Has quite a few years left ahead of it. (Aug. 18, 2005)

Sierra Cantabria, Rioja, Coleccion Privada, 1999

Sweet-ish nose:mainly black fruits with some reds, leather, coffee, roasted herbs, maybe chocolate. Balanced ripeness, albeit low acidity, good length. Very modern and seems like a premium-wine-by-the-numbers sort of wine that would have been more impressive had it come from somewhere else; but this being Rioja, you might expect more romance and mystery out of it. But a well-made wine nonetheless. (Nov. 4, 2006)

Sold by WineRoute for about 190 NIS.

Conde de Valdemar, Rioja, Gran Reserva, 1996

A mature color with no signs of fading. A mature nose of cherries, earth and leather. The palate is less complex than the nose, despite a spicy kick on the aftertaste when matched with a good food match. Medium-full bodied with soft tannins, smooth and with good acidity yet lacking some vibrancy. Depending on the food pairing and time after opening, could last anywhere from a year to three. Bottom line: the pedigree is evident yet you feel it is somehow betrayed. (May 8, 2005)

Muga, Rioja, Gran Reserva, Prado Enea, 1991

The nose is a complex mixture of ripe red fruits with a thick overlay of herbs and vegetable stew and some leather, that at first has a faint whiff of balsamic vinegar. The body is medium-sized and elegant, complex and not especially powerful, but very smooth, with the tannins very present yet integrated. (Oct. 10, 2005)

Muga, Rioja, Gran Reserva, Prado Enea, 1994

Mature and complex Old World aromas of black and red fruit, sweet spices, earth, cured meat. The palate is at first all about secondary and tertiary flavors, with the fruit safely in the background; but time brings out the fruit, which strikes a lovely balance with the initial savoury, meaty flavors and hints at citrus fruits. Very smooth texture, the tannins and acidity well integrated in a medium-bodied frame. A better bottle than last time, that focuses on complexity and harmony in favor of power. (Oct. 7, 2006)

God, I enjoyed Muga so much over the years. This last bottle was sold for 60 or 80 NIS by Haifa's Special Reserve during the aftermath of the Second Lebanese War (don't ask).

Castillo Ygay, Rioja, Gran Reserva, 1989

Let’s start off with what’s it’s not: it’s not a blockbuster, it’s not a wine for kings, ministers, brokers or movers. It’s a wine for quiet monks or mediating artists. It has a lovely nose of sweet red fruits, tobacco and a bit of smoke, that gains meaty and mushroomy overtones in the glass. The palate starts of very acidic, not exactly imbalanced but enough to make its appreciation a matter of personal taste. It has good grip and length but doesn’t bombard you with flavors, rather makes you dig in for them. (Aug. 15, 2005)

I know the name of the winery is Bodegas Marques de Murrieta but everyon knows it as Ygay. I bought it in a non air-conditioned wine store in Madrid for about 40 euros. These old style Riojas are so durable...

Bodegas Riojanas, Rioja, Gran Reserva, 1994

Only a second tier Gran Reserva but a very good one. The two years since I opened my own bottle plus the storage conditions at my host’s apartment may have pushed it past its peak but its pedigree is still obvious. The nose has enough mature, albeit somewhat muted, Rioja aromas to tantalyze and only thirty-some minutes after opening does its softening and fraying structure on the palate reveal its age. Its maturity is a matter of taste and Rioja fans will adore it. I did. (July 24, 2005)

About 30 euros at the Madrid duty free.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Walking Down Memory Lane - French Historical Notes

This is a collection of notes pre-dating the 2GrandCru blog that I never got around to uploading. As far as I can tell, I've changed so much over the past couple of years that some of these notes might no longer reflect my personal taste or even my writing style but it sure was fun reading them over. I've marked a question mark wines I doubt I could stand to drink these days.

Domaine Brana, Irouleguy, Rouge, 1999

First sign of maturity is the browning color. The nose is fleshed out right from the start: earthy, leathery, tobacco, a hint of chocolate at first, cassis, red and black cherries, pepper, a pinch of brett. The palate is hollow at first but fills out nicely and follows the nose with flavors of sour cherries and tangy tobacco-ish bite. It is mellow with fresh acidity, medium-bodied, fairly long, with soft, sweet tannins that manage to sustain a firm backbone. A cross between France and Spain (no wonder if you look at a map), it is elegant enough for high class with above average complexity. At it’s peak and should last at least 2 more years. My cup of tea. (Nov. 9, 2005)

Wow, I can't believe HaKerem used to import this stuff. It was a bold choice for the time. It wasn't quite cheap enough to be an alternative for Bordeaux and they were still trying to unload it three years after they imported this vintage to Israel in 2002. I bought about three bottles, never at the same price. It was listed for 170 NIS, though.

Domaine du Mas Clanc, Banyuls, Rimage, 2003 ?

On the nose, ripe black forest fruits and chocolate with a hint of spices, nothing to suggest the generous sweetness on the palate, that is almost like chocolate liquer, albeit balanced by acidity and the liveliness of the fruit. What tannins are present are hardly noticeable. (Jul. 5, 2005)

Another Table and Vine purchase. This cost 17 USD for a half bottle. A good price if you like Banyuls.

Chateau du Cedre, Cahors, Heritage, 2001

A black-colored, warm weather Old World wine. Aromas and flavors of red fruits that turn black, some earth and brett, spices and herbs, roasted meats. Full-bodied, tannic. Goes through an oaky phase and pulls out of it. Needs food. Should be held for 2 years. (Mar. 12, 2006)

Another New Hampshire purchase? I don't recall. Don't remember the price, either.

Hugues de Beauvignac, Picpoul de Pinet, 2005

Easy drinking can be a virtue when a wine is crunchy and supple enough that you don’t notice yourself pouring one glass after another, while in the back of your mind you are able to note a few nice touches. Like the great acidity and the way the minerals and mild spcies complement the melons to leave a limpid yet precise impression. A cross between a Chablis and a Sauvignon Blanc? (Jul 16, 2006)

A Shimon Lasry import. He used to sell it for about 40 NIS. Damn good value. I haven't had this for a couple of years but I'm sure I'd still love it.

Louis Bernard, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rouge, 1999

Hebral notes floating over lovely red fruit. Complex nose that fades in time but the palate sustains. Balanced and with very good length but it lacks elegance and maybe power to be outstanding. At its peak and certainly has enough acidity and tannins on the finish to suggest it has 3-5 years of life left at least. (Oct. 15, 2006)

A good also-ran CdP by an also-ran importer. If I had another bottle, I could tell you who imported it but it never really registered on my brain cells. Cost about 170 NIS as I recall.

Chapoutier, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, La Bernardine, 1998 ?

An elegant and fairly complex nose of cherries, spices and maybe a hint of grilled meat, and perhaps some damp earth. The palate took some time to open. Medium bodied with a fairly long finish. Needed a few hours to open and then seemed only a few years before its peak - or past it? Hard to tell and maybe it was just another off bottle. (Oct. 17, 2004)

At the time, I wasn't a good enough taster to tell the difference between a dumb bottle needing air and an over-the-hill bottle. Anyway, I have always suspected the Scottish Company didn't store these wines right. At least one other bottle seemed just as tired. I think they sold it for about 180 NIS but I coould be wrong.

Domaine de Monpertuis, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Blanc, 2001

Starts off all tropical fruits, grapefruit and lime and fresh as spring air, with a hint of earthiness and minerals on the finish. Develops complexity in glass and the balance between fruits and minerals shifts. Long and just spicy enough. (Mar. 24, 2005)

Weird. Is it dumb or what? It’s got a nose of roasted peanuts and pea-soup and the plate is mildly spicy. And that’s it. It’s kind of like the Hermitage Blanc Tomer brought to my Rhone tasting. (May 12, 2006)

Bought at Table and Vine for about 30 USD. I love the first bottle so much I went and bought another one the next time I was in the neighborhood. Lotta good that done me.

Vieux Telegraph, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, La Crau, Blanc, 2001

First impression: sightly oxidized, with herbs and cooked vegetables on the nose, but without the peanuts that were prominent on last white CdP of the same age I had (Monpertuis). Even more shut-down on the palate. After a short decanting, I can pick up melons and those hints of oxidation morph into a buttery-nutty sensation. The palate still takes over an hour to open after decanting. A very interesting if somewhat frustrating experience. (Aug. 10, 2006)

Sold by WineRoute for 220 NIS or so.

Guigal, Condrieu, La Doriane, 2001

Somewhat of an expectations-defying experience. Full of minerals and spices at first, crispy almost like a Chablis. Even when the tropical fruits come to fore, mostly pineapple, it still never quite lives up to the hedonistic style I expected. Bone dry, a wine to think about and delicious throughout. (Apr. 20, 2005)

Perrin et Fils, Cotes du Rhone Village Rasteau, l'Andeol, 2001

A rustic wine (pun intended). An initial blast of smoky red fruit and pepper followed by a good measure of brett and a hint of cedar. A fairly long tannic finish. A bit more complex than previous tastings though power and not complexity is its trump card (while elegance was never in the running). At its peak and should hold for a year or so. (Aug. 29, 2005)

Sold by WineRoute for about 70 NIS. Man, those were the days.

Alain Graillot, Crozes-Hermitage, 2002 ?

Pleasant nose with candied red fruits, pepper and hints of forest floor. The palate is less satisfying. Medium bodied, prickling tannins, lacking balance and managing to be both tart and somewhat too sweet. And short. The nose improves some in glass and the palate also, though the latter not by a great deal. So, it’s an interesting wine that reflects a harvest damned by all. (Oct. 22, 2006)

The nose was much better this time, truly fleshed out with great depth and complexity. But the palate is very short, almost giving a whiplash when it ends. (Dec. 9, 2006)

A terrible vintage WineRoute struggle to get rid off at 90 NIS (after a 20% discount). After that experiece they stopped importing Graillot for a couple of years.

Domaine du Joncier, Lirac, 2001

At first, an oddly muted nose of black cherries and some chocolate and liquor. The palate is tight too, with a short dry finish, soft tannins and a medium-full body. After an hour, the nose reveals red fruits and spices and the palate becomes spicier and earthier. The overall effect is rustic, even coarse and somewhat unfocused... Then, after 2.5 hours, the fruits just burst out on the nose and palate as the wine finds its focus and makes a spectacular leap into a rustic sort of ellegance and near excellence. Not a great wine, not a complex wine, but simply a charming wine that needs some time. (May 17, 2005)

Now where did I buy this?

Alain Graillot, Saint Joseph, 2000

The nose is fairly deep and complex: ripe wild berries, pepper, smoke and herbs. At first it was all very ripe fruit punch aromas and needed an hour to blow that off. The palate shows a lot of acidity almost jammy fruitiness with more than a hint of lemon on the finish and ruins the good impression made by the nose. This might be too much for some but I like it. (Apr. 30, 2006)

Sold byWineRoute for 150 NIS.

Tardieu-Laurent, Costieres de Nimes, 2001

A classy, elegant and modern wine. At four years of age, the color is still opaquely youthful. The nose starts out with a prominent note of orange peel, then shows flowery overtones and ripe yet vibrant fruits (that shift from red to black) as it develops some roast meat, wet forest floor and a biscuity/herbal layer.The palate, while less complex, displays the same shiny vibrancy, propped up by balanced acidity, good grip, solid length, elgant if plummy-ripe fruit and silky tannins. I have no doubt it should keep a while, but it seems to have reached a finely-tuned peak. (Dec. 15, 2005)

An interesting import decision by WineRoute (unless T-D forced it upon them in some packaging deal). It cost about 140-150 NIS and I'd buy it again. I'd buy anything from T-D the mighty powers that be in the Shaked family decided to import again.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Misc Notes (Oct. 2008)

Leitz, Rheingau, Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz, Riesling Spatlese, 2006

My wife's tasting note was a succint yelp, "what a delicious wine!" which sums it up very well. My somewhat longer note follows. The nose is lovely, very fruity with mineral accents: white fruits and apple pie, chalk morphing into slate, flowers on the verge of rotting. The palate is very harmonic now, the sweetness of the fruit so well balanced by the citrus-like acidty, they wrap around each other like acrobatic lovers. Very straightforward, it doesn't deal in great complexity and offers an intense attack before stopping somwhat short. Delicious, like the missus said, and I'd drink it over the next five-seven years. Maybe more. It's so complete right now it's hard to tell but it seems to me it won't go into any dumb phase in the future. (Oct. 1, 2008)

Sold for about 100 NIS by Giaconda. Excellent value.

Rebholz, Pfalz, "R" Chardonnay Spatlese Trocken, 2005

Tasting this mystery wine blind, I guessed was a Pinot Blanc from Alsace. There was a sort of spicy-honeyed sensation on both nose and palate that seemed Alsatian yet the wine was too round, despite being obviously dry, to be a Pinot Gris. There was something vaguely Burgundian about it, though, but I have to admit that was more obvious once the bottle was unveiled. I just can't ignore the fact that my senses will pick up certain things once I'm fully aware of the wine's origin. So label me a mediocre taster if you will, but if you have a chance, listen to this wine instead. The nose is very much Bourgogne-like, no matter what caused me to pick up those characteristics. It wiggles and changes and runs through a whole gamut of Burgundy signatures: nuts and honey, then white meat and flint. And all throughout, it displays a certain spiciness that does recall Alsace and not really Germany. Am I saying it's an internationally-styled Chardonnay? Well, it doesn't go for the usual tactics of such wines (I'm thinking Planeta or Katzrin, for instance). It feels oak-aged without any overt signs of oak and boasts a certain saline minerality, as well as a different mouthfeel than other Chardonnay I've drunk, a different shape of roundess, never tasting sweet or cloying. So even if I couldn't pick out its locale, it feels as though it belonged to a specific point of origin. And it tastes real good.

Listed by Giaconda for 185 NIS, it is just about sold out.

Chateau du Seuil, Graves Blanc, 2005

Though this is a blend of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Gris (50%, 40% and 10% respectively), it smells and tastes an awful lot like a Chablis on the initial pour: lemon and lime laced with chalk and flint. Johnson and Robinson's Atlas Of Wine refers to their wines as "understated, oak-aged dry whites" which is right on the button at first, as, three years post-vintage, the oak is noticeable but not too offensive and the wine is restrained and elegant. Then, after an hour or so, the oak becomes too prominent and a trace of rusticity flares up, though overall it's still a good drop. I think the elegance will reassert itself in a couple of years but currently, the overall package yearns for a rest. (Oct. 4, 2008)

Sold by Giaconda for 117 NIS (seemingly a magical number for them as a lot of their "value" wines are listed for the exact same price).

Marc Tempe, Alsace, Zellenberg, Pinot Gris, 2004

A classic nose that you immediatley recognise as Alsace even if you don't immediately pick the variety: a melange of ripe pears and apricots over alot of pepper and hints of smoke. The palate is lush with a spike of bitterness on the finish, which I sometimes like and sometimes don't; here I like it as it balances the ripe, sweet notes. Lately, I haven't personally found Pinor Gris very balanced on the palate yet this one is, even if at times it seems it struggles. But the struggle lends it character. (Oct. 14, 2008).

Giaconda, 135 NIS.

Robert Weil, Rheingau, Riesling Spatlese, 2007
Very tight, the nose showing ripe apples and pears with sweet dough and spices and hints of flint underneath. A very interesting nose though I would expect more elegance from a Rheingau even at this early stage, I think. The palate is considerably drier, showing some faint sweetness on the palate only after a lot of coaxing. A good wine but not especially striking right now and only somewhat weightier than a kabinett. The terroirist in me is inclined to blame its indifferent character on the lack of site specifity but it might be just its extreme youth. Either way, I was underwhelmed, I must admit. (Oct. 15, 2008)
Not imported to Israel. Our host bought it in Hamburg for about 30 euros. For my part, I contributed the following and probably got the longer end of the stick:
Tommasi, Amarone, 2000
Probably the last Amarone I will ever own. Leather, spices and chocolate overshadowing the fruit on the nose. Raisney sweetness counterpointed by bitter notes. In short, very typical and for my taste, as good as Amarone can get, for higher-level stuff would be too much for me. Impresive, though probably somewhat meek for Amarone afficiandos. (Oct. 15, 2008)
I bought this from WineRoute for 220 NIS about four years ago.
Peter Jakob Kuhn, Rheingau, "Quartzit", Riesling QBA, Trocken, 2005
This is supposedly a de-classified higher predikat. Judging by the 13% alcohol, I would guess a Spatlese. It does show a refined and complex nose although there something harsh about it on the palate. The aromatic profile is predominately grapefruit-y at first, then opens to show herbal notes, chalk and flint, and the grapefruit is overtaken by peaches and apple pie. Very crisp and structured, quite long and dry without inhibiting the fruit on the attack and mid-palate, although the finish is austere and not very elegant, despite its length. The fruit holds up to the alcohol but acidity is submerged, which explains the de-classification, I guess. (Oct. 19, 2008)
Purchased two years ago from Giaconda for 189 NIS.
Muga, Rioja, Reserva, 2001
Tasted blind with friends almost a year ago, we all thought it was a modern Spanish and indeed, even now at home, there something about it that at first points at Ribera del Duero, something in its fruity forwardness and sweetish overtones. The nose is quite lovely - though not as distinctive or complex as a mature, old school Gran Reserva and the oak is too obvious on it to boot - with sweet red fruit enshrouded by scorched earth and herbs. The palate if anything is even better, balancing power and elegance, sweet fruit counterpointed by rusty tannins and a long, saline finish. I opened it because a man's gotta drink and this is surely ready, but this could easily have been cellared for five more years. And it would be a great idea because right now it's still struggling to contain the oak. (Oct. 21, 2008)
Imported by IWS, I've seen recent vintages selling for about 120 NIS