Besides my usual German/Loire fare of late, this month I found myself drinking more Bourgognes than usual at home. So let's start with those.
The following two wines are the best arguments against the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) Movement that I am aware off. Why is that? Because of their purity, personality, sense of origin and fair price.
A. Et P. Villaine, Cote Chalonaise Blanc, "Les Clous", 2006
I had read some very nice things about this wine and thus approached it with anticipation and, luckily, was not disappointed. A gorgeous white Bourgogne nose greets me with all the poached pears and flint you might expect from further north, with a touch of dried grass and smoked meat. The palate is minerally and crisp yet still a bit dour, somewhat bitter and closed, but presents obvious purity and typicity and grows broader in time, as the wine unravels juicy citrus aromas and flavorings. Lighter on its feet than anything from the Cote de Beaune, I suppose, with only faint traces of wood. Furthermore, though the acidity currently feels a bit low, there's a balance in place that suggests it's only dormant (and indeed it does assert itself in glass after a while). Though it may not be exactly as great as the Villaines claim, it is a terrific value and I tend to agree with both the winery and Burghound that it will last for some years and in fact it could probably use a year or two to soften. (Mar. 5, 2009)
Imported by Tomer Gal and still available for about 115 NIS at Hinawi. The 2007 vintage will be available shortly.
A. Et P. Villaine, Rully, "Les St. Jacques", 2006
Comparing the the Rully with the Les Clos is a nice exercise in the wonders of terroir. The nose offers only hints of flint while the spicy poached peaches are more dominant, mingling with sweeter notes of oranges and clementines. The wood is still present on the nose, but already well integrated and is submerged within the fruit after a few moments. There is a similar effect on the palate, which is livlier and more elegant than the Les Clous, and, while it doesn't offer the intellectual poise of the Les Clous' mineral core, it does offer a certain purity and a delightful, citrusy, saline-sweet finish. The winery says the Rully should generally be drunk at a younger age than the Les Clos and I certainly would prefer to enjoy the zestful charms of its youth, after perhaps letting it age a year for some subtle fine-tuning. (Mar. 26, 2009)
Also imported by Tomer Gal, it costs more or less the same as the Les Clous, though I haven't worked out the mysteries of its distribution. It was listed at Hinawi when last year's catalog came out but it wasn't available and I got my bottles from Tomer. Whatever, any wine I finish off within an hour deserves the effort of hunting down.
Domaine de Montille, Volnay, 2002
Starts out high-toned on the nose, with a note of acetone that blows off, and shrill on the palate, but I've seen Montille's wines build up in the glass, so I wait patiently. The nose is the first to open, with red fruits and gentle spices that don't impose. In fact, it's so restrained it's almost too classical, yet there is a minerally nuance, akin to flint, that tantalizes by hinting at its presence without ever fully registering. The palate is even slower in waking up but has a nice mineral-tannic tang on the finish that I enjoy. But in the end, though it is very well made and has a feminine personality that appeals to me, it's not a village wine that outperforms its status and I expected more body, even excitement, from a vintage like 2002, even in a village wine. (Mar. 14, 2009)
Imported by Tomer Gal, 220 NIS.
Koehler-Ruprecht, Pflaz, Kalstadter Steinacker, Riesling Kabinett, Trocken, 2005
This was so similar to the 2004, that I actually had to reread the label. The nose is just as beautiful and just as chimeral as that previous vintage, with notes of white fruit as well as apples, chalk, slate and a certain yeasty-cum-herbal essance that vaguely recalls both champagne as well as soup boiling on the stove. Remarkably, the palate feels even drier and stonier than the 2004, which I assumed to be the more minerally of the two vintages. I would hazard a guess that the very soil of Steinacker tastes just like this wine. Despite a slight sweetness on the finish, in its present incarnation it ends with a pungent, mineral kick that should slice through garlic based food. (Mar. 3, 2009)
Giaconda, 117 NIS (sold out).
Reboltz, Pfalz, Muskateller Kabinett, Trocken, 2006
Melon on the nose with earthy overtones. The palate is indeed dry, with just enough residual sugar and this dynamic acidity keeping it lively, echoing the melon notes of the nose. It's delicious and soft yet crisp and structured. Don't be misled by the relative brevity of the note, this wine is a charmer; I regularly read many notes on the web about unpretentious little wines that have little import beyond extolling the virtues of their origins, and the way this wine smells and tastes is just how I've always imagined those wines to be. Drink within the next two years.
Giaconda, 129 NIS. I like it, but it's a little too simple for the price. I would like to see at priced at about 100 NIS and I would love to see it going for the same price as the importer's Tavels.
Chateau de la Guimoniere, Coteaux du Layon Chaume, 2000
I thought a sweet wine would be appropriate for Purim so it was time to try this Chenin Blanc from the Chenin Homeland, recommended to me by Ran Shapira. The nose is intriguing, with ripe peaches complemented by botrytis funk and a pinch of flint. The palate is interesting and fairly complex in a brown sugar vein but is bogged down by a lack of acidity and at 13% ABV, the low acidity is just too much to overcome. Thus I'm not quite sure I really like it though the glass I poured from the very cold bottom of the bottle was markedly better than the rest. (Mar. 10, 2009)
Giaconda, 121 NIS for a 50 cl bottle.
Josef Leitz, Rheingau, Rudesheimer Berg Roseneck, Riesling, Spatlese, 2004
My tasting notes, like many others', usually start with a description of the nose, only then paying attention to the palate. But this time I will start with the palate because it is currently the Berg Roseneck's most riveting strength. See, the palate has this amazing acidity, that is juicy like a freshly picked green apple, yet soft and inviting too, somehow. This lively acidity is why I love German Riesling to begin with and I believe it will sustain this wine for a decade more. It is so vivid, in fact, lending the wine such length and power, that it totally overshadows the nose, which is admittedly in a very raw, fruity phase to begin with. So if, tradtionally, petrol/kerosene notes are a sign on of maturity in a German Riesling, you won't find them here today (though oddly enough, the wine did display them three years ago). However, there are other facets of maturity which this wine is just starting to show, taking an hour's worth of airing to surface: playing harmony to the apples and apricots is a certain herbal nuance which recalls a frying pan full of onions and dill. (Mar. 21, 2009)
Giaconda, approx. 150 NIS.