Misc. Notes (Apr. 2009)

Chateau l'Arrivet Haut Brion, Pessac-Leognan, 1998

The nose is a fine example of a red wine that is mature and complex enough so the specifics of the fruit don't matter, except they're mostly red, which is how I like 'em. Beyond that, the aromatics are vaguely brooding without being over-dramatic, with hints of blood and enough iron for a year's worth of Popeye cartoons. On the palate, the fruit is fresh and succulent, while the tannins are crisp and tasty, and in general the whole tasty package echoes the mineral vein of the nose. The only thing it lacks is great finesse or any pretensions thereof but it puts on a really great show. I have one more bottle left and I regret not buying more so that I could follow this wine's development on an annual basis. Sold by WineRoute for 200 NIS about a year ago, it is an excellent bargain I hope few passed by.

Marc Tempe, Zellenberg, Gewurztraminer, 2005

Maybe I just oughtta give up. Gewurztraminer is always going to be too heady for me to enjoy a stable relationship with, although I do enjoy an occasional fling. Having said that, this is a very good specimen for me, being somwhat lighter than usual. It starts with a classic Gewurtz nose, perhaps leaning more towards the litchi-flowery side, with a good helping of tropical fruit, rather than towards the spicier facets of the variety. The palate has very good acidity and ends on a crisp, mineral note, although the mid-palate is one again the grape's weak spot, displaying pink grapefruit that could use more texture and nuances. I think it has enough structure to age for a few more years and in that time might become more nuanced. (Apr. 5, 2009)

Giaconda, 144 NIS.

I also returned this month to the Burgreben, Riesling, 2001 of the same producer. Peaches and honey on the nose, an undertow of minerals, but also hints of poached apples and mildew. Tasty, crisp yet fatty at the same time, with acidity and sweetness complementing the minerals, pepper and quinine on the finish. A very good wine and an excellent buy at 162 NIS. (Apr. 23, 2009)

I also revisited another Giaconda import, the Donnhoff, Weisser Burgunder (Pinot Blanc) QBA, Trocken, 2007. Yet again, even a short time in bottle brings out a Burgundian facet, specifically Chablis, with a citrus and chalk tinge on both nose and palate. At about 100 NIS, it's priced at Chablis village level and the quality is on par, although a backdrop of tropical fruit, apple pie and flowers makes it much more idiosyncratic. Honestly, the Donnhoff label should read, "tasty at any level of quality". (Apr. 25, 2009)

A. Et P. De Villaine, Mercurey, Les Montots, 2006

The winery, Burghound and number one Villaine fan Florida Jim (usually found somewhere in here) are all in agreement: this wine still needs a few more years. Why then did I open it now? Curiousity, a sudden craving for Pinot Noir and an urge to complete my travels through the Villaine catalog (though I still have to get to the La Fortune, the entry level cuvee which is only available in Israel starting with the 2007 vintage).

The nose is pure Pinot fruit, wild strawberries and cranberries, with a bubblegum aspect when first poured, until it becomes earthier and more adult and matures into a classic Bourgogne nose. The palate is tannic for a Pinot, and a bit rusty on the finish, almost Nebbiolo like in its angular structure. This too seems like a product of its young age, as more air renders it softer and rounder, even if it does retain that angularity. If at first the wine is not very impressive, one might even call it one-dimensional, it is nonetheless quite balanced, and I tend to agree this wine has the potential to become a very good to excellent wine. But it's going to be the type of wine that builds up weight in bottle over time which will frustrate people who expect a wine to start out big and soften. (Apr. 15, 2009)

Imported by Tomer Gal, bought for about 150 NIS.