Saturday Night At Toto, Again... (May 9, 2009)

I had lunch at Otto Enoteca Pizzaria in New York's West Village last week. My wife's cousin (who said, "I go after food like you go after wines", to loosely translate from Hebrew) recommended it to us, claiming it was his favorite restaurant in the Big Apple. He's a local Manhattanite, thus his opinion seemed valid. Alas, while the first courses were just yummy, the main courses left me musing that our local Toto is better than Otto. Which is a nice rhyme, except Toto is not strictly an Italian joint and anyway, it just lost a few points by dropping their fantastic, saliva-inducing ragu from the business dinner. Nasty, but it's still my fav'rit restaurant. Can't beat their 120 NIS business dinner deal, but guys, bring back the ragu.

Koehler-Ruprecht, Pfalz, Kalstadter Saumagen, Riesling Auslese, 2001

The nose delivers all the goods you might expect from an Auslese in early maturity, a complex package that is mostly in a herbal way right now, the fruit in the background and a hint of petrol way back in the outfield. Alas, the palate is nowhere near as provoking nor delicious was it was a year and a half ago. There's a bitter, quinine note running through its backbone which makes it feel drier than it actually is. I'm willing to tentatively guess it's going through a dormant phase but as it showed on this particular evening, it was a disappointment. Oddly enough, friends from a nearby table sent us a glass of the same wine from 2005 (albeit, in 2005 it was a trocken) which felt even more taut and constricted, the alcohol enough upfront to make me guess it was a Viognier.

Imported by Giaconda, about 160 NIS, good value when it's on form.

Faively, Mercurey Premier Cru, Clos du Roi, 1999

A good journeyman wine, meaty and rustic, smelling a bit overextracted, although quite good on the palate with time and air. Nothing to write home about and I couldn't help feeling how much better the Villaine Mercurey is (at least the 2006 I tasted a short while back).

Imported by HaKerem, price unknown.

Chapoutier, Chateauneuf du Pape, Crois de Bois, 2001

Don't go by first impressions. It starts out with an annoyingly over-extracted nose and just tons of gooey glycerine on the palate, feeling vaguely Australian. Time, however, does wonders, as the nose starts to display a burnt mineral note and in general enough nuances to delight. On the palate, it is still big and sweet, but overall, it too shows traces of salinity. It is thus obviously young enough for me to reserve an adverse criticism. Although I hesitate to dub it Wine Of The Night due to a lack of obvious contention, I suspect that on any given day it would have been a strong candidate regardless.

Imported by the Scottish Company and I don't really remember how much it cost when it came out. However, I've seen recent vintages go for about 70 USD and at that price and with the way the 2001 is showing, I'd call it fairly priced.