Chateau du Seuil, Graves Blanc, 2005
The nose, with its pungent citrus skins and flint, is a ringer for a basic Chablis. The palate, to my taste, is dominated by the Sauvignon (40% Blanc and 10% Gris), which has a nice angularity, like a fat-free Chardonnay. After a while, something (the 50% Semillon I suppose) adds a touch of butter. This is a very savoury wine that has shed the oak that bothered me last year. (Sept. 2, 2009)
Giaconda, 117 NIS.
Koehler-Ruprecht, Pflaz, Kalstadter Steinacker, Riesling Kabinett, 2004
By now, it seems I've tasted the various permutations of Koehler-Ruprecht's Steinacker offerings more times than I've listened to the Beatles. This particular specimen, however, is in an uncomfortable place. Starting off with a piercing, sulphurous minerality that seems to overwhelm the fruit at first, it regains aromatic balance with notes of baked apples and very light hints of dough, while the minerality turns mellower and earthier. Tasting virtually bone-dry, except for a faint sweetness on the finish, it is almost Alsatian except for a typically fresh, Germanic acidity. It's tasty, it's interesting, and it's becoming more and more intellectual as it matures, but I get this impression, that I can't shake off, that for all its charms, it feigns and winks and bluffs to hide a few cracks in its facade. (Sept. 15, 2009)
Giaconda again, 117 NIS.
Val d’Orbieu, Languedoc, Cuvee Mythique, 2001
Smells and tastes like a roughly hewn Vacqueyras or Lirac, which is a nice notion for a 50 NIS wine. Having said that, it is, for my money, somewhat beyond its peak, as its red-cherry inclined fruit is too lean and rusty even for my tastes, in an Old World style that is probably what gave the Old World a bad reputation in the 60's and 70's. Still, it's nice that it's lasted this long. (Sept. 19, 2009)
Imported by HaKerem, I was surprised to find the Hinawi meat chain selling it for 50 NIS, as I remembered it used to cost 70-80.
Vitkin, Carignan, 2005
As always, this wine has sweet, round, juicy fruit that seems to sustain the ripe Israeli paradigm with smooth tannins and no excess flab. The aromatics are lovely as well, with a hint of leather and minerals over cherries and currants. (Sept. 20, 2009)
At about 80 NIS, this is still my favorite local wine.
Marques de Riscal, Rioja Reserva, 2004
This is a young Rioja where, on both nose and palate, the fruit leans towards black, with bass, iron notes. It's got enough funk and earth to be recognizably Spanish, though, while the telltale Tempranillo acidity shows up on the finish and time only brings out more and more Rioja traits - such as hints of meat and tobacco leaves on the nose and a crisp, mineral finish. It sure is nice that the classic Rioja houses still makes classically modeled wines ready for drinking upon release (although I would guess it has some three-five years left at least). (Sept. 26, 2009)
WineRoute, about 100 NIS on sale. Very good value.
A. Et P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise Rouge, La Fortune, 2007
The nose still has sappy, young Pinot fruit, but also light spicy and earthy overtones. The palate has all the silky, ethereal fruit you'd expect from a well made, lower-end Bourgogne. With only medium stuffing and length, it makes an impression on pure charm. One of my notions of a house wine. (Sept. 28, 2009)
Tomer Gal, about 100 NIS. Like all the Villaine lineup, very good value.