Thursday, December 24, 2009

House Wines Of 2009

Every critic and wine rag, as well as many bloggers, make lists of their favorite wines of the year and publish them within a few days of the new year. I have no intention of competing with lists like that because I don't have access to many of the stellar wines that star in such lists. Besides, if I were to simply list the best wines that I have personally drunk in 2009, I would just wind up posting about Ran Shapira's birthday party again.

Instead, because I believe wine was meant to be consumed on a daily basis, at home, accompanying food (no matter how much I might enjoy the "Special Occasion" wines), I present here the wines I returned to most often supping at home, majestically offering the missus and the son a sip or two. These are weekday wines I'd consume as much as I could, were I richer and in less need of quality time in the gym during the week.

  1. A. Et P. De Villaine (Cote Chalonnaise, Bouzeron, Mercurey, Rully) - delicious wines that speak of their terroir. Some might be in need of cellar time and some might be overwhelmed by their bigger brethren from up north in comparative tastings, but drink them at home alone as wine is meant to be drunk, and you'll be very thrilled and intellectually sated as well. Imported by Burgundy Wine Collection. Prices range from about 70 NIS for the Bouzeron to about 160 NIS for the Mercurey.
  2. Marcel Lapierre (Morgon) - I really don't have enough experience with the Beaujolais villages to be able to place this wine in the local pecking order, but I do know a succulent wine when I taste it. And I know what it means when I finish off a bottle within an hour. Imported by Burgundy Wine Collection. About 100 NIS.
  3. Domaine de la Vougeraie (Terres de Famille) - This was my house Bourgogne until Villaine and Lapierre came along, but it's still a very useful and consistent wine. Imported by Burgundy Wine Collection. About 100 NIS.
  4. Leitz, Dragonstone and Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz (Rheingau) - German Riesling is my favorite grape and these are the Rieslings I drink the most at home. Both are Spatleses (or should be, the Dragonstone is chaptalized and is QBA under German law) and both are racy, laced with minerals. At 8% ABV, you can serve them to your children and they will get a head start in enjoying the finer points of life. Imported by Giaconda, sold for about 100 NIS.
  5. Koehler-Ruprecht (Scheurbe) - I'm drifting away somewhat from my first German love, but the the Koehler-Ruprecht Scheurbe is such a curious creature that its unique personality keeps drawing me back anyway. Giaconda, 117 NIS.
  6. Bourillon d'Orleans (Vouvray) - A recent showing reminded me how delicious and versatile these Vouvrays can be. Generally speaking, I'd drink much more Chenin Blanc from the Loire if I wasn't trying so hard to age the stuff, especially the Savennieres, but Bourillon d'Orleans seem to be very accessible at a relatively young age. Imported by Giaconda. Except for the Moelleux (which I haven't tasted and really hate spelling), prices range from 117 to 135 NIS.
  7. Domaine du Colombier (Crozes-Hermitage Rouge) - Apparently, I have a weak spot for aromas of raw meat in my Syrah, which is why the 2006 Colombiers hold a fatal attraction for me. They are also are tinged with minerals and succulent. Imported by Giaconda, the Cuvee Gaby (not tasted yet) is expensive but the two lower end wines are good QPR at 117 and 126 NIS.
  8. Alain Graillot (Crozes-Hermitage Rouge) - A somewhat riper style than the Colombier and in need of more time, this was my first introduction to the Rhone, seven years ago. It was off the shelves after WineRoute couldn't move the 2002 vintage but now it's back with the 2006 vintage and I'm grateful. Imported by WineRoute, this cost, what, 130-150? A bit expensive for what it is but I love it anyway.
  9. J.L. Chave (St. Joseph Offerus) - Another savoury red, with more black pepper right now than the two Crozes. WineRoute, 135 NIS.
  10. Perrin et Fils (Vacqueyras) - I'm actually not quite sure about this, as I'm shifting away from South Rhone and the 2007 was too raw and monolithic when I tasted it a few months ago, but at 90 NIS, this is a prime candidate for this list so I'm giving it the benefit of a doubt. Imported by WineRoute.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Deux Montilles, Saint Roman, 2006 (Dec. 16, 2009)

About four years ago, a bottle of the 2004 vintage from this minor village was my first encounter with the wine-making skills of Alix de Montille. Greater experience allows me to better place the 2006 version in the Burgundy hierarchy and spot its faults, but luckily enough I can still enjoy it for what it is. Basically, what we have here is good juice from a limited terroir subjected to careful craft. Applied to a better climat, these same hands produce wines I would term inspired, so I guess there's only so much you can do, unless you're willing to torture your vines a la Madame Lalou Bize.

Whatever, let's talk about the wine. When God was designing white Burgundy, he probably started out with an initial draft, an alpha pilot in software terms. This pilot version had green apples and an overlay of sulphurous minerality on the nose. Likely, the Lord Of Hosts also tossed a few flowery notes in shorthand. The palate was not too fruity, God was more into secondary flavors, but he made sure it had a mineral cut and a saline finish. Like many such first attempts, it was half-baked. Thus, the fruit was on the lean side, and a little bitterness remained, yet the wine remained refreshing.

A blind man would see where I'm going with this. Yes, in my opinion, this Saint Roman could well have been God's little offhand sketch of Bourgogne. It's a fine introduction, and it's a pleasant and pleasing wine even after you've gone through your Premier Crus, your Les Clos, your Corton-Charlemagnes and your Montrachets.

Another Burgundy Wine Collection import, this costs 170 NIS. Which is expensive for what it is, especially as the Villaine whites are a little better and cheaper. Also, the Deux Montilles Rully, which seems to get better scores, is also cheaper, and Rully is not an intrinsically finer AOC. Having said all that, I would buy a bottle of this every vintage.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Blind Burgundy Tasting (Dec. 14, 2009)

Hosted by Tomer Gal and Burgundy Wine Collection, this was a break from the usual thematic unity of these tastings by presenting wines from multiple regions and vintages.

Francois Jobard, Meursault Premier Cru, Poruzots, 2003

This bottle was problematic, to be charitable, with an oxidized, nutty nose somewhat akin to Champagne and a palate to match. I would actually find a weird fascination with this, were this a twenty year old wine. But this is a seven year old Premier Cru and even in a hot vintage, I'd expect more from a producer of Jobard's caliber. My guess is, it's the bottle, not the wine. About 350 NIS, as I recall.

Christian Moreau, Chablis Grand Cru, Les Clos, 2007

And this is just what I expect from, and love in, Bourgogne: citrus fruit and ocean air on the nose, a superficially lean palate that packs a lot of flavors unto its austere framework, gorgeous acidity and a gentle, mineral finish that lets the fruit speak. Lovely. 230 NIS.

Bonneau du Martray, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, 2006

Assuming Bonneau du Martray's reputation is warranted (and this is my first encounter with this famous producer so I don't have enough experience to make a judgement call here), then this wine is in an awkward stage. I find the nose to have the Corton-Charlemagne fingerprint, yet the palate is hot and disjointed, powerful yet too alcoholic. 590 NIS.

Meo-Camuzet, Fixin Premier Cru, Clos de Chapitre, 2006

The nose is dense, almost liquor-ish at first, needing time to show its Bourgogne character and smoky personality. The palate is rustic, without any obvious power or complexity. A pleasurable wine, I think it shows the Meo-Camuzet style but there's nothing very special about it. 210 NIS.

Denis Mortet, Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru, 2006

To be quite honest, this is more than I'd be willing to spend on Premier Cru and it's not even a single vineyard but rather a blend of four sites. It's obviously a better wine than the previous, possessing richer aromatics without loss of elegance, longer, silkier and more focused on the palate. As many in the tasting rightly commented, this doesn't have a lot of Gevrey character. But it's very good, if expensive at 580 NIS.

Meo-Camuzet, Nuis-St.-Georges Premier Cru, Aux Murgers, 2006

A step up. First of all, this has an aromatic profile that is easier to pigeon-hole, a with cured meat musk that is right upfront without being too obvious. The palate is great, elegant yet powerful, with silky tannins and a mineral finish. I don't buy a lot of wines at 500 NIS, but Meo-Camuzet always manages to tempt me.

Liger-Belair, Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru, Les Suchots, 2006

I love the edgy, smoky nose, with an intensity that easily avoids becoming a block-buster. The palate is closed, but already enjoyable, as finely-wrought with minerals as the nose. There is a certain wildness about it that is surprisingly elegant as well. At 710 NIS, this is not a wine I'd ever buy, but it sure was fun to relish the smoky nose and the long, complex finish that made it a memorable experience.

Etienne de Montille, Pommard Premier Cru, Pezerolles, 2005

This probably has the most complex nose of all the lineup, with a lovely salinity that has a mouthwatering effect even before the first sip is broached. The palate is not quite as good, with some small holes in the middle that need some time and air to fill, but it is a captivating wine despite its adolescent quirks. Will improve for sure. 450 NIS.

Jean Grivot, Nuis-St.-Georges Premier Cru, Les Roncierres, 2002

I want to like this wine more, as I have enjoyed Grivot in the past (and what's more, I actually have a bottle of this I bought some five years ago). It's very animalistic, which is always a welcome thing in my book, but it starts off somewhat dilute and round and even though it greatly improves in glass, developing a mineral cut that belies the initial impression, it still left me concerned. About 500 NIS at current prices, my bottle was purchased on sale for about 50 USD.

Comte Georges de Vogue, Bonnes Mares Grand Cru, 2003

As you would expect from a Grand Cru, this is very young and primal, on both nose and palate, and even though it does develop some aromatic nuances, a small glassful is not enough to base an extensive tasting note on. Which is a shame, as, at 1000 NIS a bottle for the Bonnes Mares (and even more for the Musigny), I will likely not have many chances to taste de Vogue again.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sushi Night At Sakura (Dec. 5, 2009)

It was time to go back to the sushi well at our favorite source in Tel Aviv. As always, Riesling dominated the evening.

Leitz, Rheingau, Dragonstone, QBA Riesling, 2005

I'm a fan of this juice, which is harvested at enough brix to qualify for Spatlese, but is chaptalized and thus labelled as QBA by German law. The chaptalization might make it a tad too sweet for some palates, but the nose is classic German Riesling with its green apples and chalk and it tastes great. We were almost through the bottle before the first sushi tray arrived.

Giaconda, 98 NIS.

Langweth Von Simmern, Rheingau, Erbacher Marcobrunn, Kabinett Riesling, 2007

This was very young, I suppose, and felt much drier than it ought to have been, but then it was hard to drink it after the Dragonstone. I made a valiant effort at cleansing my palate with sushi, but it was too austere for me. The nose was complex and interesting and I have no complaints there. I will have to try it again in a different setting.

Giaconda, 110 NIS

Bott-Geyl, Kronenbourg de Zellenberg, Riesling, 2005

IPV is a new local importer, specializing in Languedoc-Roussillon (I am in the process of compiling notes from recent tasting of their red wines). After the Marcobrunn, my palate had re-adjusted to lower levels of sugar but I still found this Alsatian white too austere. The nose is, again, complex and interesting (the lack of descriptors doesn't imply that this wine - or any other - lacked specific aromas, I simply was not taking formal notes) but whereas my usual complaint about Alsace Riesings is a certain bitterness, here instead was a wine that seemed to take austere minerality to an extreme. So, interesting? Yes. Tasty? I'd like to be charitable. Suited for sushi? Not really.

IPV, 155 NIS.

Bourillon d'Orleans, Vouvray, La Bourdonnerie, Demi Sec, 2007

This was an interesting pairing with sushi, as I wasn't really sure Chenin would not overwhelm the sushi. But there balance of acidity and sweetness really worked here and the specific hue of minerals made it an intellectually captivating wine.

Giaconda, 117 NIS. I had a few bottles of the 2003 and this looks just as worthy.