Friday, December 31, 2010

Les Heritiers du Comte Lafon, 2008

Les Heritiers du Comte Lafon is Meursault specialist Comte Lafon's Macon "side project", which Tomer Gal's Burgundy Wine Collection has started importing this year, along with the more famous parent domaine. I admit I didn't notice it in the catalog, probably because I knew Lafon was out of my price range so I only glanced through the relevant page in the catalog, never bothering to scroll down - which is a shame, as I'm always on the lookout for interesting "value" wines, and the Maconnais fits that description very well. This oversight was corrected when Tomer served the Macon-Milly-Lamartine a couple of months ago as an "appetizer" in a Nuits-St-Georges tasting. This prompted a purchase of a six-pack, comprised of a bottle each of the three village wines in the catalog, across the 2007 and 2008 vintages.

Tomer says both the 2008 and the 2007 vintages are ready, but that perhaps 2008 is readier. This opinion seems to be shared by Burghound, among others, so my strategy is to drink then 2008's first, and see what these wines are like young , then go through the 2007's and see how they behave with a little age on them.

Macon-Uchizy, Les Maranches, 2008

The nose is dominated by green apples, with hints of bananas and tropical fruit, and a welcome helping of chalk/sea-shells/whatever-you-call-it-that-you-smell-in-Chablis (that expands even more with an hour or so of air). The palate follows suit flavor-wise and is crisp yet smoothed by a saline finish that recalls a very brothy, chicken-based dish (having just returned from a traditional Iraqi-Jewish dinner might have affected my associative sensibilities, but I think not). Anything it lacks in complexity is made up by graceful poise that goes hand-in-hand with a striking, yet subtle punch. My benchmarks for value Bourgogne whites were until now the Villaine and Deux Montilles wines from Rully - but this beats them handily - it's probably not that much more delicious but it seems to focus everything it's got so much more brilliantly that it really soars beyond its AOC. This is really almost ethereal wine-making. 140 NIS. (Dec. 10, 2010)

Macon-Chardonnay, Clos de la Crochette, 2008

The nose displays citrus fruit, even citrus rind, and though the marine-like aromas I found in the Uchizy are more obvious (even showing a touch of iodine) , the whole effect is somehow more refined. There is good grip on the palate, where the marine elements I find on the nose are very clearly defined, especially on the saline finish. Lovely acidity as well. Soars to the level of a very decent Chablis Premier Cru before shutting down somewhat, leaving me hesitant to make a choice between the Chardonnay and the Uchizy. But God have mercy on anyone tasting this blind! 140 NIS. (Dec. 16, 2010)

Macon-Milly-Lamartine, Clos du Four, 2008

This is the most self-conflicted and debatable of the 2008 batch, because its aspirations are so Bourgogne-ish that it falls into some of the same pitfalls that await adolescent wines of the Cote d'or. The nose is very complete and the most Meursault-like of the lot, with a nutty note that is backed by citrus fruit and a hint of cardamon. At first, the palate displays some blatant oak that creates a disappointing impression, especially as this was the wine that initially sold me on Heritiers, but it improves with a lot of air and shows a great deal of saline-infused yumminess and winds up being fruity in an understated, Bourgogne way that places emphasis on juicy, sour-sweet citrus - especially tangerine. Delicious, as I've said, but it's obviously less ready than it's brethren. 150 NIS. (Dec. 29, 2010)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Marcel Lapierre, Morgon

With the arrival of Lapierre's 2009 Morgon at the land of milk and honey, I decided the best way to welcome the new kid on the block was by saying goodbye to last year's model with a more detailed note than usual. Then, follow it up as soon as possible with the same for the 2009, and get as close as possible to a mini-vertical.

There is a minor debate as to how much the Beaujolais Crus resemble Burgundy's Pinot Noir; indeed whether we should even compare the Gamay grape to its more illustrious kin and not judge it by its own merits. Well, be that as it may, the aromatics on the 2008 are eerily close to the Cote d'Or's model, with fresh red fruit, forest floor and sweet spices. The palate is as fresh and approachable, even if it is less about fruit at first than it is about wet earth, and I think it might have fooled me had I drunk it blind, as it has a Pinot-ish sweetness mellowed with mildly spicy savoriness. If I have to make a call, I'd say the tannins here are not as sleek as a proper Bourgogne's - they exert a masculine grip, whereas even a Grand Cru has a more feminine rasp.

The higher arithmetic required to keep track of the flux of the balance between fruity and earthy flavors may be beyond me, but this wine remained delicious all evening long. (Dec. 23, 2010)

The 2009 is one of the darkest-hued Beaujolais I've tasted so far, and not only is its color much deeper than the 2008, its base tint seems to be purple rather than red. The first sniff shows a very mineral-laden character, an impression echoed on the initial sip as well. The structure is understated, yet forceful enough to give intellectual pause, making for an already lovely drop. The tannins here are more Bourgogne-like than the 2008's and they frame the fruit much more firmly, yet finely, than in the previous vintages that I'm familiar with. There is a greater abundance of fruit here, red and savory, and, on the whole, this feels like the more complete wine.

But I'm willing to throw the deep analyses into the shredder. The 2009 is a better wine because it's even more yummy than the 2008. (Dec. 25, 2010)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Banfi, Brunello di Montalcino, Poggio Alle Mura, 2001 (Dec. 11, 2010)

After being grounded by work and by playing house-husband for a couple of weeks, I decided to indulge myself in a wine I don't usually open on my lonesome. In fact, a wine I don't usually drink, period, as I've drifted from Tuscany, generally speaking, over the last three-four years. Even when someone from my regular wine circle does bring a Tuscan, it tends to be a super-Tuscan rather than one of the classic DOCG's - and almost never, ever a Brunello.

This was purchased at the Anavim store on Ben-Yehuda Street three, four years ago, on some holiday discount, so it cost a very attractive 200 NIS or so (less, I think, but I'm not sure). I've never felt comfortable, though, with the storage of the bottles I'd purchased from the store, so I've always wound up opening them earlier rather than later. This particular bottle had a very low fill, for example, said fact contributing to my decision to just open the friggin' bottle.

Whatever its state, this is a fine sample of Tuscany, making me remorseful for ignoring the region. The nose is impressive and very typical in its black cherries, chives and herbs. The palate is powerful in a restrained manner that really impresses me (Batman fans, think Neal Adams), and I think it will never get better than this: the tannins are as tamed as they will ever be - though when they makes for such a savory taste, it's rather impolite to complain - and the acidity is a bit subdued. But the overall effect is a knockout and I couldn't stop pouring. My enjoyment in this rather oddball situation - a whim pouring of a not-inexpensive Brunello, for God's sake - tends to support BdM's starring role on the classic Italy wine marquee.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Misc Notes (Nov. 2010)

Bourillon-d'Orleans, Vouvray, Art Monia Moeulleux, 2003

This where the Chenin magic goes off on its own wild tangent. The nose is all apricots and melons that strut their stuff like nubile starlets on the Riviera, shrouded by wafts of sweet spices, sculptor's clay and flint. In short, a sexy, hedonistic wine, even if you were forced to make a call based solely on its aromatic virtues - but the good news is, it's just as complex and satisfying on the palate, while more reined in, which is a good thing. Lovely. (Nov. 2, 2010).

Giaconda, 130 NIS.

Josef Leitz, Rheingau, Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz, Riesling Spatlese, 2007

Bright and juicy as always,with a chalky and herbal notes contributing to a very decent complexity. (Nov. 5, 2010)

Giaconda, about 100 NIS.

Two weeks later:

Josef Leitz, Rheingau, Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz, Riesling Spatlese, 2006

No news is good news - and the 2006 continues to drink gorgeously. This is not a great wine but it's been very consistent across the various bottles and vintages that I've drunk. The 2006 is more advanced and mature than the 2007, with hints of dill, smoke and petrol over sugared apples, and gains length with a dose of air. (Nov. 20, 2010)

Giaconda, about 100 NIS.

Ramonet, Chassagne-Montrachet, 2005

I don't know quite what to make of this wine, as at present it is so wacky that it would would stump many tasters in a blind setting. The nose is barely recognizable as a Bourgogne: the dried grass, flint, hints of tropical fruit - as ingredients, they fit the Bourgogne mold, but not in the way they fit and work together in this context. The palate is piercing in its minerality and packed with spicy flavors, texturally resembling the more muscularly-styled Savenierres (Closel, Joly). I'm so glad I didn't buy any Ramonet Premier Crus in '05, they would have been too much for me. I think I'll stick to the cooler vintages with this producer. (Nov. 6, 2010)

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 150 NIS.

Martin Nigl, Kremstal, Privat, Gruner Veltliner, 2006

I had a Gewurtzraminer today, only apparently, they call it Gruner in Austria. Honestly, it has, here, the same ripe grapefruit/lychee/spicy nose and the same sweet, fat kick on the palate and the same quinine finish. Now, the structure is a little rounder and easier to get a grip of than your Alsatian Gewurtz, and it seems to offer enough extract to cushion that 14.5% ABV (which, frankly, I suspect is at least 15%) - but still, I'd drink it now, rather than later. Besides which, it seems to give up its secrets so easily, I feel that this one bottle has quite sufficed me. ( Nov. 11, 2010)

K&L Wines, 43 USD.

Deux Montilles, Meursault, Grand Charrons, 2004

I can't tell who the featured headliner is. There's fruit in the mix, but it's it's laid back and unassuming and, while a good portion of it might be spicy, baked pears, it's not trivial to pin down further specifics. Similarly, there's a subtle hint of minerals but it, too, remains elusive. Ditto any spiciness and, thankfully, any oaky contribution. In the end, everything component is subservient to a silky, elegant savory whole, which would be not be out of place in Puligny or Chablis. Subtly complex. (Nov. 15, 2010)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 220 NIS.

A. Et P. De Villaine, Bouzeron, 2007

Oh, I'm so glad to report that this showing dispels my doubts whether to invest in fridge space to cellar this wine. Turns out, there's no need. It's just so very, very nice right now - as nice as a wine can be without crossing the line between good and excellent. The aromatics display mellow, tropical fruit laden with chalk and herbal notes that remind me of vegetable soup. As usual, there's also a touch of toasted bread. The palate is lively and inviting, light and tasty, with decent complexity. And the bottle was finished all by my lonesome in less than an hour and a half, so I'm either a lush or this is some kind of proof positive. (Nov. 26, 2010)

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 90 NIS.

Domaine des Baumard, Coteaux Du Layon, Carte d'Or, 2005

Four bottles in, I have yet to change my mind that this lovely little creature will gain anything from cellar time, but WTF, let's just enjoy it now. The nose is complex and heart-warming, showing baked apples with a growing dose of tropical fruit, clay and flint. It's very intense and alluring and while I can see it transforming into something else, I can't see it getting any better. The palate is delicious and layered yet awkward and lacks the zip of a really great sticky; and, while there is more acidity then I remembered or expected, it still doesn't seem like enough for a very long future. But thanks for the fun and memories.

(Nov. 30, 2010)

Giaconda, 117 NIS.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

George Descombes

These are the fruits of my recent trip to Paris.

I'd been reading about Beaujolais and my previous experiences with the Lapierre Morgon gave a clear indication that they would prove a very enjoyable style of wine. So I decided to experiment.

George Descombes, Brouilly, 2008

The color is certainly no Pinot look-alike - it's semi transparent, for sure, but too purple in hue to be a Bourgogne - but other than that, the resemblance is striking. Bright, clear red fruit and a hint of minerals on the nose, that becomes more than a hint in time. Much more. A very savory, mid-weight frame, with a a good dose of acidity and a crunchy, saline finish. Picks up weight and aromatic presence as it goes along and actually seems to grow younger in the glass. Quite appealing, if not very complex, and fulfilled my expectations to a tee. (Nov. 18, 2010)

15 euros or so.

George Descombes, Brouilly, Vieilles Vignes, 2007

The nose is very red, and perfumed, almost intoxicatingly so, with strands of flowers and earth. The palate is fresh, crisp and lean, ending in my kind of saline finish. The first pours are very austere - although even then, I sense mildly spicy flavors aching to emerge - but after a couple of hours, like other wines of the school of light-middleweight Bourgogne, it gains weight and length and lives up to the promise of the nose. I mean, this saline finish that I liked even when this wine was dormant? It's even better when it finally peaks, really sexy and appetizing. And the flavors really start exploding as the structure gains focus and grip while loseing its austere trappings. Finally, the nose gains greater definition and pungent minerality a la Cote de Beaune. Wow, this wine deserves the time it needs to open up! (Nov. 25, 2010)

George Descombes, Morgon, Vieilles Vignes, 2007

Since Morgon should be the longest-living of the Beaujolais Crus, I decided to open this wine an hour earlier than I did the Brouilly V.V. and be patient. Good idea, as the contents of the glass I used to lower the shoulders proved flat and short. The aromatics kick in after three hours: red cherries with a touch of black ones as well, lifted by a spicy, pungent kick. Earthy and meaty in turns. The palate however, never soars the way the V.V. Brouilly did - it picks up length but never quite gains the same focus or sense of bravado. Thus, it's good, but a relative disappointment as the Brouilly had set a very high bar. (Nov. 27, 2010)

Both Vieilles Vignes cost 20 euros plus.

All, in all, a set of wines I enjoyed to various degrees. The Brouilly V.V. was really great but I enjoyed all three and they were great values. Here's hoping someone starts importing the stuff to Israel!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pommard Tasting - Burgundy Wine Collection (Nov. 21, 2010)

Honestly, sadly, I don't quite have the experience to pontificate on the virtues and characteristics of Pommard. I can say that I don't find the Pommards that Tomer Gal's Burgundy Wine Collection imports to be rustic, crude or over-masculine. I do find them to be very minerally, angular at times and not inexpensive. The quality was impressive on this night - but then, the producers tasted are arguably (or not) the cream of the crop.

All the bottles were opened on the morning of the tasting.

We started off with an aperitif.

Deux-Montilles, Pernard-Vergelesses Premier Cru, Sous Fretille, 2007

I do love Alix' whites, but this is too young for me to read (plus it was tasted during the 'cocktail' part of the event, to which I was late, as usual, and thus could not dwell on it for too long), but it shows Bourgogne classicism and elegance. Very nice and I need to re-visit. 200 NIS.

Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet, Pommard, 2007

I know why I don't like the Chateau's whites, since Etinner makes them, not Alix, and he just doesn't have a feel for whites, I guess. But it's odd that I never get excited by their reds, since I adore what he does at the family's domaine. It's almost as though the red grapes are embarrassed to be fermented and raised in Puligny... This villages does come close to catching my attention, but ultimately, I move on. It has sour cherries, herbs, iron, blood - good stuff. But, although the palate is long and tannic, the fruit is backwards enough right now to make the package seem imbalanced. It might improve in time but it doesn't captivate the way the wines that follow do, even in their youth. 190 NIS.

Dugat-Py, Pommard, Levriere, 2007

Expensive, old-vines villages - the concept that Madame Bize-Leroy perfected and which we'll meet in a couple of paragraphs. The nose is closed, yet dense, meaty and intoxicating despite its reserve, developing an intriguing overlay of flint and iron. The palate is sleek and long and I love the structure, which climaxes in a complex finish that is the personification of minerality. 570 NIS.

Dugat-Py, Pommard, Levriere, 2006

This wine was moved to a decanter two and a half hours prior to the tasting, which makes comparisons with the 2006 challenging. The nose is riper, almost liquorish, eventually showing minerals. The palate is riper as well, fatter too, the structure is more accessible, yet less interesting. Tomer thinks it's the better wine (yet charges less for it) - I find it more hedonistic, and if it has more tannins than the 2007, then they seem to interact in a looser, more chaotic manner with the fruit, which might be due to the decanting, I don't know. 530 NIS.

Domaine Leroy, Pommard, Vignots, 2005

It's Leroy, it's 2005, so naturally it's closed, albeit very deep. I could have phoned in the tasting note. Except that after eluding us all as it slowly and miserly released some red fruit, it suddenly oozed mint, of all things. Who'd have thunk? My friend Rani Osnat kept half a glassful for half an hour and found it shut down even more. That's 'cause it's Leroy and it's 2005! 1300 NIS - yeah, that's 'cause it's Leroy.

Comte Armand, Pommard Premier Cru, Clos des Epeneaux, 2007

This is the wine commonly viewed as the benchmark Pommard. And it quite deserves it. The nose is mineral-laden, the palate tannic and structured and both show lots of iron. It's like a blend of the Dugat-Py's and the Leroy, with an extra dimension of elegance - and yes, it is elegant, despite all that iron. 440 NIS.

Montille, Pommard Premier Cru, Grands Epenots, 2007

From first pour and until almost the final sniff and sip, it totally looks, smells and tastes like strawberry juice, with just a strand of minerals. Very high grade juice, mind you. Even though it's soft and fruity, it is just as hard to approach as the previous wines, because it is so monolithic, in its soft fashion. Confoundingly morose and introverted, in a very feminine way. 380 NIS.

Montille, Pommard Premier Cru, Rugiens, 2007

Another fruity start - perhaps raspberry this time, then showing, once again, minerals and also, for a change, exotic spices that are reminiscent of the Cote de Nuits. Ripe and hedonistic, and although it explodes on the palate, it is one of the most elegant wines of the night, the yummiest for sure. 520 NIS.

Montille, Pommard Premier Cru, Rugiens, 2006

I loved this wine when I tasted it last year and I still do. The nose immediately attacks with flowers and red fruit. And, yeah, minerals. The palate is structured and finishes off with smooth tannins. 480 NIS.

Montille, Pommard Premier Cru, Rugiens, 2003

This was an odd experience. Tomer holds this wine in high regard and even though he spotted some TCA, he still served it, since he didn't have another bottle of the 2003. The logic behind his unconventional approach was that a good wine can sometimes makes some headway against TCA, enough to at least give a glimpse of the wine's potential. He served a backup as well, to be fair. I will say that the wine felt off, but didn't really smell of wet cardboard, as I'd expect from a corked wine, and did not show any over-ripeness, as I would have expected from a 2003. So I guess it really was a damn fine wine to begin with.

Comte Armand, Pommard Premier Cru, Clos des Epeneaux, 2002

Damn, what a terrific nose, cheesy and stinky, then returning to the night's theme of minerals and more minerals. The palate is ripe, not overdone, but enough to detract at this point of the wine's life cycle, even though it does not blur the sense of underlying balance and tannic bite. A really, really fine wine.

Montille, Pommard Premier Cru, Rugiens, 2005

Awesome potential. Vibrant fruit, a little blood, lots of minerals and animalistic nuances. A magical finish to a lovely night and a mini-Rugiens vertical.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Great Cheeses And (Mostly) Flawed Wines (Nov. 13, 2010)

Served alongside cheeses bought on the 2GrandCru's tour of Paris.

Weingut Ihle, Baden, QBA Trocken, Weissburgunder, 2007

A nice, typically Pinot Blanc nose, but the palate is a disaster - although dry , it is laden with toffee. Some kind soul ought to tell the wine-maker to set his sights on something better than Cali Chardonnay.

Price unknown.

Domaine de la Vougeraie, Gevrey-Chambertin, Le Justice, 2002

220 NIS worth of TCA.

A. et P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise Rouge, La Digoine, 2007

Satisfaction at last. Gorgeous red fruit, underbrush, hints of spices. Lithe body. Potentially better than the 2006 - even more suave, anyway, packing a lot of class unto its ethereal frame.

Burgundy Wine Collection, 120 NIS.

Wiengut Ihle, Baden, Gewurtzraminer, Eiswein, 2002

Typical Gewurtz spiciness and extract which is okay but overall, this doesn't really work as an icewine as it lacks acidity and class. I must say, the GHW Heightswine would beat it any day.

17 Euros.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cafe Italia Again (Nov. 3, 2010)

The wines and the settings change, the faces and the friends remain the same.

Olivier Leflaive, Meursault Premier Cru, Charmes 1996

The nose here has mushrooms, nuts, attractive hints of oxidation, while the poise, the balanced acidity and the mineral cut fooled me and some others into mistaking this for a Puligny. Everything works here and finally I get to drink a truly mature white Burgundy that hasn't slipped past its peak.

Price unknown.

Oddero, Barolo, 1982

Another Barolo that pre-dates single-vineyard bottlings. The nose starts out spicy and dusty, gaining nuances. The palate is shy first, tannic, spicy and long but with the fruit muted. However, once sleeping beauty here wakes up, the fruit fills out enough to balance the old school tannins.

Prince unknown.

Domaine Leroy, Bourgogne, 2004

Another declassified blend of high-ranking vineyards from the year Madame Bize-Leroy buried her husband. Terrific nose, Bourgogne with a capital B: pepper, exotic spices, underbush, strawberries and finally hints of lemon drops for idiosyncracy's sake. The palate not as good, as it is slightly watery and its structure a little wacky but I do like it despite its faults. A fetish, I guess - I do prefer wacky Leroy to extracted Leroy.

Imported by Burgundy Wine Collection, sold for about 400-450 NIS, if my memory serves.

Bahans-Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan, 2000

The Haut-Brion second wine proves very massive after the previous wine, with concentrated black fruit on nose and palate. Concentrated yet balanced, with a studied, gentle hand on the oak. Develops nicely showing tobacco leaves and hints of minerals. Still tannic and primary but great acidity.

Price unknown.

Canon-La-Gafflierre, Saint-Emillon, 2000

Another great nose, with tobacco leaves, minerals and hints of mildew framing mellow red fruit with a modicum of black ones as well. Though the palate still possesses some bitterness, the wine as a whole is friendlier and readier than the Bahans but less interesting to describe. I think I expected a little more, despite its youth.

The first of three bottles purchased for an average price of 100 USD.

Anselmann, Pflaz, Ortega Trockenbeerenauslese, 2005

This is a surprise, as the last Ortega dessert wine I had lacked in acidity (you can read the note as well as a short description of the Ortega grape here). A luscious nose to kill for and a subtly spicy finish of some length, as well as a measure of a finesse on the palate that belies its extravagance.

Prince unknown.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The 2GrandCrus Do Paris!

Here are some wines my wife and I drank or tasted on a long overdue, romantic getaway to the City Of Lights. The first three are the most memorable wines that we drunk at bistros and cost 4-6 euros a glass. These were tasty and interesting rather than fancy or profound. The last four are from the vending machine at Lavinia.

Domaine Chanzy, Clos de la Fortune, Bouzeron 2009

A nice wine, light on its feet, that enlightened me on Bouzeron typicty.

Chateau des Tours, Brouilly, 2009

Spicy black fruit with a touch of minerals, soft tannins and a spicy finish. Starts out short but gains length. Nice but not memorable except for being a very useful backdrop to the meal.

Chateau de Beauvau, Muscadet (?), 2008

Uh, I'm not sure exactly which of the Muscadet AOC's this was, but it had very nice aromatics for what I assume was an unpretentious wine, and they kept pulling in for one sniff after another: lime at first then green apples and light hints of chalk that turn into flint. Surprising length and a refreshing mineral cut. Picks up body. Too bad even entry level Muscadets are so rarely imported to Israel.

Domaine Pavelot, Pernard-Venglasses, 2008

Cherries, cranberries, old oak, Bourgogne spices. A light to medium bodied, rather acidic food wine that I like despite being rather harsh on its own. At the end of the day, a wine I suspect that I'd take to in a riper vintage. 17 e

Marquis D'angerville, Volnay Premier Cru, Champans 2006

A wonderful nose with all the lovely Bourgogne spices in full bloom and a touch of mellow earthiness. The palate, despite obvious potential, is not ready at all: it's balanced but still tannic, brooding, disconsolate. It's a very tempting wine due to its depth but prices in Paris make it too high for a wine readily available for lower prices in other markets. 79 e

Finca Villacrecres, Ribera Del Duero, Crianza, Pruno, 2008

Initially, the nose is very fruit forward and overripe before it calms down to show a minerally facet with hints of olives. The palate is grainy, modern yet balanced. A successful wine, especially given its price. 15.20 e

Cycles Gladiator, California, Central Coast, Zinfandel, 2006

Sniffing this wine is like is like reading a Manga after growing up on Superman comics from the sixties - damn hard to abstract. I finally came up with "fruit cake coated with olive tapenade", which received a nod from my wife, despite her misgivings about my pretentiousness. The palate is very tasty and spicy and not overdone, a Zin that finally makes sense. A lovely, lovely surprise! 13 e

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Misc Notes - Mostly Bourgogne (Oct. 2010)

Kicked off the month with the Marcel Lapierre, Morgon, 2008 (100 NIS from Burgundy Wine Collection), which I enjoyed, as always, for its minerality and angularity, mellow spices and sour fruit. And surprising length (Oct. 2, 2010). Followed up a day later, as a sort of one-two punch, by the similarly priced and similar delineated A. Et P De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise Rouge, La Fortune, 2008, which is softer and more feminine on the palate, while aromatically more complex (Oct. 3, 2010). My Bourgogne binge was then extended by one of my house whites, Deux Montilles, Rully, 2007 (BWC again, 120 NIS) which is succulent, devoid of oak and eminently drinkable, plus it sports the all apples, citrus fruits, pears and minerals that Chardonnay can produce in Burgundy when terroir, vintage and wine-maker collaborate. So now I'm humming, "Rully Rully". (Oct. 5, 2010).

With the Bourgogne genie out of the bottle, I turned my voracious appetite loose on the WineRoute catalog for a Chablis they'd been offering this month in a three for 400 NIS deal: Domaine William Fevre, Chablis Premier Cru, Vaillons, 2007. This wine has typical Chablis DNA and is ready to drink, albeit with a somewhat dour personality that I'd prefer to encounter again in a few years once it finds its footing. Whatever, this wine packs a mouthful of mineral-laced flavors that linger on a very long finish. (Oct. 9, 2010)

The Montmains, 2005 (same producer, same importer, 160 NIS), which I opened it the next day, has a deeper, funkier mineral vein on the nose while the palate wields a similar lash of green-apple acidity and crisp, chalky finish. It's rounder and arguably shorter than the Vaillons (then again, I thought the Vaillons was especially long for a Premier Cru) and on the same overall level of quality. Initially, I found it not much further evolved than the Vaillons, but half an hour of air brought it to the sweet spot where I love my Chablis - where the zest of youth combines with just a touch of gentle maturity and the fruit starts to give way to a wash of salinity. And man, the acidity in a good Chablis is such a delight!

And back to the Burgundy Wine Collection catalog. First, on the 14th. The Villaine Bouzeron, 2008 is in an interesting place, where its aromatics are floral, almost sweet, with hints of minerals and toast - while the palate manages to arrange sweet lemon-lime fruit and cleansing acidity on a light frame. Cool. I keep promising myself to age this stuff, but no luck keeping my hands off so far. (about 80 NIS).

My favorite Villaine white is the Rully, at least until my stock of Les Clous matures enough to prove otherwise; but having said that, the Rully 2008 is somewhat less elegant than the 2007 version was, being a little heavier - even though it manages, as always, to thrown in a bit of everything: apples, pears, flowers, flint. It's a tasty, crisp wine and I'll reserve final judgment on it until it settles down a bit. (Oct. 18)

I don't know if Villaine's reds are any better than their whites, but while you can find a good Chablis for 100 plus shekels, it's harder to pull off a similar trick with red Bourgognes. So if I had to choose between the two colors of Villaine, I'd go for the reds. Case in point: Cote Chalonnaise, La Digoine, 2006 (about 130 NIS), which, unlike the young-vines La Fortune, requires some cellaring. And I'm glad to report that it's starting to pay off. This southerner will never pick up the weight of any wine checking in from the more illustrious villages from up north, but it has decent complexity, purity of fruit and I think it's a latter-day sample of the old school style that was rampant when the term claret was used to signify a light wine of elegance and dignity. The red-fruit aromatics are firmly entrenched behind an earthy facade with just a hint of leather (no exotic spices, such as found in the boys and girls originating from from, say, Vosne) while the medium sized body is propelled by high-toned acidity and ends on a fine saline note. (Oct. 16, 2010)

I could have gone on my binge forever, but the reality of diminishing stocks clashed with my fantasies...

Alain Voge, Cornas, Cuvee Vieilles Vignes, 2003

The heat of the vintage is quite obvious, and there is a herbal, iron-like tint that is reminiscent of Southern Rhone and the hinterlands even further south. No black pepper, alas, but there is, just maybe, a touch of olive tapende. Tastes better than it smells by a cat's whisker, as there is, surprisingly, a relatively high amount of acidity in its depths that balances its otherwise parsimonious nature (it feels like it was picked early to avoid over-ripeness, at the cost of phenolic maturity). Doesn't come close to satisfying any cravings for a Northern Rhone red. (Oct. 21, 2010)

Not imported, bought for 40 USD in San Francisco, four years ago.

Dominio Romano, Ribera Del Duero, RD, 2006

This wine is why Spain is my favorite New World producer (he said with a smirk). Stylish, although not very exciting, sweet and immediate. Sweet as in almost jammy fruit, with just a hint of olives. I was going to give up on getting any more ambience out of it until I noticed a dusty musk coming up, which jarred with a streak of chocolate that was developing at the same time. This collision bothered me on an intellectual level, but did not hinder my enjoyment as such - had this been served as part of a wider tasting, I wouldn't have stopped to dwell on it. Our guests liked it. It's okay, just not very memorable. I suspect I'd enjoy the good ol' Condado de Haza much more to satisfy any further cravings for a modern Ribera. (Oct. 23, 2010)

Imported by the Scottish Company, about 160 NIS.

Langwerth von Simmern, Rheingau, Erbacher Marcobrunn, Riesling Spatlese, 2004

Despite its sweetness, this wine feels oddly somber and cold. It has well-delineated, apple-driven aromatics (both green and baked ones) topped off by sweet spices. These are echoed accurately on the palate, where a slight fizz keeps it fresh. Still young and unformed and in need of a few years. (Oct. 25, 2010)

Giaconda, 150 NIS.

Alain Graillot, Saint Joseph, 2007

I planned to pace myself with this wine, but it suckered me back in. This is just leagues ahead of its neighbor on the WineRoute shelves, the Chave Offerus: a juicy, peppery, balanced Syrah, with suave tannins and cleansing acidity. What captivates me about this wine is what registers as apricots in mid-palate. Which isn't the first time I've noticed this effect in the Graillot Saint-Josephs and I enjoy it a lot as it lends the wine kinky appeal and great freshness. (Oct. 26, 2010)

150 NIS.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dr. Loosen, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Wehlener Sonnenhur, Riesling Auslese, 2005 (Oct. 15, 2010)

An outrageously delicious wine from the excellent 2005 vintage that is drinking very well in its youth, even if right now its sweetness makes it more of a dessert wine than an Auslese would usually be. The nose is fairly complex and deep already, with notes of candied apples, dill, ice-cold slate and incipient hints of petrol. The secret behind the aromatics of a great German Riesling isn't in the specific elements but in how they interact, and here they create a speckled matrix that is very captivating. The palate is rich, dense and long, and, while at this stage the fruit and its sweetness submerge the acidity, the overall effect is very mouth-watering, with loads of potential elegance in its future. A class act.

Purchased at WineRoute for about 180 NIS.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tomer Gal's Annual Nuits-St-Georges Tasting (Oct. 11, 2010)

Last year's Nuits tasting was an eye-opener, but this year's, for me, was more along the lines of a return to school after a summer vacation. Some of the thrill is gone now, as a loose set of expectations has crystalized: Meo will be slick, Gouges will be funky, Grivot will be somewhere in the middle with a vague feeling of dormancy, Chateau du Puligny-Montrachet will be relatively lacklustre and Leroy will be, well, Leroy. But it's nice to re-visit these friends as I have a soft spot for the wines and Nuit's reputation for rusticity has kept prices almost sane. The lack of any Grand Cru vineyard is irrelevant for me as I'm not often on the buyer's market for the big boys in the first place.

And speaking of eye-openers, the appertif was a revelation. I've never drunk a Macon before, and, for some reason, I overlooked the Heritiers du Comte Lafon when the 2010 Burgundy Wine Collection catalog came out. So I had no idea the following wine even existed and approached it with absolutely no expectations.

Heritiers du Comte Lafon, Macon-Milly-Lamartine, Clos du Four, 2008

I've been thinking lately. I'd like to minimalize risks: drink low-end white Burgundies, forfeit the potential complexity, enjoy the vitality of youth and never go through the despair of getting the drinking window wrong and drinking oak or caramel. This here wine is one good argument for that thought. It's very elegant and crisp, almost airy - a floater - yet packs a lot of flavors in its light frame. 135 NIS.

Meo-Camuzet, Nuits-St-Georges, 2007

An attention-commanding nose that gives an impression of concentration even before the wine is sipped: spices, leather, rust, with redder fruit than I've come to expect from Meo-Camuzet. Elegant, sweet fruit with round tannins and balanced acidity. I love the domaine's wines but this is the first one that impresses me as being good value. In Burgundian terms, anyway. Sourced from the Au Bas de Combe village vineyard. 280 NIS.

Henry Gouges, Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru, Clos des Porrets St-Georges, 2007

Another planet. A more challenging, animalistic, even "stinky" nose, with a touch of minerals. More tannic and less friendly but drinkable with some air (given that, like most of the wines, it was opened ten to twelve hours in advance!) - in short, a wine that I'd love to drink on a regular basis all winter long. 280 NIS.

Chateau du Puligny-Montrachet, Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru, Clos des Grandes Vignes, 2006

In my opinion, the way the Montille house style is wedded to Nuits terroir plays against Etienne's wines in these tastings, as their austere nature is highlighted. This wine has a very earthy nose - earth as in dirt. The palate is all about tannins and glycerin right now, it's all the fruit will give. Thus, most of the flavors are hidden, making the palate, for the most part, one-dimensional . That is how the wine shows today, in this specific tasting. 290 NIS.

Henry Gouges, Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru, St-Georges, 2007

Holy stinking cow. The Gouge fingerprint is unmistakable - it's very similar to the Clos de Porrets, yet more intense with animalistic-cum-minerally aromatics that are so expressive that it's hard to pull my nose out of the glass. There is a toughness about the palate, but it's complemented by its vibrancy and a gruff sense of elegance. Hell, I'd marry this babe, if only for the lovely saline finish. 520 NIS.

Meo-Camuzet, Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru, Murgers, 2007

You might call the nose a spicy, minerally bomb, but by its nature it's more of a seducer (although with all those aromas of gunpowder twirling around this temptress, I wouldn't turn my back on her, who knows just what she's hiding). The palate is still closed and tannic, but the tannins melt to seduce the taste buds as well. 530 NIS.

Domaine Leory, Nuits-St-Georges, Lavieres, 2005

This wine smells less like a Bourgogne than the rest, as the extraction almost snarls on the nose, all spices and what I have to say smells like oak and barrel. The palate is dense and long, nothing I would call elegant, and minerally from start to finish. 1300 NIS.

Jean Grivot, Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru, Roncieres, 1999

This is the third vintage of this wine that I've tasted and it's always an interesting experience that I find hard to qualify. The nose starts out spicy and sour, and fairly one-dimensional, but grows in leaps and bounds, becoming both animalistic and minerally. The palate is sweet and unformed at first, until the tannins start to assert themselves. In the end, the nose matches everything the Meos and Gouges could throw, but the palate is in an awkward spot where the fruit lacks grip and power. I like it, though, I just wish it was drinking better at this time. 560 NIS.

Meo-Camuzet, Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru, Boudots, 1999

The nose is a knockout, nuanced and complex, starting with the blackest fruit of the tasting, then, like most of the rest of the wines, picking up animalistic and minerally notes, thus adhering to the Nuits idiom established by its peers. It's more tannic than the Murgers, but the tannins have a tasty, savory accent. Like the Grivot, the tannnis have not melded in tandem with the fruit, although it drinks much better, probably due to possessing much greater power. 710 NIS.

Domaine Leory, Nuits-St-Georges, 2004

An odd, idiosyncratic, yet lovely, creature. The nose is all sour cherries, then it smells like something I described in my handwritten notes as "stinky apple cider", then completes the painting with hints of leather and sweat. The palate is long, with soprano acidity and an ethereal presence of fruit that combine to a balanced and tasty effect. I much prefer this to the 2007 Lavieres. There, as in other Leroy wines I've tasted I've tasted, I can sense the firm hand of a control freak; whereas here, due to personal issues during the 2004 vintage, Madam Bize-Leroy seems to have let go. Which is an improvement as far as I'm concerned, as we get more Bourgogne and less Leroy. A blend of Village and Premier Cru sites. 1050 NIS.

Henry Gouges, Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru, Perriere, 2007

This is a white Nuits, made of Gouges' famous white Pinot Noir clone. The wine was opened the previous day and it still needs time and air in order to show its stuff. The nose at first seems like a theoretical marriage of Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc, being floral and tropical. The palate is really Sauvignon Blanc-like at first, with high-toned acidity. After calming down, it is crisp, saline and with a touch of honey. I admit I was prepared to dislike it when I first sniffed it, but it's very interesting and pleasurable. 520 NIS.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ran Shapira and David Wollenberg Rock Out (Oct. 7, 2010)

Ran Shapira's birthday parties are the best shows in town, as far as I'm concerned. I'm sure the local oligarchs party harder, but I'm not invited to their do's.

This year he teamed up with David Wollenberg and we all headed to Raphael with a stash of booze.

Now, I will admit, publicly and otherwise, that Raphael is not my favorite institute. The food is tasty enough but not special enough to lure me in consistently and I don't care much for the atmosphere - which seems to cater to sugar daddies and their pickups, with a few choice spots of upper-class twits and their families. Plus, on this occasion we had a fascinating interlocution with the sommelier about corkage fees, which I'm sure he will remember for some time.

Despite an unduly extravagant amount of corked and otherwise faulty wines, we managed to get some productive drinking done, thanks to smart planning and backup wines.

So, thank you guys, for helping write another chapter in the 2GrandCru History Of The World.

Jacques Prieur, Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru, 1999

The nose starts out very demure and shy but hits the stratosphere after a few minutes, showing discrete white fruit, nuts and lots of minerals. There are signs of oak on the palate but that's very well covered up by the sheer crunch of its power: this is an impressive, mouth-filling wine. While at times I almost strain to keep up with it, the effort is one fairly well spent.

Jacques Prieur is imported by WineRoute; I'm not sure about the price of this specific wine.

Olivier Leflaive, Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru, 1996

Uri Gilboa opened the wine a few hours before dinner, found it oxidized and went home for backups. Upon a re-tasting on arrival, the wine was showing signs of recovery so we decided to decant it, which seemed to improve things, up to a point. There were still notes of oxidization on the nose but the palate was very much alive and more elegant than the Chevalier (which had the better overall showing). However, despite a very lovely saline finish, in time it developed a tired-out feel. Probably another victim of (small-scale) 96 premox.

Olivier Leflaive is imported by WineRoute, not sure about the price of this specific wine.

Lucien Le Moine, Clos De La Roche Grand Cru, 1999

From the start, the nose has the spicy-minerally "tingle" I find typical of red Burgundies with a few years of bottle age. A few minutes later, the aromatics gain bright red fruit that are almost on the verge of being liquorish and then, with further airing, an even greater complexity emerges. The palate is long and powerful, as a Grand Cru should be, but still primary. Right now, this wine is more Pinot than Bourgogne.

Rene Engel, Grands Echezaux Grand Cru, 1996

The first truly exciting wine of the night. This is Old World now, with complex aromatics and gorgeous barnyard stink. The palate is at the onset of mature delicacy, yet with a firm structure and an acidic bite on the finish. Marginally less powerful than the Clos De La Roche, it is just as long and way more interesting. Its drinkability is debatable (and was, in fact, debated round the table) but I found its already delicious and memorable.

Rene Engel is imported by Tomer Gal but I bought this specific wine in the US for 130 USD.

Dosio, Barolo Riserva, 1990

I can never describe the aromatics of a great mature Barolo. I always get this ethereal, pungent kick that conjures up the image of an old carpet, for some reason. I know it's just me, I've never read anyone else discussing Barolos in such terms, but there it is. I love it, I just don't know how to write about it. The palate is always an easier topic for me, and this one has sweet fruit with a terrific, savory finish of smoked meat.

Price unknown.

Sandrone, Barolo, Cannubi Boschis, 1997

This is very similar to the Dosio. The nose has a similar character but the palate is closed. Returning to it after a break, I find a spicy kick before it mellows out and shows a little nuttiness. Overall, still not ready.

All in all, the Barolo flight was the one I least enjoyed, even though it was a more consistent one that the Montrachet.

Chapoutier, Hermitage Le Pavillon 1995

Corky? Corky.

Chateau Margaux, Margaux Premier Cru, 1998

Okay, Margaux at last! My very first! The nose is pure c-l-a-r-e-t with tobacco leaves, simply a classic distillation of everything Bordeaux. Elegantly and perfumed, nuanced and luscious to drink, with a subtly saline finish.

Delas, Hermitage, Les Bessards, 1997

Pepper, sour cherries and coffee on the nose, with a powerful finish that hints at olive tapende and terrific acidity. As different from the Margaux as the Old World idiom will allow, but no less thrilling.

Drinking them side by side, it feels as though the Bessards could beat the Margaux to a bloody pulp, but beneath the pretty, almost feminine exterior of the Margaux is one tough teamster. This is like Leonard outpointing Hagler, but just remember how close that was and that some think Hagler won. In other words, the Bessards punchs harder but the Margaux is slicker and smarter.

Chateau Coutet, Barsac Premier Cru, 2001

Obvious botrytis funk and marmalade. Liquid candy as Bordeaux stickies should be, but longer than most I've drunk of this genre yet. Longer and more intense than the 2003 anyways.

Another WineRoute import, although this half-bottle bottle was purchased in the US five years ago for 35 USD.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Misc Notes (Sept. 2010)

J. L. Chave, St. Joseph, Offerus, 2006

A simple wine, which I loved in 2003 and originally "only" liked in 2006 - but at this point I like the 2006 a great deal, so there's something of an improvement in my relationship with this vintage. As I've written before, it's a fruity wine with peppery black fruit, plump and round with savory tannins. There's a bit of aggression on the finish - that I'm not really able to put my finger on, as neither tannins nor acidity especially stick out - that for the first time makes me think this wine might need more time. Of course, it might very well not go anywhere, but at least it's finally showing some sophomoric cheek. Plus that kick on the finish makes it a good match for hearty dishes so all is well. (Sept. 4, 2010)

WineRoute, 135 NIS.

Josef Leitz, Rheingau, Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz, Riesling Spatlese, 2006

Magic Kool-Aid for Riesling Lovers. All kidding aside, "Maggie" has picked up grip and additional presence, plus what registers as a mushroom overlay on the nose, in the year or so since I've last drank it. (Sept. 16, 2010)

Giaconda, about 100 NIS.

Domaine du Colombier, Crozes-Hermitage, Rouge, 2006

You may well refer to my previous note while I pencil in a re-purchase on my to-do list.

Giaconda, 126 NIS

I recently had a mini-showdown between Old and New World, which was interesting because of the bystanders' view. I thought our guests would enjoy the Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003 more than the Couroulu, Vacqueyras, Cuvee Classique, 2005 (both more or less priced at around 100 NIS, the latter imported by Giaconda), due to the former's crowd appealing, fruity personality (albeit with complex hints of leather) - but no, except for my wife (who complained of the Vacqueyras' fecal stink), all went for what I saw as the more challenging, more tannic, edgier wine. Which is very, very cool. I had no intention to exert myself and explain to the neophytes why the barnyard aromas and old school bite on the finish made me remember why I used to love the Southern Rhone so much a couple of years ago, but any follower of this blog will understand why I'd score both of them a point or two below the RP break-even 90 pointer line - and then take the Vacqueyras home to bed. (Sept. 25, 2010)

Muller-Catoir, Haardter Manderling, Scheurebe Spatlese , 2004

I love Scheurebe for the sensuality it offers in sweet versions, and this is a spectacularly delicious example, leading with aromatics of white pepper, chalk and smoke over guayavas and peaches. The palate is typical Pfalz, I guess, with its ripe, round fruit, filtered through the variety's Alice In Wonderland logic. (Sept. 30, 2010)

Imported by Giaconda, I believe it was sold 3-4 years ago for 180 NIS or so.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Didier Dagueneau, Pouilly Fume, Pur Sang, 2007 (Sept. 27, 2010)

Only two wines this summer received the honor of a "solo" blog entry: the first was a Sancerre, and now this, from the other side of the Loire river. And I'm not even a big Sauvignon Blanc fan. Yet.

An excellent wine and an amazing match to a very marine dinner at Rokah. While the nose was initially very austere and tight, the palate - from the first sip to the very last - was incredibly fresh and vibrant, with crisp, juicy acidity giving the wine captivating purity. This is only the winery's "second wine" in Pouilly Fume and it still easily beat every example of the variety I've ever encountered. After an hour, the nose caught up with the palate, expanding upon the lime-based exposition with an ephemeral overlay of stony minerals. I am now patiently biding my time to open the Silex 2006. (Sept. 27, 2010)

Giaconda, 297 NIS. Priced like a Bourgogne Premier Cru and tastes as good as one, stylistic differences nowithstanding.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sushi and Alsace at Onami (Sept. 18, 2010)

Onami is an expensive joint, compared to my fave haunt Sakura, but the sushi there is really extravagantly delicious.

Zind-Humbrecht, Riesling, Gueberschwihr, 2004

For the first twenty minutes, this is the best value Alsatian in my inventory, with its mineral-laden nose that is the essence of all I could hope for in Alsace (given that I never approach the area with as much hope and expectations as I do Germany) while the palate deftly balances sweetness of fruit with a ragged, mineral cut. Then, it seems to waver until it is somewhat overwhelmed by the bitter finish that turns me off its brethren in the first place. Still, an excellent wine for what it is that will keep for half a decade at least, even though I suspect it will not improve. Memo to self: make room in budget and fridge for current releases.

WineRoute, about 150 NIS.

Albert Mann, Steingrubler Grand Cru, Gewurztraminer, 2005

I've developed a love-hate relationship with this extroverted variety. I love the nose and need to sniff it deeply every few months, while the palate is always a couple of steps too extracted and blowsy, with the acidity always on the low side, for me - but I keep coming back and a specimen like this is why. It's a slut but I'm deeply appreciative of the breed. So sue me. And it actually went better with the flashy makeup of Onami's sushi than did the Gueberschwihr, forming a menage-a-trois between its sweetness, high-fueled extact and the sushi dishes' spicy complexity.

Giaconda, 220 NIS.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Georg Breuer at Catit (Sept. 14, 2010)

I forgot to grab a bite to eat before my arrival at Catit, thus wound up stuffing myself with about half a loaf of (admittedly great) bread between servings of chef Meir Adoni's miniature creations. He does pack a lot of creativity into an awfully small volume (making him, what, the gastronomical version of d. boon?) but his dishes are still very small for this hard-working, blue-collar wine lover's appetite, even after a year of clean living and temperate eating habits. Also, I found the sheer creativity of the dishes to overwhelm the austerity of the wines, although Anat Sella of Breuer's importer Giaconda's would disagree (in fact, she did!) - however, the pairing of the Goldkapsel with the cheese platter for dessert could have had me singing hosannas for both Adoni and Breuer winemaker Hermann Schmoranz.

Having filled this month's quota of parentheses, I am now content to spew out my tasting notes. These are all Rieslings, by the way.

Rauenthal, Nonnenberg, Erst Gewachs, 2005

Elegant nose, starts austere with green apples and lovely hints of minerals that grow more pronounced as it opens. The palate has a rough edge, there is a very nice green apple driven acidity but there is a raspy bitterness on the finish that makes for a pinching effect. Picks up some complexity as it opens but still too young and shut for me to succumb.

Not for sale.

Terra Montosa, 2008

This blend of different vineyards has residual sugar which is obvious even though the wine feels only a step between dry and off dry. The nose here is fruitier, friendlier than the previous entry while the wine is much more open and ready on the palate. Apple driven, and monolithically so, whereas the Nonnenberg had more nuances. In the end, there is something too simple on the palate for my taste, without any youthful zest to take up the slack.

Not for sale.

Rauenthal, Nonnenberg, Erst Gewachs, 2007

The nose and palate, surprisingly, are both more open and complex than the 2005, with spicy nuances, as well as being sweeter and fruitier. The 2005 might have the more challenging structure, and in a sense the 07 is a limpid sort of fellow, but its roundness has great charm without the older vintage's roughness and has appealing aromatic complexity.

300 NIS.

Rudesheimer, Berg Roseneck, Erst Gewachs, 2007

Ah, what a great nose - complex, detailed, morphing the apples at its core into something that owes more to gunpowder and flint than to fruit. The palate has greater balance than anything yet, and by far too! - with a bite on the finish that belies the preceeding harmony. All of which are tempered by a sweetness that comes from the fruit, not any RS.

260 NIS. Since I prefer it to the Nonnenberg, I like the fact that the Roseneck is lower priced.

Rudesheimer, Berg Rottland, Erst Gewachs, 2007

This wine doesn't evolve a lot even with time and air and while it shows a regal personality with a savory saline finish, it doesn't have the same exciting wow factor as the Roseneck. But it's still the 2nd best dry wine of the night.

260 NIS.

Rauenthal, Nonnenberg, Auslese Goldkapsel, 2007

This has the marmalade/tofee nose I expect from, and love in, a dessert wine, with botrytis funk to boot: you can smell its breed! Doesn't hurt that the palate has better acidity than a Sauternes. Lovely. Outstanding. The Poison Ivy to my Carl Gardner.

300 NIS.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rosh Hashana Wines (Sept. 9, 2010)

You'd expect a wine afficiando to drink lots of good wines to celebrate the new Jewish year - and in my case, you'd be wrong. What usually happens is I downgrade, downscale and downsize as we dine with the ignorant masses.

Carmel, Regional Series, Viognier, 2008

Clementine, apricot jam, honey, alcoholic. Alcoholic bite on finish. Pretty decent for a variety I no longer care for much (it could well have gone extinct for all I care) but at least after this encounter I can finally scratch a long-standing mental itch as I finally understand what I'm reminded of I drink a Chenin Blanc that doesn't click: Viognier.

Price unknown.

Solar Viejo, Rioja, Crianza, 2007

I should have known better. An anonymous bodegas whose production peters out at the crianza level plus an uninspired importer combine for a wine that the salesman at Hinawi didn't even exert an effort to push at me. What a fool I was to even ask about this atrocity which will re-inforce every complaint the New World has against Rioja. This isn't even a cooking wine in my book, more like an ingredient in a Molotov bottle.

Imported by Enoteca, sold for 69 NIS at Hinawi. All I can say is my wife had a very strict price limit on what she would allow me to open for our guests (and considered it impolite to open one bottle for them and another for me). This seemed like the best of the lot at that price range as all the local wines were upward of 14% ABV. I had hopes that a mediocre Spanish wine would at least evoke memories of, well, Spain. I was wrong.

By the end of the holiday, I was in desperate need of my fix, my cure, and so I turned to a wine I knew I wouldn't be able to match with anything resembling a regular meal.

Nicolas Joly, Savennieres, Les Vieux Clos, 2006

Like Closel's wines, this is a big, diesel-powered Savennieres, with a concentration of sweet fruit that I'm guessing might have overwhelmed me in his higher echelon wines but is appropriate here - as well as decently framed by a gravelly structure. The nose has a lot of apricot jam, baked apples, cardamon and campfire, and has affinity with the Closel Savennieres. (Sept. 10, 2010).

Giaconda, 193 NIS.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Meat Place (Aug. 30, 2010)

I am never sure what the proprietors' translation of the Hebrew name "מקום של בשר" should be. I like "Meat Place" but the owners may well think of it as "A Place For Meat". It means the same thing but neither sounds as cool as the Hebrew anyway. I would personally call it "Carnivore Corner", 'cept I'm saving that name for my future retirement home.

Be that as it may, on this visit I dismissed any pretenses at subtlety and/or elegance for my BYO and brought flagrantly upfront wines such as may nonetheless satisfy a minimal requirement for finesse. Thus, I present this pair of Parker sluts.

d'Arenberg, Dead Arm, Shiraz, 2001

This is obviously the New World, but liquor-like, as opposed to jammy, the distinction being the former somehow implies greater focus. Now, add on top of that and the black fruit some balsamic vinegar and and black pepper, and this tannic, powerful yet sleek wine would be a blockbuster if it weren't so balanced and, within its context, elegant. I was juggling boxing metaphors whilts appraising and finally settled on Sugar Ray Leonard; you know: shallow, yet classy.

Clos Mogador, Priorat, 2001

A knockout nose, really. Asphalt and graphite complementing a rather elegant facade of fruit on the palate that is tannic, yet somehow rounder than the Dead Arm. I have a cosmic-scale shopping list and a miserly budget so I won't be coming 'round its way again, but this is really a fine wine.

Both imported by WineRoute and originally sold for about 210 NIS on discount

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Losing My Edge (hommage a James Murphy)

Yeah, I'm losing my edge.
I'm losing my edge.
The kids are coming up from behind.
I'm losing my edge.
I'm losing my edge to the twenty-something sommeliers From London and Manhatten.
But I was there.

I was there in 1976.
I was there at the Judgement of Paris.
I'm losing my edge.
I'm losing my edge to the wine store salesmen whose footsteps I hear behind me when I'm browsing through Cellar Tracker! on my iPhone.
I'm losing my edge to the Internet seekers who can tell me the drinking window of every great claret from the 80's and 90's.
I'm losing my edge.

To all the smart yuppies in Hong Kong and the Phillipines.
I'm losing my edge to oligarchs with borrowed nostalgia for first growths from the sixties.

I'm losing my edge.
I'm losing my edge, but I was there.
I was there.
But I was there.

I'm losing my edge.
I'm losing my edge.
I can hear the footsteps every night when I'm polishing my blog.
But I was there.
I was there in 1978 when Robert Parker printed the first edition of the Wine Advocate.
I read the tasting notes with much patience.
I was there when he made it into a web-site.
I told him, "Don't do it that way. You'll never make a dime."
I was there.
I told him he needed to publish scores.
He thought I was crazy.
We all know.
I was there.
I was there.
I've never been wrong.

I used to work in Chambers Street.
I tasted everything before anyone.
I was there when the brokers discovered Brunello.
I was there when Barolo was all the rage.
I woke up naked on Long Beach with a hangover from a Jeroboam of 89 Petrus.

But I'm losing my edge to better-looking people with better connections and a bigger wallet.
And they're actually really, really nice.

I'm losing my edge.

I heard that in your cellar you have a case of every great wine made anywhere in the world. Every great Bordeaux vintage. All the classic German Rieslings before and after the 1971 German Wine Law. A Romanee-Conti vertical. I heard that Ponsot named a Pinot clone after you. I heard that Guigal makes a super-premium cuvee that he sells only to you. I heard that you bought the first bottle of Cloudy Bay ever sold in London.

I hear you're taking a wine-making course and have a barrel of Syrah fermenting in your garage because you want to make something real. You want to be a Rhone Ranger.

I hear that you and your friends have sold your Helen Turley Zins and bought Russian River Pinots.
I hear that you and your friends have sold your Russian River Pinots and bought Helen Turley Zins.
I hear that you and your friends have sold your Helen Turley Zins and bought New Zealand Pinots.

I hear everybody that you taste with is cooler than everybody that I know.

But have you seen my wine collection?

Haut-Brion 1990, Ramonet Batard-Montrachet 1969, Beaucastel 1989, Cuvee Cathelin 1990, Huet Le Haut Lieu Demi-Sec 1949, Les-Cases 1990, Donnhoff Brucke Eiswein 2001, Ygay 1964, Ygay 1912! Mouton 1959, 1945 Latour, Apollonio Terragnolo 1998, Dominus 1991, Mirassou 1974, Margalit 1989, Moet 1921, Taylor 1945, Trotanoy 2000, Clos de Epeneaux 1999, Vogue Musigny 1993, Hugel Riesling SGN 1976, l'Arrivet-Haut-Brion 1998, Figeac 1947, Prum Sonnenuhr Auslese 1959, Montebello 1997, Barton 1996

San Leonardo 1997, La Mistral 2000, Yquem 1959, Lafitte 1959, Cantemerle 1989,
Veuve Cliquot Brut 1959

Mount Eden 1974, Sociando Mallet 1990, Rostaing Cote Blonde 1990, Unico 1987, La Meal 1999, l'Ermite 1990, Delesvaux Coteaux du Layon 2001, Gimmonet! Special Club! 1998!, Montrose 1955, Lafon Perrieres 2002, Pichon-Baron 2000, Cheval Blanc 1996, Gunderloch Rothenberg Trockenbeerenauslese 2001, de Montille, Deux Montilles, de Montille, Deux Montilles.

You don't know what you really want.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Misc Notes (Aug. 2010)

Grata Vinum, Priorat, 2 Pi R, 2006

I like it, even though, on paper anyway, it's not really my style, being too round and too friendly. But it's got just enough tannic bite and acidity to pull through and there's enough in it to point to its origins in modern Spain and enough graphite to point me to Priorat. I suppose I'm just not feeling witty or perceptive enough to write up a solid reason why I liked it, so let me just say the two bottles I've drunk over the last six months were exactly the right amount for me. (Aug. 1, 2010)

The Scottish Company, 160 NIS.

Dr. Loosen, Mosel, "L" Riesling, 2009

You wouldn't expect a lot of complexity, depth or stuffing in such a "lowly" wine, and you'd be right, yet it's so tasty and refreshing, just like bobbing for apples in a a barrel of ice-water. (Aug. 12, 2010) A second bottle on the 24th just re-enforces my impression: this is the only wine I'd ever consider putting in my gym bottle!

Two for 100 NIS at WineRoute.

Henri Bourgeois, Vin De Pays Du Val De Loire, Petit Bourgeois, Sauvignon Blanc, 2009

Great value, with a quirky mineral vein on the nose and ripe, tropical fruit on the palate. (Aug. 13, 2010)

WineRoute, 53 NIS.

Domaine Les Pallieres, Gigondas, 2004

I was planning to open this wine again in a few years, but bad storage conditions made me panic. Let's see: cork is good shape, the color is fine, the aromatics are on the herbal side but that's what I have come to expect from this wine. The palate is tannic and medicinal at first, so I wait. But even the initial glass improves with food. Fast forward an hour or so ahead: the nose shows just hints of fruit (but I think that's the style of the wine, not the storage issue, thank god), herbal, slightly alcoholic, with notes of dust and iron, just what I expect from the southern lands. The palate is tannic and austere, with deeply submerged acidity showing up on the finish, as well as a pleasing, not-at-all-candied, sweetness, that gives the wine breadth despite the tannic grip. This is as good as it will get and like a lot of wines in this genre, it appeals to me as a passing fling, not a lifetime relationship. So I'd buy again, but not a whole lot. (Aug. 14, 2010)

WineRoute, 150 NIS

Chateau Ormes De Pez, St. Estephe, 2007

This is a wine that received some mediocre scores and I can understand why. At first it's so easy to drink, with soft tannins and mellow fruit, that I found myself wondering what manner of Bordeaux wimp I'd run into. Then I left it alone and, returning a couple of hours later, found that air brings out a green streak on the palate that detracts unless it's immediately followed by food and also highlights the tannins, which become rather puckering. On the other hand, the acidity is very effective and not over-done. The aromatics are lovely anyway, with subtle fruit behind a veil of tobacco leaves and earth. I've read in Hugh Johnson's autobiography that this was a household favorite even in bygone days pre-dating latter-day technology so maybe it's an old-school wine that needs more time? (Aug. 15, 2010)

Sold by WineRoute in a three for 400 NIS deal.

A. Et. P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise, Rouge, La Fortune, 2008

As much as I love this winery, I'll admit there's nothing very profound about this wine, just a little something I like to drink at home, offering, as it does, a glimpse of Burgundian class. Cheerful red fruit in a light frame, with a touch of blood, forest floor and typical Bourgogne spices. And that saline finish is a delight, which I hope might win over anyone who finds the proceedings a little tart.(Aug. 19, 2010)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 110 NIS.

Faustino, Rioja Gran Reserva, I, Black 75th Anniversary Label, 2001

One of the few times that I've opened a classic Rioja that needed time for the oak to melt away. Not that there's a lot of it, but for a region that built its style around the use of American barrels, I've never really noticed signs of blatant oak when I've drunk old school Riojas- but I do here. The oak isn't nasty and doesn't overwhelm the signature mellow red fruit but it does give the savory tannins a bitter overlay that that begs for cellar time to integrate and resolve it. The nose is already a warm embrace of red fruit, cedar, leather and spices, without the notes of mildew and stew that come with maturity. So a good start for what it still a very young wine. (Aug. 21, 2011)

Now imported by WineRoute and on sale, three for 400 NIS. Whereas the Ormes de Pez, which I bought at the same sale, gave me pause for thought, this is a no-brainer, as it will be a useful wine for drinking over the next five years if you're a conservative - and for a couple of decades if you believe this is one time Faustino has managed to dance with the big boys. Maybe only along the walls, but on the same ballroom anyway.

A. Et P. De Villaine, Rully, Les St. Jacques, 2007

Of the Villaine whites, I drink this one at the youngest of age - at about three years of age, as evidenced by this note. Maybe it's the age of the vines, but whatever, the Rully never seems to go into an austere, green phase like the Bouzeron or into a heavy, ungainly one like the Cote Chalonnaise. At present, the nose has citrus fruit with a light touch of minerals and nuts, while the palate is light with no trace of oak, with a lovely zest of acidity and a savory finish. (Aug. 22, 2010)

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 130 NIS.

Alain Graillot, St. Joseph, 2007

Back when I started drinking and collecting, I was sure St. Joseph outranked Crozes-Hermitage because Graillot's St. Joseph was the more expensive cuvee. I'm still not sure what the pecking order is (Graillot is not the only producer whose St. Joseph out-prices their Crozes) and I'm definitely uncertain which is the better wine, never having tasted them together at the same. Having said that, inasmuch as comparing this to the 2006 Crozes has any validity at all, this comes off as the riper, more hedonistic wine

The nose has all the black pepper you'd expect from the Northern Rhone, with a touch of rubber. The palate has ample acidity, soft tannins and a saline finish and is so approachable I'd be tempted to drink a six-pack over the next two years - because the young fruit is so lovely right now and offers everything I love in a young red - being juicy, savory, tangy. And if this wine ever saw oak at all, then the barrel maker must have been named Griffin, so delicate is the hand of the wine maker. (Aug. 26, 2010)

WineRoute, about 160 NIS. Good value and I'd buy more.

Jean-Marc Brocard, Chablis Grand Cru, Les Clos, 2002

I adore this wine but it surprised me by showing more finesse than power, which is not what I anticipate in a Les Clos, much less what I had expected from the tasting notes I'd read. In fact, I've had quite a few premier crus that displayed a greater punch, although few wines of any breed were this effortlessly elegant. Another minor fault is that it doesn't really show any typical Chablis marine traits (sea shells, sea air). Whatever, this wine is delicate lace of minerals, and very savory, as a great Bourgogne should be. (Aug. 28, 2010).

O'Leary Walker, Barossa Valley, Polish Hill River Riesling, 2008

This was such a harsh wine last winter that my decision to open it now was practically an act of desperation - yet this Hail Mary worked as this wine has developed to a rather enjoyable and interesting place. The nose starts out subdued, opening up to show decent complexity, with lime-skin, rainwater and kerosene. The palate is better, austere and crisp, without a lot of fruit but with this saline streak that I find appealing. As good as a decent village Chablis. (Aug. 29, 2010)

Mersch, about 130 NIS.

Not imported to Israel, purchased abroad for about 50 USD.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

2GrandCru Turns 44!

I celebrated my birthday over a period of three weeks this year. The first stop in the celebration tour was at home with my wife:

Donnhoff, Nahe, Schlossbockelheimer Felsenberg, Riesling Spatlese, 2004

At home, on my birthday, a Nahe. Beautiful, elegant Nahe. If Donnhoff's only ambition was to make the most archetypical off-dry german Riesling, then he succeeded in spades. This doesn't break any new grounds, simply fine-tunes every nuances you expect to find in these lovely ladies. The fruit is still in its youthful incarnation of juicy red apples, speckled with chalk and sea air. The palate is light and yet so well balanced that it leaves you wanting nothing. (July 19, 2010)

Giaconda, about 180 NIS.

Koehler-Ruprecht, Pfalz, Kalstadter Steinacker, Scheurebe Beerenauslese, 2004

Wow, there's a bit of band-aid in there, but beyond that, and the variety's telltale guayavas, there's a purity and vitality I have not found in any K-H wines lately. Feels closer to Sauternes than other German stickies, but without the comparatively high alcohol. (July 19, 2010)

The second stop came three weeks later (Aug. 7, 2010) with my wine buddies. I've been watching my calorie intake this past year but this was my birthday party so I went off the wagon and chef Ari Yerzin from Cafe Italia made all those extra calories worthwhile.

Domaine de Baumard, Savennieres, Clos Du Papillon, 2005

I brought this wine as a sort of a teaser. We had enough expensive wines for the occasion and I thought I'd use the opportunity to taste an interesting wine that usually falls under our radar, so to speak. The results were weak, not by way of comparison with the bigger boys brought to the table, but because something just didn't work with this wine, which I'd enjoyed much more in the past. It may have been served a few degrees too cold (although we let it warm in glass) or maybe the wine is in a really awkward phase (Chenin Blanc can be so elusive) but whatever the cause, the palate was one-dimensional and lacked grip. The nose, however, did have the mineral signature that I loved about this wine in previous encounters.

Giaconda, about 180 NIS.

Raveneau, Chablis Premier Cru, Chapelot, 1999

Corked. Hopelessly so. Amir, hanks for the thought. This is a wine I truly wanted to taste.

Not imported to Israel, price unknown.

Drouhin-Laroze, Latricieres-Chambertin, 2002

I'm not familiar with this producer. The nose is interesting and complex, with a spicing that recalls Barolo. The palate is full and ripe enough yet somehow doesn't quite feel like a 2002, being somewhat watery in mid-palate. A good wine, nonetheless, despite the shortcomings.

Not imported to Israel, price unknown. Thanks, Rani.

La Rioja Alta, Rioja Gran Reserva, 890, 1985

The 890 is a major contender the for title of best old-school Rioja and it proved it on this occasion, in spades, for which I'm ever so grateful (thanks Ran and Oron). Putting on the critic's cap for a minute before I continue adulating, the aromatics lacked some typicity, but the palate was long and sweetish - and I'm talking about pure sweetness of fruit here, nothing in any way degradatory - ending with a pungent finish. An elegant creature.

New vintages sold in Israel by HaKerem for over 600 NIS, price unknown.

Chateau Leoville-Poyferre, St. Julien 2me Cru, 1995

This didn't really go toe-to-toe with the Barton, the next wine in the line-up (and, of course, one of the other two Leovilles) because we didn't drink them in a flight, but it's obviously the lesser wine, even if it is a very good drop. It's very savory, very balanced, with tobacco leaves aromatics.

New vintages imported to Israel by WineRoute, price unknown. Thanks, Benny.

Chateau Leoville-Barton, St. Julien 2me Cru, 1995

From nose to finish, this a classic Bordeaux experience. The nose is better and more complex than the Poyferre, bordering on sublime, with tobacco and cedar. The body is full with plenty of extract, well balanced enough so that the extra stuffing doesn't tire the palate, with a savory finish. A worthy birthday wine and in its prime.

New vintages imported to Israel by WineRoute, purchased in the US for about 130 USD.

Finally, at dinner at Rokah 73 with my wife, also in celebration of our fifteenth wedding anniversary!

Ramonet, Chassagne-Montrachet, Premier Cru, Boudriotte, 2002

Oh, this is where white Burgundy leads you on a treacherous, agonizing ride. When was I supposed to open this wine, when all the critics says it's ready? Well, it's ready insofar as it's drinkable but it is still defined by the death-kiss of oak, present at first on both nose and palate, where it overwhelms the spicy pear aromas and the saline finish - the last being what I basically look for in my white B's. No matter how much of its footing this wine eventually regains with airing, there remains something too sweet and four-square for my taste. And I have to admit, I don't think it will ever get much better than this. Having said that, the 2004 village wine was better - so maybe it only needs more time? But how much more? Eight years is plenty of time, even for a Premier Cru. Damn. See what I mean about Bourgogone's malicious ways? (Aug. 10, 2010)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sorry, Ma, I Forgot To Get More Sancerre (Aug. 5, 2010)

I didn't realize I'd been looking for the right Sauvignon Blanc - not consciously, anyway - and while this, the Henri Bourgeois, Sancerre, La Bourgeoise, 2007, isn't the perfect sample, it's still the best Sauvignon Blanc I've tasted in the last couple of years. The nose is decent-plus, with pungent minerals and a lime-and-apple shake that is reminiscent of Chablis - but it's the palate that's the real killer: no great complexity but a sharp focus that lends it great length; and a salinity that, again, nods and winks at Chablis, all the while riding a structure whose angular shape is all Sauvignon.

WineRoute, 135 NIS on sale.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Misc Notes (July 2010)

Henri Bourgeois, Vin De Pays Du Val De Loire, Petit Bourgeois, Sauvignon Blanc, 2009

Why quibble if it's only a quaffer? It's a terrific quaffer and like drinking an airy sherbet of white peaches, with mineral nuances. (July 13, 2010)

WineRoute, 53 NIS.

Gunderloch, Rheinhessen, Nackenheim Rothenberg, Riesling Auslese, Goldkapsel, 2007

I had this at Giaconda's 4th anniversary celebrations at Pier 23 at the Tel Aviv Port, which is a lousy way to taste wine, being outdoors and in a crowd, so I'm really putting this down to serve as a very vague data point. Judging by the way the acidity right now is masking so much of the sugar, I would give this a long rest in the cellar. Like decades. That's all, folks. (July 15, 2010)

Giaconda, 360 NIS.

Josef Leitz, Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz, Riesling Spatlese, 2007

Not that long, not that complex - but it's delicious, harmonious, lively and refreshing. Deftly integrates the peaches, grapefruit and apple regions of the flavor spectrum. (July 16, 2010).

Giaconda, 103 NIS.

A. Et P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise, Rouge, La Fortune, 2008

Earthy and moderately sweet Pinot fruit comprised of strawberries, cranberries, raspberries - red and refreshing with a saline finish. The nose develops into a very complete rendition of Bourgone, with mineral and blood notes over the aforementioned red fruit, perhaps the best nose I've ever sniffed off a ~100 NIS wine. (July 17, 2010)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 110 NIS.

Deux Montilles, Rully, 2007

The nose shows citrus fruit, some pears, flint and even a hint of sea salt. The palate is long and savory, even if it isn't very complex. And I want more. (July 18, 2010)

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 120 NIS.

Donnhoff, Nahe, Schlossbockelheimer Felsenberg, Riesling Spatlese, 2004

At home, on my birthday, a Nahe. Beautiful, elegant Nahe. If Donnhoff's only ambition was to make the most archetypical off-dry german Riesling, then he succeeded in spades. This doesn't break any new grounds, simply fine-tunes every nuances you expect to find in these lovely ladies. The fruit is still in its youthful incarnation of juicy red apples, speckled with chalk and sea air. The palate is light and yet so well balanced that it leaves you wanting nothing. (July 19, 2010)

Giaconda, about 180 NIS.

And on the same joyous occasion:

Koehler-Ruprecht, Pfalz, Kalstadter Steinacker, Scheurebe Beerenauslese, 2004

Wow, there's a bit of band-aid in there but beyond that and the variety's telltale guayavas, there's a purity and vitality I have not found in any K-H wines lately. Feels closer to Sauternes than other German stickies, but without the comparatively high alcohol. (July 19, 2010)

Also Giaconda, about 220 NIS.

Marcel Lapierre, Morgon, 2008

This is fruity in the classic, old-school French style, which means it's not very fruity at all, just mellow, almost rose-like, with kinky mineral notes. But as much as I personally love its brainy, austere trappings, it's not a wine for everyone. (July 31, 2010)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 110 NIS.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Moreau-Naudet Tasting At Giaconda (July 12, 2010)

This was not an easy tasting for me. Moreau-Naudet's wines are obviously of their place but the 2006's were too sullen to enjoy. See, I can't shake of my fears that a moody wine won't emerge in the future a bright and happy wine - and I like my Chablis quiet yet joyous. So I'll hope for the best. And certainly the Valmur 2002 was a wine worth waiting for.

Petit Chablis, 2007

Smells like a Chablis for sure with its citrus, chalk and sea shells; certainly tastes as good as a village, even if doesn't have the length or depth to keep the pretense up for long. Unoaked, and it shows.

92 NIS.

Chablis, Les Pargues Vieilles Vignes, 2006

Even more than the Petit, the Les Pargues' nose is all I want in a Chablis: the truest expression of terroir, with aromas of sea shells and fossils that remind you of the area's underwater origins. Although the palate is noticeably longer and more intense than the Petit, there is an astringency that runs in parallel with the acidic backbone instead of being buffered by it. In short, too young and, as noted in my introduction, adolescently sullen. From ~50 year old vines.

148 NIS.

Chablis Premier Cru, Vaillons, 2006

The nose is a step up, because the fruit, which leans towards peaches and apricots, is more generous. The oak is obvious on nose and palate, as is a vein of butter. This wine is where the adjective "brooding" first made its way into my notes, and although I find balance in its depths, it is less interesting the the Les Pargues and doesn't really go anywhere in particular during its time in glass.

171 NIS.

Chablis Premier Cru, Forets, 2006

I do wish this tasting was better at highlighting the differences between the terroirs, but the Vaillons and the Forets were too much alike both stylistically and quality-wise. Except that whatever faults the two wines shared - subdued fruit leaving the spotlight to the alcohol - the Forets had brighter acidity and sharper focus.

171 NIS.

Chablis Premier Cru, Montmains, 2006

Another tiny, weeny, teeny increment in quality over the previous Premier Crus. Better acidity, more graceful harmony. Best of all, it simply tastes better.
171 NIS.

Chablis Premier Cru, Montee de Tonnerre, 2006

A more discernable increment in quality, while not wandering far afield style-wise, this is the most elegant and, perhaps, aloof, of the Premiers. Lovely.

190 NIS.

Chablis Grand Cru, Valmur, 2006

When you finally reach Grand Cru territory in a difficult tasting like this, you expect a payoff and I finally got one. This is like God turned the dial and suddenly everything is in focus and you can sniff subtle nuances floating before you. Besides that, the much greater extract makes the palate easier to approach.

320 NIS.

Chablis Grand Cru, Valmur, 2002

Home run! All the sea-side aromas the previous wines display have morphed into a lovely stink and a savory palate that is Burgundian - and Chablis - to an extreme.

Not for sale.

One surprise dessert:

Bourillon d'Orleans, Vouvray, Moeulleux, Art Monia, 2003

I don't want to write about this wine. I mean, I love it and I've drunk it a lot and written a lot of notes about it. But it depresses me to consider that I didn't have the patience - or, let's face it, fridge space - to cellar it. So now it's all gone at home and I had to by another one, knowing one more is not enough and I'll probably drink it too early, too.

About 130 NIS.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

World Cup Wines (July 2010)

I had a notion of watching the games with friends but six year old Adam discovered the world of football this year and I had so much fun staying at home and watching the games with him. Turns out he remembers the scores and scorers better than I do! Of course, there were wines to be drunk; I did share a few sips with Adam, please don't tell the authorities.

Koehler-Ruprecht, Pfalz, Kalstadter Steinacker, Riesling Kabinett, 2005

Drunk over the course of the first day of the World Cup Quarter-Finals. I opened it at around five in the afternoon, hoping a few hours of air would help it perform better than K-H had done for me in the recent past. It needs it, too, as it initially tastes like battery-acid tempered by apples cider. The nose has a mineral tint with a pungent, kerosene notes, showing sweet herbs as the kerosene winds down. As the evening rolls on, I'm confused by my reaction towards this wine, and find it really hard to write about. Sometimes I like the nose and not the palate, sometimes it's the other way around. Two silver bullets work for this wine: first is the long, lime-ish, saline finish; second is the wonderful aromas left inn the glass once it is empty, lovely minerals and yeasts. In the end, I miss the days when I just enjoyed K-H without reservations. Nowadays, it's just too challenging for me to try and figure out them out and I have come up with three possible reasons for that:
  1. The wine-maker's a genius and I don't understand him.
  2. The wine-maker doesn't understand me.
  3. The Koehler-Ruprecht wines go into a deeper slumber than my tasting skills can cope with.
(July 2, 2010)

Giaconda, 117 NIS.

Ramonet, Chassagne-Montrachet, 2004

This wine, on the other hand, accompanying the second day of the Quarter-Finals, is like a homecoming. The nose is a little wild, yet complex and detailed, with ripe citrus fruit rippling under the flint and dry grass. The palate is just as good, even if less complex, with good length and savory salinity. (July 3, 2010)

Imported by Burgundy Wine Collection, 150 NIS.

Muller-Catoir, Pflaz, Haardter Herrenletten, Riesling Spatlese, 2006

I abstained on the first day of the Semi-Finals while recovering from Hagit Koren's farewell binge. For the Spain-Germany match, I had a tough choice to make and went with a German wine, thinking I had more German wines to spare should the German squad make the Finals.

What I love about Muller-Catoir and makes him my favorite Pfalz producer - well, out of the three or four that I'm familiar with - is the way the wines combine an almost Alsatian ripeness with a sleek, German frame. As such, this wine is a fantastic value and an endearing creature. The intense, lush nose has red apples and tropical fruit against a backdrop of minerals and sweet dough. The palate is as sweet and round as the nose would have you believe while balanced with juicy, green apple acidity. (July 7, 2010)

Giaconda, 135 NIS.

Patricia Green Cellars, Oregon, Dundee Hills, Ana, Pinot Noir, 2006

Third-place match on Saturday. Despite the 14.1% ABV listed on the label, this looks and smells like a Pinot, if not a Bourgogne, but the palate shows heat and sweetness, though in time the tannins assert themselves and balance the effects of the alcohol. The nose has all the candied fruit of a young Pinot, with very nice herbal and meaty notes, as well as some white pepper; while the palate, all through the interplay of alcohol and tannins, remains hard and tight at the core and not that pleasant without food - I matched it with ossobucco, which was a nice, if not great, pairing. I will say it improves with air, until the tannins and alcohol make for a bitter, austere effect. I hate to admit stuff like this, but I opened this bottle two-three years early. (July 10, 2010).

Not available in Israel bought abroad for about 40 USD.

For the Finals, I wanted a real Bourgogne, after the Patricia Green teased me without coming close to delivering the real thing.

Comte Armand, Volany Premier Cru, Les Fremiets, 2002

A light, fragrant Bourgogne, with subtle aromatics of red fruit and minerals, that takes hours to open up. The nose opens first, showing greater complexity without ever talking very loudly - an apt choice for meditation if not a football match. The palate has less stuffing and body than I'd expected from an '02 and at first the tannins don't really gel with the fruit, while the acidity is rather muted. During the first half of the match, there is little action on the palate - echoing the play on the field. But towards the halftime, things start falling into place. The tannins are still bitter and green but now that the fruit is starting to emerge, there's a better balance so the overall effect is herbal and mildly astringent rather than harsh and off-putting. In the end, like the game, it promised more than it delivered. (June 11, 2010)

Tomer Gal imports Comte Armand, although not this bottling, which I purchased in London for about 40 GBP.