Monday, October 29, 2012

Another Prelude To Chaos (Oct. 16, 2012)

Francois Jobard, Meursault Premier Cru, Genevrieres, 2005

An amazing nose. Smoky minerals, sulfur, citrus, a touch of white meat. A very good structure, with a sweet, peacock tail finish. Although the vintage makes for a rich wine, the acidity plays for a multi-layered effect without being too heavy. So, I finally get to drink prime time Jobard that isn't too young or dead.

Beaunneau du Martray, Corton-Charlemagne, 1999

TCA here, but the Martray gives a great fight to the Cork Devil, being honeyed and nutty, its richness somehow managing to sweep the TCA under the carpet. Just enough to give a preview of what might have been.

Aldo Conterno, Barolo, Colonnelo, 1996

Languid red fruit with bright acidity and an overlay of pepper and a saline finish. A happy wine with mellow tannins. The only thing that says Barolo to me is the tannic bite on the finish and layer of spices on the nose.

Chateau Trotanoy, Pomerol, 1996

Ripe fruit, although not overtly ripe, leather, pepper, with a touch of earth and mushrooms. Lithe and long, with rustic yet somewhat sleek tannins.

I didn't drive, so I took in more than my share of mouthfuls. To the point where I was almost sleepwalking my dogs when I got back home. Then, after three hours of sleep, I was rudely awaken by a crisis at work, that kept me at the office for fourteen hours. That's moi, the Highway Patrolman of Hi-Tech and Wine.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Weekend Wines (Oct. 5-6, 2012)

Thankfully, I actually remember the wines we drank this weekend.
Hmmmm, how should I put this? No matter what attitude this blog presents, I don't often host dinners at home with wines that are worth devoting a separate post to. Not two nights back to back - that's a first for me.

First, Friday night.

Domaine de Font-Sane, Gigondas, Terrasses des Dentelles, 2005

This is one of the best 15 proof reds I've ever drunk. It's sweet with alcohol and glycerine but there's a layer of minerals and a saline finish that makes me take to it. Nigh surprising balance. And the nose is typical South Rhone with its black fruit pepper, iron and garrigue. Thus it's a beast, but not without its share of finesse.

Giaconda, 189 NIS.

Chateau Guiraud, Sauternes Premier Cru, 2003

When I made my first forays into the world of wine, noble rot wines absolutely fascinated me, and Sauternes were the only option available locally, so that's what I bought for the most part. I started to turn away from Sauternes because I found that the marriage of high alcohol and low acidity, especially in warm vintages such as 2003, made for a a clumsy, bitter effect on the palate. Which is the case with the Guiraud, although there is certainly plenty of complexity and a sense of lush and posh on the long finish. The nose is great, that's for sure, making a power-play of apricot marmalade and that botrytis essence of mustard and spices.

WineRoute, about 180 NIS for a half-bottle.

Then Saturday.

R. Lopez de Heredia, Rioja, Vina Tondonia, White Reserva, 1991

Of all the classic Old World wine regions, Rioja is the only one that really shies away from discoursing on terroir in its labels, except for Heredia, whose Tondonia and Bosconia labels are single vineyard designations.

Sweetish on the palate, with a Spanish presence in the nose: minerals, a hint of leather,and enough slightly ozidized kink so that no other region could easily claim a stake for. As you'd likely expect, this is a classic - maybe not on the order of a Gran Reserva, but a classic nonetheless.

Domaine De Montcalmes, Coteaux du Languedoc, Terrasses du Larzac, 2008

Shiny black fruit with such an overt presence of black pepper you have to wonder what they put in the juice besides Syrah. It's two thirds Syrah - the reminder made of equal parts Grenache and Mourvedre - according to the Michael Skurnik fact sheet, so what you have here is an upside down, min-CdP. Or just call it a GSM blend, if you like. However, the way it tastes (crunchy black fruit, savory tannins), it sure doesn't feel like anyone paid the Chateauneuf model too much attention, more like someone should consider paying Saint Joseph some royalties; .

Returning to a glass full leftover a couple of days later, this is now in Cornas territory, with notes of leather and olive brine. Cool.

Wenzel, Ruster Ausbruch, Saz, 2006

Very Tokay vis a vis acidity, maybe a little thicker, and the botrytis feels different, somehow. Eran Pick, who brought it, says it comes from Burgenland the Austrian side of the Austria-Hungary border and made of mostly Furmint (60% according to the winery, the rest Muskateller). Saz is the name of the vineyard and the winery claims the wine has half a century's worth of aging potential. Seems like it's got a decade ahead at least, although we didn't suffer opening it at six years post-vintage.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Promotion Time (Sept. 29, 2012)

I'd gotten promoted at work to a managerial position and had virtually lived through an entire week during each work day for the first week on the job. So it took Efrat and me a while to get around to celebrating, but when we did, it was at Bertie at Tel Aviv (an excellent sea based dinner: the squid, eggplant and humus dish was especially commendable), accompanied by, what else, Champagne.

Larmandier-Bernier, Champagne Vieille Vigne de Cramant Grand Cru, n.v.(technically, but all 2004)

Austere and mineral-driven, with brioche and walnut notes, and a purity that shows why the relatively neutral Chardonnay grape excels so much at  displaying terroir - or whatever it is that is responsible for the magic of Champagne and the Cote d'Or. And magic is what this is all about, because on the technical side, this wine mumbles a bit; the nose is somewhat mute at times and the mousse isn't very persistent, but part of the magic and charm is how even its still form shows to an even greater degree how tasty Champagne can be.

Fat Guy, not the cheapest wine in the world and I think the Special Clubs offer better value: about 450 NIS.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Taking Care Of Business (Sept. 2012)

Emrich-Schonleber, Nahe, Monzinger Halenberg, Riesling Spatlese, 2007

The Schonleber Halenbergs are not just great wines, they soothing wines and the 2007 is particularly ethereal, with its granny apples, slate, dill and a hint of petrol - which is the quintessential grocery list. The balance on the palate is so fine that it strengthens my opinion that in the hands of a Schonleber or a Donnhoff, the Nahe is the Teutonic version of St. Julien. And it's so refreshing that it belies and perhaps obscures its own complexity and depth. A classic.(Sept. 1, 2012)

In retrospect, soothing is exactly what I needed. The day after we drank the Halenberg, I plunged into a two day vortex of round the clock work. Re-reading my notes, the contrast between the peace and quiet of Saturday night and the chaos of Sunday and Monday is astonishing.

Giaconda, 180 NIS.

Huet, Vouvray, Petillant Brut, 2005

This here has a fine nose that is as nutty as the best the Cote de Beaune would have to offer, and just as flint and toast laden. Beyond that, it is all Chenin: apricots, green apples and a hint of cherries on the nose, then a lean, steely body culminating in a dry, chalky, saline finish. Ah, charming. (Sept. 7, 2012)

Giaconda, 150 NIS.

Barkan, Altitude, 624, 2009

Because I've been exploring Israeli wines lately, and specifically enjoyed Barkan's Asemblage series, I was curious about the Altitude. Which is rather ripe and sweet, as it turns out, and very soft. But air brings out some mitigating factors: some herbal notes, figs, good tannins spicing the fruit through its solid length. Balanced within its ripe, sweet idiom. Served too warm at Joya Herzeliya. (Sept. 14, 2012)

Hugel, Jubilee Riesling, 2005

A class act that walks the razor's edge between clean Riesling fruit and the fiery chalk and quartz I usually find in other Grand Crus from Alsace (and the only reason this isn't labelled as the Schoenenbourg it is is because the Hugel family eschews the Alsatian Grand Cru system). It's not a harsh wine, but its soft, lithe structure is quite assertive and still tight, and is in a grainy, mineral phase that seems, to me, to require some fine tuning in the bottle. (Sept. 14, 2012)

WineRoute, 200 NIS.

Recanati, Shiraz, 2011

Not all Israeli Syrahs are as Rhone-like as Recanati's Syrah-Viognier, in fact most of the local Shiraz I've tasted have been fairly Australian in nature and this is no exception, with its candied cherry-berry personality and a touch of black pepper. Maybe it's the grape imposing the style, but this seems like a Lewis Pasco wine. A little hollow and green in mid-palate, yet with good acidity. A crowd pleaser. (Sept. 17, 2012)

70 NIS (2 for 100 in the Rosh Hashana discount rush)

Salomon, Kremstal, Undhof, Kogl, Erste Lage, 2009

Eldad Levi's Austrians Rieslings are like mellower versions of Alsace, easing up on the quinine and letting clean fruit and a complex array of minerals shine. This is a good example, very popular around these parts, that shows both baked and sour apples, fine acidity  and a long finish. (Sept. 21, 2012)

Fat Guy, 129 NIS.

Barkan, Assemblage, Eitan, 2009

I hadn't noticed that the latest vintages of the Assemblage have been released; I thought I was re-visiting the 2008 when I bought this. So this is a new one and here we go. This is on the ripe side on the nose, even a touch raisiny, but with an earthy, spicy touch that sets the ripeness in a an aromatic frame that I find pleasing. The palate is on the sweet side, but here, too, things work out, as there is a nice streak of acidity on the medium-sized body and tannins that are just firm enough to add structure. (Sept. 22, 2012)

80 NIS.

Caruso and Minini, Sicilia IGT, Tasari (Nero d'Avola-Merlot), 2010

I read an abridged version of "The Three Musketeers" in first or second grade, and one scene that has remained with me ever since is the one where the heroes are attacked during a picnic - which they finish off while killing and maiming their enemies. Great folks. That's while I loved them, and the book. While the Musketeers didn't bring a Sicilian to their luncheon, the Tasari is the style of wine I imagine they drank: tasty and fresh, suffused with enough tobacco and earthy aromas and flavors to be considered hearty, yet light enough for a brunch. (Sept. 25, 2012)

Fat Guy, 69 NIS.

A. Et P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise Blanc, Les Clous, 2008

Time for some Chardonnay, I thought, but this is always a rather tricky wine to open just right, as it needs an hour or two to show well. At first, this is rather mute aromatically, and fatter than I'd like, not to say flabby, with an almost oily texture, and quite nutty. Good acidity, good fruit, deep inside, but not showing that well, even with time. (Sept. 26, 2012)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 110 NIS.

Pfaffenheim, Gewurztraminer, 2010

This entry level Gewurtz is more about grapefuit and spices than lychee and rose water and it provides entry level experience without what sophistication Grand Cru Gewurztraminers can provide. In short, it's more about the grape than about Alsace. Pretty good, though. (Sept. 28, 2012)

Hakerem, 60-80 NIS.

Schloss Gobelsburg, Kamptal Reserve, Gainsberg 1er Lage, Riesling, 2010

There's pure, crystalline fruit at the core of this QPR Grand Cru, but it's always initially shrouded by apple peels, peaches and spices - which are fun in themselves, but nothing to hold a light to the focus and depth that this juice transforms into with air time. There's excellent acidity in there that lends the apple fruit a tint of mint and grapefruit. (Sept. 30, 2012).

Fat Guy again, 159 NIS. I'm not doing a very good job keeping my hands off this beauty.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Trio Of Kiwi Sauvignons To Wind Up The Summer

Cloudy Who?
The Israeli wine scene is young enough to have  avoided the backlash against Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand that I seem to sense in international forums and articles. Which is good for us, because the better imports are exciting and bold and are rightfully very popular here. As the following trio from Mersch prove, and at a very good End Of Summer deal: 249 NIS for a bottle of each, which is about a 30% discount, plus  wine glasses tossed in.

Astrolabe, Marlborough, Durvillea, Sauvignon Blanc, 2010

Gooseberry Fields Forever - fruit so fresh and vivid it feels as thought it had just been plucked off the vines. Crisp and saline as well. (Sept. 13, 2012)

Astrolabe, Marlborough, Voyage, Sauvignon Blanc, 2010

In Israel, the Voyage is synonymous with Astrolabe, but it's not even the flagship label, it's just a step up from the Durvillea, right before the single-vineyard bottlings (which Mersch will be importing soon). Whatever, it's just as vibrant as the Durvillea, but the gooseberry fruit seems deeper, more complex - and the mineral edge more pronounced. It's really lovely, with clarity that will win you over if you have any empathy for the grape at all. (Sept. 15, 2012)

Seifried, Old Coach Road, Sauvignon Blanc, 2011

The last of the three demonstrates the fallibility of the style: the wines are kind of same-y. It's not that easy to tell these wines apart, unless you're tasting side by side - which I wasn't - or you're blessed with a very good memory - and mine is quite good, but it still taxed me to formulate where the Old Coach Road diverges from the Voyage.

It's a better, finer wine, for my tastes, if I look at it holistically. It's more complex, a little more elegant and focused, and more than a little more interesting. Stylistically, they're cut from the same cloth and make use of the same building blocks - although I'd say the Old Coach Road adds a shimmering mint and pink grapefruit tint to the gooseberry. But it attracts me more than the Astrolabes, fine as they were, do. (Sept. 18, 2012)