Friday, July 26, 2013

Birthday Wines, Part 1 (the warm-up, basically)

August Clape, Cornas, Renaissance, 2007

I love Cornas, and while I've never encountered the really fiery, tannic, rustic versions, even the more modern versions I've drunk seemed to hint at the brute they labored to contain. Case in point: this is polished and a little generic in the sense it could have been a super-Tuscan as much as a Northern Rhone, but it's tasty in a languid, sweet way, with black pepper on the nose and rusty tannins. As it develops in glass, it shows a ripe claret vibe, but with a more haphazard structure. (Jul. 18, 2013)

Giaconda, about 300 NIS.

With the family at Bertie.

Terre Nere, Etna Rosso, 2010

Spicy cherries, medium bodied, a spicy/dusty nose a la Nebbiolo, whereas other wines in the Terre Nere lineup were more Pinot like. Soft tannins that in the context of the relatively light body serve as a nervy spine for a palate cleansing effect and a mineral like sensation. Quite nice, although for this price, I'd prefer to cough up a few more ingots and go for one of the producer's single vineyards. (Jul. 19, 2013)

Fat Guy, 140 NIS.

Slightly tipsy notes from a dinner with Efrat and friends at Toto:

Gimmonet, Cuvée Gastronome, 2008

Classic, refreshing. A hint of brioche is quite appealing, but this is mostly about young Chardonnay fruit right now: apples and oranges. Good cut, a wine made for food.

Fat Guy, 279 NIS.

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

Sherbet-like summer fruit, with a smoky, burned mineral edge. Wonderful clarity and purity of fruit and place.

Fat Guy,  159 NIS (the 2012 is now 185 NIS).

Chateau Lagrange, Saint Julien 3me Cru, 2003

Rich in keeping with the vintage, but not obscenely so. In fact, it's almost quintessentially classical. Cedar, earth. Slightly, pleasantly bretty. Opulent black fruit, classically delineated, like I said, archetypically Bordeaux, only a faint echo of fat sweetness betraying the oft maligned vintage.

Wine Route, 250 NIS, seven years ago.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Heymann-Lowenstein 2005 Erste Lages

The House That Reinhard Built
Heymann-Lowenstein was probably the first German wine I ever bought from Giaconda, when they brought their first shipments in late 2006. In fact, Reinhard Lowenstein was the first winemaker that Anat and Raphaella brought to Israel for a visit and the tasting that he held in their apartment was one of my earliest writeups.

The Erste Lages are trocken Mosel Rieslings, basically, and I have learned in the years since that tasting six years ago that it is not a style that works wonders for me, in the Mosel. So, at eight years post-vintage, I decided to open my meager stash and see how the three Uhlen Erste Lages that Reinhard vinifies get along with my palate.

As I wrote, these are dry wines. They come from different plots of the Uhlen vineyard, cost about 220 NIS and I drank them in the same order that we tasted them in 2006 (presumably according to the internal pecking order, as Reinhard and/or Anat and Rafaella see it).

Blaufusser Lay, 2005

The nose is a hybrid of the petrol notes you'd expect from a mature Riesling and the sauteed mushrooms found in mature white Burgundies, all with subdued hints of tropical fruit. The palate, while dry, is one-dimensional and suggests sweetness, and, more pronouncedly, green apples and quinine-led spiciness. While the nose is complex and intriguing, both the palate and the color suggest early maturity, and the overall effect is not much pleasing, to me, than a random Alsace Grand Cru - so at this point I'm happy I decided to drink up my remaining 2005's. (Jun. 29, 2013)

Uhlen Laubach, 2005

This is more like it, and exactly what I was expecting to get! The nose is all about granny apples and slate, while the palate offers presence without any undue weight, the dryness absolutely appropriate, both offering understated complexity and purity. Very focused and vital, with a pink grapefruit finish. (Jul. 3, 2013)

Roth Lay, 2005

This, again, is frustratingly early maturing. The nose is as complex as the Blaufusser Lay - to my aesthetic perception more interesting, with dill and parsley complementing notes of petrol, and a backdrop that hints of mushroom and sesame oil, making for a subtly expressive portrait. But the fruit has dried so that the wine  lacks vitality (and eight years should be young for a Riesling of this pedigree), and, as terrific as the nose is, the overall effect is disappointing. Much like the Blaufusser Lay, this is a wine that peaked before it could express its full potential. (Jul. 14, 2013)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Taking Care Of Business (Jun. 2013)

Albert Boxler, Alsace Grand Cru, Sommerberg D, Riesling 2007

It's always nice to start a summer month off with a Riesling, even if Alsace is third place on my list of Riesling regions. Boxler, though, is on my short list of enjoyable Alsatian producer,s and the "D" has a few commendable traits - mostly the petrol and spices on the nose, and a striking balance between sweetness of fruit and the quinine bitterness that sometimes overwhelms Rieslings from Alsace. On the debit side, the structure is on the vague side and, to the best of my recollection, this was better last year. (Jun. 1, 2013)

Giaconda, 186 NIS.

Vitkin, White Journey, 2012

Floral, crisp, refreshing. Lightly oily and spicy as well. I'd forgotten what an oddball blend this is: Gewürztraminer, Viognier, French Colombard and Roussane (in ascending order, it seems). Oddly enough, it reminds me of what I liked about Rhone whites before I kept running into crappy samples. I don't know whether Assaf Paz adjusted the acidity here, but this is remarkably fresh and crisp. (Jun. 2, 2013)

About 60 NIS.

Albert Mann, Grand Cru Schlossberg, Riesling, 2007

This bottle seems lighter, ergo better for me, than the last one. Granny apples, without the quinine bitterness I usually find in Alsatians; rather, I find the sour bitterness of apple skin. Despite its freshness and clarity, it does not articulate itself with Grand Cru poise, refinement or complexity. (Jun. 9, 2013)

Giaconda, 220 NIS.

Huet, Vouvray, Le Haut-Lieu, Demi-Sec, 2007

A gorgeous Vouvray with a mineral aroma that flickers between earthy and metallic, as well as notes of honey, summer fruits, roasted nuts. A very refined, light touch, where even the residual sugar is calmly buoyed by balanced acidity to produce a finish that recalls salted nuts. With a Chenin like this, who needs Chardonnay? (Jun. 10, 2013)

A whim purchase two years ago in San Francisco, 35 USD. Giaconda offer recent vintages for about 150 NIS.

Chateau Pezat, Bordeaux Superior, 2009

This is odd - I remember drinking this entry level from St. Emilion's Chateau Teyssier a few months ago (which actually heralds from the satellite commune  Saint-Sulpice-de-Faleyrens), but I seem to have misplaced the note - which almost never happens to me! This seems very fine now, and better than I recall, muscular and full of earth and leather, and a balanced blend of red and black fruit that is poked and pierced by rustic tannins. This is a much more sensible, Old World wine than I expected from what I assumed to be a Right Bank carpetbagger. Tasty, too. (Jun. 13, 2013)

Giaconda, 130 NIS. Great value!

Shvo, Rose, 2011

This is one of the palest roses I've ever seen, echoing the understated purity of flavor it administers to the taste buds. (Jun. 14, 2013)

80 NIS.

Shvo, Sauvignon Blanc, 2011

This is probably the most intriguing of Gaby Sadan's wines, if only for the vintage variations. The latest vintage seems more varietally correct than the 2010, with more pronounced, sweeter (yet not necessarily riper) fruit, with a focused, racy counterpoint as well as complex aromas of chalk.  The 2010 was brazen and unconventional, this is more tame and conservative, yet still offers an interesting take on the grape, coming off -to me - like a Sauvignon Blanc planted in Macon, with Old World reserve. (Jun. 15, 2013)

75 NIS.

Domaine Pavelot, Savigny-Les-Beaune, 2010

A lovely nose full of feminine wiles and charms - red fruit, rotting leaves, pungent spices - the works, in as much detail as a Village wine can offer. Tart, spicy Pinot fruit, with reserved warmth. (Jun. 16, 2013)

Bourgogne Crown, 160 NIS.

F.X. Pichler, Federspiel, Loibner Berg, Riesling Smaragd, 2007

I guess this month had "Riesling 2007" written all over it. This is lovely and classy, lithe and graceful on both nose and palate, displaying green apples and grapefruit and a light, yet complex, overlay of minerals, mint and dill. However astral F.X. Pichler's reputation is, this is the first time I've ever been moved by any of his wines. This is awesome in a sheerly elegant way, delivering a surprising intensity with great focus. (Jun. 18, 2013)

Giaconda, 234 NIS.

A. et P. de Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise Blanc, Les Clous, 2010

Ripe, near sweet fruit, walking the razor's edge between limpid and languid. As its aromas and flavors coalesce, it shows a lovely mix of rainwater, flowers and citrus fruits. I've had several vintages of this, and it's always hard to guess at what age to open it - but this was unexpectedly gorgeous and tasteful at three years of age. (Jun. 19, 2013)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 110 NIS.

Bernard Baudry, Chinon, 2010

I can only say this reinforces my earlier impression: this crunchy, juicy Cab Franc is very typical, very focused and very yummy. A great value at 85 NIS and even our uninitiated guests loved it. (Jun. 20, 2013)

A study in contrast:

Vitkin, Cabernet Franc, 2009

Not as enticing as the Chinon, but will be a good drop, in a couple of year. For now, what you get is a typical nose for the variety, with trimmings of earth and pencil; the palate is heavier than any Chinon would ever be, and jammier too, requiring more time to settle and show. In all, it doesn't have the immediate likeability quotient of the Vitkin Carignan (which is a wine I think every local place that serves a good, bloody steak ought to stock up on), but that's comparing apples and oranges anyway. This is quite good. (Jun. 21, 2013)

About 90 NIS.

I took some of my colleagues out to Toto and here's what happened:

Chateau Haut Batailley, Pauillac 5me Cru, 2005

The oak cloaks the Pauillac personality so completely that you can barely glimpse the minerals and the currants. An off bottle, perhaps? (Jun. 27, 2013)

70 USD. My bottle.

Clos de Gat, Chardonnay, 2010

The mineral stink on the nose raises hopes that the low acidity quickly, almost eagerly, smashes to the ground. (Jun. 27, 2013)

Aviram the sommelier treated us to a taste.

Dr. Loosen, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Ürziger Würzgarten, Riesling Spätlese, 2009

Green apples with the lushness and creaminess of pineapple - this is tasty and refreshing, even if it does lack the focus I expect from a good Mosel. (Jun. 28, 2013)

WineRoute, 160 NIS.

A. et P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise Rouge, La Digoine, 2009

 Unlike previous vintages, the 2009 doesn't show any sign of going into a slumber, making it very useful. The nose is lovely, with upturned earth, sour cherries, a touch of blood, red berries and flowers, with greater depth than you'd expect from a Village wine. Next, the palate offers rustic elegance and a pungently tannic finish. Charming. (Jun. 30, 2013)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 140 NIS.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Old Worlders

I'm grouping these three wines together to highlight the kind of foreign wines I enjoy drinking on what I like to call, for lack for a better term, non-events.

Terre Nere, Etna Rosso, Calderara Sottana, 2009

Stingy at first, with red cherries, band-aid funk on the nose and some forest floor, but opening up to present itself as wine to satisfy lovers of cool, level headed, distanced finesse. For a grape often compared to Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir (or, conversely, a DOC compared to both Barolo and Burgundy), it comes off this time as a Bourgogne on the lighter, elegant side of the scale. Quite a feat for 14% ABV. (Jun. 4, 2013)

Fat Guy, 230 NIS.

Chateau Bouscasse, Madiran, Vieilles Vignes, 2006

Earthy and meaty, with notes of iron, like a blackberry bush covered with dust and barbecue ashes. Viscous without being heavy or overbearing, powerful and tannic, yet nuanced enough to appeal to me. I've had the 2005 regular cuvee, and this is not as obviously friendly - and thus more appealing to me. (Jun. 6, 2013)

About 20 GBP at Fortnum and Mason.

Produttori di Barabresco, Langhe Nebbiolo, 2011

Dror Paz mentioned it was a very forward, fruity wine, but I found it borderline over mellow, with hardly a nose at all, at first, and even with air, just a sketchy hint of Nebbiolo spices over almost non-existent fruit. The color is almost as pale as a rose, yet the palate is decent and I can't find an indication of any obvious fault, such as oxidation or TCA. The fruit emerges in time and the entire effect is that of an Old World, food friendly, wine, not an oil painting but a postcard, quite nice in all, with a "drink now" imperative. Maybe it's just a rose in disguise. (Jun. 7, 2013)

WineRoute, 129 NIS.