Friday, September 27, 2013

Autumn Of Riesling

Helmut is God
 Because every month should be Riesling Month!

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

The cork was extended dangerously out  which is why I decided to open a bottle a year or two ahead of schedule, but the color, nose and palate are just fine. Elegant and cool with trimming of the spices I associate with Austria, as well as tasty acidity leading up to a saline finish. The only complaint, and this might be an impact of the imperfect closure, is that this bottle doesn't blossom into a wonderfully crystalline expression of fruit, as previous bottles did. Still an excellent wine, just less unique. (Sept. 3, 2013)

Fat Guy, 159 NIS.

With the family at Taizu:

Weingut Wittman, Rheinhessen, Riesling Trocken, 2012

Sour apples and skins with quasi Austrian earthy spiciness. (Sept. 6, 2013)

J. J. Prum, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Riesling Kabinnet, 2011

Lighter, more fruit driven albeit in a reserved way, with a subtle backbone of slate. (Sept. 6, 2013)

Donnhoff, Nahe, Norheimer Kirshcheck, Riesling Spatlese, 2008

Even in the very highest peaks of the Riesling Olympus, Donnhoff rules, and whether young or old, his Spatleses are some of the wine world's most ethereal delights. This melds red apples and peaches with a light sprinkle of salt and weaves them into an breezy complexity that, even in a yet embryonic form, is challenging and delicious to come to terms with. So refreshing and yummy I was guzzling it down towards the end as though it was an ice cold Pepsi Max. (Sept. 10, 2013)

Giaconda, about 160 NIS.

Koehler-Ruprecht, Kallstadter Saumagen, Riesling Auslese Trocken, 2007

Koehler-Ruprecht should also be a star in the Riesling firmament, but often his work is as stable and puzzling as Robert Downey, Junior's rap sheet. This is lightly oxidized - a la Champagne, not so much in the way disappointing Cote de Beaunes can be - with spicy pears and low acidity, and a pleasant note of kerosene. The palate is still vibrant, even if it feels much more mature than a six year old Auslese, but winds up in a tasty, salty note. A good German Riesling should be full of jism, but this is more about drunken post-coital bliss, which is, in basic essence, a one-dimensional experience. (Sept. 12, 2013)

Giaconda, about 160 NIS.

Fritz Haag, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Brauneberger, Riesling Kabinett Trocken, 2011

This brings the same kind of saline delight as Chablis, Aligote. (Sept. 18, 2013)

Giaconda, 120 NIS.

Schloss Gobelsburg, Kamptal Reserve, Tradition Riesling, 2010   This is made in what the winemaker terms a "traditional style". I'm not sure what that means, but this is markedly different than the Gaisburg bottling, which is the vineyard this wine is sourced from. On the nose, I find apples and apricots and a spicy, botrytis-like funk. On the palate, fine acidity (obviously) and a saline finish, albeit less so than the bottle we drank at Eldad Levy's Thai dinner. I suspect every bottle is going to be a little different. (Sept. 19, 2013)  
Fat Guy, about 200 NIS.

And finally, the Israeli competitor.

Vitkin, Riesling, 2011   Dry, yet with enough refreshing fruit and acidity to make it as gulpable as an off-dry Kabinett. A crisp, mineral-laden wine, with a long finish and a veil of petrol. I have to call it saline, although I'm probably approaching the point where that descriptor overwhlems my tasting notes. (Sept. 20, 2013)   About 80 NIS.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bourgogne Pioneers (Sept. 16, 2013)

My fellow Bourgogne lovers and I met up at a very small bistro that opened last year in southern Tel Aviv, called Halutzim (Pioneers) 3. A lovely place, with owners who love and understand wine - and who serve tasty food that caters to the nose, palate and heart.

Chateau du Puligny-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru, Folatieres, 2007

Classy and tasty, with apples and citrus fruit well complemented by minerals and a light kiss of integrated oak. Sweet, but not overripe, with good structure. The best I've had from this otherwise annoying domaine, and very faithful to its terroir (I guessed Puligny, although I wasn't experienced enough to recognize the vineyard).

Simon Bize, Savigny-Les-Beaune Premier Cru, Les Talmettes, 2007

Sappy fruit with a prominent mineral overlay. Young and uncomplicated, albeit its complexity increases with air. A tasty wine with only a hint of frills that hovers at just the correct side of sweetness, although its indifferent structure works against any signifcant wow factor.

Jean Grivot, Nuits-St.-Georges, Aux Lavieres, 2008

Complex animalistic/mineralistic aromatics and a very tasty palate that impresses with its depth with quasi premier cru level complexity.

Etienne de Montille, Nuits-St.-Georges Premier Cru, Aux Thorey, 2005

Game, roasted minerals with just a touch of spices. The red fruit turns into black fruit with air at a loss of enjoyment, to the point where it is strangely and surprisingly New World. Two tiers below the Grivot villages in quality and enjoyment. My bottle, and I'm not too proud of the fact, but in my defense, it seemed much more subtle and interesting when I tasted it four years ago.

Serafin, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru, 2004

Complex, deep, fresh, with a tantalizing earthy vein as well as sweat and spices. A juicy acidity that doesn't overwhelm, instead caressing on the finish.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Taking Care Of Business (Aug. 2013)

Benoit Droin, my winemaker of the month
Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac 5me Cru, 2002

I was warned, by fans of 2002 Bordeaux, that this is a very austere wine, and certainly the first impressions confirmed the report. The nose is typical, cedary Pauillac, rendered with fine detail. The palate, as advised, is on the lean side, with metallic tannins, yet the fruit fans out with air and the tannins soften and sweeten. (Aug. 3, 2013)

Berry Bros, about 90 GBP.

Tzora Vineyards, Neve Ilan, Blanc, 2012

As always, this 100% Chardonnay needs time to show the varietal characteristics that I prefer, especially this year, when its 14% ABV makes for a spicy effect, masking the personality of the admittedly rather chameleon-like grape: this could almost be a local Chenin Blanc. Although a sneaky strand of flint and firestone redeems my faith. Somewhat resembling a mini Corton-Charlemagne, it will never be a very refined creature. (Aug. 9, 2013)

About 100 NIS.

Chateau Clerc-Milon, Pauillac 5me Cru, 2000

This is a very appropriate wine for celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary. It's from the great Bordeaux 2000 vintage, and while Clerc-Milon is not the brightest star in the Bordeaux firmament, it is one of the of the first Bordeaux I ever owned and a birthday gift from Efrat, ten years ago. And it solidly fulfills all the requirements of an excellent claret: it's tasty, savory, elegant, and lightly muscular and earthy in the Pauillac vein. To sum, excellent, but not great or profound, just a wine that makes me happy, in the way the savory tannins and friendly acidity highlight the depths of the black fruit. (Aug. 10, 2013)

Imported by Wine Route, it cost about 250 NIS, way back in 2003.

Tzora Vineyards, Shoresh, Blanc, 2012

True to the Tzora philosophy, this is as much about terroir as it is about the grape, so the Sauvingon Blanc characteristics of this 100% varietal wine are only lightly hinted at, the final effect arguably closer to Pouilly-Fuisse than to Pouilly-Fume. This is an reserved wine, elegantly framed by oak,savory and creamy at the same time, with an undertow of chalk. Really tasty, one of the best local whites (although I admittedly only hunt out the ones cut out of this kind of cloth in the first place), (Aug. 15, 2013)

About 100 NIS.

Segal, Rehasim, Dovev Merlot, 2007

Typical Feldstein red, with a classic structure: grainy tannins, ripe acidity, ripe fruit that typifies Israeli reds without veering too sharply into surripe territory. A hint of vanilla that, after six years in bottle, is either the winemaker's signature or the vineyard's, but not the barrels', I believe. (Aug. 23, 2013)

Ella Valley, Estate, Chardonnay, 2010

Red apples, slightly tropical, almost no traces of oak. Good but not terribly exciting. (Aug. 23, 2013)

Jean Paul et Benoit Droin, Chablis Grand Cru, Vaudesir, 2007

A terrific, classic nose: iodine, fossils, wet stones, apples, citrus. A sly, saline finish. Descriptors aside, the judgement call here this is worthy of the Grand Cru label, and that's always a tough decision to make unless one is in the midst of of a comparitive tasting. So, making the necessary comparisons and cross-references inside my memory banks, hell, yeah, there's enough extract, finesse, weight and complexity as well as an ever-expanding sense of Chablis-ness. (Aug. 24, 2013)

Giaconda, 320 NIS.

That awkward moment when you realize your Grand Cru is DOA:

Moreau-Naudet, Chablis Grand Cru, Valmur, 2006

What happened to my Chablis? This is nutty and oxidised a la mature Bourgogne to the point where any and all mineral/marine signs of life have been eradicated. Good and tasty, and if it were a ten year old Meursault, Champagne or Rioja white I'd be very pleased. (Aug. 26, 2013)

Giaconda, 320 NIS.

A better Valmur, a great Valmur:

Jean Paul et Benoit Droin, Chablis Grand Cru, Valmur, 2007

Unlike the Vaudesir, this Valmur needs little time to unfurl its Chablis trappings, and that to a tantalizing effect that is somehow both reserved and explosive (such inconsistencies being the trademark of a great wine). The checklist of aromas and flavors is close to that of the Vaudesir, but there is greater finesse and sense of grandeur, the finish more complex and persistent, with a more convincing display of the Grand Cru Chablis essence of iodine and marine fossils. (Aug. 31, 2013)

Giaconda, 320 NIS.

Shvo, Sauvignon Blanc, 2011

Reserved citrus and tropical fruit, giving just enough on the nose to tantalize, focusing its austere power on the mid-palate and saline finish. (Aug. 30, 2013)

75 NIS.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Summer Of Riesling

Riesling walk with me
Aviram Katz brought it to Tel Aviv and this year, the Summer Of Riesling was so trendy that the city was covered with "I Love Riesling" graffitis.

But you know what?

I don't need a @#$%-ing excuse to drink Riesling!

Eldad Levy put together a Thai dinner, crafted by the talented and energetic Lilach Raveh, and paired it with (mostly) Austrian Rieslings. My report on the affair, along with other Rieslings I had the pleasure of drinking during the month long festival, makes up my Summer Of Riesling post. Enjoy!

Dr. Loosen, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Kabbinet, 2009

Spritzy and refreshing. A great poster boy for the Summer of Riesling.

Wine Route, typically about 120 NIS.

A. Margaine, Traditionelle Brut, Premier Cru, n.v. (2008)

Apples, crisp, saline, sour/sweet. Not especially refined but tasty.

229 NIS.

Salomon, Stein Terassen, 2012

Pure apples, light and very flowery.

110 NIS.

Ecker-Eckhof, Wagram, Riesling, 2012

More discrete and arguably more flowery. Slightly spritzy. Shows the earthy side of Riesling.

105 NIS.

Ecker-Eckhof, Scholsberg, Gruner Veltliner, 2012

Typical GruVe. I get it now. Riesling is Muhammad Ali, Gruner is Frazier. And I love Frazier as much as I do Ali.

100 NIS.

Ecker-Eckhof, Mordthal, Gruner Veltliner,2011

Refined and classy. There's added depth in there, along with the typical greenness of the grape. 

149 NIS.

Salomon, Undhof Kogl, Riesling, 2012

More about Austria than Riesling, with citrus, apples, flowers, chalk and flint. 

130 NIS.

Berger, Kremstal Reserve, Steingraben, Riesling, 2010

Wow! Petrol, sweet white fruit. Seems more mature than the age on the label, coming off as a seven to ten year old Spatlese, methinks. Need to get some.

150 NIS.

Schloss Gobelsburg, Tradition, Riesling, 2010

Almost Sauternes-like on the nose: same strain of funky spiciness. A bone-dry personality on the palate, that is a complete world unto itself, laced with a salinity that justifies the umami reference in US importer Terry Theise description of the wine. I suspect that the regular Gaisburg will cellar longer (or at least peak later), but this is a wow wine for sure.

210 NIS.

Thank you, Lilach!
With family at Bertie:

Peter Jakob Kuhn, Rheingau, Riesling Sekt Brut, 2010

This is still very young and unformed, all about green apples and chalk, without the brioche-led complexity that comes with bottle age. Nice and tasty, but I'd go for the 2007 if it's still available. (Aug. 16, 2013)

Giaconda, 130 NIS.

A nightcap back at home:

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

Complex and nuanced aromas and flavors of apples, nectarines, wet stones, ginger - stop  me if you've heard this one before, this shouldn't be about descriptors anyway, but rather in the aloof way it invites you to seduce it. The way it offers that elegant, airy yet intensive, mix of sweet and saline, who could resist? (Aug. 16, 2013)

Wine Route, 150-200 NIS for a half bottle.

Fritz Haag, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Brauneberger, Riesling Kabinett Trocken, 2011

Apples, peaches and a classy strand of marine funk - not unlike Chablis - tempered by ginger and menthol. The palate is tart, with a hint of sweetness, and works better than what I have experienced in the past with trokcen Mosels. Ready to come out and play, displaying yet another of the multitude of facets of the Riesling world: a lot of wine to sniff and drink, light Kabinett frame and all. (Aug. 17, 2013)

Giaconda, 120 NIS. Good buy.

Now for the Alsatian candidate:

Hugel, Jubilee, Riesling, 2005

This is a wine that uses only three colors - green apples, quartz and kerosene, and celery, make that four, shades of the Spanish Inquisition! - but fashions a complex tapestry out of them. Said tapestry grips the fruit in an iron glove, releasing the fruit just enough to insinuate and tantalize. (Aug. 18, 2013)

Wine Route,