Friday, January 31, 2014

A "Secret" Christmas In Tel Aviv (Dec. 25, 2013)

An impromptu engagement celebration for Naty Namdar, as well as a Christmas dinner at the Secret Place traveling bistro, hosted at Elba on the day in question.

Domaine Buisson-Charles, Meursault, Vieilles Vignes, 2010

Minerals, nuts fairly complex nose.  Presence of oak in the palate, plenty of fruit, though, with juicy acidity. The oak fairly integrates with air, so it's all good. At the end of the day, what we have here is a plump Meursault with mitigating salinity.

Bourgogne Crown, 280 NIS.

De Montille, Volnay Premier Cru, Champans, 2005

A restrained nose; on the palate, on the other hand, the fruit, while regal, is blacker than I'd expect, even from a 2005. Surprisingly animalistic, making it a tough riddle at blind tastings. Complex and powerful, yet with a soft heart. Supple and succulent.

Burgundy Wine Collection, recent vintages sell for about 450 NIS these days.

Comte Armand, Pommard Premier Cru, Clos De Epeneaux, 1993

Heady and spicy, with iron and leather, and very long. Rusty tannins. A Bourgogne for Barolo lovers. It's a real pleasure to be drinking such a vigorous twenty year old athlete and you can smell the muscles that later hit your palate. I would never have guessed the vintage, but I nailed it as Comte Armand.

Burgundy Wine Collection, recent vintages sell for about 500 NIS these days.

La Maison Romane, Corton Grand Cru, Les Perrières, 2008

This outstanding, unique Corton proves, once again, that the spirit of Rene Engel lives on!

Bourgogne Crown, 550 NIS.

Louis Carillon, Puligny Premier Cru, Champs-Canet, 2007

If not Chablis, then Puligny: steely, flinty. Sweet fruit, but lime-y fruit. The reason I don't give up on white Burgundy is wines like this one. Elegant, austere yet giving. What oak is in there is deeply integrated. A cool wine. Much better than the last bottle we had,for whatever reason (my guess is temperature and aeration - or travel shock).

Friday, January 24, 2014

Do The Loire (Dec. 15, 2013)

Photograph courtesy of the great Avi Feldstein

It took a while, but I finally got to taste Eldad Levy's new Loire portfolio in depth and breadth, at Tel Aviv's Wine Bar (a generic name if ever there was one). Hopefully, he will soon bring in more goodies, although this initial batch already makes for a couple of house wines and few wines that will cellar for quite a few years.

God bless you, Eldad!

Yannic Amirault, Bourgueil

La Coudraye, 2012

This is Amirault's entry level wine and it is very friendly and balanced indeed, without inducing the slightest bit of palate fatigue. A touch of Brett and minerals provide interest.

Grand Clos, 2010

Deeper, less approachable, taking a few swirls to open, cut from a similar cloth. More severely structured, providing ample proof to any yet uninitiated that Cabarnet Franc is no lightweight.

Petit Cave, 2010

The progression continues, evoking Bordeaux Some brett now, but not enough to overwhelm. Serious stuff.

Petit Cave, 2006

The 2006 doesn't have a whole lot more complexity than the 2010, just friendlier nd softer. Evokes Bordeaux again, but, rather surprisingly a fruity Left Bank and not the Right Bank you might expect.

Not for sale.

Chateau du Huearu, Saumur-Champigny

Tuffe, 2010

Sterner and more mineral laden than the Coudraye, its parallel in the Amirault stable. I like it more than the one I opened at home, I'm guessing the bottle at Wine Bar was opened longer.

Four a Chaux, 2010

Surprisingly, this seems more approachable than the Tuffe, the fruit here offering more substance to counteract the tannic crunch.

Lisagathe, 2010

The most austere wine of the evening, the fruit still primary, with a touch of minerals, but plenty of fine, savory  tannins.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

More Beaujolais

Tomer Gal has been importing Marcel Lapierre's Morgons for a few years and now he's finally added a few more members of the Beaujolais Crus inner circle of elite producers (christened the Gang of Four by American importer Kermit Lynch, although the rank includes more than four worthwhile producers by now) to the Burgundy Wine Collection portfolio. Which is about time. I love Lapierre, of course, but I've told him several times that, as excellent as Lapierre is, he's not even the best of the Gang: having tasted the Thevenet Morgons from 2008 through 2010, I know where the crown belongs.

But such considerations should not concern us. I'm just glad that Tomer has made these wines available.

Jean Foillard
Jean Foillard, Morgon, 2011

Pure red fruit on the nose, with a crest of wet, upturned earth that conjures, for this city boy, a man and his horse plowing the fields. And just look at the picture above to see how happy that man is in his element. Lean, yet very moreish, with a saline, palate cleansing finish. Needless to say, tasty. (Nov. 16, 2013)

99 NIS.

Jean Foillard, Morgon, Cote du Py, 2011

There is more presence here, a better sense of wine-ness, a closer affinity to the Cote d'Or, in a way, more about minerals/rocks than about earth/mud. The fresh red fruit has more weight and better delineation, and the effect is deeper, with more of the soft tannins of the regular edition, only finer-grained. A fine effort, well worth the price increase, as great a house wine as you're likely to find. (Nov. 20, 2013)

140 NIS.

Charly Thevenet, Regnie, Grain And Granit, 2011

This is the sole wine that the son of Jean-Paul Thevenet makes, and he makes it from a lesser known cru, but the vines are quite old, about 80 years old, and I think it shows. The nose presents simple, yet enticing aromas of cherries, beets, cured meat and earth. The palate is polished, without being modern or over-sleek, tasty and saline. Any deficit in the complexity of the wine is made up by its depth and the elegant way it penetrates the taste buds. Delicious and the most immediate and gratifying of the lot. (Nov. 22, 2013)

120 NIS.

Jean-Paul Thevenet, Morgon, Vieilles Vignes, 2012

This spins on as idiosyncratic path as the best of Rene Engel, although the path is even bumpier. This takes so long to open that I have to wonder whether it was ruined in transit, much like a bottle of 2010 earlier this year, but that's because it needs time to compose itself and kick out the jams. Just like Engel. Anyway, expect an earthy personality, in a year or two, with the veneer of a country don. (Nov. 24, 2013)

Finally, the historical leader of the pack:

Lapierre, Morgon, 2012

In stark contrast to the Thevenet Morgon, this is already tasty and fairly complete, and much brighter and clearer than the Foillards or the Thevenet Morgon. This and the Regnie seem cut from similar stylistic clothes - and since, with the passing of Marcel Lapierre, the domaine is run by son Mathieu, my first thought was maybe the new generation is forging its own identity, except this is also very similar to previous Lapierre vintages. Whatever, the wine shows an earthy aromatic complexity that I believe will be more pronounced in a year or two, a fleshy, sweet mid-palate, and a long saline finish. (Nov. 28, 2013)

130 NIS.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Taking Care Of Business (Dec. 2013)

This could be the last time:

Domaine de la Vieille Julienne, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2004

First time in ages I've enjoyed this stuff in any way. it's ripe, almost raiseny, not really my type, but there's an Old World, leathery charm to it. It's brawny but not too blowsy or sweet, with the prerequisite dusty garrigue on the nose. Is CdP the wine world version of a B movie? (Dec. 3, 2013)

Wine Route, 250 NIS.

While this, this will be the first of many to come:

Yannic Amirault, Bourgueil, La Coudraye, 2012

I finally get a chance to sit down with a bottle from Eldad Levy's Loire offering. This is the entry level bottling from one of the Bourgueil stars and shows nubile, flowery fruit, as red as you'd expect from Cabernet Franc, although with little of the green that is usually the criticism aimed at the variety. A tasty, sanguine wine, with a decent depth and a savory touch of smoky minerals lending interest, that fleshes out with air. This is as refreshing as the Vieille Julienne was plodding. (Dec. 4, 2013)

91 NIS.

Chateau du Hureau, Saumur-Champigny, Tuffe, 2010

The Coudraye's companion in Eldad Levy's Loire catalog. It's much less ready, and while it is tasty and impressive due to it's length and substance, it is too rough to give the same level of enjoyment and pleasure at this time. The 2009 was such a terrific drop earlier this year that I am sure this just needs more time. (Dec. 6, 2013)

89 NIS.

Lewinsohn, Garage de Papa, Rouge, 2010

After experimenting with the varieties in previous vintages, Ido finally nails it, and, with the mother winery Recanati's Carignan and Syrah-Viogner, points the way for Israeli red wines. This is a Syrah-Petit Syrah-Carignan blend and is a vibrant, succulent bottle of juice that highlights the warmth of the land without succumbing to over-ripeness. The nose shows black pepper and cranberries, while the palate is even better, with a long, complex finish. (Dec. 7, 2013)

140 NIS.

Eldad "Santa" Levy, please take note:

Huber, Austria, Traisental, Gruner Veltliner, "Obere Steigen", 2010

A terrific little wine! A great nose of flint and peaches that wouldn't be out of place in Puligny, followed by a palate that juggles fat, saline and crisp and ends on a pleasantly saline, slightly bitter note. I can't believe this wine is served in both NOPI and in a mediocre sport bar in Bedford (where it goes for 8 dollars a glass). (Dec. 11, 2013)

The month was mostly good so far, but this sucked:

Hacienda Monasterio, Ribera Del Duero, 2007

A mediocre vintage in the Ribera, and it shows, because while the nose offers a certain Old World funk, I would characterize the palate as unpleasantly stingy. (Dec. 14, 2013)

About 35 Euros in Madrid.

Luckily, back on track:

Weingut Josef Leitz, Rheingau, Rüdesheimer Berg Schloßberg, Riesling Spätlese, 2007

A fine, regal, nose, focused and clear, chiming in with green apples, peaches, slate, flowers, mint and a dash of Atlantic salt (and achieving excellent complexity), all echoed with great purity and transparency on the airy, elegant palate, where the long, saline finish is a sublime coda. Classic Spätlese simply doesn't get a lot better than this youngster! (Dec. 17, 2013)

Giaconda, 180 NIS.

Terre Nere, Etna Rosso, 2011

The Nerello Mascalese is labelled either the Bourgogne or the Barolo of Sicily, depending on the wine or taster in question I suppose. Me,I usually find the Terre Nere single vineyards to lean towards Pinot, while this usually rings a few Nebbiolo associations. Such was the case with the 2010 and is true here as well, with a similar impression of black fruits and tar. A very nice wine, with dusty tannins and spicy fruit filling out a lean frame. (Dec. 20, 2013)

Eldad Levy, 140 NIS.

Yves Cuilleron, St. Joseph, L'Amarybelle, 2010

This precocious youngster shows the succulent fruit of the best of the AOC and a very pretty nose with meat, black pepper, flowers, and a mineral strand. Meanwhile, the palate has a tangy acidity that, along with the savory tannins, makes for a tasty, classic impression. (Dec. 21, 2013)

Giaconda - usually I would hesitate to pay 220 NIS for a St. Joseph, but Cuilleron makes great wines.

San Michele Appiano, Alto Adige, Südtirol, Weissburgunder, Schulthauser, 2012

Odd what only three months have wrought. This is now about tropical fruits tamed by an overlay of sculptor's clay, with a finish of bitter almonds that I usually find in Italian whites. Lovely to sniff, but  much less to my tastes than the last bottle.(Dec. 23, 2013)

Wine Route, 120 NIS.

J. J. Prum, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Graacher Himmelreich, Riesling Spätlese, 2006

The elegant breed of the Mosel, in a somewhat idiom riper than usual. There's the typical apples, dill and slate on the nose, but with tropical fruit and even a hint of botrytis that I didn't expect in a Spatlese. While the palate is not as racy as I'd like, it certainly is very clear, deep and pure, and offers an attractive touch of salt on the finish.(Dec. 24, 2013)

Giaconda, 190 NIS.

Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco, 2005

A gorgeously typical Nebbiolo nose: red fruit, tobacco, tar and spices. The palate is all about Old World tastefulness and tastiness, with a ripe acidity that counterpoints the dusty tannins. (Dec. 28, 2013)

Wine Route, about 250 NIS.

Louis Roederer, Champagne Brut Premier, nv.

I wanted a fresh Champagne for New Year's Eve, one that would be more about immediacy than the depth of a vintage wine, and this fits the bill, striking a balance between freshness and depth, with all the typical accruements of Champagne: apples, some toast and minerals. Cheers! (Dec. 31, 2013)

Wine Route, 350 NIS.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


For quite some time, I've been trying to taste the produce of Doron Rav-On's new lifetime winery, dedicated solely to white wines, but the opportunity kept eluding me, for various mundane reasons.

Good karma finally caught up with me, which is a relief, as these wines are subtly awesome.

White Concepts, Chardonnay, 2012

Imagine the Macon transposed over the Galil, if you will. The nose juggles flint, rainwater, apples, as well as tropical fruit, while the palate is very balanced and tasty, with a saline finish, and is all too easy to drink, in the most positive way. The way I read it, the tropical fruit is typical of Israeli Chardonnays, while the way it's reined in to highlight a mineral aspect shows Doron's confident hand and obvious skill.  (Nov. 1, 2013)

White Concepts, First Page, 2012

This is a blend of aromatic grapes, which many local wineries have taken to, in one blend or another, although admittedly not in this specific combination:  Pinot Gris, Semillon, Riesling. The nose has a pleasant toasty/minerally personality, with a touch of rainwater (like the Chardonnay) and a tropical fruit overlay, which is, surprisingly, a little more discrete than in the Chardonnay (as though the Semillon and Riesling tamed the Pinot Gris). The palate is balanced, elegant and pure, and finish is especially tasty and tasteful, after a few minutes of air wash away an initial bitter touch. It would be rather interesting to match this against  Yaakov Oryah's Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc.(Nov. 7, 2013)

White Concepts, Sauvignon Blanc, 2012

Doron certainly keeps a very sure and reserved hand on his craft. Like its stable mates, this charms with a polished, but not flashy, exterior, at the same time presenting enough complexity for contemplation, while retaining a light touch. This presents the most mineral aspect of the trio, highlighting the grassy side of the grape (albeit with tropical hints as well), with enough kinks to avoid complacence and to evoke Old World aesthetics. (Nov. 17, 2013)

These wines cost 105 NIS at Wine Route, which I think is a fairly typical price.