Thursday, February 27, 2014

Some Of My Favorite Things

Give the people what they want, when they want it
And they'll want it all the time

I've been on a Champagne binge lately.

First, a non-vintage from one of the big names in Champagne.

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.

Gimonnet is one of my favorite producers in Champagne, and probably the one I buy the most from.

Pierre Gimmonet, Fleuron, Brut, 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs, 2004

While I prefer my Champagnes a little drier and more focused, this is tasty. It's saline, full flavored, yet elegant, with flavors and aromas of apples, citrus, toast. Amir Sheinman says Fleuron is the softest of the Gimmonet bottlings - sounds legit (although the 2002 wasn't that soft, but then, 2002 was likely a better vintage).

 Fat-Guy, about 400 NIS.

Pierre Gimonnet, Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut, 1er Cru, Cuvee Gastronome, 2008

Lime, apples, fossils and chalk, a hint of brioche. Quite a Chablis of a Champagne, steely and focused, with a suggestion of the complex, umami nuttiness of Champagne. Young and fiercely refreshing.

Fat-Guy, 279 NIS.

Lallement is a very small producer, making less than 2000 cases of bubblies in all. His Champagnes are heavily Pinot Noir based. Eldad was sold out by the time I decided to buy, but I scored a couple of bottles at Wine Route.

Jean Lallement, Champagne Brut, Verzenay Grand Cru, n.v.

Hardcore jollies. This Pinot Noir dominated Grand Cru is funky and yeasty, more about walnuts and cashews and salt than about fruit. Quite distinctive, taut and focused, reserved yet uncouth - like making love to a gymnast!. (Jan. 17, 2014)

Fat-Guy, about the same price as the Gastronome.

Ernest Rapeneau, Epernay, Brut, n.v.

Apples and chalk, bits of brioche. Nothing fancy, just a very refreshing and pure Champagne. A Macon of a Champagne.

Wine Route, 2 for 300 NIS on discount. Good value, in Israeli terms, although you can get prices just as friendly if you buy six packs of non-vintages from Fat Guy.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Taking Care Of Business (Jan., 2014)

Cecile Tremblay, Vosne-Romanee, Vieilles Vignes, 2006

On paper, this should be an exceptional village wine: not only old vines but 50% premier cru as well. But 2006 can be a tough vintage and my Bourgogne cravings have been fulfilled with some ethereal creatures over the last year or so, thus this wine turns me uber-critical. The nose is suitably enticing and inviting for a Burgundy freak: red fruit that transforms into kirsch-like black fruit, upturned earth and rotting leaves, spices. The palate, though, shows the stingy 2006 tannins, making it an interesting wine that lacks sensuality. Nice acidity, though, so I'm willing to grant it the possibility of blossoming in five years or so. (Jan. 2, 2014)

Giaconda, 350 NIS.

Trio Winery, The Secret, Chardonnay, 2012

A well made Chardonnay, made by my good friend Yotam Sharon (yes, another due diligence moment). It's very, very mute aromatically right now, but it boasts a tasty, salty finish. A bottle later in the month (which I will describe in a separate post) presented a much more convincing and elaborate nose, so stay tuned. (Jan. 3, 2014)

100 NIS.

Buy me!

Hubert Lignier, Gevrey-Chambertin, Les Seuvrees, 2008

A really tasty village wine, with a lingering, saline, lightly tannic aftertaste. A touch of earth and a typical sense of an animal sweating next to you give away the origin, yet there's greater effeminacy and a smoother mouth-feel than I'd expect from Gevrey - but that's probably the vintage, which I love, and so should you all. (Jan. 4, 2014)

Wine Route, 250 NIS.

Recanati, Reserve, Wild Carignan, 2011

As deep and as dark as ever previous vintages. A charming bruiser, the nose already shows decent complexity, sporting black fruit, earth, black pepper, iron, and there's even a hint of garrigue. A complex, rusty/tannic finish and surprising acidity mitigate any possible palate fatigue. If the South Rhone was making wines like this, I'd still be a fan. (Jan. 5, 2014)

149 NIS.

Domaine de la Pépière (Marc Ollivier), Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie, Clos des Briords, Vieilles Vignes, 2012

Some say this is one of the great value whites of the world, and I have to agree. This is very tasty and long - few other whites costing 17 USD are this long - with considerable complexity for such a young wine. Good acidity and a mineral underpinning, with a very distinctive presence on the palate. (Jan. 7, 2014)

17 USD.

Faustino, Rioja Gran Reserve I, 1999

When I first had this wine a year ago, I was surprised at the quality and vibrancy, because I never considered Faustino a major league player and because the 1999 vintage  was not reported to have been a real keeper. Then, the first couple of bottles were really slow to open up. The third bottle seemed to finally live up to the potential I spotted. But this last bottle - well, it's back to the drawing board. Not very complex, not very charming, making a journeyman appearance. Oh well. (Jan. 9, 2014)

Wine Route, 150 NIS on discount.

Paolo Conterno, Barolo Riserva, Ginestra, 1999

This is a famous single vineyard Barolo, from a relatively unknown Conterno (Paolo is sort of the Third Tenor of the Conterno family, I guess), and it's a classic, with the all the aromatic trappings of Nebbiolo: tarry, spicy, musky - like coming home to a warm village home from a cold winter night. Good tannic persistency; the tannins alone would live forever, and so would the fruit and acidity at that, but it's drinking very well already. Although I must say that when the tannins cleanse the palate, they take no prisoners. (Jan. 11, 2014)

I bought this at the Heathrow duty free for 30-40 GBP nine years ago. Damn good value!

Chateau du Hureau, Saumur-Champigny, Tuffe, 2010

Alright, Elad, the Tuffe is finally living up to my memories of the 2009 I had last year: fresh red fruit that feels like it was just plucked off the vine, earth, lead pencil, tangy herbaceousness, a warm acidity and saline fluidity of tannin and fruit. (Jan. 16, 2014)

89 NIS.

Chateau de Pibarnon, Bandol, Les Restanques de Pibarnon, 2010

A dark, earthy, black fruited, iron-inflected wine, the kind whose aromatics suggest a braised stew. A rustic slugger, but one that can accompany a country meal, due to the acidity and saline finish. I like, despite the 14% ABV, which would usually make me hesitant. (Jan. 18, 2014)

Wine Route, 170 NIS.

Domaine Christian Moreau Père et Fils, Chablis Grand Cru, Les Clos, 2007

You know how a good Chablis is green like moss growing on a wind swept chalk cliff overlooking the Atlantic? Well, excuse me flowery prose, but I've missed drinking a good Chablis lately and 2007 white Burgundies have been drinking well for me lately, so I'm getting carried away. But what better excuse to get carried away? While my good friend Daniel Lifshitz says Moreau overdoes the oak, I think it's well integrated by now, asserting itself only at the very end of a wash of green apples and lime, where it's complemented by a saline sensation - I'm not going to say Atlantic salt, honest, it really reminded me more of pretzels!  (Jan. 23, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 270 NIS.

Lise and Bertrand Jousset, Vin de France, Exile, 2012

I'm still trying to Google where this wine came from. Jousset are a Montlouis producer, but this is a Vin de France Chenin Blanc and I can't figure out whether the designation is used because the grapes are sourced outside the appellation or disregards some vague AOC rules - my best guess, based on a Google translation of a French note I found, is that the grapes come from multiple Touraine appellations. Whatever, it's an elegant Chenin, marrying sweet, yet succulent, fruit with an acid driven persistence and a mineral veneer. Tasty stuff that I'd relish drinking more of. (Jan. 24, 2014)

San Michele Appiano, Alto Adige, Südtirol,  Gewurztraminer, 2012

This North Italian Gewurtz is much less extravagant than its Alsatian counterparts, more about spices and minerals than roses and lychee. It's also less aggressive on the palate than those cousins, the dry ones anyway. A nice surprise. (Jan. 25, 2014)

Wine Route, about 80 NIS.

White Concepts, Sauvignon Blanc, 2012

I wrote and raved about it, and I really don't have a lot to add, just to repeat that this is a flagship of the new wave of Israeli whites, and aims at a lithe, complex expression of minerals, rather than focusing on fruit. (Jan. 27, 2014)

About 100 NIS.

Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, La Crau, 2004

So, one more CdP down, about six or seven to go. White pepper and garrigue on the nose, with ripe, candied, somewhat raisin-y fruit. The palate is actually sterner than the nose would have you think, but rewards with a gentle mineral tint on the finish. (Jan. 31, 2014)

Wine Route, 250 NIS, back in the day - y'know, the day when I was actually buying the stuff.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Bad Fontaine-Gagnard! Bad Fontaine-Gagnard! (Dec. 29, 2013)

The lineup - the murderer is the second from the left.

It's been a while since I caught up with Amir Sheinman, Hagit and Noam Koren and Oron Stern. At Bertie - where else?

Pierre Gimmonet, Fleuron, Brut, 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs, 2004

While I prefer my Champagnes a little drier and more focused, this is tasty. It's saline, full flavored, yet elegant, with flavors and aromas of apples, citrus, toast. Amir says Fleuron is the softest of the Gimmonet bottlings - sounds legit (although the 2002 wasn't that soft, but then, 2002 was likely a better vintage).

 Fat-Guy, about 400 NIS.

Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard, Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru, 2006

Simple, sweet, oxidized - and a good example of this domaine's ineptitude. I just can't say enough bad things about Fontaine-Gagnard, and, sadly, I too fell prey in the past to the youthful glamor that is likely the sleight of hand created by their excessive batonnage practices. Never again!

Wine Route, about 350 NIS - go for it, sadists! So glad my own stock is already spent.

Revello, Barolo, Vigna Giachini, 1999

Classic Barolo, earthy and deep, with juicy acidity and dry tannins, almost to a fault. Excellent and delicious, despite my misgivings about the tannins, with a nose that proclaims its roots in the upper echelons of Piedmont.

About 80 USD.

Jamet, Cote Rotie, 1997

I couldn't - didn't - get this at first. A ripe, spicy and meaty wine that at first had me guessing South Rhone, until a bretty stink pointed me northwards. A lush wine that gains length in glass. At first, the nose is more to my taste than the palate, but as it opens, it shows enough salinity to counterpoint the sweetness and becomes very delicious, sweet yet tasty.

Price unknown.