Thursday, July 24, 2014

World Cup Wines

France vs Switzerland, 5:2 (Jun. 20, 2014)

Alain Burguet, Bourgogne, Les Pince Vin, 2008

Funky, mineral nose. Tasty and floral/herbal. No other wine I know of this level of quality is this drinkable, so it pleases both the mind and the senses.

Bourgogne Crown, 160 NIS.

Chateau Troplong-Mondot, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 1998

A very dusty, mature nose with interesting complexity. The palate is tired, even though it's still tasty, and anyway it gains life in glass as the acidity asserts itself. I expected more complexity, but the end result is good, if not inspiring.

About 150 USD.

Domaine Bizot, Bourgogne, La Chapitre, 2011

Once again proving this is a great wine that is a mere Bourgogne only because French bureaucrats were too busy licking their own balls. That may be an exaggeration, but La Chapitre is a unique terroir in a corner in Burgundy that isn't even classified at village level. Amazingly fresh fruit with an earthy complexity that leaves you with a yearning pang. You know that feeling when you wake up with the remnants of a half remembered dream and want to just shut your eyes and reenter the dream world? That's Burgundy.

Bourgogne Crown, 375 NIS.

Olivier Guyot, Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, 2007

Another fresh wine that seems as if the winemaker was totally hung up on letting nature do all the work. Great juice. A Grand Cru whose sleight of hand is all about complexity and not power.

Bourgogne Crown, 540 NIS.

Italy vs. Uruguay, 0:1 (Jun. 24, 2014)

Jean-Louis Denois, Limoux, Brut Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs, n.v.

Disgorged Dec. 2012. Fresh and more exciting, at least at half time, than the game itself, this again presents the same facade of apples, oranges chalk and mushrooms as the previous bottle I drank. Simple, yet endearing.

Fat Guy, 105 NIS.

Brazil vs. Chile 1:1, 5:3 in penalties (Jun.  28, 2014)

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

A bigger game deserves a bona fide Champagne.  This really has everything I love in a young Champagne on the cusp of maturity: the fresh citrus/apple fruit, hints of brioche, the mature notes of nuts and mushrooms starting to assert themselves. Lovely, albeit without the complexity of a really great vintage cuvee.

Fat Guy, 279 NIS.

Argentine vs. Switzerland 1:0 (Jul. 1, 2014)

Sphera, White Signature, 2012

A flagship blend of undisclosed varieties. A very complex, lightly pungent, mineral-laden (chalk and clay) nose. The palate,too, is pleasantly pungent and, as well, layered. Some grapefruit, peaches, a hint of sweetness offsetting the pungency. Very good, almost excellent, as good as, say, a Village Cru Burgundy, but not good enough to bring cheer to a game dull enough to bring one to tears - a game like this, you'd need a Montrachet to overcome the drudgery, or a Messi to set up the winning goal in a flash of genius at the last minute.

150 NIS.

First Quarter Finals (Jul. 4, 2014)

Germany vs. France 1:0
Brazil vs. Colombia 2:0

Dr. Loosen, Mosel, Bernkasteler Lay Riesling Kabinett, 2012

This is always a dependable Mosel Kabinett, apples and slate and all, fantastic acidity, and even if it doesn't have the electric, refreshing thrill of the Selbach-Oster Schlossberg I drank a few days earlier, there's very little to find fault with in a dependable Mosel Kabinett. I mean, it's so yummy that it's not boring even in repetition.

Wine Route, about 130 NIS.

Second Quarter Finals (Jul.  5, 2014)
Argentine vs. Belgium 1:0
Holland vs. Costa Rica 0:0, 4:3 in penalties

Christian Moreau, Chablis Grand Cru, Valmur, 2008

Lime and stone. Good and tasty, quite savory, yet not especially complex or compelling.

Burgundy Wine Collection, 270 NIS.

On to the big time! And was there ever as appropriate wine pairing as the following one!

First Semi Finals, Germany vs. Brazil 7:1(Jul. 8, 2014)

Weingut Josef Leitz, Rhenigau, Rüdesheimer Berg Roseneck, Riesling Spätlese, 2004

It's been a fun ride, but I'm finally down to my last bottle. This is showing ripe red apples and lime with delicate trimmings of stone and petrol, as well as zippy acidity, very good grip, length and depth. This is just as fresh and tasty as it was six or seven years ago when I first tasted it, but age has turned it into a complex statement of place and character.

Giaconda, 150 NIS.

A boring game, but a wine that actually made for an exciting evening.

Second Semi Finals, Argentine vs. Holland 0:0, 4:2 in penalties (Jul. 9, 2014)

Reinhold Haart, Mosel, Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, Riesling Kabinett, 2012

The nose is complex and ever morphing, almost Sauvignon Blanc like with its grassy and tropical (guayavas) notes and minerals, while the palate is pure Riesling: sweet, yet racy, with fine grip and structure, and excellent length driven by green apple acidity. A memorable, lightly funky character.

Fat Guy, 139 NIS.

And then, dear friends, I flew to Boston on a business trip right on the evening of the Finals of this (great? interesting?) Mondial - so no tasting note for the grand event. Which is a shame, as it would obviously have been a great Riesling.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Austrian Red Tasting (Jul. 3, 2014)

This was a very special tasting I put together with Eldad Levy. I'd brought four red wines from a trip to Vienna, and Eldad, whose portfolio has a lot of white Austrians, had brought a few samples from his latest forays, as well as a Loire Chenin Blanc to wake our palates up.

I bought two wines in a Vienna supermarket and two from a wine store. In all cases, the producers were top notch and I had high expectations. However, although the wines were well made and tasty, and good values in terms of their local prices, they are a modern (read oaky) sort, which detracts from their appeal. I have to admit that Eldad's offerings trounced mine at the tasting.

We started out with a Chenin Blanc to rinse our palates and then a charming, unpretentious Austrian red that Eldad has been importing for a while.

Chateau du Hureau, Saumur, 2012

Lime, melon, piercing acidity, ripe, but totally without flab or fat. Minerals, flint. Very good and tasty as spit. If Eldad winds up importing it, this could well turn out to be my white house wine for the summer.

Ecker-Eckhof, Zweigelt, Brillant, 2013

Very pure and tasty, like a good Gamay or Cabernet Franc. All about fruit and charm, with no modern trappings or manipulations.

And then, the two supermarket wines, which had cost 10-15 euros.

Pittnauer, Burgenland, Redpitt, 2012

Peppery, meaty, tasty. A good value wine that I would buy for a house wine, if it made economic sense for anyone to import it and price it at something approaching its price in Vienna. In the context of the tasting, seems overdone, yet underwhelming. We probably should have had it with food.

Heinrich, Burgenland, Guter Blaufrankisch, 2009

Similar peppery aromatics, although cleaner and more floral  than the Pittnauer. Longer and more balanced on the palate, with juicier fruit and acidity. Obviously, the best of the two supermarket purchases.

Weninger, Burgenland, Hochacker, Blaufrankisch, 2011

Another step up. Very modern during the tasting, it had shed quite a lot of oak by the time I finished the rest of the bottle the next day, showing a peppery, meaty personality akin to Syrah. I really do think it has enough substance to absorb the oak.

We took a breather from my wines to sample some of Eldad's stuff. Salvaging the tasting, as he put it. He was probably right, although I'm not sure we didn't open the last two of my wines a few years prematurely.

Moric, Blaufrankisch, 2012

Moric was an eye-opener for me a few months ago, and the main reason I targeted reds instead of whites on my Vienna outing. This doesn't go for modern thrills or frills and is the most drinkable wine so far. Lets the fruit talk, and the oak takes a walk.

Schloss Gobelsburg, Cuvée Bertrand, 2011

Marries the upfront appeal of the wines I brought with the laid back ease of the Moric. Just about as good as the Moric, which, considering the reputation Moric has already earned, is saying a lot.

Paul Achs, Burgenland, Pinot Noir, 2011

More Burgenland than Pinot, assuming the inclination towards oak is a trademark, even though there is the grape's telltale forest floor. Arguably less manipulated than the rest of  my purchases but still less convincing than, say, the Gobelsburg. The remainders do show a tasty, saline finish and an earthy, pungent personality, so I think there's potential here that we might have missed.

Moric, Burgenland, Necken Markt, Alte Reben, 2011

Impressive, but still young and suffering from over extraction in its own way. But... excellent fruit, very balanced, very deep. Convincing enough to make me drool, even if I prefer finesse over the kind of intensity this brings to the table (although I suspect it could go in that direction as it matures).

Friday, July 11, 2014

Tzora, Again

It's been a year or two since I've tasted through the Tzora Vineyards portfolio. In the time since I actually last visited the winery or attended a launch, I've gotten to know winemaker Eran Pick very well, enough to call him a friend, which I guess would present a problem were I a professional writer. So I reckon being an amateur can be a boon (even if it means actually buying the stuff myself).

I've said it before - in fact, many have - Tzora and Eran make excellent wines. Tasty, interesting wines that I'm proud to serve to friends visiting from abroad, to showcase a team immaculately attentive in both the vineyard and the winery.

Or, 2012

An artificial ice wine Gewürztraminer that comes across as a good Sauternes lookalike, with a similar mustard vein. A low-acid, toffee treat, but very tasty with surprising acidity. (Jun. 3, 2014)

Shoresh, Sauvignon Blanc, 2013

As I've noted in the past, this finds a middle ground between new Zealand tropical fruitness and Loire minerality. This year the fruit is more obvious than I recall (guayavas, I'd say, which is a dominant fruit aroma in the first place), even though the minerals definitely are there, playing a complex bass line. There's a certain flashiness, a flair, but one that comes of self assurance, so it's all good. (Jun. 11, 2014)

130 NIS.

Judean Hills, 2012

Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, with some Merlot and Petit Verdot. Gunpowder, bitter tannins, juicy acidity, black fruit - elements that are not in sync here the way they are in the upper echelon wines. Although I like its raw kick. As I recall, Tzora had mineral character even in the old days, with a pleasant, rustic bite.  Eran over the years upped the finesse factor, especially in the Shoresh and Misty Hills. (Jun. 12, 2014)

About 100 NIS.

Judean Hills, Blanc, 2013

This Chardonnay prominent blend, with some Suavignon  Blanc, replaces the old Neve Ilan Chardonnay, which I think was slightly more alcoholic. It's similar in style and character to the Shoresh SB, perhaps a little more floral, but just as convincingly mineral-laden, and despite the price difference, of similar level of quality. The Sauvignon is more dominant at first, then the Chardonnay and at any rate the oak seems to need more time to tame than in the case of the Shoresh. (Jun. 15, 2014)

About 100 NIS.

You're probably expecting a write up on the 2012 Shoresh and 2011 Misty Hills, both of which were released along with the above. But since I missed the launch at the winery, I figured they're too young to open at home. So, instead, I offer...

Shoresh, 2010

This Cabernet-Syrah-Merlot blend is drinking nicely now, with its earthy black fruit and a hint of leather, and an ever expanding aromatic complexity that nurtures a smile or two. The tannins are still firm, and the package is still monolithic, but there's potential with more maturity. An excellent Mediterranean claret that I used to think resembled Saint Estephe, but now I'm thinking "modern Madiran". Or something along those lines. (Jul. 9, 2014)

129 NIS.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Taking Care Of Business (Jun. 2014)

I like Bourgogne and I cannot lie
Domaine Pavelot, Savigny-Les-Beaune, 2011

This packs a lot of fresh, sexy fruit into a lithe frame, although a lot of its appeal is also in the detailed, earthy, sanguine nuances as well as the saline finish. Fully ready for business and tasty as hell. (Jun. 1, 2014)

Bourgogne Crown, 165 NIS.

Huet, Vouvray, Clos de Bourg, Sec, 2010

This is, by my standards, a "wow" wine, for the effortless ease and grace with which it coats the palate with clear fruit that perfectly marries fantastic acidity and salinity with a hint of sweetness. The nose completes the picture with a complex, playful yet intense, blend of quince, apples and minerals. (Jun. 2, 2014)

Giaconda,  150 NIS.

C.V.N.E., Imperial, Rioja Gran Reserva, 2004

I'm beginning to realize how clumsy young Riojas can be. I can sense there's good substance here, juicy, potentially complex fruit with a layer of gun smoke and minerals, but it's still obscured by oak and dry, bitter tannins. (Jun. 5, 2014)

Wine Route, 259 NIS.

Domaine de l'Arlot, Nuits-St.-Georges, Le Petit Arlot, 2009

This young-vines Premier Cru Clos de l'Arlot  has a typical NSG nose, earthy, slightly gamy, with a touch of exotic spices. The palate, as I'm sadly learning to accept, has the 2009 vintage's relatively low acidity - even if it doesn't come coupled with, say, the ripeness of 2003 - but it does have very savory tannins, I'll give it that. So it tastes good, but doesn't have lift or real depth. (Jun. 6, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 190 NIS.

Domaine Hubert Lamy, Bourgogne Blanc, Les Chataigners, 2011

I've tasted through a large portion of the local imports of Saint Aubin star Hubert Lamy, and he is one of the white Bourgogne producers who has rekindled my faith in the genre, after a fair share of highly priced, marquee name disappointments. While this is a just a generic Bourgogone (although it might be some declassified village cru; the mini-map on the back label makes out Chataigners to be a named vineyard abutting the La Princee village cru and at any rate Saint Aubin is a cartographical nightmare, so it's hard to make sense of the appellation, harder to know how relevant such distinctions are in the first place in Saint Aubin), it offers tasty overview of all the white Burgundy highlights. A pretty, typical nose (apples, grass, minerals) and tasty, savory acidity to frame an elegant, flavor filled structure. (Jun. 7, 2014)

Bourgogne Crown, 145 NIS.

Christian Moreau, Chablis Premier Cru, Vaillons, 2011

This is really drinking well now, with a detailed, typical nose, all marine fossils and citrus, the palate clean and long. Just a hint of oak, already submerged. (Jun. 8, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 170 NIS.

Emrich-Schonleber, Nahe, Monzinger Halenberg, Riesling Spatlese Trocken, 2008

A steely, precise wine, with enough loose fringes to let the passion shine through. Peaches, apples, flowers, slate, a touch of kerosene, acidity that makes a bright statement. (Jun. 10, 2014)

Giaconda, 180 NIS.

Dr. Loosen, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Auselse, 2005

Highly tasty and showing a lot of botrytis free breed and depth. Green apple acidity with tropical sweetness suggestive of peaches, but very reined in, as though someone gave you a snapshot of summer to warm you up in the midst of a winter storm. A strand of minerals  becomes noticeable after a couple of hours. (Jun. 14, 2014)

Wine Route, about 200 NIS.

Faustino, Rioja Gran Reserva, I, 2001

Classic Rioja, balsamic vinegar and red and black fruit on the nose, sweet fruit, savory tannins and good acidity on the palate. (Jun. 16, 2014)

Wine Route,  139 NIS on discount.

Peter Jakob Kuhn, Rheingau, Jacobus, Riesling, Trocken, 2012

I picked up a trocken Rheingau from Giaconda - bet you didn't see that coming. I don't usually like dry Rheingaus, but I followed a whim, and honestly, this is excellent! The flavors and aromas are all about apples, with enough minerals to provide complexity, and the taste is fresh, long and exuberant, with a hint of sweetness on the finish. So it's dry, but it still feels German. (Jun. 17, 2014)

120 NIS.