|I suppose I could just have called this the Summer of Champagne|
Marc Hebrart, Champagne, Mareuil-Sur-Ay, Premier Cru Brut, Rose, n.v.
This is a grower from Terry Theise's portfolio that Eldad Levy doesn't carry (yet ?) and it's very, very good. Interestingly, it's comprised of 47% Chardonnay, the rest Pinot Noir, including 7% still wine, so there's citrus and apples in there along with the more expected strawberries. It has very decent complexity for a non-vintage, with brioche, salted nuts, even a hint of flint and flowers, and it's very saline and dry, in a reserved, ladylike manner. Like the the other grower Champagnes I've tasted, this feels as though someone had managed to merge the freshness of fruit with the salivating, brothy warmth of crisp, freshly baked crust of bread dipped in bouillabaisse.
Simon Bize, Bourgogne, Les Perrières, 2010
Even though I thought this wouldn't reward drinking before 2015/6, I gave optimism a chance (mostly because it'd been a few weeks since I had a red Burgundy), but this is still nubile and oaky. Beneath the oak I can spot red fruit and flowers. I don't know if it's the vintage or the winemaker, but this just isn't tasty right now, and while time might absolve its sins, there are too many contenders I can opt to drink instead. (Jul. 20, 2014)
Burgundy Wine Collection, 140 NIS.
Ashkar, Iqrit, Sauvignon Blanc, 2012
This is more delicate than I remembered, very pale colored, all lime and grapefruit with a racy, chalky streak and terrific acidity. It's one dimensional, but packs a lot of charm into that one dimension. As much a pleasure the second time around. (Jul. 24, 2014)
Not that easy to find, I scored it at Goodies in Tel Aviv for 70 NIS.
Pierre Péters, Champagne, Le Mesnil Sur Oger, Brut Rosé, For Albane, n.v.
Right. I've waited for a long time for Eldad to reel Peters in. This is quite dry and austere, with oranges almost crowding out the red fruit, the Pinot Meunier in the cuvee (it's the sole red grape) lending a very earthy character. No brioche or nuts here, and I wind up liking it less than the less expensive Herbrat, even though it feels more refined if I limit my inspection solely to its structure. (Jul. 29, 2014)
Fat Guy, 399 NIS.
Delamotte, Champagne, Cote de Blancs, Brut, n.v.
Another very nice non-vintage, from the only producer in Eldad Levy's catalog that's an actual Champagne house (albeit a small one) and not a grower. Chalk, nut and citrus comprise a very mellow Champagne for an evening by the fire - 'cept we had it in the midst of yet another heat wave. Efrat says, and I agree with her, that this, too, gives more pleasure than the Péters Rosé. (Aug. 1, 2014)
Fat Guy, about 270 NIS.
L. Aubry Fils, Jouy-Les-Reims, Brut Premier Cru, n.v.
The blend is heavily into black grapes, 45% Pinot Meunier, 25% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay and the remaining 5% are ancient varieties that few besides the Aubry twins grow: Arbanne, Petit Meslier, and Fromenteau. Unlike most non-vintage blends, the reserve wine (40%) comes from not from a back vintage or two, but from something akin to a sherry solera system, with the juice dating back to 1998. My bottle was disgorged in January 2013, which means the non-reserve juice (60%) is 2010, and it also means it has had a year on the shelves to settle and age. The final result is lovely, with the nutty/brothy/bready nuances that have already wreaked havoc on my heart when I 'discovered' Lallament earlier this year. It's in a similar funky style, although a less intense rendition. (Aug. 17, 2014).
About 50 USD.
Jean-Louis Denois, Limoux, Brut Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs, n.v.
Disgorged Dec. 2012. I've been craving Champagne so much lately that I was content with a ringer, but this faced the handicap of being drunk while the memory of the charming and funky Aubry was still fresh in my mind. But it's still a tasty sparkler, with nuts and mushrooms and fresh Chardonnay citrus fruit underneath. (Aug. 18, 2014)
Fat Guy, 105 NIS.
Pierre Gimonnet, Champagne, Blanc de Blancs Brut, 1er Cru, Cuvee Gastronome, 2008
And here we go again. This is the low-rung vintage wine, a step up from the Gimonnet n.v., right before the "big gun" vintage wines, but still a treat (even if, as some on Cellar Tracker have written, it is a tad too sweet): a cloud of roasted nuts and mushrooms floating over bright apples and citrus fruit, with a structured laced with chalk. (Aug. 21, 2014)
Fat Guy, 279 NIS.
Prager, Niederosterrich, Hinter Der Burg, Gruner Veltliner, Federspiel, 2013
Typical GruVe: melon, apples, green peas, white pepper, mint. Decently complex, long and very pure and moreish. Really a wonderful little wine, whose finish lingers like a Grand Cru. (Aug. 22, 2014)
Pierre Péters, Champagne, Blanc de Blancs Brut, Cuvée de Réserve, .n.v
As in the case of the Gimonnet Gastronome, the floral Chardonnay fruit is very obvious, lending the wine clean purity, with brioche lending nuances initially, followed quickly by a layer of chalk and nuts. Since the Peters non-vintage is sourced from a perpetual 'solera' (Terry Theise: "in principle this is half of the current-prevailing year and half a cuvée of all the preceding years"), I expected a more mature character, but this is amazingly fresh, with a finish that complements citric sweetness with a dash of salt. Good breed. (Aug. 23, 2014)
Fat Guy, 289 NIS.
Weninger, Mittelburgenland, Blaufränkisch, Saybritz, 2012
I bought this at the wine store in Egg, Germany, at the recommendation of the owner, after he noticed I didn't like the oakier wines he let me taste. He said the 2012 version saw less oak than the earlier vintage I was looking at. Well, there is oak in here, at first complementing the peppery aspects of the grape nicely, then subduing it, and it's not as light and lithe as the Moric, Schloss Gobbleburg and Brundlmayer reds I've tasted (which I'd drink by the gallons, if I could get any). I guess the wine store guy got it right, or I was too optimistic. (Aug. 28, 2014)
16 Euros, but what does the price mean anyway? I bought it in a town way out in the hinterlands, it would probably be 10-12 Euros in a major Austrian city, but anyone importing it to Israel would probably have to charge the equivalent of 20-25 Euros.
Ashkar Winery, Iqrit, Shiraz, 2012
The label might say Shiraz, but it smells and tastes like a warm vintage, Old World, Syrah, yet at the same time very Israeli as well. Lots of black pepper and spices, sweat, red and black fruit, maybe even a hint of bacon. Ripe, yet reined in at the same time - sweet, with a touch of sanguine. Smells great, tastes yummy, albeit rustic and grizzled. (Aug. 31, 2014)