Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Groovy Times

Yes, it's number one, the radio said
Groovy times have come to pass -
The Clash
Salomon, Kremstal, DAC Reserve, Berglagen, Von Stein, Grüner Veltliner, 2009

"2GrandCru, how many Austrian wines do you have?"

"Not enough."

And hardly any Grüner, I might add. Even though I like/love the grape a lot, I tend to opt for Rieslings, lately, because Rieslings is also something I always feel I never quite have enough of (although I do have lots of them). Anyway, the word on GruVe is it matures slowly, so what I do buy, I tend to drink fairly quickly, because it seems like there's no upside in just a little cellaring. Thus, I was happy to buy this seven year old from Eldad and see where medium term cellaring brought us. The nose is discreet, herbal and green - think of mint for reference - with perhaps just a hint of smoke. Other than that, yellow summer fruits, echoed on the palate, with is deep and wide, culminating in the signature spicy finish which is Austria's gift to the world of wine. (Nov. 15, 2016)

210 NIS.

Never one to easily sate an appetite, I continued on a mini GruVe binge.

Schloss Gobelsburg, Kamptal, DAC Reserve, Lamm Erste Lage, Grüner Veltliner, 2010

Schloss Gobelsburg fascinates me, an ancient, venerable property bought and revived by a fanatic who earnestly attempts - and succeeds - to combine traditional styles and approaches with modern technique and hygiene. Now, I know this suggests hipster hype, so you'll just have to trust me. The Moosebrugger family and their team manage, more often than not, to live up to, even surpass, their ambitions. The Lamm, for example. So deep and full, it gives an almost sweet impression, certainly a riper one than the equally deep Salomon, yet that impression is derived from a vital, fleshy, dense and detailed substance - providing the wine with another decade of life at least. The character of the grape is equally typical, similarly evoking yellow summer fruit, as well as smoke, herbs and spices. Where it pulls away from the Von Stein is with a curlicue of nut oil that is elusive, yet confidently insists on attention. That inspired interplay with the senses, backed by the density of the fruit is what, for me, defines the fruit of a great vineyard. And, a great team. (Nov. 25, 2016)

259 NIS.

Schloss Gobelsburg, Kamptal, DAC Reserve, Grub Erste Lage, Grüner Veltliner, 2010

Without tasting the Lamm and Grub side by side, it's challenging to grasp how the nuances of terroir assert themselves, but this is also a great wine. This, too, is dense and ripe, equally detailed, playing out cantaloupes and assorted summer fruit against an equally captivating backdrop of smoke and herbs, at the same time adding a layer of minerals that was not obvious in the Lamm. I just love these pair, easily the equal of many a Bourgogne Premier Cru. (Jan. 14, 2017)

211 NIS.

Hirsch, Kamptal, DAC Reserve, Kammerner Lamm Erste Lage, Grüner Veltliner, 2011

From the same grand Lamm vineyard, this is both greener and more mineral scented, more white pepper than spices. Among other differences, this has a lean, taut vibrancy, in contrast with the sober classicism of the Gobelsburg  - although, Grüner being what it is, the Hirsch also has plenty of heft and the same canopy of summer fruit. (Nov. 26, 2016)

225 NIS.

These are all imported, distributed and sold by Fat Guy/Wine Domaines of Austria. All will age well, assuming, that is, you can find the willpower to keep away from them.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Drugs Of Choice (Dec. 28, 2017)

Back at Basta TLV, for a night focusing on Burgundy, which is appropriate, given the guest of honor was Cyrielle Rousseau of the famed Gevrey property, Domaine Armand Rosseau. Basta's private room and menu are an epicure's Arcadia, and sharing wines, in that setting, with someone whose great-grandfather transformed Burgundy by pioneering domaine bottling, is a good candidate for the most memorable outing of 2016 (even in a year redolent with amazing evenings and a week long fiftieth birthday binge).

Domaine Benoit Ente, Aligote, 2013

This shows funky, taut, limey fruit that has a definite filigree. If you ever doubted that Aligote is a worth grape, try this. It's not only a fine wine (consistently the best Aligote I drink), but, to me. it expresses the character of Puligny with offhand ease. Indeed, tasted blind, we thought it was a village level wine.

Vilmart, Grand Reserve, n.v.

With intense, youthful vigor of citrus, green apples and chalk, this shows the bold, fresh aspect of a youngish Champagne. Despite this being a blend dominated by Pinot Noir, and Vilmart being a sort of Pinot specialist, this takes time to show the hints of autumnal aromas the grape can at times bring to a blend.

Domaine Amiot-Servelle, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru, Charmes, 2010

Raw red fruit - even grungy, at first - on the nose, then showing mellow forest floor and minerals, as well as hints of mint. The palate is in a mid way phase, a tannic and grungy surface belying the savory, precise backbone, which promises an elegant evolution..

Domaine Hubert Lignier, Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, 2006

This, too, shows a rough elegance, but where the Charmes reverses the classic metaphor of an iron fist within a velvet glove, here the tannins make me think of a boxer calmly flexing his muscles before a fight. It starts impressively enough, expressing its power as iron-laden, black fruit, before blooming with exotic spices. And that's just the one-plus glass I had; I believe that a full bottle shared with a smaller group over the course of an evening would show ever more facets. Superb, wine of the night, at this point the best 2006 I've had yet.

Domaine Jacques Fredric Mugnier, Chambolle-Premier Cru, Les Fuees, 2002

An opulent and heady, sexy nose, that shows red fruit and spices and a sweetness that I tentatively wrote down as saddle leather. The palate is linear, with just a little padding, not fat, that gives it a jaunty bounce.

Lopez de Heredia, Tondonia, Rioja Grand Reserva, 1991

Lots of iron at first on the nose, as well as that old wood aromas that mature Riojas often give, while the palate shows, sweetly sauteed fruit driven by intense acidity, its power belied by a relatively mellow body.

Produttori di Barbaresco, Barbaresco, Montestefano, 2001

A very classic showing (tar and rose petals), pedigree without vanity. I bought a few mid 2000's crus from Wine Route, and after drinking this, I regret not buying more. This is great stuff.

Chateau Pontet-Canet, Pauillac 5me Cru, 1981

Minty, dusty, reticent, black fruit that doesn't stoop to flattery. Textbook Pauilliac, requiring some concentration to gleam the fair complexity embedded within its depths. If the modern, latterday style of the property doesn't appeal to you, you might be in for a pleasant surprise with an older vintage such as this.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Taking Care Of Business (Dec. 2016)

Feldstein, Anu, 2014

This is mostly Carignan, with touches of Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon, but initially, what I get is a resemblance to new World Pinot Noir, with fresh red fruit on the nose. Not something I picked up at the launch. At the launch, Avi discussed the steps he took to capture the grape's meaty aspects, but at this stage, it shows a rather floral character. Even when those meaty traits do show up, they are delicate and suggestive, shadowed by similarly delicate herbal tones. In short, this is likely the most feminine Israeli Carignan yet, not to mention one of the best, with finely tuned tannins. (Dec. 2, 2016)

260 NIS.

Cedalion, Eastern End Waiheke Island, Block 31 Single Vineyard Syrah, 2014

This is a new venture by Sam Harrop, a New Zealand Master Of Wine. The self promotion on his site is a little heavy handed, but the results here are very good, even excellent. The black fruit is lithe and clean, focused without being over technical, conjuring what I love about the North Rhone without being a copy cat. So pepper and bacon adorn the black fruit and the structure is almost Burgundian, but without the brawny iron of the east bank AOCs or the nervy edge of the west. (Dec. 6, 2016)

Dönnhoff, Nahe, Oberhäuser Brücke, Riesling Spätlese, 2008

The usual cool elegance that is the trademark of the Nahe trio (Donnhoff, Emrich-Schonleber, Schafer-Frolich). Complex aromatics of minerals and herbs, apples and peaches, with a lithe, succulent body that is hardly the quasi Auslese that you sometimes get in recent years, what with global warming and all. Despite the length, it doesn't pack a wallop or complexity of flavors - I keep waiting for a stinging jab that never comes, but this is limp and tepid for a Riesling of this pedigree. (Dec. 11, 2016)

Giaconda, about 200 NIS.

Dr. Loosen, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Bernkasteler Lay, Riesling Kabinett, 2012

Mosel Kabinetts don't last long in my fridge. I can't keep my hands off, really. But Wine Route wasn't able to unload all their stocks and I found another bottle at one of their branches. This is still vibrantly nubile and fresh, all granny apples and slate, with some aromatic complexity slowly blooming and coming into its own, so that I also get a hint of pastries and kerosene. (Dec. 12, 2016)

About 100 NIS.

Domaine Bernard Baudry, Chinon, Le Clos Guillot, 2011

This is in a rather chunky place right now, hinting at possible complexity, but for now only offering simple, homely pleasures: aromas red fruit adorned by lead pencil, hints of brett like dew drops on grass - all echoed on the palate, which shows a rough, rustic poise. I want to like it more - I opened an bottle I bought in the States to share with friends a year or two before Wine Route first started imported Baudry, so I feel a foolish, vain possessiveness about the domaine - but to be honest, I've drunk better Lore reds. (Dec. 18, 2016)

Wine Route, 125 NIS.

Ahat, 2015

I always advocate the virtues of low alcohol wines, but when I read that the latest vintage from Nitzan Swersky's micro-boutique weighs in at 11.5% ABV, I was worried it was too much of a good thing and that the fruit might be too green and anorexic. Especially since it's a varietal Chardonnay this year, not a grape I'd expect to see at 11.5%. Well, the 2015 Ahat is green, in a floral, green soybean sort of way, and it won't load a lot of flavors on your taste buds, but those flavors will be virtuously savory and rocky/salty - think Muscadet with lesser lees contact. Meanwhile the nose is a charming trompe l'oeil of rain water, apple peels and flint. an almost ephemeral mist of aromas and scents. The well defined acidity, bracing with a twist of lime, makes it a very gastronomic wine. (Dec. 19, 2016)

120 NIS, which is on the expensive side. If you buy it, and I urge you to get a bottle, don't buy it to partake of obvious greatness, buy it to hop along for the ride - wherever Nitzan's muse will take her, I'm sure she'll agree this is just a piece of the final puzzle, and you and I will enjoy figuring it out with her.

Flam, Reserve, Syrah, 2014

It's been over a decade since I last bought a Flam. I probably stopped buying at the same time I stopped buying Israeli wines, period, and then when I resumed flirting with the local wines, I guess I was looking elsewhere. For me, the 2000 Flam Reserves signaled the start of the modern wave of local boutique wineries, even though Castel, Margalit and Tzora were around for about a decade at that point. When I returned to the fold, what interested me were wineries that were searching for a different type of identity - more suitable grape varieties and fresher, more elegant wines - and Flam just didn't grab me. I have to say, this wine doesn't look likely to hook me. Aromatically, very nice: black pepper, fresh black fruit. Palate, also nice, lithe with good acidity. So, what's wrong? Nothing, really, but there's just no sense of excitement. At the same price range, Mia Luce races ahead with ease, making this feel like a pale also-ran, while Kishor offers the same quality, with more personality, at less than half the price. (Dec. 24, 2016)

140 NIS.

Abaya, Syrah, 2013

This is similarly styled, but livelier - the fruit is arguably a little sweeter but with a touch more energy, the nose more characterful and layered. I can't put my finger on any specific thing or things that are better here, or more mundane with the Flam. In the end, personality just goes a long way, personality that shows in little details and nuances that keep unfolding with air, at the end exhibiting both an exuberant side - in the succulent fruit that is just a little candied, while retaining hints of black pepper and meat - and a serious, somber aspect, as well. (Dec. 27, 2016)

About 120 NIS.

Willi Schaefer, Mosel, Riesling Estate Trocken, 2015

I can't really put my heart into actively not liking a German Riesling of any sort, but I usually think the trocken (dry) versions miss the point, which is how much charm and joy a little sugar adds to the classic style. But Willi Schaefer makes a great version, where the racy acidity plays the same role as does the sugar in the off-dry version of the Mosel idiom, that is, it anchors the granny apple flavors in a sensual, exuberant vivacity. The quality of the fruit is noticeable in the detailed complexity of the aromas and belies the easy price. (Dec. 25, 2016)

Fat Guy, 99 NIS.

Quinta do Portal, Porto, 20 Year Old Tawny, n.v.

Nice, but, although the pungent, nutty aromas are very pleasing, this a bit too soft and lightweight for me, and doesn't gain more presence over subsequent days.

300 NIS.

Lewinsohn, Garage de Papa, Blanc, 2015

Ido Lewinsohn manage to coax the same flinty/nutty aromas out of his Chardonnay that we love so much in Bourgognes, as well as a similarly tasty saline aftertaste. That's the obvious point that everyone picks up on and writes about. In 2015, the oak is even subtler and more precise than in the past, or maybe the vintage conditions were better, allowing the sweetness and flesh of the fruit to better assimilate it. I think his red is the real killer - but, even if he only made this white wine, he'd still be one of the nest winemakers in Israel. (Dec. 29, 2016)

140 NIS.

Max and Lydie Cognard-Taluau, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Les Malgagnes, 2009

Slow to open, this shows depth belied by its austerity, as well as minerality and a herbals streak that is a cross between tobacco and garrigue. (Dec. 30, 2016)

13 Euros in the Loire. Seems like a decent value, although I have no idea who Cognard-Taluau are - this was a whim purchase on a family vacation in a well stocked store that didn't seem like a tourist trap.