Tzora Vineyards, Shoresh, Blanc, 2015
A wine that always teases with the tension between chalk and tropical fruit, what makes it one of Israel's best is the sheer physical presence on the palate, multi-layered and complex, distinctly flavorsome, all the while remaining fleet and tense. (Jan. 4, 2017)
Lewinsohn, Garage de Papa, Rouge, 2014
A local classic that reached the top tier of the local reds once Ido Lewinsohn turned it into a Petite Sirah/Carginan/Syrah blend a few years ago, this, as well as other recent vintages, is styled with the same vivid freshness as an excellent North Rhone. The craftsmanship indulges in clean purity that really respects the fruit and highlights a succulent figure as well as peppery, meaty aromas. Lovely. (Jan. 5, 2017)
Feldstein, Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc, 2014
This shows a mineral facet every time I drink it, but, if initially that facet was all flint, today, with this bottle, it is a rockier, grainier, sunburned minerality, and more complex for that. In other words, it now strikes me as more Pouilly-Fume than Graves. (Jan. 6, 2017)
Willi Schaefer, Mosel, Graacher, Riesling Feinherb, 2015
For a producer whose output is so minuscule it has garnered him cult status, Willi Schaefer makes two wines whose easy price belies their moreish quality. One is the Estate Trocken, which I wrote about last month, and then, there is this, which could easily fool a blind taster into calling it a Kabinett. Still almost painfully young, it provides a tensile, electric backbone and affable aromas of green apples laced and speckled with minerals. (Jan. 7, 2017)
Eldad Levy, 99 NIS.
Château de Targe, Saumur-Champigny, 2014
A fresh, young red that is more pleasurable than some of the more expensive, mature Loire reds that I've tried this year. It's a quiet wine, with pretty red fruit and a modicum of earthy complexity and length - and savory tannins that remind one that tannins should be the dressing, not the salad. (Jan. 8, 2017).
Wine Route, 130 NIS.
Luis Pato, Vinhas Velhas, 2013
The Pato whites that I've tasted, based on indigent Portugese grapes Bical and Cecreal, strike a balance of minerals and herbs, which is a generic description, and what it doesn't carry across is that these minerals and herbs have a unique stamp of character you don't get elsewhere. Here for example, I get a whiff of peas and mint that recalls a Gruner, although there is a subtle exotic nuance as well, the sum of the parts making for a combination I don't find elsewhere and which keeps my nose buried in the glass. The body marries a hint of sweetness with focused acidity (both of which also hint at the exotic), making a special, very worthy wine of great value for money. (Jan. 16, 2017)
Luis Pato, Bairrada, Vinha Formal, 2013
This the Velhas' sibling, heavier on the Bical in the blend, its exotic character so infused with dry grass and flint that it comes off as a Mardi Gras version of Chassagne. (Jan. 18, 2017)
You can find both Porto Restaurant and Wine Bar at Tshernichosky 6.
Recanati, Reserve, Wild Carignan, 2013
I was disappointed with the lack of structure in my last bottle, but this is better, a very handsome showing: the sweet fruit a bit rambling on the palate, yet aptly supported by its acidity (well, aptly for the first hour, then I would say the acidity forces the fruit to hang on for dear life, which works, simply because the fruit is so substantial). The sliver linings here are a piercing note halfway between iron, lead pencil and iodine and a wild herbaceousness that my idle mind scans as bushes trying to suck up the dry bedrock. If you wanted to make a case for the fertile wine industry percolating under the surface in Israel, despite the odds, you just need to serve a flight of the Recanati, Vitkin and Feldstein Carignans: each highlighting a wildly different aspect of the grape and land. (Jan. 19, 2017)
Marie et Paul Jacqueson, Rully Premier Cru, Margotes, 2014
The Jacqueson domaine produces several excellent, honest wines from south of the Cote d'Or. The standouts, I think, are their whites. I loved the 2011's a couple of years ago. It seems Giaconda have brought in the 2014's by now, although I had no idea, as their site has stopped publishing inventory or prices. That's just crappy service. I'm tempted to say crappy marketing as well, but I don't deny their business acumen and I'm certain they still sell well to their crowd. Whatever, this is worth a visit to their store on Frishman Street in Tel Aviv. It's that good a wine. This comes off as a young, limber Chassagne, laden with minerals and apple skins. It's already detailed and nuanced on the nose, but, despite the fairly long, saline finish and the power of the fruit, the palate is still too broadly delineated, and well in need of the fine tuning in the cellar. Damn good. (Jan. 21, 2017)
This used to cost 150 NIS. For the reasons I've detailed above, I have no idea what the current retail price is. We had this at Yaffo Tel Aviv, where it's listed at 280 NIS, so it could cost anything from 140 to 180 NIS, thus good to excellent value within this price band.
Since Giaconda don't list prices, I'm not going to link to their site. You know they're the importer and if you buy wines in Israel, you know how to find them. If you want to read about the domaine, on the other hand, go here.
Domaine Vincent Paris, Cornas, Granit 30, 2014
I've written about about Vincent Paris and his wines and I surely don't want to overstay my welcome, so I would like to write something new, or at least point out pertinent data points about the Granit 30's evolution: I think that now its fleshy fruit and ripe acidity make it lither, yet somehow more structured, than it was in the past. You know, Cornas was tagged as the burly appellation in the past, say twenty years ago, the rusty wine that needed years to soften. This is modern in its hygiene and accessibility, but retains all the qualities that makes us love a North Rhone wine in its plateau: the violets, the black pepper, the hints of bacon, the depth of the languid-yet-structured fruit. (Jan. 21, 2017)
Fat Guy, 199 NIS.
Mia Luce, Rosso, 2014
The 2015 is a brilliant Israeli Syrah, but this is excellent as well. In a way, its rustic charms may be even more attractive, with an earthy nose reminiscent of sculptor clay, the requisite black pepper and ripe, supple fruit that thrives on its acidity and dusty tannins. (Jan. 22, 2017)
Lahat, Red, 2014
Why can't we all just get along? Just like the Syrah and Cabernet in this blend, that make a lovely aromatic harmony out of black pepper and herbs. And red fruit - I still pause for thought when local red wines steer away from the black and blue end of the spectrum. Very moreish. (Jan. 24, 2017)
About 150 NIS.
Rizzi, Barbaresco, Rizzi, 2013
Rizzi is a small family estate in Barbaresco. Rizzi is also the name of the estate's entry level Barbaresco - a blend of various crus - that I broached as soon as I scored a bottle. It's approachable, alright, as the youthful tannnns add a rusty flavoring, as opposed to blocking the fruit. The enjoyment factor comes from the Nebbiolo accents: the tarry/dusty aromas and those rusty tannins. There's a light vein of rose petal aromas that should gain definition in time and lend greater complexity to the wine. Let's say it needs five years or so. (Jan. 28, 2017)
Bouchard Père et Fils, Montagny Premier Cru, 2015
Premier Cru sounds impressive, until you find out that all the Montagny vineyards are classified as premier cru. Plus, it's the Cote Chalonaise, so I suspect the classification is overvalued. It's a tasty wine, though, tart apples nicely cloaked by flint and chalk. But of only modicum excitement. (Jan. 29, 2015)
Wine Route, 125 NIS.