The Great Grey Beast February (Feb. 2018)

The first weekend of February 2019 started off with a re-acquaintance with two neglected favorites. Shvo, Red, 2015 is a lovely, post-GSM blend (Grenache and Mourvedre augmented by Barbera from what I picked up on the net). I don't have a good explanation why I don't drink more of it. I can usually find it for less than 80 NIS, which is a silly price, given it's quality. It has excellent aromatic complexity and a restrained richness of flavors which still needs time to unfold. I think it has as much aging potential as local wines at twice the price, even in a crappy vintage like 2015.

I'd almost forgotten how tasty the wines made chez Lapierre makes are. I used to drink lots of them. My blog shows 18 tasting notes, yet I haven't drunk the regular Morgon in almost 5 years. Marcel Lapierre, Morgon, 2016 shows what an oversight that was. It is such a moreish wine, sappy red fruit with a touch of spices, soft tannins that are totally unobtrusive. Unadulterated pleasure, really.

Oddero, Barolo, 2014

I think that basic Barolo bottlings are more approachable at a young age than they used to be, even when made by an Old School producer like Oddero. Or maybe I just don't mind a little tannic grunge when the complexity of the Nebbiolo fruit shines through anyway. Here, the nose already shows the tar/dust/spices/tea leaves personality that makes Nebbiolo so evocative when it hails from its homeland, while the rusty tannins serve as flavor complements to the red fruit without blocking it. Lovely. (Feb. 2, 2019)

I've always been able to score this for less than 30 pounds at Waitrose. In Israel, this would cost you about 200 NIS. Makes you want to relocate, doesn't it?

Markus Molitor, Mosel, Bernkasteler Badstube, Riesling Kabinett (Green Capsule), 2015 

When I drank this last year, I thought it almost a cross between a kabinett and a Grosse Gewache, with a touch of guayavas. The evolution in the ensuing year has been rather minor. There is not much additional complexity (but absolutely no signs of wear, either - these 2015's are going to live forever, through the entire range of pradikats), but rather a focusing of the Mosel character. Molitor is really great, and what a shame, what a great shame, that his ausleses are so expensive in Israel.  (Apr. 12, 2018)

Wine Route, 130 NIS.

Descendientes de J. Palacios, Bierzo, Villa de Corullón, 2016

This is a side venture of Priorat's Alvaro Palacios. The Villa de Corullón is made from old Mencia vines (I read 100 year old vines when I was googling the wine earlier, but I can't find the source now). The tart, earthy red fruit, with hints of baking spices, plays out like a Latin Beaujolais Cru. The soft tannins and gentle acidity make for a very tasty wine, but I don't get any old vines depth, complexity or tension. (Feb. 15, 2019)

Lahat, Red, 2016

This, too, plays out like a Beaujolais Crus, but on a higher playing field than the Bierzo. Yeah, despite it being a Syrah-Cabernet Sauvignon blend. I say that because it has the same vivid freshness of a young Beaujolais Cru, the same earthiness, and it has the restraint and feel of a cool climate red. Surprisingly for Lahat, there's a touch of brett, but it's subtle enough to add complexity without distracting, and the Syrah adds some touches of black pepper for good measure. The tannins are firm, yet in harmony with the fruit and acidity, and provide not just the backbone but a spicy, roasted meat finish. Although it should age well for at least 3-5 years, I suspect most people will take its immediacy and relatively lean form as signs of an early drinking red. They'd be both wrong and right, because it will develop, but it's very tasty now. (Feb. 15, 2019)

Château Golan, Syrah, 2014

I'll use the North Rhone as a reference point, not a yardstick, because that's my preferred style of Syrah: floral, lithe enough so that the fruit can show subtlety - savory fruit that's soaked up enough sun to be svelte and sweet, but not too ripe - enough black pepper to make you crave for a few pounds of flesh. There's a muscular side to Syrah, a deep dark, black, muscular side, which this also shows, given enough air, and which takes me to California as well. This is really, really excellent, the best Israeli Syrah I've ever had. (Feb. 28, 2019)

About 150 NIS.

Tulip, Syrah Reserve, 2016

Oh my god, it's been over ten years since the last time I tried the Tulip Syrah. The 2005 way back in 2008. I know Tulip has changed a lot since then. A different winemaker, a different set of marching orders from management. The 2005 was very big and ripe, and not in a complementary way, whereas this is much more nuanced and well formed. This is not a very complex wine and it sure ain't no Saint Joseph, but it smells of violets, which is something I really love about young Syrahs. It also smells of black pepper and blueberries. What can I say, the nose is a charmer. The palate is tasty, but at this stage, too broad and sweet to be be anything but plain good. I think it will remain a broad and sweet wine but will gain some savory elements and complexity. (Feb. 18, 2019)

About 100 NIS.

Golan Heights Winery, Katzrin, Blanc de Blancs, 2007

My impression of the bottle I had in October was that this was a fine sparkler with rough edges in need of time. I felt confident letting it age for a year or two. Now, I think this is as good as it will get. It's no longer rough, but no longer quite as vital as it had been. There's a decent umami complexity kindled in baked apples and nuts, and it is quite delicious, but the aromatics are mute and the form is not very inspirational. (Feb. 14, 2019)

250 NIS.

Domaine Bernard Baudry, Chinon, 2016

Going over my old Bernard Baudry notes, I realize two things. One, I drank my first Baudry 7 years ago and two, Wine Route used to charge about 30% less for this. Baudry is not a producer who goes to a lot of trouble to reign in brett in the winery, but it's held to a very bare minimum here. The red fruit is supple and juicy, good acidity of course, with hints of olives, pepper and violets, intermarried to pungent nuances halfway between wet earth drying in the noon sun and tobacco leaves. It's the tastiest, friendliest young Cabernet Franc I've had in years. Now I really can't wait for my bottles of the flagship La Croix Boissée to reach maturity. (Feb. 17, 2019)

About 120 NIS.

Emrich-Schönleber, Nahe, Monzinger Halenberg, Riesling Spätlese, 2013

Halenberg is always a winner at Emrich-Schonleber and it always reflects the vintage. Where the 2012 was ethereal fruit on a gossamer frame, the 2013 is an enigma, mixing the tingling acidity of green apples and underripe peaches with the creamy texture of freshly baked pastry. (Feb. 19, 2019)

Joseph Drouhin, Gevrey-Chambertin, 2012

Savory, autumnal Burgundy, Burgundy as umami partner to delicate fare, forest leaves and strawberries sauteed in balsamic vinegar. (Feb. 20, 2019)

Finally, Netofa has improved this year. The Domaine Netofa, Red, 2017, a GSM blend, is fresher than ever. A good wine, far from being great or complex, but tasty and moreish. The Tel Qassar, White, 2017 is a reserved, understated Rousanne, lightly earthy, lightly nutty. The Latour, Red, 2016 is a tasty, fruity blend of Syrah and Mourvedre, with pleasant spiciness and a touch of pungent tobacco leaves. It's not very deep, intense or complex, and its soft tannins won't carry it for too many years, but its small scale charms are carried out cleanly and with good precision.