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 is, 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 was 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 an 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.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Jurassic Park - Andre et Mireille (now Stephane) Tissot

My playground this week

The thing is, I'm really quite a potato couch adventurer, and the world of wine allows me to explore the world from the safety of my home, sipping a bottle wine, reading up on it and writing my tasting notes.

Jura had fascinated me years before I ever actually tasted any of its wines. The notion of those remote, mountain vineyards really captured my imagination and appealed to my notions of romance. I finally tried a Tissot Poulsard last year, so consider me a pioneer at last finding his homestead. I can't say I really came to grips with it - it was too tart, pungent and funky even for my catholic tastes - but at least the experience allowed me to recognize the name when Giaconda started importing them.

Just saying I was looking forward to drinking my way through a few bottles.

Cremant du Jura, Rose, Extra Brut, n.v.

Comprised of Pinot Noir, Polusard and Trousseau, this isn't overly complex or anything like that, but shows very pretty aromas of strawberries, citrus fruit, chalk and brioche, and very dry, palate cleansing flavors. Really not the type of sparkling wine for anyone looking for a sweetish lounge drink, so you can guess I like it, the saline enfant terrible. Passes the "how does it compare to a decent non-vintage Champagne" test, except it's leaner. (Jun. 19, 2014)

130 NIS.

Arbois, Traminer, 2012

I'm not familiar with the Traminer grape. If the name implies any relationship with Gewurztraminer, then the affinity is only apparent in a certain spiciness on both nose and palate. Otherwise, it makes a small scale, albeit pretty, impression with a meager tool set, just grapefruit and said spiciness. (Jun. 21, 2014)

130 NIS. Pricey for what it is, and not compelling enough for a full evening's worth of entertainment.

Cremant du Jura, Blanc de Blanc Cleve en Fue, n.v.

100% Chardonnay, 2007 vintage, 75% aged in oak, aged on its lees in bottle for four years. I'm going a bit anal on the details because the final result is such a fine, nutty, saline Champagne lookalike that the wine making trivia might be insightful. Not that I think the merits of this lovely sparkler hinge solely on how close it nears the idiom, but more on how tasty, complex and interesting it is (citrus, orange blossom accompanying the nuts I have mentioned). (Jun. 21, 2014)

170 NIS. Totally worth it.

Cotes du Jura, En Barberon, 2011

The nose is ashes and salted nuts, baked apples, mushrooms, lightly oxidative. It's provocatively interesting, but rough and not for the faint of heart, and the palate continues in the same vein. It reminds me more of a Savennieres a la Nicolas Joly than any Chardonnay mindful of the Burgundian ideal - well, it's also reminiscent of Meursault, but a Meursault directed by Terrentino. (Jun. 22, 2014)

220 NIS.

Executive Summary

  1. Like.
  2. Okay.
  3. Love.
  4. An interesting date  - but not my type.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Guys And Dolls (May 25, 2014)

Another Bourgogne Crown tasting, this time loosely based around the theme of feminine Cote de Nuits (Chambolle, Vosne) versus the more masculine ones (Gevrey, Morey). Except for the Chassagne appertif and the the Chapitre, these wines were opened in the morning of the tasting, so you have to figure they all need a few years of cellaring.

Chapitre, the Bourgogne that walks like a Premier

Domaine Morey-Coffinet, Chassagne-Montrachet, 2011

Chassagne spiciness, with the four squared frame sand-papered smooth. 190 NIS.

Domaine Serafin, Gevrey-Chambertin, 2010

The Gevrey-ness perfume jumps out of the glass, gamy and earthy, lightly floral, quite tannic despite the lengthy airing, yet with no little elegance. The airing also brings out a lot of detail. Lovely. 280 NIS.

Domaine Olivier Guyot, Gevrey-Chambertin "Les Champs", 2010

A 'heavier' nose than the Serafin, not as giving or complex now either. The fruit is present, but with little detail. Aired as much as the Serafin, so perhaps the air was too muc in this caseh. At any rate, in need of time. 270 NIS.

La Maison Romane, Gevrey-Chambertin "La Justice", 2011

The manliest of the Gevreys, without any loss of finesse and elegance. A deep wine. Gamy, sweaty and mineral laden. Full of flavors, yet the backbone is streamlined and focused. A good example of why I love the Maison. 340 NIS.

Domaine Bizot, Bourgogne "Le Chapitre", 2011

Intense mildew over the red fruit, yet that pungency is handled with a light touch and sheer elegance. Very long. This is famous for being one of three 'generic' Bourgognes legally allowed to use a single vineyard designation and it drinks like a Premier Cru. 375 NIS.

Domaine Amiot-Servelle, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru, Les Charmes, 2011

Heady, like sticking your head into a bouquet, yet delicate and feminine for all that. Very fresh with a very good backbone. 500 NIS.

Domaine Serafin, Morey St. Denis Premier Cru, Les Millandes, 2010

Not feminine so much as hedonistic, although when I say that I mean Roman Empire hedonistic as opposed to Wall Street hedonistic, since the character if 2010 gives the liqueur driven hedonism a Jedi Knight mystique. Fantastic acidity, too. 435 NIS.

Domaine Bizot, Vosne-Romanee "Les Jachees", 2011

Very Vosne, very 2011. Yet there is also a flowery Chambolle essence. Very layered, but like all the Bizots I've tasted, the low ABV creates a somewhat alient impact. Even my palate is not quite used to such low alcohol content. Yet the acidity and fruit are so savory, I love it without quite knowing why. 560 NIS.

Domain Alain Burguet, Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru, Les Rouges du Dessus, 3011

The first impression is that of great length. And that's all there is for a while until the Vosne character takes time to show. It's very Burguet, yet true to Vosne. Very tart with a soft yet controlled backbone. 590 NIS.

Domaine Amiot-Servelle, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru, Les Amoureuses, 2011

Languid Chambolle florality, with exotic spices. Complex and long, focused. And oh yeah, tasty as hell. 1050 NIS.

Domaine Serafin, Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru, 2008

TCA tainted. There's great stuff in there, a great wine in the making, but the TCA ruins it, which isn't the wine's fault fault, of course. Although the concentration of the fruit does manage to do a very admirable job in covering up the cork taint. 790 NIS.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Northern Lights (May 19, 2014)

The thing about vacations is, sometimes you drink wines you pass by back home. Necessity is the mother of inventions, y'all. Bear with me as I walk you through some snapshots from a romantic getaway up north.

First, a very nice wine I should have tried at home, had I taken the trouble.

Pelter, Gewürztraminer, 2012

The local depiction of the grape is, happily, not as intense as the Alsatian version. There is bitter grapefruit and rose petals and a well measured pinch of spice, all without the crushing backbone of mustard-like extract that time never manages to temper in the aristocratic Alsace crus.

Then, a bottle from a winery I've been avoiding for the last half decade.

Sea Horse, Hemingway, 2011

70% Petit Syrah, 20% Sauvignon and 5% Syrah probably approximate Hemingway's personality, as the wine is sturdy, yet soft, with a faux pas manliness delineated by sweet black cherries and leather. Impressive at first, then gets on my nerves.

Finally, this is one wine I actively sought out and it's spellbindingly unique.

Ashkar, Iqrit, Sauvignon Blanc, 2013

Like the cat piss without the gooseberry bush at first, until the fruit starts to bloom, saline and intense, to welcome effect. There is nothing like it locally, if indeed anywhere. I truly loved it, and while I'm sure afficionados of correct wines would disapprove, I totally welcome it into my world.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Taking Care Of Business (May, 2014)

Schloss Gobelsburg, Kamptal DAC Reserve, Kammerner Renner 1er Lage, Gruner Veltliner, 2011

A broad, rich, peppery nose, gaining nuances of minerals in time, with fruit across the street from mango and right next door to lime. The aromas are echoed on the palate, which is also broad and rich; and - while tasty with a long, persistent, complex finish - doesn't have the wow factor or finesse I look for in a 1er Lage . Worth the price, though. (May 1, 2014)

Fat Guy, 185 NIS.

Domaine Matrot, Saint Romain, 2008

I don't own a lot of Matrot whites, but even if I did own a whole bunch of them, I wouldn't open any in a hurry - because if a simple Saint Romain plays so well at five-six years post harvest, then the entire lineup is probably very cellar worthy. It could be performing better, mind (and I do believe the '07 would leave it choking on its exhaust fumes) but this is  what a subtly mature white Bourogne is all about, one aspect anyway: green apples, flint and dry grass on the nose - savory acidity to complement your meal on the palate. (May 4, 2014)

Bourgogne Crown, 180 NIS.

Meo-Camuzet, Nuits-St.-Georges Premier Cru, Aux Murgers, 2007

Expansive, detailed and rich, while still within the classic Bourgogne paradigm of lithe, supple wines - this is the Meo-Camuzet style (when it works!), as I've  come to know it over the past five years. There's more black fruit than I find in my usual go-to producers, but this is hardly over-ripe and there's plenty of Nuits earthiness and Vosne spices to keep me happy. The tannins are bitter but almost seamless, which for me is a drawback, as I like my Burgundies to snap with love bites, but this is a worthy Premier Cru. (May 6, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 500 NIS.

Yannic Amirault,  Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, La Mine, 2011

This is the sister cuvee to Amirault's Bourgeuil La Coudraye, and it seems deeper and more serious. It shows red fruit, violets, earth and lead pencil, a very classic little wine, still stern, and not quite as easy going and tasty as the Coudraye. (May 8, 2014)

17 GBP.

Jean Lallement, Champagne Brut, Verzenay Grand Cru, n.v.

Ooh la la, Lallement again. I just love this wine, with its funky character, all chicken broth and cashews framing vaguely citrusy fruit, with more depth and complexity than a non-vintage has a right to possess. I love it so much that I went through my entire, not-in expensive, three bottle stash within half a year. And would do so again, just as soon as Eldad Levy brings in more. (May 9, 2014)

Fat Guy, about 300 NIS.

Domaine Matrot, Blagny Premier Cru, La Piece Sous Le Bois, 2009

This is very Cote de Beaune in character, friendly red fruit with a pungent, earthy note. Due to the bass toned acidity of the 2009 vintage, most of the freshness and charm lies in the complex aromatics, and the previous bottle was livelier, but all in all, this is a lovely effort and I have great expectations of the 2010. (May 10, 2014)

70 USD.

Shvo, Chenin Blanc, 2011

Basically, it almost figures Gabi Sadan would come up with a spicy, kick-ass Chenin that leans more towards the dry, combustive minerality of Savennieres rather than the more fluid Vouvray. I hope he tames it enough in a few years just so the palate is a little softer and rounder, but even today, that's a mighty interesting, unique and complex nose. (May 11, 2014)

Pierre Gaillard, Saint Joseph, 2005

Going back to the stash of 2005 Gaillards I found at Futnam And Mason for twenty odd pounds, this is still remarkably vibrant for a nine year old Saint Joseph - and not even one of the premium, single vineyard cuvees. The nose is earthy and peppery, with hints of bacon, utterly typical for a north Rhone, less typical in the sense that it would convince many in a blind tasting that it's actually an entry level Hermitage or a Cornas. Starting to dry out, though, and a little hard to wade through. (May 17, 2014)

Domaine Ballorin, Cote de Nuits Villages, "Le Village", 2011

I loved this so much when I had it last month that it was the one wine I wanted most to return to ever since. This is such an over-achieving little wine, driven by fantastic acidity and supple fruit that conjures earthy red fruit flavors and aromas that imply very non-interventionist wine making. (May 20, 20414)

Bourgogne Crown, 150 NIS.

Vilmart & Cie, Cuvee Rubis, nv.

This is simply gorgeous. While the bottling is a Premier Cru, this has all the complexity, grace, finesse and elegance of a Cote d'Or Grand Cru. But don't dare think this is just a Pinot Noir in a sparkling idiom, it's pure Champagne, an amazing one. (May 24, 2014)

Fat Guy, 359 NIS.

Domaine Marquis d'Angerville, Bourgogne, 2011

I misplaced my note, but anyway, this is an excellent Bourgogne, actually declassified Volnay, showing the mineral aspects of the village rather than the stereotypical femininity. Took long enough to open for me to dismiss it at first, but i wound up liking it a lot. Daniel Lifshitz sure picked some overachieving Bourgognes for his portfolio. (May 28, 2014)

Bourgogne Crown, 160 NIS.

Vincent Paris, Cornas, Granit 30, 2009

This is a young vines from relatively moderate inclination (the "30" represents both the age of the vines and degree of inclination). It's typical of modest Syrah, with aromas of peppery black fruit, smooth and fruity on the palate, with soft tannins and low acidity. A nice wine, but even though I knew it was basically an entry level Cornas, I expected more out of it. (May 31, 2014)

27.5 GBP.