Thursday, October 8, 2015

Taking Care Of Business (Sept. 2015)

Hubert Lamy, Bourgogne Blanc, Les Chataigners, 2011

This is a great value, being a declassified village wine. It smells like someone sauteed pears and apples  in Atlantic salt and sprinkled them with roasted almonds, and actually tastes fairly similar, with a delicate salinity. This is loads of joy. (Sept. 3, 2015)

Bourgogne Crown, 145 NIS.

Domaine de la Vougeraie, Cote de Beaune, Les Pierres Blanches, 2012

Five months since my last bottle and now it feels denser and is, as always, highly suggestive of minerals: specifically, I think, dry mud. Soft, juicy fruit, excellent acidity, decent complexity and weight. (Sept. 5, 2015)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 180 NIS.

Bernhard Huber, Baden, Spätburgunder Alte Reben, 2011

This is a blend of second wines from this Pinot master's Grand Cru holdings and comes across as fine Volnay Premier Cru, an almost intoxicating nose of red cherries, flowers, exotic spices. Very feminine, with languid mid palate that goes hand in hand with that gorgeous, complex nose, and actually almost tastes floral. Just about the best German Pinot I've had so far, and I'd say it needs a couple of years to peak and will hold for 3-5 years more - because it not only thrives on acidity, like most fine Pinot, but is relatively tannic, with fine balance, and seems to say "I'm not there yet". (Sept. 9, 2015)

32 GBP.

Veuve Clicquot, Champagne Brut Reserve, 2004

I guess this is just what I'd expect from a non-premium vintage bottling: it has depth and complexity, but is not as impressive as the big boys, or as special as the growers' stuff, a Champagne to drink rather than to impress. But it's got all the bready/buiscuity nuances you'd want from a Champagne that has aged well, so let's just call it a luncheon Champagne. (Sept. 10, 2015)

About GBP at the Heathrow Duty Free.

Domaine Christian Moreau Père et Fils, Chablis Grand Cru Le Clos, Clos des Hospices, 2007

Clos des Hospices is a monopole parcel in what is arguably the best Chablis Grand Cru of them all. But, this is at best only good right now, with apple peels and a tasty, salty finish. At worst, it is something of a middle-aged dullard, which I'm willing to overlook, based on part experience with the domaine, and chalk it up to an off or dumb bottle. (Sept. 11, 2015)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 360 NIS.

Tzora Vineyards, Shoresh, 2010

This is a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah blend. 2010 was a hot vintage (even for Israel), but the Shoresh manages to balance the sweetness with good acidity on the finish that creates a salty effect. Loaded with mineral inflections as well as hints of black pepper, it offers Old World restraint, despite the ripeness - since Europe has its share of hot vintages, ripeness isn't in itself a New World characteristic, but rather extraction and ripeness at all cost are, which this wine avoids. Very complete - the heat of the vintage worried me into opening it now, but this is ideally a wine to open at seven years old or more, not five. (Sept. 12, 2015)

Tzora Vineyards, 130 NIS.

Tzora, or, 2013

I used to have so many jokes about Gewurztraminer, I still do, but I've told them all. Fortunately, this is one Gewurtz that doesn't deserve to be mocked. Mainly because it's a young dessert wine so its sweetness counterpoints the extracted spiciness that can overwhelm the mid-palate in dry versions without becoming cloying. So that's a winning, strategic decision right there. The nose, of course, is never a problem with the grape. In fact, one of the reasons I think it's a slut of a grape is because it seems so easy to coax those complex, deep aromas of honey, cinnamon and rose petals. But the end result is so winning, I'm going to give Eran Pick full points for getting the slut to stop putting out. (Sept. 14, 2015)

Jean Foillard, Morgon, Cuvée Corcelette, 2012

I love this wine, but this bottle seems to lack the verve of previous bottles, which, if I were the score it, would bar it from crossing the 90 point line. Although the acidity is great as always. (Sept., 15, 20150

Burgundy Wine Collection, 150 NIS.

Sphera, Chardonnay, 2014

I loved Doron Rav-On's debut 2012 vintage, but somehow skipped the 2013 Chardonnay. What I liked about the 2012 was how Bourgogne-ish it was, specifically, it reminded me of the Macon. This is more of the same, better, in many ways, because it offers the same dose of minerals but without the tropical notes that the 2012 showed. In fact, it is so much more of the same, and shows such lithe, focused grace, such appropriately measured acidity and salinity, that it might be the best Israeli Chardonnay I've ever drunk. (Sept. 18, 2015)

About 100 NIS.

Miles, Gewurztraminer, 2014

A decent, cutely rustric, dry Gewurtz, that leans towards grapefruit rather than lychee, with the typical spices very tamed aromatically, and no hint of rose petals. But every now and then it flashes daggers. (Sept. 19, 2014)

About 90 NIS.

Giuseppe Cortese, Barbaresco, Rabajà, 2005

I'm not always up to the tannic and alcoholic crunch of Big Time Nebbiolo, but Barbaresco is usually mellower and this, at 13.5% ABV, manages to find a sweet spot between fragrant delicacy and flavorsome intensity, showing typical perfumed red fruit and dusty/tarry spices, with lingering salinity. (Sept. 22, 2015)

220 NIS.

Domaine Matrot, Meursault-Blagny Premier Cru, 2007

Another winner from Matrot. This is as dense, rocky, marine and acid driven as a Chablis Grand Cru! So what makes it a Meursault? A hint of creamy, pear-laden fruit? (Sept. 23, 2015)

Bourgogne Crown, 390 NIS.

Dönnhoff, Nahe, Riesling Sekt Brut, 2008

The purity, depth and minerality of Riesling fruit chez Dönnhoff combined with the mushroom notes of a Champagne. What sours it is the lack of persistence in the mousse.(Sept. 25, 2015)

Giaconda, 180 NIS.

Domaine Henry Pellé, Menetou-Salon, les Bornés, 2013

I've been meaning to delve into Pellé, because the Loire is one region I'm always eager to explore. This has a remarkable interplay of ripe apples and peaches and pungent freshness. There's a modicum of minerals, but little of the greenness you find in New Zealand sauvignons. (Sept. 27, 2015)

Giaconda, 110 NIS.

Domaine Henry Pellé, Menetou-Salon Morogues, Vignes de Ratier, 2012

For 20 NIS more, and one more year further from harvest time, you get a deeper, more complex, more interesting wine, with a mineral funk for the afficiandos. Oddly, after a while, it became too ripe for my tastes. It might need more time, but right now, I prefer the cheaper bottling. Whatever, these are very good everyday whites, solid and efficient. (Sept. 29, 2015)

Karthäuserhof, Ruwer, Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Schieferkristall, Riesling trocken, 2012

I had the feinherb last year. This being 10.5%, I suspect this is the same wine with a different label. The Karthäuserhof's site only seems to have only one Schieferkristall bottling. Whatever, this is steely and bracing, very pure and linear. And within that focus is a decent amount of complexity and texture, (Sept. 28, 2015)

Giaconda, 120 NIS.

Foradori, Teroldego IGT, 2011

This hails from Trentino and is labelled  Teroldego  IGT instead of Teroldego Rottaliano DOC because the local authorities thought it too atypical to be awarded the more illustrious designation. Whatever. This is soft and friendly - rocky, yet succulent, with soft tannic complemented by savory acidity. Also, the kind of black pepper that would usually make you think of the North Rhone, if it weren't paired with chives that make you think of, well, Italy. The kind of warm, interesting wine that Wine Spectator often (deservedly) turns into a best-seller. (Sept. 30, 20150

Giaconda, 150 NIS.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Angerville Management (Aug. 11, 2015)

Daniel Lifshitz' tasting always manage to inspire me to horrible puns, which is at odds with the beautiful Bourgognes he selects for the portfolio he shares with Eldad Levy.

Case in point: the great, infinitely refined Domaine Marquis d'Angerville, a domaine that seems to live and thrive in idyllic Burgundian paradise.

But first, because Daniel's erstwhile partner in crime does bring his own dowry, we must start with a Champagne.

Vilmart & Cie, Grand Cellier d'Or, 2009

A wide, deep wine, full and ripe, yet with green apple acidity, just starting  to show its complex colors and display of minerals and mushrooms. Fantastic. 449 NIS.


Not all of the following wines are for sale, only the younger wines, which had been opened the previous evening, by the way.

Volnay 1er Cru, 2012

A blend of the Pitures Dessus and Mitans vineyards. It's very closed, I get just primal red fruit and maybe a hint of flowers at first. There's a tannic backbone, yet despite that there's a silky delicacy to this.  460 NIS.

Volnay 1er Cru, Clos des Angles, 2011

This is 2011, so it's not just a year older, it's a much more forward and drinkable vintage to begin with, so this is obviously a more expressive wine, moreso with time in glass, showing flowers and even garrigue. There's a firm backbone again, promising cellaring potential yet its quite silky for all that. 500 NIS.

Volnay 1er Cru, Fremiets, 2012

This is more floral than the 2012 Premier Cru blend, and more expressive as well. It's as though the there's a greater depth of material that shines through. A gorgeous wine yet a firm one in the Volnay context. 490 NIS.

Volnay 1er Cru, Champans, 2011

If the Fremiets was expressive and gorgeous, this is almost ridiculously expressive and gorgeous. There's flowers and spices and iron fillings and a backbone with a core of languid fruit. 570 NIS.

Volnay 1er Cru, Champans, 1985

Definitely a mature wine, all about mushrooms and forest floor, with a really savory finish that only fine material, well aged, can provide. Having said that, as much as I enjoyed it, the overall response around the table, including mine, wasn't the wow you'd expect people drinking a 30 year old wine to have and anyway, the next wine knocked it out.

Volnay Premier Cru, Taillpieds, 2002

There's always a kind of hush when you realize you've reached the wine of the night. This is the real deal, as crystalline as a red wine can be, expressive, fresh, complete. There's that floral Volnay character again, that complements the iron filings with pulsating silkiness.

Volnay 1er Cru, Clos des Ducs, 1999

It's too easy to slip into anthropomorphism with Bourgognes, especially with a village that is the epitome of feminine Burgundy. I'm not going to try and avoid that misdemeanor. If the Taillpieds was the typical marquise, this is, if not masculine, then surely not a little butch. It's dense, ripe, chewy, with almost black fruit and such a deep stratum of minerals, you can just sense the vine roots digging into the hill. 

Meursault 1er Cru, Santenots, 2011

This is certainly not what the public views as the mainstream version of Meursault, that is nutty, fat and wide. Rather, there's cool fruit, a cross of apples and oranges, with minty chalk. The nose is better than the palate right now, even though there's a nice balance of acidity and sweet fruit. 570 NIS.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Warm Wines, No Women (Aug. 18, 2015)

What's worse than warm beer and cold women?

Warm wines and no women.

We had a logistics issue. We love Brut, for the food and atmosphere, but it's very small, see, and the small private room isn't that well aired and cooled. And August 2015 was very, very hot. So we tried to cram six bottles into three small ice buckets.We tried.

And Irit Kozak didn't come. That's the "no women" bit.

Other than that, a fantastic evening, great company and an eclectic (in Israeli terms) collection of Loire whites.

Chateau Breze, Saumur, Clos David, 2012

This was a whim buy for me. This wine comes from an old, rediscovered hill in Saumur (although the more famous version is made by Clos Rougeard). This has an interesting nose: apricots, herbs, river bed, with slightly oxidized notes reminiscent of apple cider. Very good acidity, but the oxidized notes and the sweetish finish are off-putting and I'm not sure whether we caught it a bad time or if this is the style of the wine.

Didier Dagueneau, Pouilly-Fume, Buisson Renard, 2005

One version of the Pouilly-Fume story has it that Didier Dagueneau put it on the map. I don't think the town needed him to put it on the map, but he's certainly priced as though he did. Well, he used to price his wines very dearly. He's dead. But his family carries on that particular tradition. To be fair, Didier and his heirs were and are quite meticulous and the wines age very well. For example, this ten year old Sauvingon Blanc, which is dry and herbal on the nose, more tropical on the palate, with depth and complexity that unfolds. It didn't wow me, but I've noticed I tend to like my Dagueneaus on the young side  -they're complex enough when young with a thrilling tension that I prefer.

Giaconda, 390 NIS.

Michel Redde et Fils, Pouilly-Fume, Majorum, 2012

One reason Pouilly-Fume didn't need Dagueneau to put it on the map is producers like Redde. This is the flagship wine and there is so much fossil-like aromas and flavors that it's like sucking on Atlantis. I like Redde anyway but this is amazing, awesome in its depth and potential complexity.

Domaine Pelle, Menetou-Salon, Morogues, Vignes de Ratier, 2012

This is a more humble estate, also carried by Giaconda, and I'd like to explore it more, properly cooled down! It's funky and marine, the fruit yellow and ripe, but not over-done. There's an initial lack of focus, but it improves as it opens and grows colder.

130 NIS.

Francois Cotat, Sancerre, La Grande Cote, 2010

This smells and tastes like a Sauternes (I understand it's intentionally picked with botrytis) but it's leaner, more focused, with a mineral edge. I was told it matures into an amazing, dry wine, but I like it now, too, even though I'm sure quite a few won't know what to make of it.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Twenty Years Later (Aug. 10, 2015)

Few marriages are all smooth sailing, and ours is no exception. Let's face it, I'm not exactly prime time programming. But we made it through the first twenty years, and before we embark on the next, better decades, I got to do what every wine geek lives for: open anniversary wines.

But, before that, we indulged in a gift.

Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Rose, 2009

I've always said GHW's top sparkling wines are their best wines, and this is no exception.  Quite honestly, this is almost as good as the prototype, from that backwater of France, Champagne. Its only drawback is, perhaps, that the only pink thing about it is its color. Blind, I'd have called a blanc de noirs. It's all about mushrooms and toast, maybe a hint of strawberries as well.

130 NIS.

La Rioja Alta, Rioja Gran Reserva, 1995

Rioja is perhaps the classic Spanish wine (all you Vega Sicila lovers can sit down now, I've noted your objections, but seriously, how many can afford to drink it, and how often?) and the "890' is one of the benchmarks. Supposedly. The 1989 was a delight, but then again, I was new at this game when I had it, but other than that, I've always preferred the Ygay (which is why that bottle of 1995 will wait for the 30th anniversary). This has very fine composure, with the same elegant breed that mature Bordeaux from the same period can have, smooth and silky with mellow red and black fruit, balsam,black pepper, celery - lacking in length, for me, though.

600 NIS.

Dr. Hermann, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Urziger Wurztgarten, Beerenauslese, 1995

I brought a dessert, too. This is a typical example of how the sugar in these mature, sweet Rieslings is integrated with the acidity after a couple of decades. The vibrancy of youth is gone, and you get a deep wine, with obvious botrytis, apple cider, mint tea. I do feel, however, that too much liveliness of fruit is gone, by now.

195 NIS for a half bottle.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Taking Care Of Business (Aug. 2015)

Let's start off this monthly potpourri with a trio of wines accompanying a family dinner at Tel Aviv's Herbert Samuel (Aug. 8, 2015)

I planned the meal so that we could do with just a white, and chose the Salomon, Kremstal DAC Reserve, Lindberg, Gruner Veltliner, 2012 as I felt I'd been deprived of Austrian whites for the last couple of months. This should be accompanied by a short user's guide: Wait for the reductive stink to settle and you'll get lime, melons, chalk, ensconced in a leafy, mentholated envelope. Since the bottle didn't last the whole dinner, and since my sister wanted a red with her pork chops, I ordered her and myself a glass of Michele Chiarlo, Barbera d'Asti, l'Orme, 2011 each. This is full of friendly, leathery black fruit - musky, dusty and spicy like Nebbiolo without as much tannic palate pressure. And it somehow managed to pair decently with my coquilles saint jacques on black risotto. As an appertif, I had a glass of Williams and Humbert, Pedro Ximinez, 12 años. I hadn't had this ages. This was always fun, and it still is, dark chocolate with that typical grease oil and chili you either hate or love.

Château du Hureau, Saumur Blanc, Argile, 2013

My favorite red Loire producer also makes a white wine, as I found out last year when Eldad Levy treated us to a sample. This is a Chenin Blanc, of course, and it's a fun concoction of melon and flint, nothing too complex or too deep, just a tasty summer wine. (Aug. 12, 2015)

Fat Guy, 118 NIS.

Domaine Buisson-Charles, Aligote, Sous Le Chemin, 2011

Buisson's Aligote always, always, shows as fine as any Chardonnay from a good village. In fact, if there was an Aligote Premier Cru, this would be it. It smells and tastes of lime, flint, Atlantic salt and truffles and, true to the character of the grape, is lithe and racy. Unique is the word that immediately springs to mind. (Aug. 13, 2015)

Bourgogne Crown, 120 NIS. This is just as good as the Leroy Aligote, which costs twice as much. Different, but just as good.

Schaefer-Frolich, Nahe, Blanc de Noir, trocken, 2013

This is described on the Giaconda site as a Provence-like rose, but the color in the bottle we had was nothing like the online image. It rather came off as a non-aromatic white and had I tasted it blind, I'd have guessed a Chenin or one of the weird Italian grapes. It's just slightly off dry, earthy, savory, with hints of strawberries and mandarin oranges. (Aug. 14, 2015)

Giaconda, 120 NIS.

Moric, Blaufrankisch, 2013

An excellent, floral lightweight now, fresh cherries, white pepper, chalk. Very good acidity and balance. (Aug. 15, 2015)

Fat Guy, about 120 NIS.

Sebastien Dampt, Chablis Premier Cru, Côte de Léchet, 2013

This is a new producer carried by Wine Route, and I was concerned it might be modern and not very typical, but this is actually classic and outstanding, even if it does have a rough and almost outrageous personality. It's made of fifty year old vines, sees only stainless steel, is lean and vigorous with a marked bouquet of lime, shells and sea sand. It's already drinking very well but with that generous, intense acidity, I have no doubt it will thrive and develop for three to five years at least. (Aug. 16, 2015)

Wine Route, 200 NIS (2 for 300 on discount).

Domaine Matrot, Meursault, 2011

An awkward start, lemon with a metal streak, which I mention only in case you try this at home without proper airing. It works out the kinks into something quite special, roasted sesame and scorched bread, along with more typical pears. Its nuances are dirty and unusual enough that it still might challenge the casual drinker, but I never drink Bourgognes casually, so I'm totally fine with that. (Aug. 20, 2015)

Bourgogne Crown, 290 NIS.

Larmandier-Bernier, Latitude, n.v.

I could smell the brioche even as the I popped the cork, and further scrutiny revealed baked apples and chalk. In short, typical for what is actually a blanc de blancs - 100% from Vertus, with relatively mature years in the blend - and I find nearly the focus and elegance of vintage Champagne, at a lighter weight, with a dollop of salty nuts at the end. For some reason, I hadn't followed Larmandier-Bernier as deeply as other producers in the catalog, and I need to rectify that. (Aug. 21, 2015)

Fat Guy, 309 NIS.

Louis Roederer, Reims, Brut Premier, n.v.

The nose has a green apples/dried grass/flint/toast personality going that reminds of an elegant Chassagne or Saint-Aubin. In short, one of my favorite expressions of Chardonnay, despite the 40% Pinot Noir and 40% Meunier. The mousse isn't that persistent, which I think is more about this being an off bottle, since the cork popped open as soon as I undid the muselet. A solid non-vintage, maybe too solid and dignified. Except when, by the last last third of the bottle, it shows Pinot spices and presence that burst the bubble of refinement. Then it goes downhill, with weird flavors on the finish. Bad bottle, like I thought. (Aug. 26, 2015)

Wine Route, 370 NIS (250 on discount).

Bernard Baudry, Chinon, Le Clos Guillot, 2011

It was a great thrill, for me, when Wine Route started carrying Baudry with the 2010 vintage. Baudry is a fine producer with a stellar reputation, but this might prove to be more challenging than the 2010, at least based on this bottle, which starts out just as fun, only to eventually sink into a sulk in a dumb phase that the 2010 never went through. There's black fruit and black pepper with a hint of barnyard and leather on the nose, tart fruit and savory tannins in the mouth. So it needs time at the very least - it's at the quite annoying stage where a few hours of air bring out the oak rather than the fruit; which is good and pure, by the way, once you get to it. (Aug 27, 2015)

Wine Route, 120 NIS.

Argiolas, Isola Dei Nuraghi IGT, Is Solinas, 2010

Intense, ripe black fruit, olives, dusty and spicy a la Nebbiolo. Rusty tannins. Saline finish. Good value at store prices (about 220 at Pronto). (Aug. 29, 2015)

Wine Route.

Jean Lallament, Verzenay Grand Cru, Réserve Rosé, n.v.

A gift to modern lovers from the Old World. This plays a sleight of hand where the Pinot fruit seems distilled through a veil of roasted nuts and chalk, and Lallement's trademark chicken broth, all laid out in a very complex, yet subtle, texture. (Aug. 30, 2015)

Fat Guy, 319 NIS.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Enter Ente (July 13, 2015)

If Bourgogne was the whore of the world, Daniel Lifshitz would be her Madame. Here, he 'pimps' Domaine Benoit Ente, a tiny producer, tending about three and a half hectares in, mostly, Puligny. And out of these three and a half hectares, he ekes rich, yet ascetic, expressions of terroir and purity.

Bourgogne Rouge, 2012

451 bottles. This is the domaine's only red wine, and it's a throwaway in a sense, as it would be a fine bistro wine if the quantities did not make it a scarce cult item. But if you do find it, you will get soft, comely red fruit, floral, lightly earthy, clean and tasty. 100 NIS.

Puligny-Montrachet, 2012

438 bottles. A blend of Les Tremblots and Les Houlleres, which are top village plots. A detailed and complex nose, beyond my expectations from a village wine. I've been trying to avoid using mineral as a generic descriptor, but I can't pin down a specific rock -  maybe that's chalk in there? A touch of flowers too. Balances salty and sour/sweet flavors. Elegant acidity. 320 NIS.

Chassagne-Montrachet, 2013

1188 bottles. A more obviously minerally wine, with lime fruit. For me, at least at this stage, it's less expressive than the Puligny, by a hair. But, it's much more elegant than I'd have expected Chassagne to be. This and the Puligny are lovely and pure village wines, stunning in how well they present the towns. 320 NIS.

Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru, Sous Le Puits "Terre de Blagny", 2012

387 bottles. The relevant comparison is to the village Puligny, of course, and what we get here is not necessarily more complexity as much as greater breadth and depth. And more mysterioso. On the palate there is not so much more body, but greater grip, I think, even though the structure is hardly oppressive.  Like all the Ente wines, it is very pure with no sign of over-oaking. 470 NIS.

Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru, Champ Gain, 2012

491 bottles. Expressive, yet restrained. Even when it opens to show more details and depth - flint, chalk, lime and apple skin - it retains that same restraint. An endless finish. Simply too delicious and interesting for its own good, or rather mine. 510 NIS.

Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru, Champ Gain, 2013

672 bottles. Closed, very floral and tropical. In a way, it's the mirror image of the 2012, which hinted at these same floral and tropical notes beneath its shroud of minerals. Here, beneath the heady and ripe fruit are just hints, for now, of flint and the chalk. Takes a long time to show elegance. 510 NIS.

Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru, Folatieres En La Richarde, 2013

772 bottles. If the 2013 Champs Gain crouched behind a wall of tropical fruit, this wine is veiled by a canopy of minerals. There's a richness here even if the acidity knifes, salts and tests the palate. 700 NIS.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Summer Of Riesling 2015

Make no mistake about, Riesling is one of the most versatile grapes and produces some of the friendliest food matches. The fact that we so often put the best examples on a pedestal doesn't mean we can't take the wines off that pedestal and put them to every day use.

Emrich-Schönleber, Nahe, Monzinger Halenberg, Riesling Großes Gewächs, 2007

Emrich-Schönleber and Halenberg is a match made in heaven, just like Bird and the alto sax (or Bird playing forward in the Boston Garden, if you will). The result, be it dry or off-dry, Spatlese or Großes Gewächs, is always focused and regal and, at its best, stunning. This shows a cerebral, visceral and caustic character that I often find in the GG style - challenging, but worth the challenge. The nose is deep and complex, displaying grapefruit and green apples in harmony with minerals and hops. The palate is mostly an echo and a complement of the nose, tempering the grapefruit and hops with a salty note on the attack, a lingering sweetness on the finish and a juicy, pitch-perfect acidity in between. (May 1, 2015)

Giaconda, 400 NIS.

Emrich-Schönleber, Nahe, Monzinger Halenberg, Riesling Spätlese trocken, 2008

This, on the other hand, is lighter, showing racy, focused, pungent green apples with crushed rocks and chalk, brioche where the Großes Gewächs was hops and salt. It's less complex and less showy, more subtle. (July 16, 2015)

Giaconda, 180 NIS.

Dr. Loosen, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Erdener Prälat, Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel, 2009

Delicately balanced liquid candy with notes of tropical fruit and lemon pie and a faint - yet distinct - layer of minerals and mint. So harmonious and joyfully delicious and complex that it's hard to break it down by components. Sure it can age, but its youthful veneer at present is almost incandescent. (May 2, 2015)

Wine Route. I lost track of the price, but I think this half bottle was 150-200 NIS.

Weingut Josef Leitz, Rheingau, Rüdesheimer Berg Kaisersteinfels, Spatlese, Riesling Alte Reben, 2006

The Alte Reben is at the sweet spot where a classic German Riesling makes you feel all warm and tingly inside. The green apples have started to melt into peaches, while the minerals notes flirt at petrol and a mellow, elegant, honeyed complexity. This is labelled a Spatlese, but I find echoes of the Grosses Gewachs style. Meanwhile, the old vines don't endow it with intensity so much as rocky depth, combined with light sweetness. (May 17, 2015)

Sphera, White Concepts, Riesling, 2014

I've been chasing Sphera's Riesling for months, and now that I've found a bottle, I think that, at this stage in its life, this carries Doron Rav-Hon's signature more than it does the the variety's.  Like many of his wines, it is floral with traces of rainwater, herbs and minerals on the nose. If you presented it to me blind, I'd never be able to contextualize it, and would probably never guess the grape. The acidity is relatively low for a Riesling, and there's no major presence of apples.* With that light bitterness, I might go for north Italy, while the floral notes would make me think of a blend with some Viognier in it. I like it a lot, though, and I think that, in the end, it does bring a lovely and elusive sense of identity beyond the grape or the wine maker. (May 18, 2015)

* Hold that thought. A bottle a month later (Jun. 26, 2014) had a definite abundance of apples, so much so that, after a couple of hours, the nose reminded me of a Normandy cidre.

About 100 NIS.

Joh. Jos. Prüm, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Spätlese, 2007

Great crystalline purity, with accouterments that express the Mosel perfectly: green apples that marry sweetness with racy acidity, hints of slate, smoke and petrol, a touch of tropical fruit in mid palate and finish to make things even more interesting. Germany, the Mosel specifically, has many producers who can make Rieslings as delicious as this, but few with this light a touch, one that conveys depth and complexity with such ethereal ease. (May. 24, 2015)

Giaconda, I lost track of the price, probably around 180 NIS.

Y'all were waiting for Dönnhoff to show up, admit it!

Dönnhoff, Nahe,  Schloßböckelheimer Felsentürmchen, Riesling Spätlese, 2007

Dönnhoff might well be Prüm's counterpart in the Nahe, and the Felsentürmchen is a very interesting contrast to the Sonnenuhr. It's not quite as light, but the acidity is even more thrilling, and there is not a sign of petrol (which, as I recall reading, Dönnhoff sees as a fault), but rather a veneer of smoke and clay. As I write this, I realize I usually have a hard time to string together descriptors for Donnhoff's wines, as, at their best, they impress on a level oblique to the usual discussion of aromas, flavors and structure. However, they always offer a share of mystic greatness, and the share this time is very generous. (May 28, 2015)

Giaconda, about 200 NIS.

Schloss Gobelsburg, Kamptal Reserve, Gaisberg 1er Lage, Riesling, 2010

If there's a thread common to Austrian Rieslings (at least those I've drunk and tasted), it is the mineral and spices on the nose and palate - sure, you've got a similar fingerprint in Alsace too, but Alsatians often have a bitter quinine flavor, as well, which I find less palatable. Anyway, here, with this perennial favorite of mine, the effect is complex and refined and sealed by a long, lightly salty finish. And, what I always love about the Gobelsburg Gaisberg is present here too: an icy, crystalline expression of green apples surrounding the spices, expressed both on the nose and in the scintillating acidity.(Jun. 12, 2015)

Fat Guy, 159 NIS.

Schlossgut Diel, Nahe, Dorsheimer Goldloch, Riesling Spätlese, 2010

You've gotten this far through the post because you love Riesling. There's a good chance you love the Nahe. And if you live in Israel, that love is likely based on the (almost) holy trinity of Emrich-Schonleber, Schafer-Frohlich and, foremost, Donnhoff. Anyway, that's how things stand with me, so I was very happy to expand my experience and pick up a bottle of a Nahe producer I haven't tried yet in Berlin. This is on the rich side for a Spätlese, although its youth might be contributing to that impression. The depth and complexity take time to show, and then I get chalk, red apples, cherries, hints of petrol, all driven by, and thriving on, extremely fresh and appetizing acidity. Very delicious, and it begs cellaring. (Jun 18, 2015)

About 30 euros.

Dönnhoff, Nahe, Schloßböckelheimer Felsenberg, Riesling trocken, 2007

The label says trocken, but the neck boasts the Großes Gewächs imprint, and what's inside the bottle certainly shows the Großes Gewächs personality: "cerebral, visceral and caustic", as I described the Emrich-Schönleber. Then I find the kind of complex aromatics that make Terry Theise muse about peasants plowing wheat fields as the sun sets or something equally idyllic, and if you wanted to be less colorful you could just say apples, lime, minerals and dry grass - but it certainly offers a very deep and reflective sniffing experience, the equal of any serious Cote the Beaune Premier Cru. The palate can caress but at times it grips and makes you pause for thought. As much as I love Donnhoff, the Emrich-Schönleber is the better GG (but the Schloßböckelheimer Felsentürmchen, Riesling Spätlese trumps them both). (Jun. 22, 2015)

Muller-Catoir, Pfalz, Riesling trocken, 2012

A very friendly, very moreish, dry Pfalz, almost surprisingly salty, with pungent apple skin. (July 18, 2015)

Giaconda, 100 NIS.

Selbach-Oster, Saar, Riesling Kabinett, 2014

Hans Selbach makes this out of bought grapes from the Saar and it's going to be a hit. You might be fooled into thinking it's just a simple wine, because it's so tasty you can't possibly get past the electrifying mint laced lemon fruit to notice the structure and breadth. (July 23, 2015)

Fat Guy, about 110 NIS.

Mosel Saar Face-off
St. Urbans-Hof, Saar, Ockfener Bockstein, Riesling Kabinett, 2014

This is brought to you by the Flam winery's import arm and has a classic, kabinett body, lean and lithe; granny apples and slate, at first, followed by apricot confit. Throughout its evolution in the glass, there's a yeasty strain, like due to its youth. Very nice, if idiosyncratic. (July 24, 2015)

About 110-120 NIS.

Wegeler, Mosel, Bernkasteler Doctor Riesling Spätlese, 2011

This, too, is a venerable name, especially the vineyard. The relative warmth of Mosel compared to Saar, combined with the addition ripeness of Spätlese, make this a fuller, fruitier wine, even before taking into account vintage variances. The additional bottle age is evident in the complexity and the greater expression of the trademark slate and dill, as well as in the hints of petrol and smoke. This has a couple of decades ahead of it, but if you drink it now, I guarantee you won't be able to put it down. Sensational.(July 24, 2015)

Bought at the Berlin duty free, 36 Euros and this is yours.

Somewhere, over the rainbow - Durbach
Andreas Laible, Baden, Durbacher Plauelrain, Riesling Trocken Achat, 2013

There's that terroir thing again. This has the same floral purity as Laible's Scheurebe (which like all the domaine's wines comes from the heart of the Plauelrain vineyard), with a surprisingly large helping of fresh red fruit (not just red apples, but red cherries, even currants), as well as green apples and just a touch of guayavas. It's delicate and crystalline and so beautiful that it's breathtaking. Honestly. In a summer so full of beautiful Rieslings, this might just be the winner, at least in the dry Riesling category. It's all subjective, of course, and I may be swayed by its scarcity  (I bought this on a family trip to Baden, when I visited the family VDP producer, and I have yet to locate any of their wines in any urban center in Europe or the US that I've visited), but I think that, after all these years, I know a great Riesling when I drink it. And this is not even the Grosses Gewaches, which was the better wine when I tasted both at the winery. (Aug. 2, 2015)

17 euros at the winery - I want to rip my balls off for not buying more.

A Major League Newcomer

Willi Schaefer, Mosel, Graacher Riesling Trocken, 2014

Eldad Levy has started to import a cult producer so small that not even Terry Theise carries the entire portfolio. This says trocken on the label, but the balance of sugar, fruit and acidity is such that it highlights a character of a freshly picked green apple and ends up tasting sweeter than it probably is, yet a touch salty at the same time. If you ever wanted to make an energy drink out of Riesling, this vibrant wine would probably be the result. (Aug. 6, 2015)

Willi Schaefer, Mosel, Graacher Riesling feinherb, 2014

Feinherb is a loosely defined, flexible alternative term for halbtrocken. In practical terms, this means ther isn't a big stylistic or qualitative difference  between it and the troken, except this has somewhat more weight and definition, and that same vibrant acidity. And, of course, it is sweeter and would better satisfy most people's expectations of a classic Mosel. (Aug. 8, 2015)

Willi Schaefer, Mosel, Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett, 2014

This is where things gets interesting. Or, at the very least, promising, because this kabinett is still very primal and reticent, but you can tell it's going to be very archetypal because of its balance and composure. (Aug. 9, 2015)

This should cost 135 NIS, he other two about 100 each.

A Perennial Favorite

Selbach-Oster, Mosel, Zeltinger Schlossberg, Riesling Kabinett, 2012 

I think this is actually going into something of a shell. It was more vibrant last year, and now, while it's still a beautiful piece of work, typical Mosel green apples and cold slate, the youthful spark is muted, in the process of being replaced by deft savoriness. (Aug. 17, 2015)

Fat Guy, 135 NIS.