Friday, November 14, 2014

Two Of Us (Nov. 2, 2014)

If celebrating the twentieth anniversary of our first date isn't an occasion to open a Dönnhoff Hermannshöhle, then I don't know what is. It might have been more appropriate to actually have opened it on the signature date, and I would have enjoyed more rock and roll, but still, you can't get more celebratory than a bottle of Dönnhoff Hermannshöhle.

Dönnhoff, Nahe, Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle, Riesling Spätlese, 2006

Donnhoff wines usually display meticulous precision, and of course Hermannshöhle is the estate's flagship vineyard, but this is not a perfect wine, nor is it a great one. I was going to write it off as a tapestry in need of a restoration, because there's obvious class and  breed here, but little jism. However, once it gets an hour of air and more, the vibrancy I'd expect comes to the forefront and the bottle shows aromatics that are kinky and interesting, dominated by green tea and sugared apples, with hints of broth, chalk and kerosene. The palate is tasty, its ripeness tempered by a tantalizing, savory finish - but there isn't a great deal of complexity there, I have to reach for the wine, it doesn't come to me, and I am only certain I find something towards the very end.

So the earth didn't move, but perhaps this specific incarnation of Hermannshöhle proves that life goes on while you're busy making other plans.

Giaconda, 270 NIS.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Taking Care Of Business (Oct. 2014)

Oh, is October over already?

Weninger, Mittleburgenland Reserve, Blaufränkisch, Alte Reben , 2007

Weninger rates four stars in the Austria chapter of Hugh John's Wine Pocketbook, and I've yet to understand why, after tasting and drinking through three bottles, including this one. After seven years, the oak is still obvious, and while it's not awful, the final effect is one-dimensional and too eager to impress. failing at even producing superficial flash. I'll just wait until Eldad Levy starts to import Moric, I guess. (Oct. 1, 2014)

About 25 Euros.

Alain Graillot, Crozes-Hermitage, 2011

The initial impression of olive brine quickly resolves into typical fresh Syrah fruit with trappings of black pepper and raw meat. The palate, while still nubile, offers a savory mix of acidity and salinity. Like the 2011 Saint Joseph, this could use three years or so. (Oct. 3, 2014)

WineRoute, about 200 NIS these days.

Gunderloch, Rheinhesses, Nackenheim Rothenberg, Riesling Großes Gewächs, 2007

Got it now: seven years is the sweet spot for GG's. This smells and tastes like someone poured grapefruit and apple juice inside an oyster shell. There's only fair complexity here, but great purity and breed. (Oct. 4, 2014)

Giaconda, 260 NIS.

Weingut Ralf Trautwein, Baden Kaiserstuhl, Spatburgender Kabinett Trocken, 2011

This is the only Spatburgender I brought back from Germany this summer, and the reason is I really enjoyed its light, lithe frame, making me think I should seek my Teutonic Pinot pleasures at the Kabinett level. This comes off as reminiscent  of the colder areas of the Cote de Nuits, perhaps Marsannay or a feminine NSG. Except that, where a fine Bourgogne caresses you on the finish with the famous peacock feather effect, this will make you sit down to do your homework before you frolic off to have your fun. (Oct. 5, 2014)

25 Euros.

Christian Moreau, Chablis Grand Cru, Valmur, 2007

Cool. A bottle that I forgot to enter into Cellar Tracker and found in the fridge. The nose is typical of what attracts me to excellent Burgundies - minerals,  apples, citrus peel, a hint of baked spiciness - and a touch of pungent, salt flecked beach sand that is trademark Chablis. The palate shows sweet-sours apples framed by salt and dust, and the granny apples persist on the finish. Very good, excellent at spots, but not great. (Oct. 7, 2014)

Selbach-Oster, Mosel, Zeltinger Schlossberg, Riesling Spätlese * trocken , 2012

A Giacometti sculpture made of apples and granite. (Oct. 9, 2014)

Fat Guy, 169 NIS.

Segal, Unfiltered, 2008

Earthy red and black fruit, with a light note of vanilla, that is very typical of Avi Feldstein's at Segal. Quite tasty and balanced, very Israeli, without any overhanded oak. Good job. (Oct. 11, 2014)

220 NIS.

Recanati, Reserve, Merlot, Manara Vineyard, 2011

This is a delightful local version of Merlot, with a unique herbal/earthy fingerprint. It really is too young, right now, with traces of oak on the nose and dusty tannins, but I enjoyed it. (Oct. 13, 2014)

About 110 NIS.

Reinhold Haart, Mosel, Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, Riesling Kabinett, 2012

One of the few times where I could just quote my previous note: "The nose is complex and ever morphing, almost Sauvignon Blanc like with its grassy and tropical (guayavas) notes and minerals, while the palate is pure Riesling: sweet, yet racy, with fine grip and structure, and excellent length driven by green apple acidity. A memorable, lightly funky character." (Oct. 14, 2014)

Fat Guy, 139 NIS.

Dopf Au Moulin, Schoenenbourg Grand Cru, Riesling, 2010

A very fine Grand Cru that could seduce me into buying more Alsace Rieslings. Or at least, more Dopf Au Moulin Schoenenbourgs, assuming it was imported without a huge markup and assuming it improves with age. Mineral lead, with apples and quince and terrific acidity. (Oct. 17, 2014)

About 30 Euros at the winery.

Jean Paul et Benoit Droin, Chablis Grand Cru, Valmur, 2007

A complex and intense display of iodine and minerals, pungent and convincing, with a deep foundation of citrus fruit and major league salinity. (Oct. 18, 2014)

Giaconda, 320 NIS.

Koehler-Ruprecht, Pfalz, Kallstadter Saumagen, Riesling Auslese trocken, 2005

I was bound to eventually find a decent Koehler-Ruprecht. Maybe it's due to the qualities of the vintage. I was just discussing my bad luck with K-R with a friend the other day. I told him they don't age and he said maybe my taste had changed over the last seven-eight years. Well, this bottle proves it's a little of both. While I prefer my Rieslings more vibrant, this has matured relatively well (even if not exactly what you'd expect from a nine year old Auslese) and offers a subtle minerality and really unique aromatics, one that offers an almost obscene quotient of kerosene. And yet, not particularly fresh. (Oct. 22, 2014)

Giaconda, 170 NIS.

Elio Altare, Barolo Vigneto Arborina, 1999

I deserved an expensive wine after a hard week. I'd heard this was fairly modern, and I think it is, and marked by oak, but it also has an undeniable affinity with the classic mold, with red and black fruit spearheaded by that telltale spicy/dusty nose that nods at garrigue. I believe the tannins will remain dry forever, but the aromatics are just great, deep and complex. This needs a cow. (Oct. 23, 2014)

Wine Route, I believe about 350 NIS.

Francois Raveneau, Chablis, 2010

I bought this because, having grown frustrated at the scarcity of Raveneau and Dauvissat in Israel (which basically means I'm very low in the pecking order and other customers have an on-going permanent allocation), I wound up begging the importer to let me have at least one bottle of the village bottling. And it's not an inexpensive bottle, but as good as other producer's premier crus, I'll give it that, so I won't complain about the price. It's quite typical of all good things Chablis, with pungent marine/oyster-shell aromatics and palate that feels fuller than it probably is in actuality, with fruit halfway between apples and lime. (Oct. 24, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 250 NIS.

Recanati, Reserve, Syrah-Viognier, 2011

Last year, I thought the 2011 was too low in acidity for my tastes, and it still is, but nonetheless, the two previous vintages were so much my Israeli  wine mistresses that I'm still willing to give this the benefit of a doubt. And so, yeah, my objections stands, but the peppery/smoky/funky nose is still such a Syrah poster child and some nuances do manage to get through the barrier of the low acidity. And, after a couple of hours, I start to get a feel where this might wind up in a couple of years. (Oct. 26, 2014)

140 NIS.

Georges Descombes, Fleurie, Vieilles Vignes, 2010

This is quite earthy and sulking, red fruits with soft tannins akin to Pinot, yet without the silken envelope of the Cote d'Or. I enjoy tracking the nuances that emerge: clay, flowers. (Oct. 28, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 130 NIS.

Comte Armand, Auxey-Duresses, 2011

I usually prefer the vegetal aspects of Bourgogne to show prominence: flowers, sous de bois, spices. Comte Armand, I've found, is more about iron, Clos des Epeneaux being the quintessential showcase of the house style - although the signature shows even in the lesser, lighter, softer wines, such as this. Sometimes I suspect the house style may be forced upon lesser fruit, and I took that into account when I opened this bottle. I wanted to chew on Beaune rocks, and I got that, complemented, as it turned out, by red fruit and a touch of spices. Nothing earth shattering here, but I enjoyed and got exactly what I wanted. (Oct. 30, 2014)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 170 NIS.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Armchair Traveller Passing Through The Loire

The more I drink Loire reds and whites, the more I want to soak in everything this wonderful place has to offer.

Huet, Vouvray, Le Haut-Lieu, Demi Sec, 2009

This is superb, with an  almost outlandishly (and unexpectedly, I might add) funky nose that is equally toasty and mineral-laden, appropriately backed up by deep, pure apricot fruit. Good traits all, echoed on palate. I know the stuff can age, but this is so great right now, I think the only reason to wait is for further complexity to develop on the palate to match that already in place in the aromatics. (Sept. 27, 2014)

Giaconda, 170 NIS, a great value.

Michel Redde, Pouilly-Fumé , Les Champs des Billon, 2011

Every time I drink a Redde, I think, "wow, who would've thought Sauvignon Blanc could be so good!" This is still the most backward of the Redde wines imported to Israel, but there is already a lot of limey, smoky, rocky depth and a saline finish, that, if you have any love at all for classic French wines, will bewitch you within a few minutes. Any well made wine can keep, that is stay alive, for a few years, the question is will time actually evolve it? With Redde in general, and this wine specifically, I think there are stories waiting to be told. (Oct. 10, 2014)

Fat Guy, 259 NIS.

Yannic Amirault, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Le Mine, 2009

Yes! I finally located this misplaced bottle, this misplaced lovely bottle. Oh, it is a lovely drop indeed, and how highly you rate it will depend on how much you actually prize drinkability and taste, as opposed to, uh, all the other things tasters score wines for. With decently complex scents and flavors, raspberries laced laced with rust and tobacco leaves, this feels, amazingly enough (this being the entry level Saint-Nicolas in the Amirault portfolio), as though it needs more time. (Oct. 16, 2014)

About 20 GBP.

Chateau du Hureau, Saumur-Champigny, Fours a Chaux, 2010

Classic. An appetizing nose with black fruit, violets and lead pencil. The palate is fruity, soft and friendly yet chewy and savory. I really should have bought more, as it is delightfully fresh and a great value, drinking well now with an upside of a few years. (Oct. 20, 2014)

Fat Guy, 140 NIS.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Double Birthday Bash (Oct. 2, 2014)

Pierre Gimmonet, Special Club, 2002

Champagne=love. Gimmonet Special Club=love at first sight, and then forever. This is very refined, with a nose probably still as fresh as when it was first disgorged, with minerals and brioche, an effect carried over on the palate. The essence of elegance.

Weingut Wittmann, Rheinhessen, Westhofener Morstein, Grosses Gewächs, 2002

My notes show I always like the Wittmann GG's, even if I wouldn't call it mad, gushing love. This has a fine melange of petrol, dill, apples and slate, as well as a great sense of focus and a light hint of sweetness on the lovely complex finish.

Our appetite for German Riesling suitably whetted by the dry rendition, we moved on to a flight of Auslese by two masters.

J. J. Prum, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Auslese, 1999

The nose displays what most would expect from a mature Auslese, i.e., petrol a little smoke. Beyond that and the requisite apples and slate is a hint of mint. I wasn't wowed by either, as both are less complex than I'd have thought, but of the two, this is the livelier bottle. Livelier than the Brucke but both are less complex than I'd have thought. Although I think the donnhoff is slightly more complex.

Dönnhoff, Nahe, Oberhauser Brücke, Riesling Auslese, 2001

While more complex than the Prum, this comes off a little tired - actually, way more tired than I'd have thought a 2001 Donnhoff Auslese had any right to be. Just blame it on the dry cork. An interesting nose, though, with tea, minerals and a funk I can't quite elucidate. 

Next up, two Barolos that strayed so far from the reputation of their maker I could hardly even write up a note. .

Paolo Scavino, Barolo, Cannubi, 2000

Black fruit, tar.

Paolo Scavino Barolo, Bric del Fiasc, 2000

A little more reticent.

Both were deep in the ripe end of the classical idiom, with a forced extraction not that palatable to me. In short, a minor fiasco

Can't beat a great Bordeaux vintage for blowing your blues away. Not only did this flight throw the dull, foursquare impression made by the Barolos into even greater relief, it was a short seminar on the stylistic differences between Pauillac and Margaux.

Chateau Rauzan-Segla, Margaux 2me Cru, 2000

A very classic claret, with blackcurrants, cedar and earth melded with typical Margaux elegance. Not only is it more drinkable than the Lynch Bages, its trappings are much more obvious.

Chateau Lynch Bages, Pauillac 5me Cru, 2000

This is still tannic, needing more time in glass to show the grand power of Pauillac in its facade of tobacco, coffee and a hint of meat. Both the Lynch Bages and the Rauzan-Segla have wonderful acidity and still need 5-10 years to peak.

Willi Schaefer, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Graacher Dombprobst, Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel AP#11, 2005

At first sniff and sip, a cut above the other Rieslings. Deeper and purer, with enervating acidity. It is, however, at that monolithic stage in a great Riesling's revolution that you just yearn for a time machine.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Taking Care Of Business (Sept. 2014)

Huet usually walks away with the house wine WOM medal
 Serafin Pere et Fils, Bourgogne, 2008

Sniff. Sip. Drink. Definitely the Gevrey landscape: this is animalistic, pungently earthy and true to the appellation idiom; rusty, savory, saline, almost salty, with village wine level heft (like many fine growers, this is de-classified Villages), the only drawback is tannins that grow very dry after an hour. 2008 may well be the most underrated Burgundy vintage of the century. (Sept. 4, 2014)

Bourgogne Brown, 155 NIS.

Telmo Rodríguez, Gaba do Xil,Valdeorras, Godello, 2012

Telmo Rodríguez is a sort of wandering winemaker, exploring backwoods vineyards harboring forgotten varieties, utilizing old school techniques. Or that's the way the story goes. Of the wines imported to Israel, Godello is the only grape that could be said to be half forgotten, although it has been going through a renaissance in recent years. And this is hardly an old school wine, even if there is nothing overtly modern about it. It is clean, with just enough haphazard dirt thrown in for interest, it obviously displays the effects of barrel regime, but the oak is very integrated. I get citrus fruit, a Chassagne-like combination of dry grass and spicy pears, a touch of Gruneresque green herbs, a round mouth feel with no annoying flab, and a spicy finish. Charming and tasty, with a modicum of depth and complexity, but at the end of the day, it doesn't feel like a revelation. So I'm glad Rodriguez is making wines like this, I just don't have a great urge to thank him personally for introducing me to Valdeorras or Godello. (Sept. 7, 2014)

Wine Route, 95 NIS.

However, the Mencia, 2012, which is the red sibling sold for the exact same price, is a wine I'd thank the guy for. It's a joyous, juicy wine, reminding me of a Loire Cab with its light, earthy, red fruit with suggestions of smoke and brine. No excessive complexity, length or depth here, but really tasty and bags of fun. Oddly, although I like it more than the white, I do think 70 NIS would be a more appropriate price. I wouldn't really consider going out for more of the Godello, but the Mencia would make a good case for a repeat purchase, were it priced lower. (Sept. 10, 2014)

Alain Graillot, Saint Joseph, 2011

Graillot is back in Israel, with a 30% price increase, alas. The last vintage for the Saint Joseph was 2007, so we missed the great 2010 vintage here in Israel. I love the way this exhibits the Graillot style: ripe, languid fruit livened up by very juicy acidity, creating a savory, crunchy effect. Not only that, it has that textbook Saint Joseph black pepper and raw meat signature. As well, the soft tannins as usual make for a velvety mouth feel and early drinkability. So yeah, too expensive right now, from a historic perspective, but still a damn fine drink at a price competitive with, these days, a Cru Bourgeois or a generic Barbaresco.Which leads me to two conclusion: prices are crazy in general and we don't get enough Saint Josephs in Israel. I have also drawn a third conclusion. As much as I've always admired Graillot, this is actually at least a small step up from the 2007 (even though I sense 2007 is rated higher in the North Rhone), and I suspect will age longer. (Sept. 12, 2014)

Wine Route, 210 NIS.

Delamotte, Champagne, Cote de Blancs, Brut, n.v

Given my current state of infatuation with Champagne, every tasting note flirts with reiteration and repetition. I really liked this last month, and if you liked last month's note, you can just refer to it, and I'd have you know this bottle shows more roasted nuts, brioche and mushrooms than the previous one. (Sept. 13, 2014)

Fat Guy, about 270 NIS.

Alain Burguet, Bourgogne, Les Pinces Vin", 2011

All the "Bourgognes" in the Bourgogne Crown catalog are young vines or declassified Village crus, and this is arguably the best sample. It shows the more earthy/floral side of Gevrey,with only a touch of hide. It's quite refined and cool, and easy to drink. You could debate the merits of this in terms of depth or complexity, if you think you actually need to do that for a declassified Village wine, but you would not be able to deny how tasty it is. (Sept. 14, 2014)

170 NIS.

Domaine Gobelsburg, Neiderosterreich Riesling, 2012

The world is full of tasty working horse wines. The thing, with a house as excellent as Gobelsburg, even the estate wine is a filigree working horse.This is a simple thing that deftly balances fruit and salinity. (Sept. 17, 2014)

Fat Guy, 89 NIS.

Olivier Guyot, Bourgogne, 2010

A declassified Marsannay, and likely one of the better values in Daniel Lifshitz' catalog. Earthy red fruit, tasty, and clean (as in no oak). (Sept. 19, 2014)

Bourgogne Crown, 100 NIS.

Koehler-Ruprecht, Pfalz, Kallstadter Saumagen, Riesling Auslese trocken, 2007

Like many K-R bottles over the years, this is a dud. There an interesting, mineral-laden, sweet-sour personality at play here, but it just doesn't have the thrilling vividness of a star Riesling. I've been drinking the dude's wines for years and it's been a downwards curve. You know how a great Riesling captures fire and ice, the warmth of summer and the silence of snowfall? This is like being dragged along by your mother on a rainy, boring Sunday to buy a coat, and you hope that the shopping center where the coat store is will at least have a drugstore with a comic book stand. Instead, all it has is another coat warehouse. And it's Sunday, so all you have to look forward to is going back to school on Monday.

Sorry about that, you just got a glimpse into my childhood in Long Island.

Of course, there's always the chance I'm just not getting it and the wine just needs to open. (Sept. 22, 2014)

Giaconda, 160 NIS is what I paid for it about 5 years ago, now the asking price is 200 NIS for club members.

But let's move right along, folks. I love it when a white Burgundy gets it right.

Domaine William Fevre, Chablis Grand Cru, Les Preuses, 2008

This yells Chablis Grand Cru from the first sniff and sip, from the funky iodine and sea shells on the nose, to the long, complex saline and sour finish. Excellent and fresh. (Sept. 23, 2014)

Wine Route, 300-350 NIS (I paid less, but there you are, quality costs money).

Some notes from a Rosh Hashana dinner (Sept. 25, 2014):

The Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, 2007 was all I expect and want from a Classic Tuscan: mellow red fruit, savory, mildly sour, full of earth and chives.

The Selbach-Oster, Mosel, Zeltinger Himmelreich, Riesling Kabinett halbtrocken, 2012 played more like a regular Kabinett, all granny apples and slate. It had so much of the same electrical vivacity of the amazing 2012 Kabinett that I had to check that I hadn't opened the wrong bottle. And the acidity blazes away straight through to the core of something important I can't put my finger on - which is a trick common to all great Mosels.

Earlier, the Ben-Shoshan, Ovdat, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 seemed, to me, to display typical desert character, sour red fruit and earth. I do think, though, that the bitter tannins display wine-making shakiness.

Koehler-Ruprecht, Pfalz, Kallstadter Saumagen, Riesling Auslese trocken, 2004

Fool me once - shame on you. Fool me twice - shame on me. I figured if I have a bunch of duds in the fridge, I might as well find out now for sure and free up the space. On to the backup bottle.

Huet, Vouvray, Le Haut-Lieu, Demi Sec, 2009

This is superb, with almost outlandishly (and unexpectedly, I might add) funky nose that is equally toasty and mineral-laden, appropriately backed up by deep, pure apricot fruit. Good traits all, echoed on palate. I know the stuff can age, but this is great right now, I think the only reason to wait is for further complexity to develop on the palate to match that already in place in the aromatics. (Sept. 27, 2014)

Giaconda, 170 NIS, a great value.

Andre et Mireille (now Stephane) Tissot, Cremant du Jura, Blanc de Blanc Cleve en Fue, n.v.

What I've learned from this second encounter (read about the first one here) is to better appreciate where it approaches and swerves from the Champagne paradigm. Unfortunately, that bit of wisdom is not so easy to articulate. But I'll try. The nose is lovely and exotic and that signature of salty cashews  and vegetable broth is simply delectable, but there's a funk to it that I haven't encountered in a Champagne BdB, only when some Pinot is tossed into the blend. Then, the palate, while quite tasty and refreshing, is lighter than the original, playing Macon to Champagne's Cote d'Or. (Sept. 29, 2014)

Giaconda, 165 NIS.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Halutzim 3 - Have I Told You Lately That I Love you? (Sept. 18, 2014)

It was a late, impromptu birthday party, about two months after the fact. Some of the wines shone, some didn't, and some were just educational. But when the chef in your favorite eating ground not only kicks ass but puts together a playlist that includes Bird and Sun Studios period Elvis, you know the evening will be fun!

The whites...

Rene Geoffroy, Premier Cru Brut, Empreinte, 2006

The descriptors number brioche, nuts, oranges, minerals. Most of the interest is on the nose, as the palate starts out sweet-ish, probably approaching the upper boundaries of the sugar levels allowed in a brut. I can understand why this is one of the less famous names in the Terry Theise catalog, but I'm not sorry to have picked this up in the US; it is tasty and decently complex, just doesn't make you want to sit back and savor every sip for hours.

R. Lopez de Heredia, Tondonia, Gran Reserva, Blanco, 1991

We all agreed that drinking a live, twenty-three year old white wine is hardly a common experience. And it is very much alive. The fruit is still lively, and while the oak is obvious, it is very integrated and the package is elegantly embellished by sulphur, minerals and brine. As for me, while I did enjoy it, this bottle suffered by comparison to a spectacular bottle I drank two years ago.

Didier Dagueneau, Pouilly-Fume, Silex, 2006

I really want to be careful about criticizing a late legend, but while it's impressive to drink an eight year old Sauvignon Blanc, there is nothing too special about the place this quite expensive wine wound up in. The nose is quite mineral laden, taking time to divulge anything approaching exceptional interest, while the palate makes a ripe, sweet impression and takes time to resolve and display the dry dynamics I look for in a Loire Sauvignon Blanc. Honestly, for 400 NIS or whatever this costs these days, I'm better off seeking my thrills with Redde at half the price and twice the excitement.

... and the reds
Jacques Fredric Mugnier, Nuits-St.-Georges Premier Cru, Clos de la Marchelle, 2007

I've enjoyed quite a few Marchelles over the years, but this specific bottle carries enough brett to obscure the Bourgogne character, even though it would work better with other grapes. So while it tastes good, it could have been a Saint Joseph for all purposes.

Francois Villard, Saint Joseph, Mairlant, 2010

Now this is bona fide Saint Joseph. Here the Brett works with the black pepper and complements the fruit. The local market for North Rhone has plenty of room for growth, importers!

Niepoort, Duoro, Batuta, 2005

This is a nice wine, but quite modern and top heavy, if you know what I mean - but spicy, lively and savory, for all that.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Yotam Sharon's 40th Birthday (Sept. 11, 2014)

Wine creates a special kind of bond, which is formed when you recognize you and a wine friend both love a wine because of stylistic preferences that reflect your personality and aesthetic philosophy. It's not just a paraphrase of the old Seinfeld routine: "You like Chambolle? I like Chambolle! Let's be friends!"

It is actually about sharing a love for something that moves you.

The first time I met Yotam, he brought a Pegau 2001 to a tasting. Good call. If you do bring a Chateaneuf to a tasting, better make it Pegau, a sane man's CdP. I don't mean that to be a back handed compliment. It really made perfect sense that night, and it was a lovely bottle. It was a good omen, a precursor for a bunch of fun evenings. I really enjoyed Yotam's humor, observations and insights then, and I've enjoyed them ever since.

Anyway, thanks for company, man, and thanks for giving me the opportunity to share good wines with you over the years.

Col d'Orcia, Brunello di Montalcino, Riserva, 1980

Very mature, yet still fresh, the fruit still lively and the acidity perfectly juicy, a touch of mildew, cedar and mushrooms adding complexity, chives adding Tuscan character. It's not a great bottle at first, but quite tasty and improving to such a degree we were actually considering this might be a case of yet another wine fraud  - I mean, a 34 year old Sangiovese?

I need to get some Col d'Orcia - I rarely drink Brunello, yet I see that I had a Poggo al Vento 1995 three years ago that I thought was the best Brunello I ever had.

Serragilli, Barbaresco Riserva, 2007

Typical nebbiolo nose, with rose petals, spices and red fruit. It's quite tannic, yet also ripe, so while I think  that the balance works, I have to agree with comments that the wine-making shows signs of imprecision.

Luccarelli, Bianco Salento, Chardonnay Malvasia, 2011

Lime and spices. Enlightening, in a way, but doesn't really convey, to me, any special character or sense of locale.

Vilmart & Cie, Cuvée Rubis, n.v.

So Pinot, so Champagne! Or should I put it, Champagne laced with the exotic magic of Pinot that lights up the taste buds. I could die happy drowning in this earthy, brothy and complex concotion.

Chateau Beaucastel, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 1999

The best CdP I've had in the last five years. A very spicy, animalistic,  furry nose  and very complex. The palate is reasonably lively, and I think this works better than a more vaunted vintage would.

Petit Figeac, Saint Emilion, 2009

The second wine of Chateau Figeac is an excellent young claret, with red and black fruit, tasty tannins, and an obvious Merlot character. To my tastes, it plays a meaner guitar than the Beaucastel at half the price.

Domaine Garon, Cote-Rotie, 1999

Black pepper and blood define the rules of engagement. A lovely luncheon wine, fresh and vivid, soft and comforting, the fruit mellow, the tannins resolved.