Friday, October 10, 2008

A trip to Sorrento & the Amalfi Coast

My first trip to Italy was 12 years ago. It was a love from first sight, and since then , I've been to Italy , 8 times. When we started to plan our yearly vacation , I thought of the Northern lakes, especially Lago Como. We've been there a year and a half ago , for only one day and enjoyed it very much. But then I talked with one of my patients who also travels to Italy a lot and he asked me - Have you been in the south of Italy? I answered not, and he said I must go there. Then I asked another friend, and he answered - It's the most beautiful place in the world!! So could I have another choice. Ans how was the Vacation ? In one word - Stunning. Breathtaking views, great food, wonderful atmosphere and lovely weather.

Some Tips :

1. If you can , fly to Naples (not Rome) . We lost almost a whole day driving from Fiumicino to Sorrento and Back.

2. If budget is not too tight , I would recommend our Hotel - Grand Hotel Royal. Great location , very close to the centre of Sorrento, just over the cliff above the sea (With an elevator that brings you right to the water line) , Beautiful and clean rooms, and good Service.

3. You must visit Ravello - some people miss it, since it's not sitting along the Coast, but It's beautiful and has 2 gorgeous Villas with a great view to the sea.

4. Every Wine Lover should try O'Canonico restaurant. It stands in the main square of Sorrento and besides lovely cuisine, it has uncomparable wine list (It also operates as an Online wine Shop - Italian Wine Selection.). I've had there a half bottle of Il Borro 2004, a very nice Super Tuscan for a about 25 Euros. Its mostly a Cabarnet-Merlot blend with gorgeous nose of ripe black fruits , tobacco and some mint. Medium to full bodied , with still present tannins, but quite smooth, and medium after-taste. I'd score it around 92-93.

Added- Some pictures

Friday, August 15, 2008

Georges Vernay tasting at Wine Route

Two weeks ago I had the fabulous Condrieu Coteaux du Vernon 2006 (former post) , so when I heard there's gonna be a tasting of their wines with the winemaker I couldn't say no (And the price was also quite fair) . I wrote a very descriptive tasting notes during the tasting and .... forgot them , so I was only left with my memories and Impressions.
The tasting started with the red wines (Vernay also makes Cote Rotie and a Vin de pays). I would be very surprised , unless I had the Coteaux du Vernon, maybe the richest and fullest bodied white wine I've had. Unlike the Coteaux du Vernon , the red wines of Vernay are in general very elegant , medium bodied reds , with lovely fruit, and not much wood felt (they have very low percentage of new wood). The generic Cote Rotie was very nice and their Cote Rotie Maison Rouge 2005 was really good with a nose of dark red and black fruits, with some pepper . Medium to full bodied, very elegant , smooth with good acidity, and nice aftertaste . (score 93-94) . It didn't had any hint of brett that I found in some Cote Roties before , which I dislike.
After a short Break, we moved to the whites, from Condrieau, that made this winery famous. Another Cuvee from 2006 was quite different from the Coteaux du Vernon, with less pronounced fruit and more minerality, It was also less rich and Viscous. The Condrieu Coteaux du Vernon 2006 was again fantastic , but a liitle less concentrated and rich than the bottle I had 2 weeks ago (Score 94-95 this time) and the 2004 version was quite similar but less intense. Overall a very nice tasting.
BTW ... The winemaker , the daughter of Georges Vernay, spoke french during the tasting , beside her sat a young guy who translated her words and add many other of himself. Later on I found out the this guy was Ya'ir Heido , a guy I heard so much about him for so long I thought he is at least 50 years old (He's less than 40). Besides the wines, It was very interesting to hear the winemaker and Heido talking about the area, the winemaking and their pilosophy.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Last weekend wines

As I wrote a few times before, not a long ago I almost had no white wines in my collection and my only experiences with whites were some Israeli Chard's from Castel & Golan Heights. But during the last year , that has changed. It started with some white Burgundies, mostly from Meursault, Chassagne Montrachet , some Corton Charlemagnes and even Montrachet. Then came the German Rieslings, from Donnhoff, Dr.Loosen, Emrich Shoenleber and more , a few Sauvignon Blanc's from New Zealand and last week a new revelation : Condrieu.
Last friday I've had one of the most interesting and impressive wines I've had lately. It was Georges Vernay , Condrieu Coteaux du Vernon 2006. In the nose it had a stunning aromas of sweet citrus fruits : sweetened oranges, red grapefruits , chinese oranges and more with some peaches and also flowers in the background , In the mouth it was maybe the fullest bodied white , I've ever had, mouth coating, rich with great acidity , some smokey notes and long finish. Stunning . Score - 96-97. We also had a bottle of Trapet, Chapelle Chambertin (Grand Cru) 2004, Ruby coloured, It had a nose of ripe red fruits, earthy notes and very mild bret in the background that didn't interfere much (I don't like it usually). In the mouth medium to full bodied, quite rich, with some chewy tannins , good acidity and medium-long finish. Very nice and not too expensive for a grand cru (I think something between 500-600NIS). Score - 92-93.
On Saturday night , I was invited for an evening with other wine lovers at Barcarola Restaurant. I didn't wrote any notes but 4 bottles were very nice - A bottle of Champagne imported by Eldad Levi (I think it was Larmandier, I'll find out later) that was balanced and tasty, a superb bottle of Chassagne Montrachet , Boudriotte 2002 from Gagnard (Score - 93-94) , Alion 2001- very elegant with dark red fruits, cedar, and earth, medium to full bodied, rich, wonderfully balanced with great aftertaste. Score - 94-95 , Fantastic value. Last was a bottle of Chateau Nairac 2001 (Brought by me). Golden coloured. Nose full of butter, honey , dominant butritis notes with tropical fruits - pinapples, passion fruits and more. In the mouth quite sweet and concentrated , but with good acidity to balance and nice aftertaste. A bit too young. Score - 93-94.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Some wines from Mersch

A few days ago, I was invited to a special tasting of Mersch, A company that imports Boutique Australian shirazes and now added to their Portfolio some Sauvignon Blancs fron new Zealend.
In this tasting , Mersch introduces some new wines they started to import as well as new vintages of wines they imported before.
1. Astrolabe - sauvignon Blanc, 2007 - Straw coloured. A Nockout nose of tropical fruits , mostly Passion fruit and Guava with some citrus and grapefruits afterwards. In the mouth light to medium bodied, a good balance of sweetness and bitterness that follows to the medium finish. Lovely wine . Score 92-93
2. Foxes Island , Sauvignon Blanc, 2007 - Straw coloured. A bit closed in the nose at the beginning, then started to give some citrus and minerals. As it developed in the glass, the aromas become more intense and were followed by grass. In the mouth - medium bodied, very good balance between sweetness and refresshing acidity and very nice aftertaste. Score - 92-93
3. Rockbare - Mojo Shiraz 2006 - This entry level shiraz had a nockout nose of black cherries and blueberries. In the mouth less impressive with Medium body, fruitiness but some lack of mid-palate presence. nice finish with some pleasent bitterness is a plus. If I could score its nose seperately I would give this a score of 93-94, but overall its a 90 points wine which is also very nice for a wine with a price ticket of 87NIS before discounts. Very good Value.
4. Teusner - Ebenezer Road Shiraz 2006 - Dark Ruby. Nose more understated with toasted wood and some Dark red fruits. In the mouth it was also medium bodied but richer with more mid-palate presence. The finish is medium-long with nice bitterness. Score - 92-93
5. Rockbare - Shiraz Mclaren valley 2006 - The nose resembles that of the Mojo (from the same winery) but more complex with a hint of coffee accompany the black cherries, blueberries and raspberries. In the mouth -Full bodied, chewy, very fruity, with a long finish . Score - 93-94
Outstanding value (108NIS before discounts).
6. Radford Dale - Shiraz 2005 - At the beginning we got some unpleasent aromas , that soon replaced by black and dark red fruits with licorice, In the mouth - Full bodied , chewy with a very dominant bitterness that was pleasent and interesting. The finish was long . Very interesting wine, Quite different from typical shirazes. Score - 92-93.
7. Noon - Eclipse ,2006 - The 2004 vintage of this wine was one of first wines I tasted from Mersch , and I fell in love with it , immediately. The 2005 was even better. and the 2006 ?
A blend of 67% Grenache and 33% Shiraz , its Ruby coloured, with a nose full of red and black cherries with some black pepper. In the mouth - medium to full bodied, very elegant (as always) with nice spiciness and wonderfully long finish. Score - 94-95. This is one of the few wines I buy each year automatically without the need to taste it before.
8. Glaymond - The Distance Shiraz , 2005 - Very Dark coloured. In the Nose very ripe black fruits with some wood and black pepper. Full bodied, very rich, Jammy, with long and sweet finish. A very impressive wine . Score 94-95.

Riesling's Evening

Last week , I hosted an evening devoted to Rieslings from 3 countries : France, Germany & Australia.
1. Grosset - Riesling, Polish hill , 2007 - Supposed to be one of the best Australian makers of Riesling (If not the best) . This is their top cuvee. A bit too young now. Nose of citrus fruits, a bit tropical fruits , mostly pinapple , and minerals. In the mouth, medium bodied, quite dry , with nice balance , good acidity and medium finish. Nice. Score - 90-91
2. J.J Christoffel , Erdener Trepchen, Riesling Auslese , 1975 - Yes, this wine is still alive, very much alive actually. Golden coloured. A nose with dominant petrol aromas , with some peaches in the background. In the mouth medium to full bodoed, oily textured , so fresh with a lovely balance of sweetness and acidity and a long finish. WOTN for most of the members . My score - 94-95.
3. Zind Humbrecht , Riesling , Rangen de Thann, Clos St.Urbain 2002 - My contribution , and the third bottle of this wine I tasted , and quite different from the former ones. The Nose has mostly citrusy aromas with some minerality , In the mouth it was medium bodied , fresh, with a special mouth feel that resembled Grapefruits with a special combination of sweetness , acidity and pleasent bitterness. Some (Including me) liked it a lot, others, much less. Score - 94-95
4. Emrich Shoenleber , Riesling Spatlese , Monzinger Halenberg, 2004 - Usually a favourite of mine, this evening , it didn't perform so well. A lovely nose of peaches , citrus and even some flowers . In the mouth it was again medium bodied with good sweetness and also good acidity that didn't integrate well enough . still very pleasurable, but not as good as two former bottles I had lately. Score (this evening) - 90

Friday, June 27, 2008

Euro Semi-Final with Numanthia 2004

Yesterday I invited 2 friends to watch the second semi-final of the Euro between Spain and Russia. What should I open? I asked my friends and they answered together - a spanish wine.
I suggested Alion 2001 , but one of them already had it last week so I opened a bottle of Numanthia 2004 (scored 98 by Jay Miller from the WA , and not far from it by WS).
The wine was as usual very dark coloured. The nose had a very dominant sedar with blackfruits and some eucalyptus and menthol in the background. with time - some licorice emerged. In the mouth it was full bodied but not a blockbuster like some former vintages (2003) still quite tannic , with good (but not huge) mid palate persistence and quite long aftertaste. A very good wine for sure , and definately a very good value , but my score is more like 94-95 .
BTW ...
Spain defeated russia 3:0 , now what should I open for the final between Spain and Germany ?
A german riesling or a spanish wine ?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Beaucastel Evening with Pierre Perrin - Impressions

Yesterday evening, a special tasting of Beaucastel wines , conducted by Pierre Perrin, the current winemaker was held. Here some of my impressions from the evening :

1. It was the first time I tasted the famous whites of Beaucastel. While very nice (The regular white CdP with mostly citrusy flavours and fresh acidity in the mouth. the Rossanne VV much more complicated, with less fruit and more butter and minerality both in nose and the mouth), I didn't fell in love with it, and still prefers the whites of Alsace and germany.
2. The 2001 and 1998 vintages of Beaucastel regular red CdP, always among my favourite wines , underperformed this evening. The 2001 was too ripe and porty and lacked the freshness I got from former bottles. The 1998 had too much brett in it, in my opinion.
3. Before this evening, I couldn't understand why they put the 1994 vintage in this tasting, but this wine was the big surprise of the evening, a lovely wine, great for drinking now, with great balance, and good food matching.
4. The Beaucastel regular CdP from 1989 vintage was the wine of the night (WOTN in hebrew). without any serious competition. Simply gorgeous. Complicated nose of red fruits (mostly Cherries , with some meat and spices in the background, medium, to full bodied, balanced, very rich with long long finish. Superb.
5. The Hommage 2005 tasted like ...Shiraz. Dark coloured, strong nose of raspberries without much subtlety , superconcentrated and a bit sweet. Even though I like some Australians, this one was too much for me, and didn't integrate well with the other wines. I liked the regular Cdp from the same vintage much more.