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Goldwater, Sauvignon Blanc..... Montrachet..... Dominus..... Vega Sicilia..... Clos de Beze..... Hermitage.....


Twice in the past months I was invited Jerusalem, to participate in evenings of fine wine & dine organized by a small group of local wine lovers. This time I took it upon myself to organize a similar event in Tel-Aviv and invited the Jerusalemites to bring over their best wines and see how we do things here.
I have asked my favorite chef, Yonatan Roshfeld, to prepare a degustation dinner to be served in the elegant private room at the basement of his restaurant.
The array of wines was indeed spectacular, but the "meal" that accompanied them was something out of this world!
All the participants vouched that this was the best food served to them in Israel ever! Roshfeld simply outdid himself both the in the quality of his creations and the never-ending procession of them...

A spoonful of raw tuna in truffles oil
Lobster tail with asparagus tips on celery cream
1998 Sauvignon Blanc, Goldwater
Grilled turbot with cream of aubergines and sauce
1992 Montrachet, Laguiche
Champagne Sorbet with fresh blackcurrants
Lightly grilled goose liver with golden apples and lemon confit sauce
1992 Dominus
Slowly cooked veal sweetbread with Jerusalem Artichoke and mash salad
Veal pancreas 'Bordelaise Bernaise'
1981 Vega Sicilia "Unico"
Beef fillet with red wine essence and garlic confit
1988 Clos de Beze, Rousseau
"Seven Hours" young lamb thigh
1983 Hermitage 'La Chapelle'
Passion-fruit and lemon-grass sorbet
Banana-tart with caramel ice cream
Chocolate cake "Pierre Harmet"
Almonds and chocolate croquant, with coffee ice cream
Pears tart with Riglis ice cream and sauce
Normandy crepes with apples in alcoholic cider sauce
1904 Armagnac *

I am not a Cognac connoisseur and I forgot the specifics of this bottle. But it was simply divine! Smooth as silk with lightly smoked aromas of ripe fruit and caramel, sublime taste, extraordinary finish.

Kudos to Yonatan, Avi (his superb sommelier!) and the rest of the staff, who spared no effort to make this a wonderful evening we shall all remember for a long time. Their act will surely be a hard one to follow.

Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand) 1998 Goldwater

6/99. Brought by one of the guys.
My only experience with New Zealand wines have been (up to now) with the delicious Cloudy Bay, so I am glad to 'make acquaintance' with another top-class NZ SB.
COLOR: Pale yellow with a greenish tinge.
NOSE: Very pleasant flowery nose with notes of newly-cut grass and fresh lime.
TASTE: Refreshing on the palate, with fruity and honey-like yet dry flavors. Elegant grip and excellent acidity.
LENGTH: Reasonably long and pleasant aftertaste.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Medium-bodied, very young, very refreshing. Fine structure and very nice balance.
OVERALL: Excellent. A touch less dry than Cloudy Bay but of equally high quality.
MARK: 17.5/20.BUY MORE? Yes.

Montrachet 1992 J. Drouhin (Laguiche)

6/99. Brought by one of the guys.
I have had this wine a year and a half ago as one my 50th birthday dinner wines. At the time I was a tiny bit disappointed by the performance of such an exalted wine. I was hoping today's bottle will do better.
COLOR: Medium straw color.
NOSE: Elegant and very pleasant nose. Nothing bursting out of the glass, but classy aromas with both the buttery and mineral elements discernible. Really good and noble on the nose but still, could and should be more.
TASTE: Complex and multi-layered on the palate, but again, somewhat lacking in grip and concentration. Still, very stylish and tasty. Alas, I would consider wonderful for a village wine is hardly enough for a Montrachet...
LENGTH: Very long and multi-dimensional aftertaste. Here the wine finally revealed some of its pedigree.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Full bodied and elegant. Some fatness is there though less concentrated and impressive as might be expected. Lacks the zest of a Grand Cru though very nicely balanced in a minor key.
OVERALL: Superb wine in absolute terms but not more.
All sort of suggestions were made by the group. "Let it warm up a bit", "Give it another 30 minutes to open up", etc. We did all that and the wine did get better, but all in all, "Le Montrachet", the king of the dry white wines should have been much better...
MARK: 18/20.BUY MORE? No.

Dominus 1992 Dominus Estate

6/99. Brought by one of the guys.
My first taste of this Bordeaux-style American cult wine.
COLOR: Very dark with hardly any clearing around the rim.
NOSE: Very deep but currently one-dimensional nose of jammy black fruits. Wood is quite noticeable as are some Eucalyptus notes, but the nose in general is very restraint and closed.
TASTE: Simply hard to taste, almost impossible to enjoy! Massive tannins obscure all but the basic jammy fruit aspects. Even with the food the wine was not yielding. Perhaps it is a great wine, or rather will be. Right now it is anything but great.
LENGTH: If oak and tannins is what you're looking for, then here is an aftertaste full of it...
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Big wine, completely closed. Obviously concentrated with plenty of fruit but not much else. I can easily imagine this wine improving if and when the tannins will soften and subside. The perceived woodiness however, and the relative lack of acidity, make me doubt if it will ever achieve perfect balance.
OVERALL: Superb now at best. Must reserve judgement for future tastings. One thing I'm sure of though. My next Dominus will be at least 5 years older than this one was.
MARK: 18/20.BUY MORE? Maybe.

Vega Sicilia "Unico" 1981 Vega Sicilia

6/99. Brought by one of the one of the guys.
Vega Sicilia "Unico" is certainly among the most special and coveted wines in the world. The only bottle I ever tasted was the magnificent 1970, so was looking forward to tasting thing one.
COLOR: Pretty dark color though less so than the Dominus. Some clearing around the rim.
NOSE: Enticing nose of exceptional qualities! Caramel and toffy, mature though light-scented fruit, earth, dust and a myriad of other nuances.
TASTE: Very elegant and smooth on the palate. Full of flavors but not overpowering. Good winyness though not immensely concentrated. Very tasty with velvety flavors. Soft tannins and good acidity.
LENGTH: Long and vibrating aftertaste that amplifies the complexity of this wine.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Medium bodied, elegant and stylish. Not a blockbuster by any means but complex, tasty, unusual and extremely interesting. Perfectly balanced too.
OVERALL: Extraordinary! A rare treat by a rare wine. Unlike anything I can think of though it does have some of the qualities found in other Spanish wines.
MARK: 19/20.BUY MORE? Maybe (depends on the price).

Chambertin Clos de Beze 1988 A. Rousseau

6/99. Acquired at auction, Mar-95 for $130 (imported for $143 net).
Domaine Rousseau is rightly considered the standard by which all other Chambertin and Clos de Beze are measured.
COLOR: Very good color for (B) though not as dark as the previous two wines of course.
NOSE: Deep and complex fruit. Not baby-fat fresh cherries anymore but not yet plummish sweet. Just perfectly balanced aromas of berries, earth, raw meat and leather with a beautiful 'robe' of 'Bourgogne Nose'.
TASTE: Extremely rich and mouthfilling. Wonderful taste with multi-layers of developing flavors. Just out of adolescence with excellent winyness and impressive backbone and grip. Its delicate elegance and underlying structure are the hallmark of true Gevrey-Chambertin.
LENGTH: Endless length where the aftertaste is really profound and enticing.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Full bodied and masculine, but in a delicate way that befits a great (B). So perfectly balanced, this wine only started its maturity phase. With the reserves of fruit, winyness and refreshing acidity, I have no doubt it will develop into a Grand Vin in a few years.
OVERALL: Extraordinary-plus!! A masterpiece example of a truly great Burgundy that is both true to the terroir of the appellation and to the high standards of its producer.
MARK: 19.5/20.BUY MORE? Yes.

Hermitage 'La Chapelle' 1983 P. Jaboulet

6/99. Acquired at auction, Oct-98 for $120 (imported for $140 net).
Hermitage in general and Jaboulet's 'La Chapelle' in particular is a wine that rarely fails to fascinate me. I have had the 1983 vintage four or five times in the four years and was always amazed by the complexity of its aromas and breadth of its flavors.
COLOR: Pretty dark but not as jet black as I remember it to be.
NOSE: Very ripe and forward nose. Mature black fruits, spices, earth tones and complex 'animal' tertiary aromas. Very rich and complex, but just a tiny bit overripeness on the nose.
TASTE: A 'big' wine on the palate, full of tasty flavors. Still a lot of vigor and concentration but some signs of age. A bit too acidic and a hint of drying out on the finish.
LENGTH: Very long aftertaste that is just a little bit too dry.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Full bodied and vigorous. Still well endowed but somewhat less-than-perfectly balanced, with too much acidity and a bit hollow in the finish.
OVERALL: Super (only!). I suspect this (recently acquired) specific bottle was not kept under the best conditions. I have two more bottles of the same batch so have to hope they are better.
MARK: 18/20.BUY MORE? Maybe.

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Jacob "Yak" Shaya.