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Sauzet, Batard Montrachet..... Drouhin, Bonnes Mares..... Groffier, Bonnes Mares..... Inniskillin, Riesling.....


For my 55th birthday a few friends gathered at a nice restaurant called "The Eighth Rib" in Hertzelyia (a town, not far from Tel-Aviv). We had a 'degustation' dinner that consisted of an endless parade of dishes prepared from every imaginable fish, seafood and meat available here. Shlomy, the bold-handed and imaginative chef and owner, went out of his way to provide us with what - to be absolutely honest - was simply too much.
There were so many dishes I will not even try to mention them all.
To name just a few of the really delicious and memorable:
- Sauteed Calamari in dried Tomatoes
- Shrimps on puree of corn
- Scallops on truffles and peas sauce
- Juicy lamb and calf meatballs

As usual, a nice and tasty evening passed in the great company of my good friends.
As for the wines. There were two things in common for the three dry wines that we had: They were all 1995 and they were all too young to fully enjoy...

Batard Montrachet 1995 E. Sauzet

2/2003. Bought at auction Jul-97 for $150 (current market price $230).
One of the best dry white wines in the world, from one of the best producers in Puligny-Montrachet and a good vintage year.
COLOR: Deep golden color. Looks fat and viscous.
NOSE: Still almost mute at first. Took a long time to open up a bit and reveal the concentration and depth this nose has. Pears, apples and minerals, with oak notes providing 'backbone' to the nose. This is not - and will never be - a lush, voluptuous nose. But even through the currently restraint bouquet, one cannot be left unimpressed by the sheer depth and power the nose has in store.
TASTE: Again, closed and unyielding. Every sip fills the mouth and lets you feel the concentration. Yet, it inhibits a lot of what it has inside. Great grip and focus as well as taste. Drinking this wine now only hints at what will come with more bottle age.
LENGTH: Very long aftertaste that lingers.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Full bodied highly concentrated wine. Fat yet totally dry. Superbly balanced but much too young...
OVERALL: Superb now but will surly become outstanding. This Batard will never be a 'charming' wine. But it is no doubt a great wine and will become even more so with time.
MARK: 18.5/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? Yes.

Bonnes Mares 1995 J. Drouhin

2/2003. Bought in Beaune, Nov-97 for $71.
Bonnes Mares has always been one of my favorite (B). A Grand Cru vineyard that lies mostly in Chambolle-Musigny and partly in Morey-St. Denis. Bonnes Mares (at its best) will combine the structure of Gevrey-Chambertin with the elegance of Chambolle-Musigny.
We drank this wine side by side with the Groffier's rendition.
COLOR: Medium ruby color with noticeable clearing around the rim.
NOSE: Quite closed and unyielding. When it did open up a bit it showed pleasant but shallow aromas. Nothing offensive or misplaced, just not expressive enough.
TASTE: On the palate the Drouhin soft touch took over any sign of the Bonnes Mares terroir. Again, nothing bad or un-tasty, but the lack of depth and concentration are all too apparent, even for a wine that is obviously too young.
LENGTH: Medium long but nice aftertaste.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Medium bodied wine, on the soft side. I would have liked to use the term 'delicate', but delicate implies fragrance and subtle elements while this wine simply lacked stuffing. Still, a well made and well balanced wine.
OVERALL: Good-plus now and will probably gain half a point (i.e become 'Very Good') in time. But for a Bonnes Mares this wine is a disappointment.
MARK: 16.5-17/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? No.

Bonnes Mares 1995 R. Groffier

2/2003. Brought by a friend (current market price $160).
We had this wine side by side with the Drouhin above.
My first taste of Groffier wines was the less-than-brilliant 1986 vintage Bonnes Mares some years ago. I was really impressed by that wine and have tasted quite a few Groffier wines since then.
COLOR: Dark ruby with very thin clearing around the rim.
NOSE: As closed and backwards as the Drouhin. But there the similarity ends. Depth fruit and concentration are all apparent in spite of the veil that prevents them from sprouting out of the glass. An excellent nose that will no doubt become much more so in time.
TASTE: On the palate, the difference between the two Bonnes Mares becomes even clearer. Although the fruit is still covered by noticeable tannins, it is obviously there. Multi flavored and superb winyness. Good grip and focus. If one must commit infanticide, than this wine will not be a bad choice.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Full bodied wine of great style. Much too young now and far from showing its full potential. But the concentration, the depth, the fine backbone and structure - all attest to a really great future.
OVERALL: Very Fine now and will surly gain a full point (i.e become 'Outstanding') in time. I would love to taste this one again in 3-5 years.
MARK: 18-19/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? Yes.

Riesling 'Ice Wine' 1999 Inniskillin

2/2003. Acquired from the Inniskillin winery Jan-03 (market price around $80 for 375 cc).
The best of Canada's world-famous Ice Wine is arguably made by Inniskillin. The Riesling is their top wine and in the excellent 1999 vintage they made about 18,000 half-bottles of it.
COLOR:Bright golden yellow color.
NOSE: Fine intense and persistent nose of peaches and apricot with delicate honey tones in the background.
TASTE: Sweet of course, but very nicely balanced by good acidity. Feels fresh on the palate with multiple flavors that keep developing in the mouth. Complex, extremely interesting and very tasty.
LENGTH: Very very long and reverberating aftertaste.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Only 10.5% alcohol. This Icewine texture is somewhere in between the light fragrant German TBAs and the full-bodied heavy Sauternes. Totally uncloying and beautifully balanced.
OVERALL: Outstanding! Perfect to drink now though will surely stay like that for a few more years. As for longer aging, I lack the experience to stipulate.
MARK: 19/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? yes.

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Jacob "Yak" Shaya.