I suppose all critics live for the day when all of their criticism can be positive. The social critic dreams of that time when he/she can say that "all is well in the homeland and abroad"; the theater critic hopes for the month in which it can be reported that "the theater is alive and vibrant"; and the wine critic lives for that week in which he/she can taste 100 or more wines and write that every one of those earned scores of 93 or more. Alas, such days, weeks and months come very rarely indeed (if at all). Following are my notes for five local wines that were included in my blind tastings of 27 white wines this morning.
The First Two
Zion, Emerald Riesling-French Colombard, Tidhar, 2007: Two of the varieties that might be thought of as "left-overs" from the bad-old days before the Israeli wine revolution. One of these days I might even understand why wines such as this remain in high demand by some segments of the population. Straw colored, with a nose that is best described as "neutral" and flavors that remind of tinned pineapple and alcoholic pineapple juice. Innocuous but without charm. Drink up. NIS 35 (about US$ 10) Score 75. K (Tasted 7 Aug 2008)
Zion, Chardonnay-Chenin Blanc, Erez, 2007: Light golden straw in color and medium-bodied, a blend of 50% each of the two varieties. Categorized as dry but with a hint of honey running through and alas, as flat and flabby on the palate as it is on the nose, with somewhat overripe peach and melon fruits and an unwanted bitter finish. Drink now if at all. NIS 49. (About US$ 14) Score 76. K (Tasted 7 Aug 2008)
And now the good news……
Pelter, Chardonnay, 2007: Golden-straw in color, light to medium-bodied and unoaked, opens with grapefruit and pineapple notes, those going on to citrus, green apples and pears. Stylish, juicy and long, finishing on a light flinty-mineral note. Drink now. Score 90. (Re-tasted 7 Aug 2008)
Carmel, Viognier, Upper Galilee, Regional, 2007: With 75% cold fermented in stainless steel and the remainder in barriques, that aged sur lie for 4 months. Shows a bare, tantalizing hint of spicy oak on the nose as it opens, yielding to an array of spicy pear, grapefruit and tangerine fruits all on a supple and just-spicy-enough frame. Refreshing and rich. Drink now–2010. Score 90. K (Re-tasted 7 Aug 2008)
Assaf, Sauvignon Blanc, 2007: Developed for three months in 400-liter casks, this deep golden wine shows earthy, mineral and vanilla aromas and flavors that come together very nicely with citrus, pear and melon fruits. Creamy and intense enough that you might describe this white wine as tannic. Drink now. Score 90. (Re-tasted 7 Aug 2008)