The story of the man who did not try to cheat the Angel of Death and finally succeeded
Vintners and winemakers of Bourgogne from Chablis in the north, all the way south to the Rhone, be ware, there will be a sharp fall in demand for your products. A great Bourgogne wine consumer, wine lover and expert have deceased.
We take our close friends for granted and when they go, a great void opens within us. Shaul is just gone and I already miss him. But memories are such a great consolation, they give us comfort at times of need and in times of grief and this is just one of these occasions.
For everyone in the small community of wine and food professionals in Israel He was the Grand Priest, a legend… the man, Shaul Evron, was a great culinary and wine sage, For me, he was a good friend, from whom I have learned and whose company I enjoyed since the early 1990’s.
His taste was so sharp that even the slightest of hint of sweetness in a wine was thumbs down for him, he shied when people used to commend his accuracy in tasting mainly because he knew his likes and dislikes, he could dislike a “great wine” just because it was not within his taste scope: “It’s a good wine but I do not like it”. He did not give a damn to label or pedigree beyond the cork. When his sharp taste detects a hint of corkiness, in a great bottle just opened he would rarely try to “taste it beyond the fault” and get to the bottom of what is “on paper” a great wine. At times after half an hour of breathing as the wine fault evaporated he would taste the wine again, a rare occasion!
He used to call me at times saying: “we just got this amazing Calf, if you pass by Yoezer we’ll have some stuff prepared for us from the best cuts plus some inner organs (brain, sweetbreads, liver, kidneys)” sometimes I would and at time I would regret missing the expression of joy from a good cut of meat in his eyes, if I could not make it. What a unique and enviable expressiopn.
Maybe the fact that he used to rinse his mouth (at the dentist’s – me), not with water god forbid, but with Perrier can shed a light on his peculiar but thoughtful actions . He used to bring a bottle with him, to the practice, each time he would come for an appointment. This may sharpen your understanding of his ways, which basically were Shaul’s way! S. Pellegrinno or Plain Water will JUST NOT DO!!!!!!!!
Being the owner of one of THE best restaurants “around”, Yoezer (my favorite Bistro in Israel https://wine4soul.com/2012/08/30/meat-of-lust-eating-in-yoezer-wine-bar ), he followed a dream to have his very own Bistro in 1995, (it is a cave in Old Jaffa) arranged to his very own taste, along the way and from day one his old friend from primary school days, Zipora decided to get on with him on a personal rollercoaster car, the most unlikely partnerships that worked for 17 years.
Yoezer Wine Bar offers a wide variety of wines, all chosen personally by Shaul and Shlomit (Sommelier, Maitre D. and personal care taker), with an emphasis on the wines of Bourgogne, Shauls Favorites.
Yes he was a conservative Pinot Noir / Chardonnay kind of guy; he loved wine-dungeons and bars, a lonely guy with hundreds of “friends”, he had no family but they were “all his sons”, a lone wolf at the head of a wine guzzling pack.
He loved French cheeses I think his favorite was Époisses de Bourgogne, from the village Époisses, in Côte-d’Or. Commonly referred to as Époisses, it is a pungent unpasteurized cows-milk cheese, washed daily in marc de Bourgogne until ripened.
He used to say that I am a “wine necrophiliac”, I like wine corps (too old) and I say he was a wine pedophile (He loves them young), I think he just could not resist his urge to taste a wine even when it is too young to enjoy (for me). But through the years we’ve managed to prove each other wrong on many occasions.
He liked to feel the harsh kick of wine, the storm of fresh tannins and took them in as if they were all rounded and smooth.
He was an excellent journalist and excelled in food writing, this short tale describes it all, in his very own words: “When I got to Paris once, I tried a 1983 Echezeaux at La tour D’argent it was harsh (trop dur as the French say) but beautiful, exactly the way I like them, so when I got a table for lunch at L’Ambroisie, the “grande dame” of Haute Cuisine, “discreetly situated” on the Place des Vosges (9 Place des Vosges, 75004 Paris, Phone: 01 42 78 51 45), which was then freshly awarded its third Michelin star, I have ordered the 83 Echezeaux The house sommelier said as expected: “trop dur” (too harsh) I told him: “no I don’t care”. He said that he could give me the 1984 Grand Echezeaux, which is ready for drinking, for the same price or something like that. I said to him: “Don’t like 84” he said to me: “Try it, what do you care, if you won’t like it, we will replace the wine, he opened a bottle for me, I tasted, I didn’t like it, I gave it back, I took the-83 “, it was ‘hash’ but again, sublime. A Japanese couple sitting at the next table pointed at my bottle when they were asked to choose a wine he tried his “Trop dur” exercise on them as well to no avail “. Shaul always knew what he wanted, his choice was hard to sway (I am sure he enjoyed that bottle more than the Japanese couple…)
At Yoezer, the Bar and kitchen stuff hold his culinary and wine views and understanding in such reverence and respect, that it feels they cook to please him personally with each dish that comes out of the kitchen, and we the diners are benefited by getting almost always the best according to Shaul, what more can one expect from a meal?
Our memorable wines together are numerous, they all started in my garden whilst photographing a BBQ article I was co writing for the food Magazine CHEF (April 1994) with the late Cheni Farber (a food writer and talented chef) we prepared a FEAST for the article photo shoot, a huge meal just for the magazine photographer, but there was tons of great food and I invited a friend to help with the consumption of the fare, who brought a friend with him, SHAUL. We spent a lovely spring afternoon on the lawn eating and drinking, drinking and eating, having a wine cellar at home was a novelty those days but I was fairly fresh from 10 years in London and the cellar was full of gems and surprises rarely seen in Israel, but the bottle that opened the door to his heart and started our friendship was a perfect Champagne 1978 Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon Rose. With almost perfect score of 19.5 from my wine mentor and teacher, Jancis Robinson. Never mind the score that wine which would “melt” anyone’s heart, initiated a friendship that lasted 18 years (aren’t we getting old?), that was my first intimate meeting with Shaul and “the beginning of a beautiful friendship”
Other Champagnes that come to my mind:
1995 Bollinger Grande Annee , so open, expressive, and forceful in character that these qualities carry through onto the palate where there are notes of honey, brazil nuts and dried mushrooms, even hints of truffles and caramelized dried orange peel.
Many 1990 Bollinger Grande Annee (one of my Favorite years) with its mature aromas, of roasted almonds, toffee, even creamed coffee with burnt caramel or honey, than wet mushrooms (it’s the alluring “rotting” mushrooms aroma which is so compeling to both of us)
Many Bourgogne whites, he did not like Meursault and preferred Montrachet especially Chassagne-Montrachet, 1996 and 1990’s
Bourgogne reds – Aloxe Corton and Corton these Grand crus have to mature at least 10 years he would drink and enjoy them young (Trop dur), 1983 Echezeaux a year you could hardly get your hands on…Vougeot and Vougeot Premier Cru, The wine around Vosne Romanée with its grands crus such as Grands-Echezeaux and Richebourg which make of Vosne Romanée terroirs the best of Burgundy red wines. (he had an expensive taste, and was generous sharing with others.
Red Bordeaux – He did not like bordeaux’s as a general rule still I can recall several moments of success (a great challenge when you open a bottle of good Bordeaux for Shaul) not only it has to be excellent it must NOT have any traces of “sweetness” hint (even oaky vanilla touch would make a great wine too “sweet” for him), but a bottle Chateau La Mission Haut Brion (Graves) 1976 melted us both after opening 5 bottles of other great bordeaux’s one night between the two of us until I was successful in getting the satisfaction glitter in his eyes and the certain verbal expression concerning the wine to put me at ease regarding my guests satisfaction.
Without a doubt the most memorable and the very last bottle of the case was the near perfect 1982 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses Domaine G. Roumier. A reference 1982 great by any standard. I’m so happy we had that last bottle together just between the two of us, we squeezed the very last drop from that bottle with unsurpassed JOY.
Shaul had an enormous heart and even greater stomach capacity he could eat a bull for lunch and have a full dinner a few hours later, he would drink alcoholic drinks from spirits to his favorite wines from dawn to dawn (not dusk) without ever becoming obnoxious or behave as if under the influence, as a matter of fact he quit resented people around him who did…
He was an Olympiad of wine and food with no match (that I know of, and I know some serious drinkers), I guess he believed his body could take any such sort of abuse forever, he never had regrets or remorse regarding the accumulating effect of such abuse to his health and went on as if there is no tomorrow. But tomorrow came yesterday and left him defenseless, but I guess he “greeted” the angel of death as an old friend and equal not with fear or regrets. We had a “sort of” WAKE in his memory at Yoezer, after the funeral. A wake is a ceremony that takes place in the house of the deceased (and Yoezer was his home), it is often a social rite which highlights the idea that the loss is one of a group: friends or family and affects that group as a whole. All the chefs and restaurateurs of the land came to pay respect each with his own memories of Shaul, we all raised a glass maybe in his memory but mainly to console ourselves. We humans are such a selfish breed…I guess Shaul would have done the same. Farewell dear friend and thanks for the memories, they last forever.
Naama Abramovitz, Shaul’s ex wife and best friend to the very last day (she knew him best I think) said that everyone talks about Shaul in relation to wine and food but: “his greatness were words, (his expression ability to write or converse or convey), we all learned to write and speak in Shaul’s language which was extremely personal, most of us eat drink and speak in Shaul’s tongue”. I guess she’s right, what an excellent teacher we had!
Maoz Alonim owner of the BASTA (Bisrto in tel-Aviv main Fuit & Veg. market – Shuk HaCarmel said: “Shaul, in your way, you taught us to aspire for the better things, Thanks”
Shaul is gone the legacy goes on, Yoezer is open for business as usual with enough good people, Zipora, Shlomit and Ben to carry on his aspirations and vision. The bar is certainly orphaned without Shaul in his usual left corner spot but his spirit is there and will continue for the foreseeable future and beyond.
Yo’ezer Wine Bar / Bistro ( Yo’ezer Ish Habira 2 Jaffa) Tel: 03-683-9115
Sweet dreams my friend, missing you, Amir