My wonderful blueberry haze Shabbos
This past weekend I was hanging with EL and MT, those same two of Napa wine adventure fame. It was a true insane blast, and the wine intake was so intense that I had to name this post appropriately. The blueberry reference is an ode to the sheer number of wines we had that were seriously showing blue fruit.
When I think of hospitality so many names come to mind including ER, Mrs. L, Shaindy and Chaim, and now I am happy to add EL and MT to the wonderful list of people who think of others above themselves. I came this shabbos to NY to hang with family and go to two wine events. The two wine events sandwiched a Shabbos so I asked EL if he could handle a madman like me for a weekend! He graciously accepted and now the Shabbos is in the history books and may well go down in annals of mankind as one of the craziest Shabbos that I have had the opportunity to enjoy (though my first Benyo Shabbaton is up there too with the Shirah Boys).
The Friday started with me opening the bottle of Tavel, which while deeply aromatic was a slight letdown with a light and almost lifeless mouth. Still, it had the acid to keep up; this was all while we learned some Yoshua before heading to minyan. El lives in a large Jewish community and the number of synagogues within a square mile of his house, rival the number of museums in all of NY City! Still, we were blessedly spared the walks to those hallowed halls. Why? Think August in Las Vegas and add 90% humidity and you get the picture – AKA felt like walking through swap land – without the swamp!
So, where did we go, well that is the funny thing, if there are tons of options for free standing synagogues in this section of New York, there may well be more options of home bound synagogues! Indeed, people have synagogues in their basements, living rooms, and just about any section of their home that their wives can tolerate (more on that in a bit).
Friday night started in the library room of a beautiful home, 5 doors down from EL’s house. Mincha started at 8 PM and we were done with Mincha and Maariv at 8:45 PM. Heck, where I live, we could still be davening Mincha in 45 minutes! We went home, and even walking the length of 5 homes made you feel like you wanted to jump into a shower ASAP! What heat! Anyway, dinner started with a bottle of 2012 Lueria Gewurztraminer. A lovely wine that was cold and bracing, with enough residual sugar in it to make both EL and his wife happy! From there we moved to two Roses that accompanied a plethora of sushi! Awesome idea, really, clean tasting sushi is a great idea on a hot summer day! The sushi was solid as was CL’s SICK challah that was greatly enjoyed with dips and soup. The Tavel was OK, as said above but the Agur rocked it for me and it was mostly drunk by me as well.
After that we moved to the main course, which was roasted chicken and some incredible Rib Roast! EL begged me to taste some before Shabbos and I knew at that point that this chunk of meat was going to slay it on Shabbos! The roast has something for everyone, it was rare inside and medium rare on the edges. It was herbed to perfection and was so juicy that it screamed to be eaten some more – WOW what a real treat!
At this point I must point out that we had already decanted two wines for the dinner, the newly released 2011 Vignobles David Reserve GS wine and the 2012 Hajdu Cabernet Franc (will probably be blended – but a distinct barrel sample for now). It was at this point that the family bailed and left EL and I to slowly enjoy the two bottles/carafes of wine. That was until Mark came over with two more wines in tow. The wines were the famous 2007 Brobdignagian/Brobdingnagian Syrah – a blockbuster wine we have enjoyed twice, and a 1999 Hagafen Syrah! The wine is a richly layered, concentrated beast that has zero desire to calm down or back-off its no holds barred structure that makes one truly stand up and take notice. Some find it too much, but for me it is a wine created by an unbridled mad genius, with eyes wide open – what a wine! When I saw the hagafen Syrah at Mark’s house before Shabbos I thought there was no way that the wine was drinkable. It turns out that the Syrah was Hagafen’s first and a wine that has truly stood the test of time.
We started with the already opened bottle of the 2007 Brob Syrah and what a true joy it was! The bottle that was brought came in a Rhone style bottle, but the last bottle that I have at home is in a Bordeaux style bottle, who knows. Next we tasted the opened Vignobles David – side by side and what a joy they were! These beautiful wines started me thinking about the intertwining themes of hospitality, haze, and blueberry! What can I say the entire lineup of red wines that I enjoyed over the Shabbos were blueberry wonders, excepting only the Flam Cab, reserve!
Hey what can I say, the weather and I were slowly coalescing into a single hazy mindset. Still, the haze did give way to more food, constant water intake, and more wonderful rib roast! The Brob Syrah was sweet ripe and viscous monster, while the Vignobles David Reserve was far more about mineral, chalk, graphite, blue and red fruit, with hints of black all wrapped in powerful and deeply rooted espresso expressions. Both shared a common theme of blue and spice – but that was where the commonalities ended and what a wonder experience it was to taste them side by side.
From there we opened the 1999 Hagafen Syrah and it was one of the wonderful wine surprises of this trip. The wine screamed blue, black, graphite, cedar, and YES still intense mouth coating tannins. The wine was medium in weight but it did not miss in capturing your attention. It was smooth (yes even with the coating tannin), it was rich, but not in the Brob extracted way. It was mineral for sure, but not in the intense Vignobles Reserve kind of way. If there is a single thing you can take from this particular rant and ramble of a wine post, I hope you listen to what I do and not say, and create pairings for yourself. Two Merlot, two Cabs, two or three Rose, etc. The ability to see how wines differ side by side is a totally different experience – then reading about three wines and trying to compare notes – even your own. It is far better to taste them side by side and come to your own conclusions.
Returning to the subject at hand, the wines were followed up by tasting the Hajdu barrel sample Cabernet Franc. What a wine! What a classic and categorical defining Cabernet Franc, all the components were there; floral, green ethereal notes, deep red fruit, black overtones, and yes even a hint of blue fruit, all wrapped in lovely herb and spice! This one is as classic a Franc can get – BRAVO!
Another aspect was the option to enjoy two wines from Hajdu, his first singly labeled wine (the 2007 vintage was Hajdu’s first vintage on his own) and his latest vintage. Though the two wines are vastly different wines and varietals, you can see his professionalism and how it has morphed from unbridled madness with a sense of control to controlled madness with a sense of extraction – quite a journey indeed.
At that point it was more of each wine and then some Yarden T2 for dessert with wonderful gooey chocolate tarts that were wonderful with the T2 and the Brob. The Brob did not survive the evening, while parts of the others wines did. I made sure to let Mark go home with maybe his last 1999 Hagafen, though it was waning at the end, so I hope he enjoyed it later that night/morning!
The next day I woke with a slight headache, even though I drank copious amounts of water, such is life when you go through 8 bottles of wine (yeah forgot to write the Yarden T2 wine we partook of). Once I got some more water we went four doors down (at 9 AM the heat was already unbearable) and davened by Kahal Barry – and what a prayer service it was. We arrived a bit late, but services started promptly at 9 AM and finished with everything by 10:10 AM – 70 minute Shabbos prayers! That is what I call awesome! That said, while the living room is truly spacious, the minyan has gotten out of hands. It turns out that I my opinion was clearly voiced at the last Kahal Barry board meeting where the decision was made to expand the living room to encompass the backyard deck! That would make for more room, but watching the kiddish I think there is a far simpler option.
The heat limited the kiddish options, so the 40+ humans packed into the hosts’ beautiful dining room. This made the basketball court sized dining facilities look small – but hey we are talking about 40+ people plus kids, and some were packing away a bit too much liqueur! As I watched these guys slugging bladder busting sized cups of very expensive adult beverages, the only thing I could think of was Kiddish club! Then I had it, they should have their own breakaway minyan that – wait for it – had a kiddish club and expand davening to 82 minutes! That way, they could leave room for those who want to daven and then drink, or was it read Barry’s photo books and enjoy kiddish – I get them mixed up all the time! Either way, it clearly needs to slim down, the hosts’ wife could barely come down to her own kitchen (overflow capacity for the minyan – or was it the schmoozing room – I forget) to get a cup of coffee – sorry no michitza at this minyan!
In the end, all I can say is that this city is fantastic! We are talking about some of the most kind and giving folks I have ever seen – truly! The hosts were kind to open their home to all of the neighbors and to do so in style – thanks so much to the Kahal Barry for their wonderful kindnesses.
We headed for lunch to MT’s house for lunch and while the heat was high, it was still nice in the shade. Once we got to the home, I could see why MT hates going on road trips. What a lovely family and his hospitality was a mirror image of that of El’s home (which to those in the know would understand). Another wonderful quality that this “hachnasas orchim” duopoly is their inanely good cooking abilities! WOW, did I enjoy myself the entire shabbos, both Friday night and Shabbos day. The food was cooked to perfection, and once again we were served a plethora of food that pleased the eye and the appetite! The first course was handmade tuna tartar that was plated beautifully and whose quality and flavors were wonderful. This dish paired perfectly with the 2011 Teperberg Viognier, the flavors meshed perfectly and the bracing acidity cut through the Tuna’s fat perfectly.
The conversation on the table was a multifaceted and quite informative. At times, we went back and forth on recipes and foodie ideas, and at other times it revolved around torah concepts and children’s education. The next course was cholent cold cuts and chicken (I regret that my memory is failing me – totally because of my inability to keep all these things straight). All the courses were wonderful, along with the salad dish and the vinaigrette that was enjoyed with it. We enjoyed the 2009 Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon, El Rom and the 2009 Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib and wow – what a shocker, the El Rom was as blue as a smurf! I could not believe it at all. The nose and mouth were rich and layered but with more sweet notes than minerality like the Capcanes had. Both were wonderful and I doubt I will ever taste the 2009 Capcanes again, as it sold out more than a year ago, when literally only 30+ cases were brought into the US. It was a true treat and many thanks to MT and his lovely family for all the kindness they showed us. For dessert we enjoyed MT’s birthday cake (Happy Birthday again my man) and a bottle of the magnificent Laurent Perrier Champagne that goes quite well with dessert – one of the many dessert pairing secrets out there.
Well there you have it! My many thanks to the kind hosts and friends who put up with me for 30 or so hours. The wine notes follow below, also there are no photos as these wines were not in my control:
2012 Vignobles David Tavel Le Mourre de l’Isle Rose – Score: B+
We last spoke about Vignobles David, owned and operated by Fred David and his wonderful wines. At that tasting I begged Fred to sell his rose here in the US, and guess what he DID!!! The wine is a blend of 40% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Cinsault, and 10% Clairette Blanche. This crisp Rose has bright red fruit notes with a delicate palate, that has a wonderful and balanced minerality and spiciness. The nose is filled with lovely strawberry, hints of rose petals, ripe raspberry, lemon, peach, flint, and mineral. The mouth is light to medium with OK acidity, but lacking bracing acidity, along with nice tart lemon fresche, grapefruit, and lemon pith. The finish is long and herbal with a pique of bitterness and long lasting tartness.
2012 Lueria Gewurztraminer – Score: B++
The nose on this off-dry wine starts off with candied grapefruit, floral notes, tropical fruit aromas, kiwi, and peach. The mouth is medium in weight, with slight residual sugar, along with hints of tannin, orange, and its pith. The finish is long and pithy, with green apple notes, and tart cherry apple notes.
2012 Agur Rosa – Score: B+ to A-This rose is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Cabernet Franc and 20% Mourvedre. The wine was fermented in oak that gives the wine its medium bodied weight, deep salmon color, and viscous mouthfeel. The nose is filled with classic rose fruit; strawberry, raspberry, kiwi, and floral notes. The mouth is rich and viscous with good backbone, nice acid, and deep mineral notes. The finish is long with slight fruit pith, and grapefruit notes.
2012 Hajdu Cabernet Franc (AKA Brobdingnagian) – N/A
The CF was sick and that is saying something. The grapes come from the Carneros AVA, a terrior within Sonoma and Napa Valley that is cooled by the San Francisco Bay influence. This allows the region to grow very different types of varieties than the rest of Sonoma and Napa, like Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. The wine was a test sample so – no score but just overall feelings. Hajdu tells me that this wine will be sold as a single varietal! I cannot wait to get some of this SICK elixir!!
The nose screams Franc with lovely ripe red fruit, deep minerality, all under a rich and almost perfumed canopy of green foliage, the nose is truly intoxicating. The mouth is medium to full body with ripe green and black fruit, along with hints of blueberry, all wrapped in a tightly bound package (this wine needs time) of rich mouth coating tannins, and structure that can only say Napa. The finish is long and floral, with hints of rose and hibiscus, more blue hints, deep black fruit flavors, black tea, and more green notes bound again by pencil shavings, lovely spice and herb, and lingering tannins. BRAVO!!!!
2011 Vignobles David Reserve – Score: A- (QPR)
We last spoke about Vignobles David, owned and operated by Fred David and his wonderful wines. At that time I was lucky to taste the 2010 reserve and since than have tasted that wine a few times and it continues to blow me away for its unbelievably good QPR. It also strikes me as one of the better French kosher wines out there, especially for the price.
The new 2011 vintage is composed of 40% Syrah, and 60% Grenache, also known by the folks in the know, as GS, an acronym stemming from the first letter of the 2 varietals used in this blend. This bright purple colored wine steps up and slaps you across the head with a crazy rich and heady nose of blackcurrant, bramble, rich oak, roasted meat, freshly brewed espresso, spice, raspberry, blackberry, and tar. This wine shows a super rich, full-bodied, yet bright mouth with mouth coating tannin, rich extraction, along with focused concentration of fruit, all coming together into a truly earthy, fruity, meaty mouth. The finish is richly spiced with layers of more coating tannin, soft leather, tar, black fruit, rich minerality, espresso and oak. Quite a lovely wine that is not another big and black Syrah, rather this is a lovely balanced GS that shows its richly spiced and terroir driven roots in more ways than one.
2007 Brobdingnagian Syrah – Score: A- to A
This is the second time we have had the honor to enjoy this wine and it was as awesome as it was the last time! The first thing you sense when holding the bottle of brob is that the glass is extremely heavy, but this wine came in a Burgundy shaped bottle rather than the one we enjoyed in 2012, turned out that in 2007, Jon ran out of Burg bottles and finished bottling with Bordeuax shaped bottles! Mystery solved! That said, not much else changed – the wine is still awesome and may well be the best Syrah I have had, along with the 2003 Four Gates Syrah, and the 2010 Flam Shiraz, Reserve.
Everything about this wine is unapologetic and clearly Brobdingnagian in nature, hence the name and the elephant on the label. This was the first release by the Brobdingnagian micro boutique winery and it was a massive hit. The wine says it is 16% alcohol, but that is not felt in the wine. Rather the wine feels like a monster that is proud of its extreme prowess but one that does not hit you over the head with its sheer power. Rather it is a wine that grabs you and keeps your attention while it reminds you of its mass – quite a unique wine. In a way this is not a wine for polite company, unless they are wine freaks like us!
The wine is brooding in the nose with a lovely mixture of blackberry, cassis, blueberry, herb, and spice. The mouth is massive and Schwarzenegger muscled with nice and concentrated black and blue fruit, huge tannin, along with obvious but constrained oak influence, that is highlighted by spice, and one that has yet to hit its high step yet. The finish is long, spicy, and black with a focus from tobacco, leather, black pepper, spicy wood, and cloves. While enjoying this wine around the table, I loved the comments of a few of my guests; “this is a great wine because it is a big, bad, and bold and it is proud of it! It is a big wine and it is not attempting to apologize for it as it obvious from the packaging, name, and bottling – Kudos Jonathan!
1999 Hagafen Syrah – Score: A-
At this point my memory is lacking and I would have to say that the wine was startlingly very good! This was the winery’s first vintage of Syrah and it was shockingly solid, some 14 or so years later. The wine was still classic Hagafen, filled with crazy cedar and tobacco, but there was still mouth coating tannins, rich blueberry, cherry, and black fruit, all bound up in layers of fruit and tannin. The finish was filled with licorice, plum, hints of roasted notes, leather, and tar. A very nice wine for the age – but a wine that seemd to start faltering as the evening turned to morning.
2010 Flam Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve – Score: A- to A (Very close to A)
This wine is as good an Israeli Cabernet Sauvignon that exists, including Yarden El Rom and others. This wine is so classically old world that one would be shocked to know it came from Israel. The wine is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petite Verdot. The grapes are sourced from the Ben Zimra vineyard in the upper Galilee, and were aged in French oak for 14 months, and then bottled aged for another 10 months before being released.
The control and care shows on the nose filled with beautiful and clean black and red fruit, along with deep earthy notes, followed by rich mineral, charcoal, and lovely richly roasted herbs. The mouth is full bodied, layered with concentrated and extracted flavors of blackberry, black plum, cherry, and mounds of spice all wrapped together with lovely tannins that are still integrating and sweet cedar. The finish is long and richly spiced, with tobacco, dark chocolate, eucalyptus, and bracing acidity all coming together wonderfully. Give this another year and the wine will be ready for prime time. Till then if you must open, decant for an hour or two and then enjoy.
This is a wine which I am happy to say comes from Israel, and one that I hope will act as a poster child for how wine can be made in Israel. This wine’s intense body, deep lines, and never ending finish shows the world that Israel can make quality wines that last forever and do not require a pound of sugar to prove it! Bravo!!
2011 Teperberg Viognier, Terra – Score: A- (QPR in Israel)
I say often that the best Viognier out there are the Midbar Viognier (for when Yaacov was the wine maker like 2010), Dalton Viognier, Teperberg Viognier, and Yatir Viognier, in that order. For the price the wine is a steal, though it is not available here in the US, this wine was shlepped back from Israel.
Like most Viognier and Chardonnay out there, the wine likes a bit of time in Oak, to round out the sweet notes and give it a heft and body. This wine was 50% oaked for 6 months, without malo laoctic fermentation, keeping the butter flavors away from the wine’s fragile floral notes. The nose on this yellow colored wine starts off with rich honeysuckle, ripe grapefruit, candied lemon, fantastic floral notes, jasmine, rose, and ripe apple curd. The mouth is highly tropical with layers of Asian pear, pineapple, tangerine, honeysuckle, and red apple. The finish was long and mildly sweet, but well balanced with bracing acid that gives you a tart and sweet finish that is lovely with seafood, chicken, and tuna tartar (which is how we enjoyed this wine) – BRAVO!
2009 Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib – Score: A-
I really wish I had my bendable shabbos notes with me as I absolutely loved this wine, and I was running out of space to remember all the notes. This wine was shockingly closed to starts, so it was good that we poured the wine into a carafe. With time the wine opened to display beautiful blue and black aromas, along with deep rooted earthy notes, mineral that smelled like a mine, and green foliage. The mouth on this wine was full bodied with layers of concentrated fruit, including blackberry, cassis, black cherry, boysenberry, all brought together with still searing tannin, crunchy forest floor notes, eucalyptus, and cedar. The finish was long and luscious and very different than the second wine we tasted (the 2009 Yarden El Rom) with bracing acid, fresh espresso coffee, and more earthy mineral. Lovely!
2009 Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon, EL Rom – Score: A- (and a bit more)
Holy mackerel – this may well have been the real shocker of the entire shabbos (if not for the 1999 Hagafen being alive)! This wine started off closed as well, as it is still a very young wine. However, the wine quickly opened and showed the theme of the shabbos – blueberry, boysenberry, deep ripe blackberry, cherry, forest berries, and mocha madness. The mouth on this full bodied wine is round and rich, with layers of sweet fruit, with a hint of earthiness, followed by more blue and black fruit, truly sweet cedar, and nice sweet tannin. The finish was long and sweet with ripe fruit, that was not over the top, chocolate, mounds of sweet tobacco, red fruit, and root beer (sweet ginger).
This wine was highly sweet but not over ripe, controlled but another wonderful side by side tasting of the El Rom against the Peraj Ha’abib, one was earthy and mineral (Peraj Ha’abib) and one was sweet and controlled, almost Cali in nature (the Yarden El Rom). Lovely – both of them.
Laurent Perrier Champagne – Score: A-
The thing I dislike about this wine (and that may be too harsh a term), is the lack of vintage in any manner. I do not know how often the wine is made, but having some sort of vintage on it – like they do with the Tio Pepe Sherry Fino, would really help. Also, this wine is hit and miss in terms of showing well, but the last two times I have enjoyed it – the wine has shown exceptionally well indeed!
The nose explodes with beautiful toast notes, lovely green apple, peach, mounds of rich yeasty goodness, and lovely mineral and slate. The mouth on this medium bodied wine has a lovely attach of small mousse bubbles, more minerality, along with tart fruit, quince, peach, along with tart lemon, and grapefruit. The finish is long and yeasty and truly satisfying, more slate, tart fruit, herb, yeast notes, and bubbles that linger forever. Bravo!!
Posted on July 25, 2013, in Israel, Israeli Wine, Kosher French Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Rose Wine, Kosher Sparkling Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine and tagged Agur Winery, Brobdingnagian, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Capcanes, Champagne, El-Rom, Flam Winery, Gewurztraminer, Hagafen Winery, Hajdu Wines, Laurent Perrier, Lueria Winery, Peraj Ha'Abib, Reserve, Rosa, Rose, Syrah, Tavel, Teperberg Winery, Terra, Vignobles David, Viognier, Yarden Winery. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.