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2005 Barkan Cabernet Sauvignon Altitude 412+ Reserve

This past week everything we tried was a semi disaster. We were interested in trying a vegan meatball recipe that we saw on a newsletter from Whole Foods. My attempt of implementing the recipe was a semi disaster, with the meatballs not being able to keep structural integrity. I baked half of them, they could not even keep whole, when you touched them. The ones I braised in the tomato sauce essentially fell apart. To be fair, I added too many onions to the mix, so I take full blame.

We tried to also make some risotto and even that was a semi mess. The risotto looked perfect Thursday night, but it died in the oven on Friday night. They all taste fine, it’s just that the integrity of the vegeballs and the risotto were messed up.

To make matters worse the wine I chose was DAFM (Dead After Five Minutes). To be fair the wine is old and according to Daniel Rogov‘s book, it was to be drunk by 2010. The wine smelled and tasted lovely for five minutes, and after that is smelled like dark cherry and sweet dates, then a few minutes later there was nothing.

I guess it was just one of those weekends!

The wine note follows below:

2005 Barkan Cabernet Sauvignon Altitude 412+ Reserve – Score: N/A as it is now undrinkable
This wine is over, dead, it starts off great, but after 20+ minutes the wine dies. This wine is old and dead, but is alive for 20+ minutes out of the bottle, and then it ends quickly. The wine turns into sweet dates and dark cherry. The wine starts off in the following manner. The nose on this purple to black colored wine starts off with chocolate, tobacco, sweet cedar, blackberry, cassis, and herbs. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is rich with cassis, blackberry, raspberry, spice, and tobacco. The mid palate is weak with sweet cedar, black pepper, chocolate, and tobacco. The finish is medium long and spicy with sweet dates, tobacco, chocolate, sweet cedar, cassis, and vanilla. When the wine poops out, it tastes like dark cherry, tobacco, cedar, and dates.

Wines enjoyed during the past month

To say that life has been hectic would be an understatement, so while wine was enjoyed the real joy of writing about them had to be put on hold. Well, things are still hectic, but we now have enough time to sit down and write these up. Over the past month I have had the opportunity to taste some very experimental wine (not written about here), some really wonderful and standout wines that will be available soon, and some wines that are still not available, but was given the chance to enjoy it early on. Of course, we enjoyed some bottles that really impressed us, while others were just – ok.

So I hope these notes bring you some insight into what wines are coming soon, what wines are out there that are enjoyable, and which ones you should really start drinking up soon.

The wine notes follow below:

2009 Borgo Reale Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie - Score: B
The 2009 Borgo Reale Pinot Grigio is a nice simple white wine that is clearly a wine built for enjoyment with our without food. The nose on this straw-colored wine is striking with rich peach, intense lemon, apricot, grapefruit, light floral notes, green apple, lemon rind, and mineral. The mouth on this light to medium-bodied wine is nice and bright, with lemon, green apple, and peach. The mid palate is packed with bright acidity, lemon, something that can only be explained as vanilla, lemon rind, and floral notes. The finish is spicy and medium long with more rich lemon, apple, mineral, peach, and lemon rind. Green apple, lemon, floral notes, and mineral linger long.

2006 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon Red C (Kosher) –  Score: A-
I must admit that the last time we had this bottle it was down right DOA, this one differs greatly, and it was a much appreciated surprise.

The nose on this purple to black colored wine is smoky and screams with tobacco, chocolate, tar, alcohol (to start), graphite, rich cedar, blackberry, ripe plum, raspberry, fig, mint, and herbs. The mouth on the medium to full-bodied wine is rich and layered with mouth coating integrated tannins, blackberry, plum, raspberry, fig, mint, and cedar. The mid palate follows the mouth with balanced acidity, chocolate, tobacco, tar, more cedar, and black pepper. The finish is super long and spicy with rich blackberry, plum, vanilla, herbs, chocolate, tar, tobacco, black pepper, and salty celery. The tar, tobacco, plum, black pepper, and salt rise on the finish and linger long.

N.V. Four Gates Pinot Noir Kosher - Score: B++ to A-
The nose on this dark ruby colored wine explodes with cloves, spice, dirt, celery, chicken cherry cola, raspberry, plum, herbs, coffee, and menthol. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich and layered nice chicken cherry cola, plum, and raspberry, along with heavy spice, and mouth coating tannin. The mid palate, like all four gates wine is balanced with bracing acidity, more dirt, nice tannin, crushed herbs, eucalyptus, and oak. The finish is long with chicken cherry cola, crushed herbs, dirt, celery, spice, raspberry, oak, coffee, and vanilla. Chicken Cherry Cola, crushed herbs, and vanilla rise on the finish.


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A bunch of wines shared with family, Provocative Plum Chutney, and Roast Shoulder with Festive Vegetables

The start of Succot was surrounded with family in Chicago and I had the chance to cook twice; to boot! I made a rolled shoulder roast with festive vegetables, much like we did at home on Rosh Hashanah for the first meal. For the other meal, my nephew asked me to make our now patented Black Pepper Seared Salmon. To be honest, I was greatly honored to be asked by my nephew, but I am always terrified to cook in my sister-in-law’s house. She is such a wonderful cook and it is intimidating to say the least, but it is a ton of fun to cook with the family. To boot this time, my wife was there to lend a hand, and of course my brother (der Bruder) was there to lend his ever quick wit and helpful advice, including the name of the chutney and his usual fascination with figs! It was a great ball and it came out ok, but it was a truly team effort!

When making the seared cracked peppercorn salmon, we made two changes. One I used more sesame instead of more peppercorns, in order to lower the heat, which helped a bit. Also, we used a peppercorn mixture of white and black, which was easier to crack by beating on it, which is a long story in and of itself. Either way, when searing the salmon, the cracked white pepper gave off this almost rancid smell, that was not so nice. I have never smelled that particular “aroma” before, so maybe this was the first time I seared anything with cracked white pepper on it. Anyway, if anyone knows about this particular issue/subject, I would greatly appreciate it. Once the fish cooled down, the smell was greatly muted, but still gave off a bit of a bad smell, which was the only real stain on this wonderful team effort.

The last time we made this chutney/salmon combo, we used mango as the core sweetness. This time we used peeled black plums, which were very sweet indeed. This time we again started with browned white onions, along with a couple of sweet peppers as the initial base. Then we moved to ripe peeled black plums to boost the sweetness, brightness, and ripeness of the dish. The garlic was a god send, and minced to perfection by my brother’s wife. Some diced figs and the moscato to finish, and we had another hit! The salmon came out great, even though we had no oven to finish in. Again, my brother’s wife came to the rescue, she skinned the fish, and we seared both sides, which added nice color and flavor, and allowed the fish to cook through in the pan. The fish was a lovely fatty salmon; please make sure to never try searing and finishing the salmon, unless it has enough innate fat in it.

Provocative Plum Chutney
2 or 3 sweet onions
2 sweet peppers diced
5 ripe peeled black plums cubed
Few cloves of crushed garlic
5 small dried figs diced
200 ml of moscato

The wines were enjoyed in this order throughout the meals at my family, the notes follow below:

2004 Tzora Neve Ilan - Score: B++
The nose on this garnet leaning towards brown colored wine is hopping with raspberry, blackberry, plum, red fruit, crushed herbs, mint, coffee, oak, and graphite/mineral. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine was nice but lacked concentration or layers. The black fruit and tannin meld over time to become full in the mouth, along with raspberry, blackberry, plum, and slight minerality. The mid palate is balanced and acidic with more tannin, oak, and coffee. The finish is long and spicy with oak, plum, black fruit, coffee, and a nice dollop of vanilla that lingers on the palate. The wine is throwing sediment that showed in the glass and on the sides of the bottle.

2005 Monte Olivo Umbria Roso – Score: B to B+
We have tasted this before and each time we like it, but it has hit its high and ready to drink now, as the party is over. The nose on this purple colored wine is hopping with dark plum, black cherry, and raspberry to start, but shows black fruit later, with black pepper, loamy dirt, and oak. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is nice but it and the rest of the wine fades quickly. It starts with rich black plum, dirt, black cherry, and raspberry. The mid palate is balanced with light complexity of black pepper, acid, oak, and nice tannin. The finish is medium long and spicy with black pepper, tobacco, plum, and vanilla. Drink up, no flaws but fading quickly.

2006 Casa Da Corca Reserve (Douro) – Score: B+ to A-
This wine was the last one we tasted over the weekend and it may well be the best. I was expecting NOTHING when buying this wine. What I got was a fun wine with a bit of complexity and a wine that showed itself like a four gates merlot for a bit of time. That said it is now at its peak and does not last more than a few hours, open it and watch it change in the glass. It is throwing a fair amount of sediment so watch for it. It is not showing age, so the sediment is harmless.
The nose on this dark ruby to garnet colored wine is screaming with coffee, smoky notes, black cherry, raspberry, blackberry, fig, crushed herbs, mint, and oak. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine turns full in the mouth after a bit of time, along with blackberry, plum, and dark cherry. The mid palate transition has a quick note of what I can only call a combination of green bean/fig/mint, along with acid, oak, nice tannin, and coffee. The finish is long and spicy with plum, nice oak, tannins that linger along with vanilla. This is a nice wine that should be bought once to open your mind to what the heat of Spain can bring you with its unique fruit and terroir.

2006 Rothberg Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Winemakers Reserve - Score: B- to B
Wow what a true waste of a nice wine. I cannot tell you what made the wine so acidic and off balance in the front. At first I thought it was just very bright fruit, but that was quickly proven incorrect. The fruit was initially asleep but once the fruit came out and then relaxed, the acidic front stayed on, almost to the point of being spoiled or corked. That said, the rest of the wine was very nice, but just from an academic point of view. The mevushal process on this wine is not the suspect, none of the flavors were cooked in any way. The nose on this dark ruby colored wine has blackberry, plum, fig, sweet oak, chocolate, smoky notes, and black pepper. The mouth on this medium bodied wine was a sleep for some time. Once the mouth woke up, it started with a blast of acid and followed through with sweet oak, blackberry, and plum. At one point in time, if the wine had not exhibited the initial blast of acid, I would have sworn it was a bottle of Hagafen Merlot. The mid palate has oak, more acid, chocolate, and integrated tannin. The finish is long with chocolate, black pepper, sweet oak, acid, tobacco, plum, and vanilla. It would have been such a nice wine if not for the crazy acidic front a true shame. Still it is a lighter wine that would have been expected, but would have been nice none the less, given its complexity, but alas the front killed it. The wine is throwing sediment as well, but that was not a flaw in the wine.

2009 Jerusalem Wine Festival – Pictures and Wine Notes

Our story begins in 2003 and bombs are exploding up and down the state.  Residents are worried to leave the house, and the wine industry is taking a severe hit, as overall morale is down.  As the state steps up, and brings its considerable weight to bear on the problem, private individuals start to wonder how to remove the malaise from among the populace.  Up steps Avi Ben, an owner of a successful chain of wine stores, who comes up with an idea to kill two birds with one stone.  So Avi sat down with a few local wine marketers, and organized the first Jerusalem Wine festival.  In his own words, as described by Jerusalemite.net – We decided to organize a fair that would bring wine distributors to Jerusalem. We picked a great location, the Israel Museum, and once they agreed to house the festival, all the planning became easier. People loved the location, they loved the idea, and it was a huge success.  Under this backdrop, my friend and I were more than happy to attend the 6th annual Jerusalem Wine festival, which was once again located in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

Table of glassesAs we gave our tickets to the attendant (previously bought at the Nahalat Shiva Avi Ben store for 60 NIS) and slowly walked our way to the sculpture garden in the back, we could already take in the night’s air.  It was filled with the smell of olive trees, pine trees, open wine bottles, and the initial sense of excitement.  As we got closer to the open air arena, that hosts the 33 wineries that were presenting their wares for the evening, we were greeted by a table of glasses.  The glass was ours to use during the evening, one that would be our ever present partner to the evening’s soiree, and one that we could take home after the long evening.  I paused at the opening to the garden, and took in the spectacle that was in front of me.  Beyond the dim lights, the 33 wineries that rimmed the garden and the center as well, essentially creating a pair of concentric circles, what was evident was the lightness of the evening.  This was not going to be a wine snob event, or an event that would require heavy wine talk.  Instead it was a casual affair, accentuated by the dress code of many of the attendees – shorts, tee shirt, and flip flops.  But even more evident was the electricity, the life, the joy (even if alcohol fueled), that powered the evening and lit up the night’s sky.  It was almost ethereal yet real, and one of the most exciting aspects of the evening.

<slight tangent about kosher issues>

Unfortunately, I must take a moment to talk about what I can only now explain as a kashrut problem surrounding the whole evening.  As much as I loved the festival, those of us who are Orthodox practicing Jews, had a few problems that we faced that evening.  They were:

  1. Shmitta wines for those of us who live in the Diaspora.  The 2008 vintage is a shmitta year, and many of the wineries use a loophole called heter mechira, where they sell the grapes to non-jews.  This is a not so accepted practice in the modern era, and so most Orthodox Jews do not drink those wines.  The only way to know is to pick up the bottle and read the back label, where things of this nature are spelled out.  The wines from Yarden, Galil, and some others, use a more accepted practice called Oztar Beit Din, and so I happily enjoy Yarden and Galil wines from the 2008 vintage.
  2. As lovely as the Spieglau glasses were, they were not “toveled” – ritually immersed, which Orthodox practicing Jews do, before making use of the utensil.
  3. 99% of the wines served that night, were non-mevushal wines.  Meaning they were not pasteurized, which sounds great, because why would you want to pasteurize wine for goodness sakes, this is not milk with volatile bacteria.  Well, because “mevushal” wine can be handled by non Jews, while non-mevushal wines cannot be.  Furthermore, if a non Jew were to touch my wine glass or bottle, I cannot drink that wine anymore.  The law is not very PC to say the least and truly requires a long post to analyze it better (which I will be doing soon God willing), but my belief system is based on faith and not one that I can turn on and off when it suits me or my friends.  Now, I do not bring this up to disparage the Jewish lineage of those that were pouring the wines.  Rather, I bring it up because the rules around the open bottle were lax to say the least.  The open bottles, from which the wine was being poured was touched by many a passerby, and of their lineage, I have no idea.

My feeling is that the next time I go to this event; I would probably attend, but not drink any wines.

</end tangent :-) >

HPIM2113Once we were finished taking in the scene/madness that was swirling before us, we moved our way to the booth of one of Israel’s most exciting wineries – Yatir Winery.  It has captured the imagination and attention of many wine lovers including myself.  I have been lucky to visit the winery twice before, and each time I am in awe of their progress and continual assault at the wine world’s malaise and opinion of Israel’s wine industry.  Just this past year they were awarded one of the highest scores for their flagship wine by Robert Parker and Mark Squires of the Wine Advocate.  There I had what can only be described as a brain freeze, when I tasted one of the best white wines of Israel - the 2008 Yatir Sauvignon Blanc, before I realized that the wine was produced using heter mechira.  I was mistaken at that time, and once more unfortunately, and is the main reason that I did not enjoy more of the whites that evening, as they were either produced by non kosher wineries, or because they were the 2008 vintage and used heter mechira.  That said the 2008 Sauvignon Blanc was wonderful, but was clearly not opened long enough to get its legs under it.  Still, it showed a nice tropical fruit flavor along with a bit of cut grass and some lychee.  From there we moved on to the Galil Mountain Winery‘s booth, where we were hoping to be able to taste the highly acclaimed Galil Meron.  Unfortunately, it was not available for tasting till 9PM, so we were “forced” to partake of their other showings until the hour passed.  I was happily distracted by the Galil Pinot Noir, which is a more classical take on a French Burgundy, than those recently produced by Israeli wineries.  Still, the wine has enough facets – like its soft oak and coffee flavors to throw you off the French scent.  The other two wines I tasted while waiting for the grand moment, were less than enthralling.  The 2008 Galil Rose, was bland and flat, and the 2007 Galil Barbera was but a glimpse of its older brother’s power and depth.  Where the others disappointing, the Galil Meron did not.  It was a wine well worth the wait and one that I highly recommend for those in Israel (the US allotment will not be available till 2010, probably for Passover).

Yarden Winery's Booth/PlatformWe next visited the booth of Dalton Winery, where we tasted a dud of a wine and a real nice winner.  The Dalton Rose, made of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes was an average quaffer, with a rose petal flavored mouth and a raspberry nose.  Nothing to write home about or post about.  The winner was the 2007 Dalton Shiraz – WOW!  A solid blockbuster of a wine and one worthy or your attention.  We then weaved our way on over to the booth of the Binyamina Winery, where we took in a nice 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.  While some booths had massive and expressive signs – note the Yarden/Golan Heights Winery’s sign, other small wineries had zero signage.  Yarden being one of the biggest wineries in Israel had a sign to match their importance and prestige.  Heck, forget the sign, they had a whole platform.  The sculpture garden is lovely and expansive, but the floor is rock and dirt, which while native to Israel and Jerusalem, is a bit too native for many of the folks standing and walking around for the 4 to 5 hours that the event was open for.  Yarden and another winery had a lovely platform, with soft padding, great lounge chairs, a few tables, and awesome wines (which is obvious).   I cannot seem to find a picture of the platform, but take my word for it :-).  Anyway, we once again weaved around and through the crowd, and moseyed on over to the booth of Tzuba Winery.  We have spoken before about Tzuba, and we had the extreme pleasure of visiting their lovely winery before.  They are a winery with a long lineage of managing vineyards of the Judean Hills.  The wines were a nice selection of the wines available from the winery, within Israel, and yet another reason for us of the Diaspora to do Aliyah!  Yes, they export some wines, but the vast majority sells fine within Israel.  We enjoyed a lovely 2007 Belmont (55% Sauvignon Blanc and 45% Semillon) which showed nice dirt, lychee, grapefruit, and peach.  The 2006 Tel Tzuba Merlot was also quite nice.  The 2006 Tel Tzuba Cabernet was a bit off, so I did not write it up, the bottle tasted over ripe or oxidized.

HPIM2111We were off again, and moving towards a booth with a large sign, the Tishbi Winery Booth.  It was mostly a waste of a trip, this time around, except to prime the pump for a return trip later in the evening, to taste their wonderful desert wine, when my evening of tasting was done, and my evening of drinking began, but we are jumping the gun!  I digress again!  After the awful and overripe 2006 Tishbi Shiraz tasting, we ran into a bunch of acquaintances from Rogov’ forum.  The inner circle of wine booths did not take up all the possible space, so they filled the empty space with some nice standing tables.  I rolled up to the table to augment my wine notes, and as I am of to do, I struck up a conversation with the people around me.  Standing there as well was Zvi and his lovely wife.  He overheard the conversation I was having (which is shocking given my quiet personality), and quickly surmised that it was I that had blown him off earlier in the evening.  We were supposed to meet up at the booth of Assaf Winery.  Well that never happened, because we could NOT find the bloody booth!  It was one of those booths that had almost no signage, and so made it a bit hard to find, given the swarms surrounding the booths.  Anyway, after talking a bit, Zvi pipes up asking “did you get to taste the 2003 Magnum Yarden Merlot”?  Well no I say, heck I had yet to stroll over to the booth/platform at all.  Given the opportunity, I bid my adu, and head on over to the Yarden “booth”.  I nicely asked for a bit of the Merlot, and was rewarded with what can only be described as a drunkard’s convention sized glass of the dark garnet gold!  Keeping in the new Hebrew and non-sequitur slang the Merlot was chaval al ha zman (translated literally — it’s a waste of time” in slang — fantastic, wonderful, out of this world, great).  I lingered long at the booth while I slowly enjoyed my glass of wine.  The Merlot was fat yet not over ripe, red fruit, with a ton of chocolate and tobacco.  It almost felt like you were drinking ripe fruit and wood, while smoking a fat cigar and inhaling boxes of dark chocolate – quite a trip to say the least – like I said – chaval al ha zman.

Alexander Winery's BoothOnce I had my chance to talk with the Yarden crowd and enjoy my wine, I found my way over to the booth of Tzora Winery.  We have spoken about this winery before, and have also had the pleasure of going to their lovely winery, just before the untimely passing of their founder Ronnie James.  Well, the wine has not missed a beat, with the new winemaker Eran Pick.  The 2006 Neve Ilan was dirty and lovely.  The 2006 Shoresh was a bit lighter, but still quite enjoyable.  As I continued my trip around the inner circle, I hit upon Alexander Winery’s booth.  The winemaker Yoram Shalom was pouring and his marketing agent was talking – quite a show!  The wine that was pouring was the 2007 Sandro (named after Shalom’s brother).  We were fortunate enough to meet Shalom the last time we visited his winery in Moshav Beit Yitzchak.  The booth was abuzz with the recent award they won in a Spanish Wine Contest (missed the name – sorry) for their top star – 2005 Alexander The Great – Cabernet Sauvignon.  The 2007 Sandro was overripe, as I have said before.  The wines in the Golan and Upper Galilee can tend towards overripe flavors if not picked at the correct time.  The Sandro is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot.  We meandered around a bit, and we found ourselves at the Agur Winery’s booth.  There I made my second faux pas, and tasted the 2008 Agur Blanca – which was also a shmitta wine and they use Heter mechira.  The Blanca was really nice, though there are critics out there that do not like it as much as I did, oh well :-).  I was not as impressed by the 2007 Agur Kessem (40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 20% Petit Verdot, and 10% Cabernet Franc), still a nice wine with a mix of black and red flavors, along with nice toasty oak, earth, and mouth coating tannins.

My friend disappeared by now, and I was moving around alone by now.  I swung by the Yarden booth again, to get a taste of the 2004 Yarden Ortal Merlot, which was stunning (I had not tasted this one before).  At this point, my palate was shot and I swung by the Tishbi booth once more, to get a taste of the stunning 2006 Jonathan Tishbi Barbera-Zinfandel Fortified Dessert Wine.  I absolutely loved it and it reminded me of the Carmel Vintage – which is another desert wine that is quite impressive as well.  The evening ended and I picked up some wines to go, in an outside pavilion.

Jerusalem festival - as the evening comes to an endMy take away overall was that the festival was well run, while most of the wine purveyors were pushing some light weight wares that met the interest of the majority of the festival customers.  There is nothing wrong with that, the average wine consumer likes their wine smooth and easy to drink.  Given that trend, the wineries were pouring wines that met the consumer’s interests.  The wineries that I highlighted were pouring wines that were quite enjoyable and highly unexpected (Galil and Yarden).  Finally, ignoring the wines for a second, the festival’s attendees were all very amiable, courteous, and joyous.  Yes they were imbibing alcohol, but alcohol can bring out the worst in people, and that was NOWHERE to be seen, and I stayed to the closing on Tuesday night.  There is a lovely saying in Jewish Lore that goes something like this; When alcohol enters the person’s true self comes out.  That was more than evident Tuesday night, under the full moon’s sky, the beauty that is Israel, was open for all to see and enjoy.

So, thank you so much to the Israel Museum, Avi Ben and all the wineries that were pouring their wares, the wine notes follow below:

2008 Yatir Sauvignon Blanc – Score: B+
The nose on this straw colored wine is filled with lychee, grapefruit, and tropical fruit, along with a strong sense of brightness, and almost clean steel smell. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is super bright with lychee, grapefruit, and tropical fruit, along with some nice balancing green flavors. The mid palate is bright which leads into a long and crisp finish of more tropical fruit. A really nice crisp Sauvignon Blanc with just a hint of roundness that comes from a bit of time in French barrels.

2007 Galil Pinot Noir – Score: B+
The nose on this dark ruby colored wine is classical in nature with nice terroir notes, along with cherry, cranberry, and raspberry.  The nose was hot out of the bottle, and I did not stick around long enough to see when it dissipated.  The mouth on this medium bodied wine follows the nose with more cherry, raspberry, and not yet integrated tannins.  The mid palate is still tannic and hot, along with coffee and bright acidity.  The finish is long and spicy with bright red fruit and an almost toasty flavor

2007 Galil Barbera – Score: B
The nose on this light garnet colored wine is filled with cranberry, plum, oak, and coffee.  The mouth on this medium bodied wine has nice light and integrating tannins that work well with the mouth’s plum and cranberry.  The mid palate is almost smooth with light tannins, coffee, and oak.  The finish is long with bright acidity, coffee, and red fruit.  This is not the winner that the 2006 vintage was, and may be too early to really tell where this wine is going.

2006 Galil Meron – Score: A-
The nose on dark garnet to black colored wine is popping with blackberry, raspberry, ripe plum, chocolate, coffee, and rich oak.  The mouth on this full bodied and complex wine has layers of blackberry, tar, coffee, and rich plum.  The mid palate is layered with oak and integrating tannins that come at you in layers.  The finish is super long with tar, pepper, blackberry, and chocolate.  This is a real winner and one that is sure to please almost anyone at the table.

2007 Dalton Shiraz Reserve – Score: A-
The nose on this dark garnet to purple colored wine is filled with ripe fruit, plum, blackberry, tar, and pepper.  The mouth on this full bodied wine with complex layers hits you often with wave after wave of blackberry, ripe plum, and cassis.  The mid palate is filled with tar, oak, and coffee.  The finish is long and spicy, with oak, tar, blackberry, and chocolate.  Quite a nice Shiraz indeed.

2006 Binyamina Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve – Score: B – B+
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine was hot out of the bottle, with ripe fruit, cranberry, blackberry, and oak.  The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine has cassis and blackberry flavors.  The mid palate is balanced and spicy with oak and bright acidity.  The finish is bright and spicy with blackberry, coffee, and oak.

2007 Tzuba White Belmont (55% Sauvignon Blanc and 45% Semillon) – Score: B+
The nose on this bright light straw colored wine has mineral qualities, along with lychee, grapefruit, peach, and an almost toast aroma.  The mouth has very ripe flavored fruit that mingles nicely with earthy and mineral flavors, along with grapefruit and peach.  The mid palate is tart and earthy.  The finish is long with more tart fruit and clean mineral flavors.

2006 Tzuba Tel Tzuba Merlot – Score: B+
The nose on this dark ruby colored wine has nice earthy notes along with raspberry, cranberry, cherry, oak, and vegetal notes.  The mouth is medium bodied with integrating tannins, cranberry, and raspberry.  The mid palate is balanced with oak and acidity.  The finish is accompanied by earth, spices, and round red fruit.  This is a wine that can use more air in and out of the bottle and one that will serve you well.

2003 Yarden Magnum Merlot – Score: A-
The nose on this black colored wine (not showing any hint of slowing down or brown), is ripe with rich red fruit, slightly hot, plum, raspberry, cassis, rich oak, and mounds of dark chocolate.  The mouth on this complex and full bodied wine was throwing sediment, and comes at you with layers of with rich plum, blackberry, and chocolate.  The mid palate is bright and balanced with acidity, integrating tannins, and coffee.  The finish is long with tobacco, chocolate, and nice tannins.  It almost felt like you were drinking ripe fruit and wood, while smoking a fat cigar and inhaling boxes of dark chocolate, quite a treat indeed.

2006 Tzora Neve Ilan (70% Cabernet Sauvignon & 30% Merlot) – Score: B+
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is filled with rich earth, blackberry, cranberry, oak, and coffee.  The mouth on this medium bodied wine follows the nose with cranberry, raspberry, roasted oak flavors, and something akin to toffee.  The mid palate has integrated tannins that flow into a long finish with spice, dirt, and red fruit.

2006 Tzora Shoresh (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) – Score: B+ – A-
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine filled with plum, raspberry, earth, and toasted coffee beans, and oak.  The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is spicy with somewhat gripping tannins that have yet to integrate, plum, cassis, and raspberry.  The mid palate is bright with acidity and oak, and leads into a long and earthy finish with rich oak, coffee, and nice spice.

2007 Alexander Sandro – Score: B – B+
The nose on this garnet colored wine is perfumed with almost overripe fruit, toasted oak, blackberry, and raspberry.  The mouth on this full bodied wine is gripping with powerful tannins, cassis and plum.  The mid palate is filled with toasted oak and balancing acidity.  The finish is long with cassis and plum fruit, and chocolate.

2008 Agur Blanco (65% Viognier & 35% Riesling) – Score: B+
The nose on this electric straw colored wine is perfumed with rich and lively grapefruit, honeydew melon, and peach.  The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich and almost glycerol and oily with ripe peach and honeydew.  The mid palate is balanced with bright acidity that leads into a long and rich finish of tart fruit.

Barkan Cabernet Sauvignon and Herzog Syrah

What a great weekend we had.  Once again we had guests from out of town and from around the block, it was a great atmosphere and quite a lot of fun.  Dinner started with store bought Burekas that were heated nicely along with salads of homemade Babaganush (simple roasted eggplant and tahini); store bought hummus, and other salads.  The main course was wicked – if I say so myself.  Fresh sweet and flavorful meat lasagna, another week of succulent sweet roasted summer vegetables, and killer broccoli quiche (parve).  There was a bit too much starch, but really it was quite yummy.

The wines were a combination of guest contribution and a bottle from the cellar.  Our guest brought a bottle of Herzog Syrah Special Reserve 2002.  We have reviewed this before, and I have bent your ear off already about how dangerous it is to cellar Herzog Special Reserve Syrah bottles.  They are great when released and are really meant to be drunk within the year – at best.  That said the 2002 again was quite nice and was the winner of the night.  The other bottle was the Barkan Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2004.  It was nice for a Cabernet, but it was too red and not as weighty as I had hoped for the 2004 vintage.  Neither improved with time in the glass, both were drinkable during the evening, but did not improve over time.  The next morning they were gone.

Herzog Special Reserve Syrah 2002 – Score A-
The score stays the same and the bottle flavors were pretty close.  The only real difference came in the intense pepper attack that made its way from the finish to the front as well.  Not sure why but the pepper was far more evident and loud in this bottle.  Otherwise, the rest stays the same.

Barkan Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2004 – Score: B+
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine was quite nice.  It was filled with blueberry, cherry, a hint of blackberry, and green aromas.  The mouth on this medium bodied wine was fruit forward with blueberry, blackberry, and cranberry.  The mid palate was complex with the fruit and the light oak notes intermingling.  The finish was average length with red fruit flavors.  The wine is NOT overoaked which may appeal to the anti Cabernet crowd.  The flavors are not muddy, but they are not as crisp as I would have liked and though the wine is balanced it did not stand out in any particular manner other than being fruity.

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