This past Passover was such a real kick, we shared food and wine and time with friends and family throughout the entire Passover and it was such a real treat. For the evening of seventh day of Passover, we were alone and I made some braised shoulder roast and my wife had some brisket leftovers from the Shabbos meal.
To enjoy the meal, I opened a bottle of the 2005 Galil Mountain Yiron, a wine that has let me down twice recently, but not on that day! WOW! That wine is insane! Rich, layered, and full of tannin that coats and dusts your mouth – really nice, but please beware – this wine is throwing TONS of sediment, hand painting sediment!
The next day was a real treat! We had friends come over and one of them shared a bottle of 2006 Adir Cabernet Sauvignon, that he received from another wine aficionado – thank you so much Rafi for sharing!!! We paired that with a bottle of the 2009 Adir A, a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc, a bottle I bought in Jerusalem from my guys: Gabriel Geller and Chalom – partners of the Wine Windmill.
To be fair, we started off with a bottle of 2007 Yarden Chardonnay and while it was not flawed, or a dud, it was way too far oak driven and lacking in fruit and oak reaction. After we moved that off the table, we opened the two Adir wines and then we opened a bottle of the 2008 Covenant Red C – a wine that was so apropos for the whole splitting of the Red Sea thing that happened on the same day, some 3000 years ago!
Food wise, we started with the herb encrusted gefilte fish loaf and side dishes that we made and bought. For the main course we had some great vegetable kugel, and a hunk of rib roast that we cooked slowly and simply using Alton Brown’s Rib Roast recipe.
We had some simple dessert and paired it with some lovely Adir Winery Port Blush. I have friends who call it Port Bluff as it is really only made from late harvest chardonnay grapes and some sugar, but who cares! Tons of French wines use Chaptalization, and in this case the wine is actually quite enjoyable. The added sugar or late harvest fruit is clearly apparent, but the sherry like flavors or almond and nuts either turn you off or captivate you. To me Sherry wine is awesome and unique and that makes it interesting to me, but sure many find it offensive – their loss.
I wrote a bit of the history of Adir Winery in my posting on my trip to the north of Israel. The trip was a kick and I had a wonderful time at Adir Winery, even though it was absolutely pouring cats and dogs outside. When I was there I tasted the 2010 Adir A and the Blush Port, and though this was the 2009 Adir A, both wines were really nice. Read the rest of this entry
Well, to say I was busy in the past two weeks would be a minor understatement! I had people calling me, emailing me, and god knows what other forms of communication, including the time-sink of them all – Facebook!!
So, while getting ready for Passover I also posted some four articles on my trip to Israel, this past December 2012. I have tons more to write up, but for now I need a break – LOL!!! Still, as I have said many times, this blog is more about my journal than a real peek into my insane life of wine.
So, this Passover was the usual madness of hurray up and then wait and then hurray up and wait! Clean one part, boil water and wait. Clean something else, than wait for it to try, and then pour water – man these laws!! Anyway, in between all the madness I was posting about my Israel trip and never got to post about the wines I wanted to enjoy this Passover or even the past Shabbos wine! By the way, the Barbera was awesome from Ramat Naftaly, but man that bottle was crazy! The bottle had cracks going down both sides of the bottle. The cracks were actually done at the time the glass was blown, they need to do a better job of checking their bottles!
For years I have always sported a purple colored beaming grin when I finish my tasting at the IFWF (International Food and Wine Festival) in LA, which hid my grumbling stomach’s discontent. Like I have documented for years, I never get to eat at the events, even as the entire food court mocks me, attempting to pull me into their warm, delicious, and very present embrace, with their wafting and intoxicating aromas. Still, I stand strong and I taste through the night until my teeth are purple and my stomach is close to rioting on the lack of food. Truth be told, I am not that good at taking notes when eating – the flavors of the food cover up and belie the flavors and aromas of the glass that beckons me closer with its “come hither” look and aromas. So every year, after the event I go to dinner at Jeff’s Sausage (down the street from the new location of the IFWF). Which is sheer madness of course, here I have half the Pavilion at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, filled with food from one of the best kosher restaurants in the world – Tierra Sur Restaurant, and I pass on that for the spicy and homely fare of Jeff’s Sausage. In no way is this a slight to the joy of Jeff Rohatiner’s cookery and food. Rather, it has been my conscious tradeoff, throughout my many year experience at IFWF to drink through as much of the world-class wine I can before my taste-buds shutdown, rather than give them to the food court, no matter how wonderful it is.
This year was a massive shift for me, gone was the purple grin and my mutinous stomach, as I visited and added the New York KFWE to my travel dates. To say the KFWE was different than the IFWF would be an extreme understatement, the IFWF has close to 1000 people at the show, while the KFWE has closer to 2000 people. Further the event hall at Pier 60 is some 2 to 3 times larger than the Pavilion tent at the Hyatt Regency. Also, there were many options for lunch and dinner from the myriad of NY restaurants that all share half the hall, all clamoring to share their wonderful fare with great fanfare. The Pier 60 overlooks the Marina and Harbor and many folks were outside braving the cold to grab a smoke, but at least they had some comfort of looking at the marina and its waterfront.
To really appreciate the event you had to come to it with a game plan, and there were many guests who had a few of their own. The event started at Noon for those in the trade, a new thing that the KFWE started last year and something that the IFWF has been doing from the start (though initially with a smaller trade time). The trade event was crowded but there could not have been more than a thousand folks there, so access to wine was not a problem in any way. The event hall can easily handle 1000 people, it is a bit more complicated when the number swells to two thousand people, but still there was no pushing or shoving going on even at the end of the public tasting, when the number of guests was at its maximum. But I digress; the trade tasting allowed me to focus solely on wine and the winemakers, which was great. Read the rest of this entry
On Sunday night we were blessed to be part of an extremely exclusive 27-course meal, well more like 30 or so – if you count the decadent small dishes after dessert, but who is really counting. The event was put on by the dynamic duo of Chef Yitzchok Bernstein and Brobdingnagian Wine maker Jonathan Hajdu. The event was a fundraiser for Beth Jacob, Oakland’s Orthodox Synagogue – and what an event it was!
When I have tried to explain the event, attempt to verbalize the magnitude of the effort, and the uniqueness of it all, I have so far failed, till now I hope, to transport the listener, or reader, to the mind-blowing state of conscious that we were all leaving within for 6 or so hours – this past Sunday night. The meal was a, 27 or so course, of mind-blowing culinary talent – coming to life in front of us lucky few. Each dish was hand plated with such exacting detail, that not only did each plate fill us gastronomically, but also the visual sumptuousness of each and every plate truly was equally a feast for one’s senses. The funny thing was that the meal started at 24 courses, as I had an early preview of the menu. However, by the time we lived it, it had grown to 27 and could have been 30, if the participants could have kept up with Bernstein. I was more than happy to taste the other two or so courses, but I did not call it a 30 course meal, as they were not formally served to the participants.
The second we entered the home of the host and hostess we knew we were in for a real treat. The house is a lovely sprawling ranch style home, remodeled to as close as possible to the mid-century modernism style of some 60 years ago, while all the while bringing the current century’s modern touches to life in a truly non-obtrusive manner – a real success in my humble opinion. If the home is an extension of the owners, than the simplest way to summarize the hosts is, sleek, modern, highly functional, with an ode to the past and arms open as wide as the glass sliding doors that truly define minimalist architecture and the MCM movement. The openness and warmth that are exuded by the home’s colors and textures truly reflect the host and hostess, and all of us were constantly in awe of their ability to deftly steer the epic culinary adventure to the success that it was. While the event may have stretched a bit longer than some were ready for, as most needed to go to work the next day, the intimate setting and cosmopolitan mix of people truly added to the entire evening.
With the well-deserved forward now handled, it is only fair to throw the light unto the culinary genius of the evening – Chef Yitzchok Bernstein. Mr. Bernstein is mostly self-taught, but has also received formal training in Bread Baking at French Culinary Institute. He also studied pastry and advanced bread baking at SFBI. (san francisco bakers institute), and has been working in and around restaurants, since the age of 14. Food is a truly passionate thing to Mr. Bernstein; you can see his persona expressed clearly in his food and in his open and warm demeanor. Throughout the evening the dishes were harmonious, balanced, tempered, but never losing focus and always packing more than enough bite, texture, and complexity to grab and keep your attention, until magically there was yet another unending course to partake from. Each course built on the past one, adding layers and nuances that were not lost to the foodies that ensconced the close-knit twin table setting.
The other resident genius at the event was Jonathan Hajdu (firstname.lastname@example.org), the associate wine maker at Covenant Winery, and is also the wine maker for wines from the Brobdingnagian and Besomim wine labels. The Brobdingnagian/Besomim winery is located in Napa CA. Hajdu wines was started in 2007, by owner and winemaker Jonathan Hajdu. Hajdu produces small lot artisan wines, with a focus on Rhone varietals under the Brobdignagian, and Besomim labels, though the newer wines are veering all over to where Hajdu can find the highest quality grapes. The Brobdignagian name is derived from Jonathan Swift’s giants, in Gulliver’s Travels, and attests to the winemakers’ proclivity towards intense and powerfully flavored wines. Wine produced under the Besomim label, is a blend of varietals with a focus on complex aromatics. These limited production wines are available directly from the winery. Read the rest of this entry
This past weekend I enjoyed some lovely wines from Israel and California. The first wine is the 2010 Covenant Sauvignon Blanc and the second was the 2009 Adir Cabernet Sauvignon, Ben Zimra. The third wine was the 2010 Gvaot Pinot Noir that I loved and tasted at the Kosher Wine Society Tasting – New Wines and Vintage Experience, and the fourth wine which I also tasted at the KWS tasting was the 2007 Hevron Heights Merlot, Pardess.
The only wine in this lineup that disappointing me was the 2009 Adir Cabernet! I had the chance to taste this wine in Israel last year, and when I tasted it now it showed itself in a vastly different manner. Where before the wine was rich and layered, now the wine was still green but felt unbalanced and not all there. Again, it could be an issue of transportation or storage, but I bought the wine at a great store – called Liquors Galore. It has a fantastic selection and the prices are solid for wines that are on sale. For all other wines, shop and compare, but their selection is very impressive, and it is local if you live in Flatbush, NY.
Again, I believe the issue here is transportation and maybe the wine is a funk or quiet period, but in the end, it is a wine I could not recommend to others. The other wine I bought there was the 2010 Covenant Sauvignon Blanc, which was awesome and bright, ripe and clean, while showing nice minerality, slate, and crispness. Read the rest of this entry
If you look at the kosher wineries in California, the majority exist here in Northern California. Down south you have the famous Herzog Winery in Oxnard, CA, and a pair of wineries that I call ADS (Agua Dulce & Shirah), for the Agua Dulce Winery and Shirah Winery, both housed in the Agua Dolce Winery. While this is great, Northern California one-ups them with Four gates Winery, Hagafen Winery, Covenant Winery, and the Brobdingnagian Winery. Of course you can actually combine all the California kosher wineries (except for Herzog) into Herzog’s parking lot (a nod to Disneyland and Disney World).
Well the adventure started late last week, when Elliot (Eli) and Michael (Yoav) both visited Benyo and Four gates Winery without me – go figure! However, on Monday I met both Elliot and Michael at my house and we started driving our way north. For this fabulous adventure our chariot of choice was a lovely Buick La Sabre, which before you start laughing, is a crazy and sick car to drive and drive-in. This car was appointed in soft leather, all kinds of toys and warning systems and a great navigation system that got us to and from our desired destinations, in comfort and style, and on time.
The first stop was Covenant Winery where we were going to meet Jeff Morgan and Jonathan Hajdu, Winemaker and associate winemaker of Covenant Winery, respectively. When we arrived, Mr. Hajdu greeted us and we had the chance to taste a few barrel samples of some 2011 Brobdingnagian Wines. We started with some lovely black and blue 2011 Brobdingnagian Syrah, with nice spice, root beer, and good vanilla finish. From there we moved on to a taste of the 2011 Brobdingnagian Grenache, which keeps on giving – what a lovely wine indeed! With the 2011 season being so miserable, to get a wine so redolent and ripe is quite impressive! The nose was rich and ripe with more blue and black fruit, but this time more ripe and sweet and yet controlled with good extraction, sweet cherry drop, watermelon, and citrus peel. Then Jonathan let us have a taste of some wonderful 2011 Brobdingnagian Bordeaux Blend, which stood out to me so well because the fruit was as sweet as the Grenache and maybe even more than the Syrah, yet so perfectly controlled with a nice core of red and black fruit, nice graphite and minerality, and along with spice and green notes that really balance this whole wine out – Bravo! Read the rest of this entry
This past weekend my friends and family shared some lovely Cabernet Sauvignon and some great food. When you talk about Cabernet Sauvignon inevitably there are folks who love it and some who hate it. It is the grand-daddy of the noble grapes, it is the wine that has the history and stuffing to last and cellar for many years.
Cabernet will always be the classic and default red grape that most wine drinker will reach for. Why? Because it is well know and consistent. I state this because if you buy a Cabernet Sauvignon from Hagafen Winery, Herzog Cellars, or many Israeli wineries, you may find ones you love and some you hate, but they are similar in nature. They are either green with classic graphite and green notes, or maybe they are black and red with other classic flavors, but they are not going to be massive failures or unfortunate wines. Since the start of kosher wines, all the wineries have started with the noble grapes; Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir. Some have done better with them and some have done a so-so job. Hagafen excels with their Cabernet Sauvignon that are sourced from the Napa Valley. Herzog, has been doing a really lovely job with their Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Israel, of course has been doing a lovely job with their Cabernet Sauvignon, especially by Yarden Winery, Bravdo Winery, Recanati Winery, Castel Winery, and others. However, recently two wineries have been selling Cabernet Sauvignon as well. Four Gates Winery first released a 2005 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, a few years ago and it sold out quickly. Since then Four Gates has once again released a Cabernet Sauvignon, but this time from the Betchart Vineyard on Monte Bello Ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Another and even more Cabernet focused winery – is Covenant Winery, which makes killer Napa Cabernet. They started with the 2003 vintage and has been releasing Cabernet in two or three different formats since then.
The saying, all good wine starts in the vineyard is true, but the real saying should be, the price of wines starts in the vineyard! If you own the vines like say, Hagafen or many of the wineries in Israel, than you have a chance to control the quality and the price of the wines. However, if you buy the grapes from growers, than you are at the mercy of their cost structure and what the market can bear. Sure, many wineries get into long-term contracts that assure them consistent pricing and hopefully, some control of how the vines are managed. However, as the contracts come to a close, the pricing will increase, which places pressure on the winery’s ability to keep its margin’s alive. Read the rest of this entry
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.
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.
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.
This past week we had the extreme honor of having the company of Jeff Morgan, from Covenant Winery, Benyamin Cantz from Four Gates Winery, and John Herzog, the west coast manager for Royal Wines. The evening was filled with lively conversation around and about food and wine. The varied points of conversation moved about like a weather vane in a hurricane, all of it thoroughly enjoyable and informational, to say the least.
We started the meal off with Kiddush on a glass of 2007 Dalton Viognier Reserve, Wild Yeast. It was as good as I remembered it, from the last time I tasted it at the 2010 Gotham Wine Extravaganza. It was rich and smooth with lovely acidity and bright summer fruits that were wrapped in a bee’s nest of honey, caramel, all gathered from flowers that abound in the area (metaphorically of course). That was followed by some Challah that the Rabbis’ wife made, which was nice, but I did miss my wife’s whole wheat Challah, no slight of course intended.
The courses started with some smoked wild salmon and some smoked farmed salmon, along with black olives, and hummus. The Dalton Viognier easily stood up to the hummus and smoked salmon and was quickly laid to waste (again metaphorically).
The next course was my sweet and sour brisket, brown Basmati rice, and a fresh green salad. To pair with the meat, I opened two bottles, and I wish I had opened them both earlier. The first was the 2001 Capcanes Peeraj Ha’bib, which I had opened a few hours before, and was thoroughly enjoyable, but was time to drink up, and I think was helped by opening it, to allow it to hit its potential. The second wine I opened was the 2001 Yarden El Rom, which is lovely, but needs time to air out and open. We quickly made waste of these as well, but I wish I had opened the El Rom earlier, to allow it to show its best characteristics. Finally with desert we enjoyed some Tzuba Port that I brought back from Israel.
Jeff of course was super generous and brought over some of his trademark wines, as did Benyamin, but we never got a chance to enjoy them, I hope we can rectify that problem soon!
Again, I want to thank all our guests for making the evening as memorable as it could be, and I hope we get another chance to do it all over again, in the not too distant future. The wine notes are below:
2001 Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon El Rom - Score: A
The notes on this wine have not changed drastically, the tannin is still kicking, the mouth equally as rich, and the heat has dissipated. This is one of the best wines I have tasted from Israel. The wine is still a bit closed, so an hour or two of air time would be of great help! The nose on this brilliant and deep garnet to black colored wine is filled with heavy layers of blackberry, cassis, raspberry, tobacco, and oak. The mouth on this wine was also a bit slow out of the bottle, but that changed quickly enough. The mouth was complex and multi layered. This is no simple wine, it hits you in waves. The mouth on this full bodied wine is still tannic though the tannins are breaking down and adding even more opulence to this rich and mouth coating wine filled with blackberry, cassis, rich sweet oak. eucalyptus, and almost jam like – but not in a chewy annoying way – more in a rich and cultured manner. The mid palate follows off the first set of layers and is where the structure comes in. The structure is built on tannin, acidity, and lush layers of vegetal flavors. The finish is crazy long and is filled with blackberry, cassis, chocolate, tobacco, rich dirt, slight vegetal notes, and sweet wood. This is really quite a fine wine and one that is not yet peaked at all, though quite enjoyable now as well.
2001 Celler de Capçanes Montsant Peraj Ha’abib Flor de Primavera - Score: A-
Drink up – this wine is lovely but is really at its peak or a drop past it!! The score from previous tasting is a bit lower then the first score we gave this wine, and the same as my second tasting, but not because of tannins. The notes are very much in line with my previous tasting. I recommend opening the bottle 1 hour ahead of time, and NO more than that and enjoying it then. This bottle will not last four hours after opening, so drink now and enjoy. The nose on this deep black colored wine, with a bit of a brown halo, is popping with blackberry, plum, cassis, sweet cedar, herbs, raspberry, licorice, and tobacco. The mouth on this full bodied and mouth coating wine is now smooth and layered with blackberry, plum, black currant, and cassis. The mid palate is packed with lovely tannins, bright acidity, and concentrated black fruit that comes at you in layers. The finish is super long, spicy, and concentrated with cloves, herbs, blackberry, plum, raspberry, chocolate, tobacco, and sweet cedar. The wine lingers long with cedar, plum, tobacco, rich vanilla, and chocolate.
2007 Dalton Viognier, Reserve – Score: A-
The nose on this light gold orange haloed colored wine is expressive with caramel, honeysuckle, butterscotch, toasty oak, flora, melon, lemon, peach, and apricot, with the honey, toast, lemon, and butterscotch showing itself more expressively over time. The mouth on this rich and full bodied wine is oily, layered, and textured with melon, peach, apricot, citrus, and honeysuckle. The mid palate is still rich and balanced with acid, butterscotch, caramel, oak, and spice. The finish is super long and rich with butterscotch, rich honey, caramel, summer fruit, and melon.
Well we finally got back into the saddle and had ourselves a gaggle of friends and family for a lovely Friday night dinner. The menu was fun to create as we needed a recipe that could be eaten by both carnivores and vegans After going through our recipes, we fell upon a decent idea, making two of the same dish, one with meat and one with a suitable substitute. The best option for that direction was our Sausage Stew recipe, the carnivore version was made with Neshama’s sausages; Breakfast Delight and Country Apple, and the vegan version with Tofurky’s Italian Sausage. The cool aspect of making the same recipe for both types of diets are that the dish stays the same, as does the recipe and ingredients (other than protein), along with same timing for the vegetables, and same completion time. In other words; cooking made fun and easy.
We started with a course of smoked salmon, green and black olives, hummus, and my wife’s killer whole wheat challah. We followed that with the main course of the two stews, while my wife made some spinach kugel (parve souffle), along with some nice fresh green salad. The wines were paired well, I think. Some were clear winners, while some were not perceived by all as winners during the meal, and then there were the filthy, sick, and wild wines that were winners at the dinner and after. The winners were the 2001 Capcanes Peraj H’Abib, which is in the DRINK up state, enjoy it before you regret it! SUPER kudos go out to the Covenant Winery, who also had an entry in the winner’s circle, their 2003 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon, which was from their maiden voyage. I am so happy that I held on to it to be enjoying it now. Finally, to be honest I whiffed on two wines; the 2009 Herzog Petite Sirah Second Edition and the 1996 Four Gates unoaked Chardonnay! Talk about messing up! I did not like either when we opened them, but WOW did that change fast. The two of them were drinking lovely a few hours later, while the Petite Sirah was better the next day.
Finally a friend of ours brought a surprise, a Kosher Akhasheni Georgian wine! The grapes used in this wine are called: Saperavi from the Akhasheni vineyards of the Gurdzhaani district in Kakheti, a province of Georgia.
The wine notes follow listed in the order they were drunk:
2006 Galil Mountain Winery Pinot Noir – Score: B (DRINK UP or Cook!!!)
Truly a shadow of its former self. It is dead and dying quickly, all at the same time. Some liked the wine, but not me. The nose on this dark ruby with serious brown halos colored wine has notes of dark cherry, aging raspberry, barn yard notes, vanilla, and stony rocks. The mouth on this medium bodied wine died off quickly with deep minerality, dark cherry, raspberry, and vanilla. The wine tasted old and dying, its structure was spicy and brambly with minerality with dark red fruit and still nice acid.
1996 Four Gates Unoaked Chardonnay – Score: B++ to A-
Wow this wine was clearly not on my radar, and was a really nice surprise from Benyo; I did not know it existed. We have posted in the past about its bigger oaked siblings (sulfur and non-sulfur), but I had no idea this one was lying around in the Four Gates cellar. The nose on this wine did not start nicely out of the bottle, but heck, how do you think you would smell if you were lying around in a dusty cellar for 15 years! Two or three hours later this light gold colored wine was hitting its stride, with clear and lovely notes of pineapple, grapefruit, lemon, citrus, white peach, and lychee. The mouth on this full bodied wine was channeling it inner nose, with pronounced pineapple, grapefruit, citrus, and peach. The mid palate was packed with core acid and lovely fruit. The finish was long and luscious with more summer fruit, pineapple, and a hint of grass and/or minerality.
2009 Herzog Petite Sirah - Score: B++
The nose on this black colored wine starts off closed and very unapproachable. However with time, the nose explodes with black cherry, blackberry, plum, hints of blueberry, black currant, light mocha, tar, tobacco, mounds of black pepper, roasted meats, oak, and floral notes of rose or violet. The mouth on this full bodied wine becomes rich and mouth coating with lovely tannins that are soft but still integrating. Along with pepper, tar, blackcurrant blackberry, and a hint of blueberry. The mid palate is packed with acid, tar, tobacco, oak, and lovely floral notes. The finish starts off stunted and short – DO NOT fret, it will open! The finish is long and sensuous with mocha, floral notes, blackcurrant, tobacco, and black pepper. Floral notes, blackcurrant, tobacco, blackberry, and oak linger long after the wine is gone.
2004 Chateau Labegorce Lede Margaux – Score: B to B+ (DRINK UP!!)
I know Daniel Rogov believes this wine is still alive and active, but the bottle I had was not over its peak, but clearly not as enjoyable as the one he tasted. It was nice but lacked so much body that it felt dead. The tannins and acid on this wine are clearly still kicking but I do not believe this wine is getting any better – drink up and open one hour in advance.
The nose on this dark garnet to mahogany colored wine is filled with tobacco, chocolate, cedar, raspberry, blackberry, herbs, and lovely dirt. The mouth on this medium bodied wine was nice and round with lovely tannin, blackberry, raspberry, and a touch of currant. The mid palate is bracing with acid, tannin, chocolate, herbs, and smoky characteristics. The finish is long, nice, and smoky with oak, blackberry, raspberry, dirt, chocolate, and herbs. Drink UP!!!
2001 Celler de Capçanes Montsant Peraj Ha’abib Flor de Primavera – Score: A- to A (DRINK UP!!)
Drink up – this wine is lovely but is really at its peak or a drop past it!! The score from previous tasting is a bit lower then the first score we gave this wine, and the same as my second tasting, but not because of tannins. Rather the score is a bit lower this time because of the color and age on the bottle. The notes are very much in line with my previous tasting except for color and tannin, but the structure is the same. I recommend opening the bottle 1 hour ahead of time, and NO more than that and enjoying it then. This bottle will not last four hours after opening, so drink now and enjoy.
The nose on this deep black colored wine, with a bit of a brown halo, is popping with blackberry, plum, cassis, sweet cedar, herbs, raspberry, licorice, and tobacco. The mouth on this full bodied and mouth coating wine is now smooth and layered with blackberry, plum, black currant, and cassis. The mid palate is packed with lovely tannins, bright acidity, and concentrated black fruit that comes at you in layers. The finish is super long, spicy, and concentrated with cloves, herbs, blackberry, plum, raspberry, chocolate, tobacco, and sweet cedar. The wine lingers long with cedar, plum, tobacco, vanilla, and chocolate.
2003 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: A- closer to A
Are you kidding me! This wine is as close to “filthy” as it gets without being covered in dirt and muck! This puppy is downright crazy, lovely, and insane! This wine was the clear winner of the evening, even against my clear, biased wines that I have a love affair with, the 1996 Four Gates Chardonnay and the 2001 Capcanes. Both were really nice, but in the end, fell a bit short, each for different reasons. This wine was the clear winner, and for bloody good reason! One other crazy thought, when this wine finally calmed down and lost some of its special characteristics, it was VERY close to the Capcanes. To the point where they were almost brothers, excepting for the color, where the Capcanes was clearly going brown and the Covenant being black as day.
The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine is packed with rich ripe blackberry, tobacco, chocolate/mocha, crushed herbs, black currant, vanilla, raspberry, plum, and sweet oak. The mouth on this blockbuster medium to full bodied wine is concentrated, layered and mouth coating with lovely and almost integrated tannins, blackberry, black currant, raspberry, and ripe plum. The mid palate flows off the mouth with balancing acid, sweet oak, mocha, tobacco, and more nice tannins. The finish is long, spicy, and continuous and, while maybe being the best part of this wine, which is saying a lot, with sweet cedar in the fire box, a long puff from a fat stogie, a warm cup of mocha in your hand, while munching on blackberry, black currant, and vanilla. Tobacco, plum, blackberry, and sweet cedar linger long on the palate.
2004 Yarden Merlot – Score: A-
This is a clear and powerful wine and one that when compared side by side with the other wines we enjoyed in the evening came across as over the top. The nose on this dark garnet colored wine was screaming with extra ripe and sweet plum, blackberry, and cassis, along with spicy oak, crushed herbs, and tobacco. The mouth on this intense and full bodied wine hits you up front with super ripe fruit, spicy and still active tannin, and cassis, blackberry, and plum. The mid palate is balanced with nice acidity, sweet cedar, lovely tannin, and sweet cedar. The finish is super long and extracted with tobacco, oak, black fruit and herbs. A nice wine that is fine for a couple more years but one I always have trouble with given its intensely ripe black fruit and mounds of oak.
2006 Alaverdi Akhasheni – Score: B to B+
The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine is hopping with dark cherry, candied fruit, perfumed nose, floral notes of violet, lovely chocolate, dates, and spice. The mouth on this full bodied wine is velvety, mouth coating, and enriched by the residual sugar of this semi-sweet wine, along with dark cherry, date, nice tannin, a bit too much residual sweetness, and candied fruit. The mid palate is balanced with acid, lovely tannin, oak, chocolate, and spice. The finish is super long and rich with candied fruit, sweetness, cherry, and oak. The wine linger long with chocolate, date, and spice.