This past Purim my friends and I enjoyed a wonderful meal at the synagogue, along with a few wines that I brought along, and a couple of wines that were brought by some other congregants. Some of the wines I tasted have notes, while others have just feelings or memories, sorry, this was Purim after all. My friends still give me a hard time for the one time that I actually took notes on Purim. To me, tasting wine is about friends, memories, along with a bit of a job. To others, especially on Purim, it is about friends, memories, and a bit of a buzz.
Anyway, the wine notes follow below in the order that they were tasted:
Tzuba Port Style Wine - Score: A-
This is a wine that I brought back from my last trip to Israel, one that I bought during my visit to the Tzuba Winery. The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine shows rich loamy dirt, bright oxidation, rich spicy oak, ripe fig, blackberry, and spice. The mouth on this full-bodied and mouth filling wine, starts with a concentrated attack of spicy oak, rich sweet and ripe blackberry, and fig. The wine is layered and concentrated with ripe fruit and spicy oak, yes I repeated that because it is so nice. The mid palate is filled with nice acidity, integrated yet still gripping tannins, and spice that flows into a lush loam and oak forest. The finish is crazy long with rich chocolate, oak, mounds of spice, rich and ripe black fruit, and a lingering palate of oak extraction, spice, and more black fruit. A nice bottle that can handle just about any sweet desert you throw at it.
2004 Four Gates Rishona (375 ml) – Score: A-
Well, we tasted the larger format of this bottle last week and this week we opened the 375 ml size, which was the originally released format. We still loved it and it is still drinking really well, though the color throws you and the flavor is a bit dingy, the rest of the wines notes are exactly as the previous tasting, and listed here. The color on this brown tinged/dark ruby colored wine, was hopping with chicken cherry cola, coffee, mature oak, fig, and raspberry. The mouth on this intense and full-bodied wine was layered with bright black cherry, coffee, and oak. The mid palate was bracing with bright acidity and oak. The finish was long and tantalizing with more cherry, oak, and coffee, layered under a canopy of mature flavors. This is clearly a wine that needs to be consumed now, but to some, this was one of the winners, which was shocking given the list of wines we enjoyed.
2006 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon Special Reserve, Napa Valley – Score: B/B+
The wine was OK, but it had a huge hole in the middle with almost no acidity to be found. It was OK, but uni-dimensional with almost no fruit and a bit of oak. Not fun.
2006 Baron Herzog Cabernet/Zinfandel/Syrah Special Reserve – Score: B++
Yummy, fruity, acidic, rich, with black fruit showing well from the Cabernet, while standing tall with enough oak and tannins from the Syrah. Nice and one that is probably at or close to its peak.
2006 Hagafen Merlot, Napa Valley – Score: A-
I remember loving it that night for its classic Hagafen soft yet layered mouth feel, along with rich and ripe black fruit and chocolate.
2007 Barkan Classic Petite Sirah – Score: B/B+
This is a nice and lively wine with rich blackberry and smoke on the nose and mouth, along with a firm and structured mouth feel that allows the wine to stand up to meat and rich sauces. A nice and simple wine that is enjoyable by all.
2007 Backsberg Pinotage – Score: B++
The nose on this bright purple colored wine is packed with loamy dirt, mineral, rich black cherry, mulberry fruit, spice, vanilla, oak, and pepper. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich and spicy though not complex in nature, along with mulberry, Kirsch cherry, and a hint of strawberry. The mid palate is bracing and almost tart with code acidity, nice soft yielding tannins, spice, and dirt. The finish is long with layers of smoke and spice, along with red fruit, and a nice dollop of vanilla. A nice wine for the price, quality, and its mevushal status.
2006 Rashi Select Barbera d’Alba - Score: B/B+
The nose on this wine moved from being bright and red to rich and chocolate. Not a bad wine, but one that did not live up to my hopes for it. The tannins were nice and helped to highlight the soft mouth, bright acidity, and red fruit. With air the fruit disappeared, the mouth was still bright but turning fast, and the finish was packed with chocolate and vanilla. I guess it is an OK wine, but drink up fast, and not a wine worth its cost.
This past weekend saw us hosting a meal for my Nephew and friend who had just completed his qualifications to start his PHD at Berkley University. The meal started with a nice Chicken Soup (recipe here) and my wife’s awesome whole wheat challah. It was followed by two stews that were consumed heartily. Benyamin Cantz joined us for the meal, along with some of our dear friends, and as I was preparing the stews, I could hear Benyo saying “never use the same ingredients in two dishes that are served during the same meal”. So as I reused Yukon potatoes and carrots in the two stews, I knew I would hear it from him. That said, the flavors of the two dishes were so very different that it worked out. The tajine recipe starts off with browning both ends of sliced Merguez, cut into one inch tubes. Once both sides are browned, I remove them from my Dutch Oven and brown the onions. I always throw in the salt and pepper at this point to help soften the onions and make them release their water and increase their sweetness. Once the onions are browned nicely, throw in all the spices, and make sure the spices coat the onions. Once the spices are evenly distributed, throw in the other vegetables and let them get some of the spices coated on them as well, and cook them for 10 or so minutes to help them release their liquid. At this point throw in the sun-dried tomatoes, the wine, water, browned Merguez, cinnamon stick, and vegetable stock. Throw this in a preheated 400 degree oven for one hour. Then add in the chickpeas and fruit and let cook for another 30 or so minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and serve.
Moroccan Merguez Tajine (recipe)
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 pounds of Merguez sliced into one inch tubes
6 cloves garlic
3 large onions cut into chunks
Salt and pepper
Pinch of saffron threads
4 Yukon potatoes cut into chunks
6 carrots cut into chunks
1/4 cup of sun-dried tomatoes
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup of white wine
1 cinnamon stick
1 can cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup of dried dates
The kielbasa recipe can be found here on another blog posting. It came out OK, but not as glorious as my previous attempt. The stews were paired with brown basmati rice, and a nice fresh green salad. To pair with these foods, we went to a collection of wines that were brought by Benyo from his personal stash and from my stash as well. A side note, some of the wines were well past their prime, and some were a bit past their prime. Please do not look down at the work, rather look down on us for holding on to these puppies for too long.
The wines are listed in the order that they were consumed:
2004 Four Gates Rishona (750ml) – Score: A-
I need to start by stating that this was a bottle that Benyo made for us, as it was a 750 ml bottle, rather than the released 375 ml sized bottle. The color on this brown tinged/dark ruby colored wine, was hopping with chicken cherry cola, coffee, mature oak, fig, and raspberry. The mouth on this intense and full bodied wine was layered with bright black cherry, coffee, and oak. The mid palate was bracing with bright acidity and oak. The finish was long and tantalizing with more cherry, oak, and coffee, layered under a canopy of mature flavors. This is clearly a wine that needs to be consumed now, but to some, this was one of the winners, which was shocking given the list of wines we enjoyed.
Elvi Wines Adar Cava Brut N.V. – Score: B+
The nose on this bubbly and effervescent light pink colored wine, is hopping with strawberry, lemon, and cherry. The mouth on this light to medium bodied wine is packed with small bubbles that are active and alive, they mingle well with the strawberry and cherry. The mid palate is alive with bracing acidity. The finish is medium long with core acidity, strawberry, bubbles, and a lemon burst at the very tail end. Drink UP!
2009 Terra Vega Shiraz – Score: B+
The nose on this garnet colored wine is filled with dirt, mineral, raspberry, plum, violet notes, and cherry. The mouth on this medium bodied wine starts off with cherry, raspberry, and plum that flow into a lovely acidic mid palate, with spicy wood, tannins, and coffee. The finish is long with spicy wood, cherry, plum, coffee, and pepper that all linger on the palate after the wine is gone.
1989 Gan Eden Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: N/A
I still remember this wine in its youth. It was fantastic and some of the best Cabernet I have ever tasted. That said, this was kept too long, which is no affront to Craig (wine maker at Gan Eden). The nose on this mahogany was relegated to oak and some dark fruit. The mouth is still tannic and oaky with bright acidity, but the fruit was all gone and a bit off. What more can be said, this was a glorious warrior in its past, but if you still have some, it should be left to lie in the bottle for sentimental value.
2005 Four Gates Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley – Score: A-
The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine is filled with blackberry, cassis, plum, oak, and spice. The mouth on this medium to full bodied is concentrated with fruit that follows the nose, blackberry, cassis, and plum. The mid palate is balanced with oak and still gripping tannins. The finish is long and graceful, with spicy oak, black pepper, cassis, and a hint of leather.
1998 Four Gates Merlot – Score: B
This is another one of those wines that was held too long. It was still there, but not at the Four Gates level. In the evening it still had a bit of a nose, but was off. By day the wine was less off, but the nose was all gone.
Galil Mountain Meron (77% Syrah, 11% each of Cab and Petit Verdot) – Score: A
The nose on dark garnet to black colored wine starts off with a quick hit of blueberry, and then continues to show rich and ripe plum, cassis, blackberry (almost bursting with juice), tobacco, ripe black cherry, sweet oak, fig, smoke, and pepper. The mouth on this full bodied wine is layered and concentrated with rich ripe fruit at the attack on a bed of lush and integrated tannins. The mouth follows with layer after layer of more ripe blackberry, cassis, plum, and black cherry in a concentrated and concerted attack. The mid palate flows perfectly with oak, soft integrated tannins, crazy spicy and smoky nuances, chocolate, and tobacco. The finish is long and spicy with black cherry, ripe and nicely extracted black fruit, tobacco, smoke, and oak. Quite a nice wine, and one of the winners of the evening.
2003 Ella Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Vineyard’s Choice (97% Cab, 3% Cabernet Franc) – Score: A
The nose on this inky black wine is screaming with bright and ripe blackberry, cassis, cherry, and gobs of rich and spicy oak. The mouth on this massive full bodied wine is layered with blackberry, cassis, and plum. The mouth is balanced with spicy oak, still gripping tannins, and nice acidity. The finish is long with ripe black fruit, spicy oak, and chocolate. Quite a nice wine, and one that still has a bit of time in it, but may be close to its peak.