Wines from the weekend along with lovely meatballs and spinach kugel

This past weekend we had friends and family around the table to enjoy some great food and some pretty good wines. This week there was no wine theme, actually to be more precise, the theme was that there was no theme. The theme was Drink up or let die. I say this as I have far too much history and track record in this area, and it has been my sworn duty going forward that I would embrace and channel the work of Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher and attempt to always open that bottle in its time. To meet this need I attempt to create wine themes when there is no pressing wine to get to, otherwise, I drink the wines that are up next.

I use drink by dates of the late Daniel Rogov, Cellar Tracker, and of course, my own personal notes. This week it was time to get to some bottles that I have been worried about. I got to a couple of them, but missed out on the 2005 Ella Valley Pinot Noir, which we last tasted on some 3 years ago. We did get to enjoy some wine that we have not tasted in a couple of years, the 2001 Yarden Merlot, Ortal Vineyard, one of the finest Merlot that Yarden has ever produced, along with the 2006 Recanati Cabernet Franc, both of which have a year or maybe more left on them. Both are drinking lovely now, but if you too wish to live the motto “no good wine will be left to die“, drink it now and you will not be sorry.

I often laugh when people ask me when they should drink a particular bottle. In the kosher wine world more and more wines are being created that are built for cellaring. All that means is that the bottle you buy is not quite ready to drink, and the wine maker and winery have decided to diversify their risk and have you cellar the wine rather than them. For the most part, most wine (kosher or not) is made to be drunk within the year or two. There are reserve wines that are built to age a few years maybe 4 years at most. Then there are the a fore mentioned high-end wines that are truly not enjoyable at all from release, and need time to come into their own/peak.

The Recanati Cabernet Franc is at its true peak and can be left for another year or so, but why? Unless you have more pressing wine to enjoy – drink it now! There is only one sure thing, other than taxes, and that is – that the wine will eventually die. Why not enjoy it now. There is rarely a perfect time to drink a wine. There is just the acceptable and peak time to enjoy the wine and the rest is what you make of it!

A friend brought over two wines, one was kept it so well – that the wine survived past its peak, and was lovely and truly enjoyable two years after its time. Sadly, because the wine was so old, it died after 40 minutes from its bottle. We last enjoyed the 2002 Château Le Crock  and the 2000 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Edition, Chalk Hill, both brought over by our guest in November 2008! At that time we recommended drink up on both of them. Interestingly enough, I would not have imagined that they would survive another 3 and half years! Further, the 2000 Herzog Special Edition Cabernet was nice last time, but this time the bottle was DOA because of a bad cork. However, getting past the cork, the wine was more than alive with lovely fruit, cedar, and dark leathers. The kind of wine one would expect of a finely aged bottle – so mega kudos to my buddy, dried out corks are just the price one pays for loving wine.

So, the lineup was as such; 2002 Four Gates Chardonnay (bad bottle but OK), 2002 Château Le Crock, N.V Four Gates Soiree – YUMMY!!2006 Recanati Cabernet Franc _ YUMMY!, 2000 Herzog Special Edition Cabernet, 2006 Yarden Odem Vineyard Merlot – YUMMY!, 2001 Yarden Ortal vineyard Merlot – SICK!, and finally the 2007 Carmel late harvest Gewürztraminer – which was OK (lacked acidity).

To pair with these wonderful wines I made pan-fried meatballs along with a new dipping sauce and braised meatballs as well. The good news was that the meatballs disappeared along with the new dipping sauce, so I think it is a keeper!

The wine notes follow below in the order they were served:

2002 Château Le Crock – Score: B+
The wine is ready to go and maybe a bit over the hill, though this particular bottle was stored well and may have given the bottle a drop more of life. I say this as after an hour from opening the wine became unbalanced with the fruit leaving and leaving heavy acid in its wake. After a bit more time the acid blew off and what was left was old, tired, but nice aged black wine.

The nose comes at you right away and for a short period of time with black cherry, blackberry, cassis, plum, raspberry, and classic graphite. The mouth is full bodied, plush, and velvety, with mouth coating tannins, good concentration, nice cedar, and more than enough tannin to keep you very interested. The finish is a bit short with tobacco, chocolate, nice Mediterranean herbs, along with a good-sized dollop of vanilla. If you have any of this wine open it NOW and drink it right after opening, this is not a wine for the cellar, decanting, or airing.

N.V Four Gates Soiree – Score: A-
Blends are all the craze now, and this one is as unique as they come. Soiree is a blend of Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc, both of which are blockbuster wines for the Four Gates Winery. This wine has now hit its stride and is drinking perfectly and is ready to come out and play. From the moment the wine was opened, till it was fully consumed (partially the next day) the wine was lovely, though the wine lacked tannin the next day.

This wine starts off with, a Four Gates and Santa Cruz flavor, chicken cherry cola, raspberry, sweet cedar, prune/plum, herbaceous, mint, licorice, chocolate, and vanilla. The mouth of this medium to full-bodied wine has playful tannins, and a crazy concentrated attack of earthy notes, black cherry and red fruit, along with mouth rounding integrated tannin, and lovely cedar extraction all packaged into a layered and structured wine that is unique in its flavor profile. The finish is super long, layered, and spicy with oak, coffee, plum, black pepper, cloves, and vanilla. Drink for another year if you must – but now the wine is perfect and one that is worth enjoying now.

2006 Recanati Cabernet Franc Reserve- Score: A-
This was the last year for Lewis Pasco, the founding winemaker of the Recanati Winery, and we tasted this out of barrel with Lewis in 2008! The wine was awesome then and it is still fantastic. The green notes are so obvious, while also being in control – a lovely balance of green and depth – what a wine! The nose on this black colored wine has rich espresso coffee, tobacco, chocolate, obvious graphite, raspberry, black cherry, plum, cedar, and vanilla. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is super rich and layered, with rich mouth coating integrated tannin, lovely classical franc bell pepper, and good sweet cedar extraction that fills the mouth nicely. The finish is long, rich, and plush with rich black fruit, vegetal notes, nice fat stogie in one hand and a handful of chocolate covered mint in another hand, all while wearing a leather coat.

2000 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Edition, Chalk Hill – Score: N/A
Unfortunately, this wine was corked. However, if you were willing to ignore the moldy nose and the sweaty socks you would see the awesome wine that was there. The nose was rich with chocolate, tobacco, blackberry, wild and beautiful. The mouth of this palate coating full bodied wine carries the blackberry, and has cassis and sweet cedar. The finish is long with good extraction and lots of vanilla. Unfortunately, the TCA was impossible to ignore and as such no wine score could be given.

2006 Yarden Merlot Odem Organic Vineyard – Score: A- (and a bit more)
This is the first single vineyard Merlot from the Odem Vineyard. This vineyard is tended to organically, but the word Organic is nowhere on the label as there are sulfites added. The last time we had this bottle the first thing that hit you was the massive amount of menthol and spice that there was. This time the menthol and herb was under control, and it was accompanied by candied plum, nice chocolate, blackberry, eucalyptus/menthol aromas, and black cherry. The mouth is massive and inky with mouth coating tannin, layer upon layer of spice and herb, black fruit that is focused and concentrated, and sweet cedar that is integrating and rich in the mouth. The finish is super long and spicy with lovely tobacco, chocolate, blackcurrant, orange rind and loamy dirt. Over time the wine opens further and shows layers of butterscotch and creamy vanilla.

2001 Yarden Merlot Ortal Vineyard – Score: Almost A
WOW, WOW, WOW!! What a glorious wine, this one is really ready with its overly date driven issues of old behind it. The wine now shows beautifully and is a wine that we did not have time to watch open as the wine disappeared in almost no time, clearly the winner of the overall tasting. The wine tasted even better than the last winning tasting and it is a wine that has at least another year ahead of it, but why wait! Drink now and you will be rewarded with what may well be the best Merlot that Yarden has made in sometime.

The nose on this wine is quite redolent and ready as soon as the wine is opened, with blackberry, ripe plum, licorice, and graphite. The mouth on this full bodied wine is mouth coating and crazy plush with layers upon layers of concentrated black fruit, raspberry, sweet date, bell pepper, crushed herb, and integrating mouth coating tannins, all balanced nicely with sweet cedar and good balancing acidity. The finish is luxurious, smokey, and long with more black fruit, chocolate, tobacco, and cloves.

2007 Carmel Gewürztraminer Late Harvest Shaal – Score: B++
While many have given this one much higher scores on Rogov’s forum, we all felt this lacked the bracing acidity to make it a true winner. The wine starts off with a crazy nose of rich honey, ripe peach, rose hips, lychee, pear, along with heavy sweetness. The mouth is rich, full bodied, and mouth coating, with good sweetness that takes over the palate, along with floral, pineapple, and melon notes that peek out from under the tropical and honeyed mouth. The finish is long-lasting with cloves and baked apricot pie. If this had more acidity to really balance out the whole, it would have been a real winner, drink up!

2010 Reyes del Imperio – Score: B
While this wine attempts to meet the Terrenal standard especially since this is non mevushal as is the Terrenal Cabernet from Spain, but it falls short because it lacks the complexity to grab your attention. The nose starts off screaming with Boysenberry and blueberry, after time the boysenberry leaves and black cherry appears along with floral notes and vanilla. The mouth is medium bodied, but has some nice backbone and packs enough of a tannin punch to almost coat the mouth and keep your attention. The finish is long with blue and black fruit, loamy dirt, mineral, and tart berries.

Posted on May 16, 2012, in Food and drink, Israel, Israeli Wine, Kosher Dessert Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Dave, I don’t when you’ll be again in our neck of the woodsbut if you wish I can still get you some bottles of Ella Valley PN ’05, just let me know.

  1. Pingback: Yitzchok Bernstein and Jonathan Hajdu excellent 27 course tour de force « Wine Musings Blog

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