Controversial Wine Sagas continue along with a GREAT steak recipe for the Sabbath

This past weekend we enjoyed a quiet pair of meals with a controversial bottle of wine all wrapped up in a neat bundle under a canopy of some lovely recipes. The idea started when a NY friend of mine, Isaac Cohen, of the Rogov Forum, gave me a link to a wonderful rib roast recipe. I had asked him how he had made steak for Shabbos, given all the complications we have with cooking on the Sabbath? He sent me a link to a fantastic recipe that works to absolute perfection. Why? Because the recipe calls for cooking the meat at high for a short period of time, and then turning off the oven! Which for Sabbath observant Jews, is Nirvana! This recipe is not a change for the Sabbath observant (who do not cook on the Sabbath), but rather the actual recipe for cooking a slab of meat! Instead of cooking it slow and low and then blasting it at the end, this recipe calls for blasting it first and then turning off the oven, which causes the meat and its innards to cook slow and low with a lovely bark on the outside, given the blast oven start.

We did modify the recipe slightly, as we decided to NOT use the coating, but we followed the rest of the recipe to perfection. The funny thing was that we had a pair of simple Rib Eye steaks for the meal, and we turned them into the perfect Sabbath meal!

I took the 1-pound steaks and twined them together, coated them with spices and oil and then placed some homemade barbeque sauce on them and threw them into a 500-degree oven for 18 minutes, turned off the oven and left for Synagogue. I came back semi-enjoyed a glass of wine for Kiddush (more on that later), and had some great chicken soup. Then we opened the oven and low and behold the steaks were perfectly done! They were medium rare, with a hint of pink all the way through – just lovely! Bravo to my man Isaac – thanks for setting me onto this great recipe for some very good eating!

I was in need of a bottle of wine to pair with this slab of luscious meat, so I unfortunately went with a highly contentious, and in the end, not fantastic bottle of wine. Please do not get me wrong, I normally LOVE Yatir wines, but this wine seems to be a trouble child. It starts off like a normal Israeli blend, but it becomes off balance with heavy mineral and salt notes. Some on the forum were calling this wine a bitter wine, but to me it is far too mineral based. There is also that phase of time where the wine goes into heavy funk and finally it pops out with a black and red wine that is deep and layered, but the saline still lingers. To me the wine did not have what it takes to bring it to the next level. The wine is nice, but it is far too flawed to be a QPR or top line wine.

At Kiddush in the Synagogue we enjoyed another controversial wine – the 2007 Hagafen Cabernet Franc. The second the wine was uncorked I could immediately tell the wine had finally come back from the dead and turned its ugly duckling corner. This is a wine I have spoken about on this blog a few times, as well. We first tasted the wine at the winery in 2010, where we also bought two more bottles for our own subsequent tastings. This was only the second release of Cabernet Franc from the winery, with the first being in 1996, a bottle I have very fond memories about. The next time we tasted one of the bottles, the wine was entering its dumb period, and by the time we tasted this wine a second time, it was in a Cinderella-like sleep. Since then, we have tasted it off and on, at friend’s houses, the Synagogue, and other places.

Now, if you are wondering – how did we get onto the topic of sleeping in regards to wine? Simple, wine is a leaving breathing animal, it ebbs and flows with the change of environment within which it resides. It also, has a life outside of the environment. In other words, as the wine ages it goes through cycles, most of the time, the cycle is on, but sometimes the cycle is in the off mode. This means that at times the wine may decide it is time to up and go on vacation, get some beach time! When that happens, there is NOTHING you can do about it. Just be patient and wait for the wine to come back from vacation and be ready to be happy again. When the wine is on vacation, it tastes flat, empty, and listless, much like a dude on the beach, intoxicated, and with little will to anything but zone out – that is a wine that is deep under a sleeping spell.

This weekend was the first time in a long time, that the wine tasted anywhere near it did in 2010. It is not unheard of to have a wine go into a deep sleep, it is a normal occurrence, but a two year drunken stupor is not something I have experienced before. Still, I am happy to see it come out of its Rip Van Winkle nap. The wine did not taste as wonderful as I remember it at the winery, but to be fair, I had nary more than a sip, but WOW what a change to say the least.

I guess you cannot win them all. The Hagafen was a nice wake up, while the Yatir was a downer, but the meals were killer. So, my hopes and wishes to you all, that your weeks ahead are filled with success, joy, and a cessation to the horrors that life can bring our way, and a commencement of the many things your lives need and the realization of the hopes that we all carry with us. Best Wishes – the wine notes follow below:

2006 Yatir Red Wine Blend – Score: B to B+
This wine is one filled controversy because of its current state of affairs. The wine is a blend of 35% Merlot, 24% Shiraz, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot. The blend itself was one of the early and fascinating blends to come out of Israel. Please remember that the classic blends of Bordeaux and to a lesser extant other regions, were built from generations of wine families building a brand because of what was best in that location. This blend and the even more non-standard blends that have recently been made in Israel are quite interesting. Australia may well have been the first to blend Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz/Syrah together, but it is still a hard feat to complete. The Bordeaux grapes (which make up 80% of this blend) have a long history of being blended together, while Australia’s blends have barely 50 years.

With that said, the controversy of this wine has little to do with the blend and far more to do with its quality. For the longest time the wine has been panned as being to bitter, olive green, or plain old flat. Well the late Daniel Rogov took that as a challenge upon himself, before his passing of course, and did a tasting of the wine, one from the Yatir winery itself, one from his own stash, and one shipped to him from the USA. He felt overall that the wine was inline with his opinion, check it out for yourself. So, I tried the wine and I found it to be well – not so fun – till the wine opened. However, till that point, the wine went through two very distinct aroma and flavor profiles.

At first the wine opens to a cacophony of licorice, blackcurrant, blackberry, herb, and strong and almost overpowering mineral notes. The mouth is rich and concentrated with some nice black cherry, huge amounts of saline, and eucalyptus, all wrapped in a soft sheath of mouth coating tannin and cedar that give the wine an extra bit of backbone. The finish is long and spicy with lovely tobacco, milk chocolate, and black olive bitterness that throws the wine off at the end (if the mouth’s saline was not overpowering already).

Over time the wine goes from bad to worse with the salt and mineral taking back stage and an overpowering smell and taste of barnyard flavors dominating the wine. Finally, the wine gives way to a far more muted palate, but one that is free of any obvious deficiencies, outside of its more dull self. Gone are the olives, and overpowering eucalyptus and mineral. Instead the wine is filled with a lovely blackberry, cassis, black plum, graphite, tobacco, and chocolate, both on the palate and the nose. Still the wine has a bitter end with saline that though is not as offensive as at first, is still feels a bit off kilter. Drink up and maybe not with polite company.

2007 Hagafen Cabernet Franc Estate Bottled Napa Valley – Score: B++
This is Hagafen’s second release of a single varietal Cabernet Franc, the other one being the 1996 vintage. This is the fifth or sixth time I have tasted this wine and it is showing much better this time! The first time we tasted this wine, some two years ago, it was showing quite nicely. This time the wine’s body was OK, while the nose exploded with equal zest. Also, this is a wine that shows zero of the classical green or floral Franc notes, but instead shows like a light Merlot – but quite nice all the same.
The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine showed a deep expression of blackberry, plum, raspberry, and herb. The mouth was layered and rich with hints of cherry, deep cedar notes, and lovely integrated tannin that bring the mouth together. The finish is long with milk chocolate, tobacco, vanilla, cinnamon, and spice. The wine may be back, but I would start drinking up whatever amount of stock you have left.

Posted on November 12, 2012, in Food and drink, Israel, Israeli Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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