Shirah, Four Gates, and a French wine for Shabbos Passover

2010 Shirah CoalitionTruly Passover Shabbos was a two fold event, the chance to taste through my Shirah wines that I had been yearning to get to and the chance to taste a barrel sample of wine sent to me by Andrew of Liquid Kosher (a high-end kosher wine merchant). Andrew warned me that I needed to air the puppy out so indeed, I opened it Friday morning and it was still kicking Saturday night.

As, I already documented here, about all things Shirah, I was talking with Gabriel before Passover and we agreed that we would both open Shirah wines over Passover. To me, it was time to see if the Coalition, which I thought was severely lacking in the finish and mouth, had come around. Humorously, there are some that think my article on Shirah wines was a cheerleader post – but such is life, I really did feel passionately about the Weiss Brothers and I really do like their wines. We tasted through four of the Shirah wines that I had around, the two coalitions, from 2010 and 2011 and the 2008 10-2 punch and the 2010 Counterpunch. All four of the wines were truly unique, but the winner of the four was the 1-2 punch and the 2010 Coalition – the very wines, I though was truly lacking – how funny life can be sometimes.

Benyo came over for the Shabbos and brought over two oldie but goodies – 1996 Four Gates Merlot and 1996 Four Gates Chardonnay. Now, as you all know Four Gates Winery was “officially” founded in 1997, but that dos not mean he did not make wine in 1996 – actually he made a fair amount of wine in 1996, and all of his friends and family were the beneficiary of his abundant kindness! To me, the wines rival the 1997, 2003, and 2006 vintages. Though his best wines so far are still the 2012 releases (year wise – not vintage). Anyway, the 1996 Chardonnay was so good and clean and ripe, the real shocker was the color – pure light gold color, like a 2006 or a 2012 Chardonnay! Quite impressive as always – his older 1996 Chardonnay wines are truly unique. I did not take notes – sorry, but this one was not the soft, honeyed, caramelized Chardonnay that I come to expect from his stash of 1996 Chardonnays. This was bright and expressive – really like its color! Blind, I would have thought it was a 2000 or 2010 wine!

After that we enjoyed a march of red wines, one after the other, each one unique in their own right, with really no duds or holes, it was a really fun night. Friends brought over some wines, but none of them made the table, as I really wanted to taste through the Shirah wines, the Frenchie, and one Israeli wine. They brought over a Peeraj Habib – nothing to slouch over AT ALL, but I was single minded on my plan, and I did ask forgiveness afterwards.

The next wine was the 2010 Shirah Counterpunch, one of the first of the four Shirah wines. This was the 2010 follow-up wine to the 2008 epic 1-2 punch. To me the 1-2 is awesome, while the counterpunch was unique and lovely, but not in the same league. The next wine was the 1-2 punch and what a wine it was indeed! This wine truly threw me into sensory overload attempting to get each and every nuance out of it, but what really surprised me was how well it went with both the herb encrusted gefilte fish recipe and my patented sweet and sour Brisket.

The next wine was the Frenchie! It was a barrel sample of wine from the Saint Emilion wine region of France, whose grapes were sourced from Chateau Moulin de la Clide Saint Emilion. The wine is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. The green notes come screaming through and as the wine opened it and nice red fruit were more and more apparent. To be fair, this is not a wine that will work for everyone. I think most US palates will find the wine too green, earthy, forest floor crunchy, and mushroom like. But that is the burden that most French wines are left to bear.

The next wine was the 2009 Yaffo Carignan, which was nice enough with good tannin and animal flavors, but not as exotic and entrapping as the Shirah. The next wine was the 2011 Coalition, a lovely wine, filled with Zinfandel and wonderful spice.

Finally, we had the 2010 Coalition which was another of the stars that night. The Nacional comes out with so much stone and citrus fruit that it is shocking along with tons of blue and red fruit from the Syrah and Petite Verdot – what a fun bottle that was.

For dessert we enjoyed two sweet wines – a thing I do not often write about, as they are not really my bread and butter wines. We enjoyed a glass of the now famous Kinor David 8 year KPort wine. This wine is NOT a port and it is not sweet. This wine is as close as you can get to a kosher aperitif. The nose on it is entrancing, captivating, and almost as insane as many of the Shirah wines, with a blend of white and red fruits, along with earthy and green notes. The palate will be a bit of a letdown, if you are looking for more than a light bodied and mouth coating pick-me up. However, Kinor David also has a 2003 Kinor David Sherry – that is equally insane in its aromatics and whose body is equally light, but the sherry aromatics trump the 8yr KPort and takes it to the next level – quite impressive the two of them.

We also enjoyed the Oscar Quevedo Porto Ruby Porto, imported by Allied Imports and a wine that is quite a treat. This is a real port wine, actually is a port wine that is made in Portugal, and as such may carry the Port name on the label. This Port is rich and layered and nutty with good sweet notes, lots of cherry and chocolate and mounds of spice and tannin to keep your attention. The body and roundness may not be as full as other kosher port wines, but it is more finesse than it is powerhouse.

The next day, my family hung around and we opened three more wines, while also sampling the leftovers from the previous evening. We opened the 2011 Elvi Wine InVita, a lovely wine made up of Sauvignon Blanc and Pansa Blanca. We also opened a bottle of the 1996 Four Gates Merlot, which shocked the living daylights out of me. This wine was ripe and fleshy, abounding with tannins to spare and fruit that was alive and kicking – what a real joy.

Benyo swung around after eating out and we opened a bottle of the 2005 California Classic Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah blend. This wine is creation from Sammy Perez, or as he writes on the bottle, Samuel Perez. Samuel also made the Kiddush Hashem Syrah back in 2003 and 2004. I emailed him asking to get more about his story, but so far no reply. If anyone knows how to get hold of him – please tell me, I really liked the wine and would love to hear more about the entire story of Kiddush Hashem Winery and California Classic Cellars. The wine had the same stylistic approach to wine making as the 2003 and 2004 Kiddush Hashem, almost a fingerprint if would – quite interesting. Lots of toast, chewy yet finessed, along with great blue and black fruit, fighting back and forth – between the Cabernet and Syrah fruit, for who can take over full autonomy. In the end, the blue fruit won, but not before integrating a large basket of black fruit with it – quite impressive.

So there you have it the wines we enjoyed over the Shabbos of Passover 2013, the wine notes follow below:

2010 Shirah Counter Punch – Score: B+ to A-
Where the 1-2 punch was insane and needed time to come around the counterpunch has always been ready to go, but indeed with more air the wine showed more depth and length and complexity. The wine is a 50/50 blend of Grenache and Syrah, but from different vineyards than the 1-2 punch.

The nose on this wine is really intoxicating and non sequitur, but truly lovely. The nose starts with white fruit, peach, apricot, kiwi, followed by pomegranate, ripe raspberry jam, crazy blue fruit, and earth. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is filled with nice watermelon, great spice, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, ripe blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry, and sweet cedar. The finish is long and ripe with sweet mocha chocolate, leather, nice rich mouth coating tannin, black tea, black pepper, and licorice. This may not be the same animal, and to be fair was actually punched out by the 1-2 punch. However, this is still a lovely wine and a true joy to share with friends and family and a kick to taste side by side with the 1-2 punch.

2008 One – Two Punch – Score: A- (and a bit more)
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah. This wine is one that when I opened it, I could not help myself – AHH how I adore you! This wine is so unique in its nose and wine notes – that it is heresy to write them down! LOL! The other crazy thing is that hours and days after it was opened the wine stayed perfectly consistent and drinkable – it is a crazy wine that is ready to go now and continues to pay dividends to those that believed.

The nose on this purple-black colored wine is truly unique and very hard to pin down. Where before the wine was not consistent in its style and notes, this wine is now showing consistent perfume and redolence that is not normal. The wine starts off with lovely roasted animal, perfume, lovely floral notes, roasted dark cherry, candied fruit, tart fruit, and bramble. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine forced me to write this acronym down for a second time in days – AYFKM (Are You Freaking Kidding Me)!! OMG and silence. The mouth is tart and rich with tart fruit, crazy watermelon, mango, tropical fruit, followed by massive spice, ripe plum, coffee machine innards and grinds, blackcurrant, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, other baker spices, and rich mouth coating tannin that linger long. The finish is long and luscious with sweet cedar, tobacco, crazy blue fruit that appears after sometime, and ripe raspberry tea and jam that lingers long. BRAVO!!

2011 Chateau Moulin de la Clide St. Emilion – Score: A-
This is a wine that I was given to taste, a barrel sample that comes from an existing winery that until now did not make kosher wine. The wine is majority Merlot, blended with 10% of Cabernet Franc. The wine took hours and hours to open up. At first all you smell is dirt and mushroom. As the wine started to open up it, the red fruits and chocolate start to make an appearance.

The nose starts off closed as tight as a steel drum, and then it opened up after 10 hours of air and crystalline double decanting (opening the wine for many hours, decanting and then rebottling). The nose starts to open with ripe fruit, loamy dirt, ethereal forest floor, and red fruit perfume – what a lovely experience of watching wine open. The mouth on this medium plus wine follows classic French style, no hammering fruit, no fruit forward issues here, but to be fair it also requires you to take notice of more subtle intonations and characteristics. Here the wine is not a wallflower, but while it is not a Cali wine – it does not lack in complexity, but it is not an extracted wine either.

The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is rich and ripe with blackberry, cassis, ripe black plum, lovely black cherry, and tart raspberry, all wrapped up in insane mouth coating tannin that does not give up – two days later! Clearly the star of the show is the tannin and loamy dirt, but the fruit and oak add to the wine’s complexity, that help round the mouth and add depth to its meaning. The finish is a bit short, but does lengthen with time, with classic French balance, great acid, mineral, graphite, chocolate, more dirt that mingles with tart red fruit, leather, and tobacco to make for a long lingering wine. Over time the wine shows even more massive size and expression with bigger and richer tannin, blacker fruit expression all still balanced well with zesty red fruit, dirt, and mineral. Look for this wine to round out more and fill in earlier on.

2011 Shirah Coalition – Score: A-
The 2010 blend was dominated by the Touriga, while in this blend it plays more of a mop up roll, with the Zinfandel taking center stage. The zinfandel adds more insane spice that is the hallmark of the Coalition blend, but also adds more heft. The wine loses the blue fruit (from the lack of Syrah), but the white fruits show up from the small but still important role that the Touriga plays! The wine is more ripe and richer than the 2010, making for a fuller body and a more extracted madness.

I tasted this wine a few weeks back in NY and now I had more than 1 minute to savor it and enjoy it and document it, so the notes are slightly different. This wine is a blend of 60% Zinfandel, 12% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, and 8% Touriga Nacional. The wine is a unique blend, just like its older 2010 vintage. The nose explodes with crazy wine aromas – the kind of attack that only the Weiss brothers can bring you, heavy notes of blackberry, date, watermelon, and spice. The mouth on this crazy full-bodied wine is ripe, concentrated, extracted, and layered with control and style, black cherry, black plum, cranberry, dates that almost create a platform upon which the other fruits stand, ripe zesty raspberry, apricot, white peach, mounds of tannin, and sweet cedar. The finish is long and spicy with cloves, black pepper, insane mouth coating tannins that linger long, nice chocolate, a wine with a ripe and full body, great acid and balance, citrus fruit, zesty strawberry, candied currant, fig, tobacco, and mineral. This is a wine that is teetering on the edge of madness and sweetness, but only the Weiss brothers can pull this off – BRAVO!!!

2010 Shirah Coalition – Score: A- (and a bit more)
This wine is a perfect example of the saying – good things come to those that wait – and man did I wait – and WOW! WHAT A WINE! This puppy used to have ZERO finish, I mean almost nothing! Now, it does not stop talking!! This wine is a blend of 45% Touriga Nacional, 30% Syrah, and 25% Petite Verdot.

The Touriga’s unique qualities come screaming in the nose with another crazy Shirah special blend. Once again, the red, white and blue nose of Shirah wines comes from this unique and crazy blend! The label’s unique styling, styled after the constitution – is perfect for a wine whose essence is red, white, and blue! The nose starts off with ripe and screaming blueberry, boysenberry, followed by loamy earth, herb, dirt, peach, apricot, pomegranate, litchi, and citrus fruit. The mouth on this medium+ bodied wine is layered with extracted red, white, black, and blue fruit, black cherry, plum, raspberry, peach, ripe apricot jam, rich tannin, boysenberry, watermelon, honeydew melon, and lovely oak. The finish is balanced and rich with great acid, more tannins on the rise, more white and red fruit, chocolate, insane and crazy spices, nutmeg, cloves, black pepper, and so much more that it could fill a spice cabinet, finishing off with fresh baked raspberry jam pie. WOW BRAVO!!!

2009 Yaffo Carignan – Score: B++
The nose on this wine starts off with nice animal notes, followed by a rich blue nose, great dirt, earth, loam, along with red fruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is nice with currant, cranberry, black plum, soft rich mouth coating tannin, and good cedar. The finish is lovely tobacco, coffee grinds, good balancing acid, and mineral notes that linger.

Kinor David 8 year KPort – Score: B++ to A-
Personally, I love this wine more than the 10 year port as it is more ethereal and captivating like the sherry. It is NOT a port, please do not approach this wine looking for a huge body or a wine that can handle dark chocolate cake. This is a wine that is more of an aperitif or one that would pair perfectly with an apple cobbler or a cherry pie. The nose on this wine is equally unique and ethereal, though not as massively intoxicating as the sherry. The nose starts off with a crazy nose of summer fruit compote, peach, white nectarine, and apricot sweetened compote, along with crazy candied cherry, along with watermelon, and strawberry jam – try to imagine this or better yet – get a bottle! The mouth on this medium bodied sweet wine starts off (fresh from the bottle) blackberry, currant, candied fruit, honey coated pine nuts, nice tannin, along with crazy cedar. Over time the fruit fades with crazy sweet vanilla, chocolate, raspberry jam, marzipan, almond, dried nuts, and dried fruit. The finish is long with rose water blended into an almond cake with sweet fruit compote as a topping.
This is a confounding wine with dark fruit taking front stage in the mouth and finish and then over time giving way to ripe white summer fruits with nuts and dried fruits as the background. Unique as all of David’s wines, though this is my preferred KPort of the two. Also, Elchonon’s idea of tasting this cold is a great idea, throw it in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes before enjoying.

NV Vinhos Oscar Quevedo Porto Ruby Porto – Score: B++
The nose starts off way too hot and too sweet, but after a few days this wine really perks up nicely. Meaning, if you want this for a weekend part or meal, take a nice glass of it on Wednesday and then enjoy the rest on the weekend. The nose settles into a cherry wonderland with nice cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. The mouth is round and finessed with good candied fruit, currant, cranberry, candied white fruit, along with nuts, and mounds of fig. The finish is long with lasting coating tannin, more sweet notes that linger with spice and chocolate and coffee that can easily handle what you throw at it dessert wise.

2011 Elvi Wines InVita Score: B++
The wine is a blend of 40% Sauvignon Blanc and 60% Pansa Blanca – which is the grape used in making of Cava wines. The nose starts off with a lovely floral attack, followed by honey notes, Asian pear, melon, green apple, lychee, and bright citrus. The mouth is nice and round, ripe, with bracing acid, a fantastic dichotomy that plays out with bracing acid, citrus zest, lovely mineral, fig, and more nice green notes that add balance to the zesty, ripe, and acidic mouth. The finish is long and zesty with lemon/lime fresche, citrus zest, with great spice.

1996 Four Gates Merlot – Score: A- (plus more)
To start – this wine was never released as the winery started in 1997, but this wine was made en-masse, but never sold, more like handed out or gifted – painful I am sure! The Chardonnay and Merlot wines from 96 were so phenomenal, wines that Benyo (the winemaker of Four gates Winery) has graced our table with many times, and each time – they blow me away!

The nose on this perfect purple and black colored wine screams with super ripe and freshly picked black plum, dirt, herb, all laid out on a massive green meadow. When I tasted the wine – all I could write down was AUFKM (Are You Freaking Kidding Me), the mouth is mouthwatering, coating and super rich, with mouth coating soft and integrated tannin, the tannin cling to your mouth, though calmed much from the puckering tannin and acid of yesteryear. The mouth continues with chocolate, blackberry, and great cedar that try to keep up with the complexity and intoxication of the tannin. The finish is long and sweet with great balancing acid, ripe zesty strawberry jam, tobacco, leather, and more of the tannins that rise – what a true joyous wine indeed – BRAVO Benyo!

2005 California Classic Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah – Score: B+ to A-
This wine is a 50-50 blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon and has a story behind it that I am still trying to track down, till then I can say what I know. Samuel Perez, a wine supervisor, made the wine in the early days of Herzog Winery and he made a bunch of wine on the side. The first set of wine was in 2003 and 2004 under the Kiddush Hashem label, mostly Syrah. Those wines were hit and miss, some were great and some were flat and painful, classic signs of poor bottling lines, but he and his consulting wine maker – clearly had skills. After that he made wine under the California Classic Cellars label – in 2004 and 2005, but that is all I know. Someone out there – I need more info on this whole story!

Anyway, back to the wine, the wine is a 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah and the wine plays like a two headed monster – showing both its sides at different times, but not at the same time – much like the Israeli and Aussie Cab/Shiraz blends.

The wine starts off very much like a rich and startling Cali Shiraz, with deep animal, earth, and rich coffee grind nose, along with smoky notes, cherry, and licorice. The mouth is rich, ripe, and round, and very mineral based with rich mouth bracing and coating tannin – at the same time, with loads of tasty char, along with blackberry, blackcurrant, black plum, blueberry, and lovely rich oak. The finish is perfectly balanced with good mineral, earth, nice bracing and balancing acid, still insane tannin, leather, tobacco, black tea, more char, and raspberry – BRAVO! This is a really unique and richly expressive wine that needs an hour or two to come to life.

Posted on April 10, 2013, in Food and drink, Israel, Israeli Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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