A shabbos spent at Four Gates with friends

A few weeks ago, I spent Shabbos with some friends, GG and Mendel from Israel and New York respectively, at Benyo’s house, home of the Four Gates Winery, in the hills of Santa Cruz, CA. It was, as always, one of those nights that are hard to forget, but took me time to get down on “paper”. We enjoyed so many great wines and food that I laugh at it now. We brought over the meat and a few bottles, and Benyo took acre of the rest, including accommodations, awesome food, and a non stop supply of crazy wine!

Friday night started off with a blast where we enjoyed many dishes, in classic Benyo style. It consisted of Pisces, followed by salad after salad, after awesome salad, and some crazy meat made by the chef – Mendel.

Much of what occurred happened in a daze, and to be honest the notes are shorter, because my memory of them were shorter. That said, I guess I can sum it up this way – what happened at Benyo’s stays at benyos! So, other than the meats, cholent, awesome food and wine – the rest is all a haze, so here is what I remember best of those wines! I hope u enjoy!

Wine Notes follow below:

Domaine de la Perdrix Cotes du Roussillon ­ – Score: B
The wine is a blend of 50% Grenache Blanc and 50% Macabeu. The wine was oxidized and honeyed with quince and peach and not much else. Interesting for such an old mevushal wine.

2007 Four Gates Chardonnay – ­ Score: A-
The nose on this gold colored wine is rich with smokey notes, bright fruit, and pineapple. The mouth is rich and layered with sweet notes, oriental spices, cedar sweet, white peach, and apple cobbler. The finish is long and spicy with green notes, white flowers, and quince.

1997 Four Gates Chardonnay – ­ Score: A­ and more
The nose is lovely and citrusy, with sweet oak and oriental spice. The mouth is more polished and elegant, with lovely fruit strcuture, almost oily with a very creamy texture, all balanced impeccably with great acid, guava, pineapple, white apples, great sweet fruit and fig. The finish is long with lovely fruit, hints of butterscotch, tart grapefruit, citrus, rich summer fruit, all nicely layered with spice. This was a lovely wine, one of the best 1996/1997 Chardonnay from Benyo that I have ever had. Clearly it is at its peak and drink now – BRAVO!

2009 Four Gates Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: A- to A
The wine is exactly like I remember it – but with a bit more depth and concentration, along with a more intense showing of anise and licorice.

2008 Yarden Pinot Noir – Score: A­ (and more)
When GG said he wanted to taste this wine, I laughed because most of the Yarden Pinot Noir, are nice wines, without a drop of Pinot quality to them. WOW Was I shocked! This wine is a real Pinot from YARDEN! The nose on this wine opens with nice Kirche cherry and lovely earthy notes, wet forest floor, raspberry, and tart fruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is dirty, earthy, and rich, with layers of coffee, tart fruit, and very old world, not at all like any yarden pinot I have ever had. At the end it showed nicely with orange rind and more earth. BRAVO!

1997 Four Gates Merlot – Score: A­- to A
Filthy wine, with crazy dirt, earth, mineral, barnyard, graphite, and black fruit. The mouth was full booed with mushroom, layered with spice and green notes and lovely mouth coating tannin. Long and green/mineral finish with great acid and chocolate ­ sick wine.

2001 Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon, El Rom – Score: A
As I have said countless times, this may well be the best El Rom of all time, and is right up there with the 2008 Yarden Katzrin and other Yarden Cabernets from yesteryear. The wine has not changed since my last notes but give this wine an hour of air time before enjoying it.

2007 Four Gates Cabernet Franc ­ – Score: A­- to A
This is a wine that needs 3 hours of decanter time before you will even start to fully enjoy. That said, if you have some, please hold off enjoying it for another year or two, and then start drinking till 2020. The wine is drinking perfectly as my last notes state.

2004 Four Gates Syrah ­ – Score: A-
This wine has changed A TON from where I remember it a few years ago. Gone is the blue and now this thing is the black of night that terrifies little children. There is no red or blue anywhere in sight, all you taste is earth, dirt, graphite, charcoal, and straight blackness. The wine is dirty with roasted animal notes all over it, with rich espresso coffee lingering long on the palate, intermixed with blackberry, plum, and mineral.

2012 Shirah Coalition ­ – Score: B+ to A-
This wine has changed a bit going through it evolution as a crazy blend, that is Shirah wine. As this wine evolves parts of the blend will take center stage more and some will pass. Right now the ripe fruit from Agua is still dominant and the wine did not show well for me. Give this bottle a year and try again.

N.V. (2005 & 2006) Four Gates Pinot Noir – Score: A-
This wine is rich, layered, and still kicking with a body of a goddess and aromas that will captivate you. The wine continues to shine just as in my last tasting, showing a massive attack of cherry cola madness,  coffee, earth, and acid.

2002 Aloxe Corton Domaine Gaston & Pierre Ravaut ­ – Score: A­- (plus a bit)
This wine was stored at Benyo’s place since Mr. Halpern dropped it off there, so we were not surprised that it was more than still kicking! The notes on this wine show like a classic burgundy with cherry, ripe strawberry, loamy dirt, mushroom fields, and lovely ripe fruit. The mouth is rich and layered, with a medium body, and still hopping tannins that linger long, along with rich layers of sweet oak, coffee, chocolate, and mineral. The finish is long with nice spice, nutmeg and cloves, along with more dirt and graphite. With time the wine turned supple and silky with the elegance of a old hollywood starlet at the edge of her prime – BRAVO!!!

1998 Four Gates Merlot ­ – Score: A-
To be honest we had little hope for this 15 year old wine, but we were shocked at the outcome! This wine still had lovely tannin, bright fruit, great acid, and overall structure that belied its age.

The nose on this still light mahogany colored wine showed ripe red and black fruit, smokey notes, spice, and herb. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine was not sowing a mature stance, but more of a well integrated structure with blackberry, black plum, red fruit, bell pepper, eucalyptus, and tannin that holds up to the structure, with spicy oak to bring it all together. The finish is long and spicy, with great loamy dirt, cloves, leather, coffee, and tobacco. BRAVO!!!

1997 Four Gates Pinot Noir ­ – Score: A­- to A
The wine was full-bodied with layers of fruit, it showed beautifully and so old world with dirt and spice a wine that is complex and rich, a hedonistic experience which can only be described as both old world and yet truly rich and ripe. The black fruit was still kicking with cherry cola, deep and freshly rooted earth, mushroom and sick tannin that were still attacking. The finish was long and mineral with more dirt and coffee expression! BRAVO!!!

2001 Four Gates Merlot, M.S.C. – ­ Score: A-
The color of this wine is a beautiful deep garnet. The nose on this wine has strong aromas of blackberry, dark plum, cranberry, eucalyptus, along with lovely light notes of barnyard funk. The mouth on this full bodied wine is layered and complex. The mouth is full with blackberry, plum, and raspberry and then layers in mint. The mid palate adds core acidity, eucalyptus and lovely integrated tannins. The finish is long and satisfying with black fruit, chocolate, graphite, tobacco, and vanilla. A wonderful wine – it is at its peak if not a bit over the other side – drink up soon!!

Posted on September 18, 2014, in Food and drink, Israeli Wine, Kosher French Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher White Wine, Wine Tasting, Winery Visit and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

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