Some great kosher Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot

I have been flying far too much for business reasons this past year, and this past week is a perfect example of the madness. I flew 20 hours of plane time in a day, and I never left the country. Sure, part of that was mileage running, but the first part was business. So, that left me very little time to cook before some of my favorite guests, what I call the “gang” was coming over for a Friday night meal.

To fix that I made all the food the day before I left, froze it and unfroze it on Friday and served it Friday night. Do not fear, there were no leftovers. The wine selection was meant to be 2013 Cali Pinot Noir, but thanks to the generosity of many of the gang, that was thrown for a loop, and I am very thankful for that, as I got to taste some epic wines indeed.

So, instead of just 2013 Cali, we started with a very nice 2007 Gush Etzion Spring Red, brought by AS and that was followed by a wine that I loved very much the last time I had it, the 2014 Eagle’s Landing Sauvignon Blanc. Sadly, something went VERY wrong, since we tasted it in the summer at the winery. Gone was the ripping acid and saline, in its place is more tropical fruit, banana and sweet notes. Sadly, I was not the only one to say this, as others I respect told me this very same thing a few weeks ago. I was shocked and argued vehemently that this was just not true. Sadly, once I tasted the wine that was shipped directly from the winery as part of the wine club, my friend’s allegations were brought to the forefront. This was a real shame and one that left me wanting information – if it was available.

After that we started with a run of Pinot Noir wines, starting with 2012 Makom Pinot Noir, which was as good as it was last week! That was followed by the 2009 Four Gates Pinot Noir – which is hedonistic and rich in so many ways, a wine that was not appreciated at release, but one I held onto. This bottle in particular was brought by its creator – Benyamin Cantz and it was just lovely! The next wine was the 2011 Gvaot Gofna Pinot Noir, and what can I say at the meal it was DEAD! DOA was all I could say, I triple aerated it and nothing helped. THANKFULLY, I saved a bit and after 24 hours the wine was alive and beautiful. In hindsight I should have just read my own notes about this wine – and I would have seen that the wine was closed and sleeping a year ago, sadly it has yet to waken. Give this wine another year or decant it for 12 hours – which I think is absurd! Buy the wine and wait – you will be happy for it.

After that we took a break from Pinot and went to the best wine of the night, a bottle of the 1997 Four Gates Merlot, which was brought by EL! Thanks so much EL and LS – epic wine my friends! Benyamin Cantz was there, as I stated above and as always he took great happiness from the wine, but no credit! We all told him how great it was, and his reply is always the same, you are talking to the wrong guy – thanks God! Love you Benyo! If you have a bottle of this epic wine, it is at peak and has a few more years left easy. I would love to try it in two years – on its 20th birthday!!
At this point it was time for another heavy hitting wine, and I opened my last bottle of 2010 Ella Valley Cabernet Franc – and what a wine it was. Rich and opulent, very impressive.

Finally we returned to Pinot for two last wines. The first was a wine we all enjoyed; the 2013 Shirah Pinot Noir John Sebastiano Vineyard! The wine is very new world and sweet, something I stated the first time I had it, I really wanted to drink this wine and be able to enjoy it over a shakos. In the end, my opinion has not changed, it is s very Cali Pinot Noir – sweet and ripe, not date or anything like that, but its leanings and its focus is fruit forward. Still, it is a solid A- wine and one that I will get more of, when I put in my next order.

The next and final wine was a real dud, sadly a wine that I loved very much the last time I had it at Benyo’s house with GG and the chef! The 2008 Yarden Pinot Noir, sadly this time it was hollow and empty of fruit – it never bounced back either, no matter how long Iw aired, eventually it went date juice from all the oxidation.

So, there you go, the clear winners were of course the two Four Gates wine, the 1997 Four Gates Merot and the 2009 Four Gates Pinot Noir. Next would be the 2011 Gvaot Pinot Noir (after 24 hours of air), followed by the 2012 Makom Pinot Noir, the 2010 Ella Valley Cabernet Franc, and the 2013 Shirah Pinot Noir. The Gush is right behind them, a solid B+ to A- wine – it is very plush and tobacco laden, but it lacks in the complexity, which is fair given its age.

Sadly, there were two REAL duds and one perceived one – but even a 700 batting average is OK, and one that I can live with! For dinner we had my patented Olive and White Bean soup, which I have changed from the original Mollie Cookbook recipe. For the main course we had slow cooked chuck roast, rice, and a fresh green salad. For dessert HK made a fantastic apple cake and we paired it with my first bottle of the 2010 Netofa’s LBV Port.

I do intend on doing another pure blind tasting of all 2013 Cali Pinot, which I hope to get to in the next few weeks! There you have it – the wine notes follow below:

1997 Four Gates Merlot – Score: A- to A
First of all OMG are you kidding me!!!!! This wine is purple in color and now fully integrated and perfectly balanced and mouth coating with black and red fresh fruit! Wow this wine is killing!!! This bottle was a friends and it shows how awesome his wines age!

The nose is redolent with black and red fruit, graphite, blackberry, raspberry, rich loamy earth, along with lovely oak influence. The mouth on this medium+ bodied wine is layered and rich with lovely mouth coating tannin, followed by concentration of black fruit, dark cherry, cranberry, lovely green notes, sweet herb, and garrigue, with barnyard notes, all rising with sweet oak and tannin. The finish is long with tons of good mineral, ripe fruit, chocolate, vanilla, depth of flavor, and calming acid to bring this entire wine together. The fact that the wine continues to coat my mouth and linger long after it is gone blows me away. Throw in its age and I am further blown away. This wine is still drinking beautifully and will so for another three years!

2009 Four Gates Pinot Noir – Score: A- (and more)
The nose on this wine is rich with proto-barnyard notes, lovely loamy dirt, along with lovely rose petals, cranberry, raspberry, and green notes. The mouth on this rich, layered, and medium bodied wine, is epic, with mouth drying tannin, wrapped in a plush and supple mouthfeel, with Benyo’s classic Chica-cherry-cola, strawberry, blackberry, along with dried herb, insane zesty fruit, that shows hints of char and more dirt. The finish is long and green, with more loamy dirt, sweet cedar, with rich blackcurrant, hints of blueberry, along with mounds of mint, sweet herb, and lovely spice and coffee – BRAVO!!!

2010 Ella Valley Cabernet Franc – Score: A- (and a bit more)
This is my last bottle, unless I can find some more, and it is getting better still, with still bruising mouth drying tannin. This is the first red released that has Lin’s fingerprint on it. Doron Rav Hon vinified the wine, before he left, before he left, but was aged and bottled by Lin. The wine is a blend of 96% Cabernet Franc and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose on this wine shows lovely dark cherry, nice varietal true floral notes, with nice vegetal bell pepper, and leafy tobacco. The mouth on this lovely full bodied wine shows draping tannin, nice deep extraction, with nice chocolate, garrique, along with layers of concentrated blackberry, plum, along with blackcurrant, and spicy oak. The finish is long and leafy, with great tannin that rise, along with dark cherry, leather, chocolate, with more vegetal notes, lingering long.

2011 Gvaot Pinot Noir, Gofna – Score: A- (BUT WAIT this wine needs time!!)
This wine was closed all Shabbos – nothing, even after running it through the aerator three times. But after shabbos was over the wine is starting to open. This wine is in a clear sleep mode, so bummed it was not open for the meal.
This wine starts off one way and ends up another way – clearly this wine is in deep sleep mode and should be bought ASAP and laid to rest for another year.

Over time the wine opens a bit more but shows more of the dirty mouthed 2010 than the fruity yet closed 2011. The nose is filled with dirt, dusty floor, mushroom, barnyard, raspberry, and toast. The mouth is rich, layered, and dirty, with a great medium body, lovely mouth coating tannins, showing ripe cherry, ripe and tart red fruit, strawberry, blackcurrant, good toast and more mushroom. The finish is long and herbaceous, with nice dirt, mineral, tart raspberry, and more ripe/tart red fruit lingering.

2007 Gush Etzion Blessed Valley, Red – Score: B+ to A-
The wine is a blend of 87% Merlot and 13% Cabernet Franc. The wine is showing a bit worse for the wear in the US than in Israel. The wine is clearly redolent with tobacco and green notes, smokey notes, along with big black and red fruit. The sweet cedar and smooth integrating tannin is a real joy and one that can handle quite an array of foods. We enjoyed it with roast beef. The wine is full in body, with cherry, strawberry, really nice mouth coating tannin, cassis, herb, green notes, and bell pepper. The finish is long and green with nice chocolate, licorice, good dirt, and nice acidity.

2013 Shirah Pinot Noir, John Sebastiano Vineyard – Score: A-
First off this wine is 100% Pinot and it was aged in 100% French, but 25% of that wine was aged in one of my favorite barrels of all time; Meyrieux barrels and it is a lovely scent indeed! The nose that it gives off is sweet and herbal and it sounds perfect for Pinot Noir, though I have only seen it on Chardonnay until now.

The nose on this wine is redolent with sweet herb, bramble, sweet fruit, dark plum, cherry, and lovely spice! The mouth on this medium bodied wine is now open and ready to play, with nice green notes, dirt, plush/viscous mouth feel, along with sweet raspberry jam, lovely sweet dill, strawberry coulis, very tart chica-cherry cola, nuances of peach, along with tart summer fruit, with hints of blue fruit in the background, all wrapped in sweet tannin and sweet oak. The finish is long and herbal with mint, basil, nice tart fruit acid, sweet vanilla, rich toasty notes, and roasted coffee.

2014 Eagles Landing Cellars Sauvignon Blanc – Score: B+
I am shocked, when I had this wine at the winery in the summer, this wine was AWESOME and I blogged about it as well. Now, the wine is not there any longer, it has grown fat and lost its deep acidic edge. Gone is the bracing acid and in is more tropical and fat fruit. So sad!
The nose on this lovely wine is classic with lovely gooseberry and cat pee, while also being fruity with a sweet nose, floral notes, pineapple, peach and apricot. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is added to by the nice oak influence, giving it a more viscous texture, along with good sweet fruit, lovely spice, with nectarine, missing the acid I craved, with grapefruit, hints of tangerine, and spice. The finish is long and sweet with lovely pith, honeysuckle, and sweet oak.

2008 Yarden Pinot Noir – Score: N/A
I have loved this wine for many years and I was shocked when I opened this wine and it was on empty. No life, no fruit, the body is there along with tannin and structure but it is fruit hollow – so sad. Maybe a bad bottle.

2011 Cuvee Chabad, Zinfandel, Napa Valley – Score: B+ to A-
Sadly this wine is showing worse than the past bottles – this is in clear DRINK NOW mode. This wine has sweetness to it, but the wine is more ripe than sweet and the rich smokey notes really help round the wine out. The added earthy, dirty, and roasted animal that lie in the background add to the overall wines appeal.

The nose starts off with sweet notes, along with great spice, black and blue fruit, root beer, toasty notes. The mouth on this medium bodied wine shows no more sweet notes, with ripe boysenberry, blackberry, dark almost liqueur kirsch cherry, ripe red plum, crushed herb, along with lovely mouth coating tannin and sweet oak. The finish is long and spicy with nutmeg, intense white and black pepper, smoky notes, and vanilla, with blue fruit lingering – DRINK NOW!!!

2012 Makom Pinot Noir – Score: A-
The grapes were sourced from a vineyard called Jenner that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, on the true and authentic Sonoma coast. The nose on this wine shows classical pinot notes with a southern twang, starting with intense candied strawberry, dark cherry, dirt, and mineral. The mouth on this medium bodied wine hits you with layers of dark red fruit, plum, followed by intense spice, that flows into a mouth coating tannin blanket, along with hints of toast, and cloves. The finish is long and well spiced with mocha chocolate, coffee, toffee, smoky notes, all wrapped up in cinnamon, cloves, and all spice – BRAVO!

2010 Domaine Netofa LBV, Late Bottled Vintage, Port (QPR at almost any price) – Score: A
- to A
I need to state that it is not often that I score a wine an A- to A, not even wines that are many times more expensive, and no my point system is not a reason to buy a wine, but this wine is a no brainer, no matter the cost if you like sweet port like wines. This is the second time I have tasted this yet unreleased wine and it is still very much inline with what we had last time, repeated here for clarity. This classical sweet wine Portuguese style wine uses the classic grapes, but instead of them being sourced in Portugal, they came from the foot of the Tabor Mountains; 80% Touriga Nacional and 20% Tempranillo. The wine was aged for 48 months in oak and it shows in the wine.

The nose on this black and purple colored wine has one of the most intensely perfumed wines I have ever smelled, with insanely ripe fruit, ripe fig, date, caramelized fruit, and crazy chocolate. The mouth on this intensely full bodied wine is WOW, with crazy oxidized notes of chocolate, richly structured and extracted with intense nuttiness, rich and lovely mint chocolate, with lovely ripe and candied plum, candied blackberry, with more dark black fruit, all coming at you in one of the most intense and extracted experiences I remember. The finish is long and richly extracted with chocolate, fig compote, almonds, walnut, and marzipan – WOW and BRAVO!!!

Posted on December 9, 2015, in Food and drink, Kosher Dessert Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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