A Shabbat with Yaacov Oryah, his new and old wines, and friends

Wines Enjoyed over the weekendThis past weekend we had the distinct pleasure and honor of hosting Yaacov Oryah and friends for meals at our house. It was great to finally return the favor to YC and his lovely wife, from the epic dinner he threw for me, my wife, and my brother, two years ago. Anyone who has read this blog knows who Yaacov Oryah is – he was the winemaker of Asif Winery, which turned into Midbar Winery, and is now the new winemaker at Psagot Winery.

It was a true joy spending a shabbat with one of Israel’s answers to date juice. Yaacov Oryah, may well be the new winemaker at Psagot Winery, but he is also the winemaker for his winery – Yaacov Oryah Winery. Remember, Oryah was the winemaker and partner of Asif Winery – but when that did not work out he still had his vineyards and he still needed a place to make wines. Oryah is like Tabor Winery , Netofa Winery, Recanati Winery, Tzora Winery, Flam Winery, Domaine du CastelMatarTura, Adir Winery, and others – Israeli wineries who pick early and understand balance is more important than imperfect wines that have perfect phenolic qualities.

Sadly, the list may not be long, but they are the answer to Israel’s overripe red wine problem. They are proof that it can be done, even at millions bottles! I hope others will follow. From what I saw on my latest trip to Israel, change is afoot, especially at the smaller producers.

Yaacov Oryah Winery

Yaacov Oryah Wines

In 2011 Mr Oryah, was faced with a problem, Asif was essentially gone, Midbar had yet to come to life, and so the grapes needed a home – hence was the creation of Yaacov Oryah – private winery and  winemaker! It is the age-old story – Necessity is the mother of all invention! The grapes had a need and Oryah was the answer. What was created was a lovely pair of Rioja style wines – with Tempranillo being the major component.

Of course in 2009, when Oryah was in the middle of the Asif experiment, he conceived of creating a fantastic Semillon, one that I LOVED in 2013! Sadly, though it shows other wonderful characteristics now, it lacks the finish that I crave – and that I loved on the wine in 2013. Oryah is sure that the wine is now barely showing what he wants from the wine, and as the winemaker – and one of the few who held an early picked Semillon for so long, I will give him the benefit of the doubt and trust him. It may not be where I loved it, but it may yet be better soon.

In 2012 and 2013 Midbar Winery was in full swing, sadly the relationship with Oryah came to an end in late 2013 and the wines, without a hechsher were not kosher at Midbar until 2014, when it started again as kosher.

In the meatime, Oryah was on his own and that was when he started to make wines for a restaurant called Claro, in Tel Aviv. The first vintage was a 2013 (right after parting ways with Midbar) and it has continued since then. The wine is a lovely GSM (Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre), that reminds me a lot of the Netofa Red (without the Grenache of course). The Claro is lovely, easy drinking, ready to go, but complex in nature and still quite alive – in 2016!

The award for the most unique wine of the shabbat; would have to go to the 2014 Yaacov Oryah Alpha Omega! Sadly, the wine was mostly consumed at opening (though I forced folks to stop as I is my custom to keep wines around till after shabbat), and it clearly is a wine that needs a day. The wine opened beautifully, but the aromatic and sticky paraffin, does not show till a day after it has been exposed to air. I liked it colder, while Oryah recommends it being drunk as a red, or should I say an Orange. You see, the Alpha Omega is a blend of Semillon, Viognier, and Roussanne that sat on their must/skins for 73 days. It is an orange wine, but it has more of a dark yellow hue than orange. The last true ornage wine that I had was the epic 2010 Midbar Orange wine – also from Oryah, and what a wine that was!!!

Well the wine was not limited to that, and we will get back to that in a bit. However, man cannot live on wine alone, though I have many friends who would think divisively at that comment. Still, I need food and YC and I were up to the task, though I must admit it was mostly YC! I cooked a mean pot of meatballs, and an even better pot of cholent, consisting of exactly four ingredients; red potato, barley, onion, and meat! Sure there was kishke and eggs as well, but the cholent itself should always be as simple as it can. The rest of this menu was all YC!

Friday Night Dinner

  1. Chilean Sea Bass with pickled onions and Meyer lemon zest
  2. Maguro (Toro Tuna) with ponzu vinaigrette
  3. Salmon belly with pomegranate seed and micro herbs
  4. Hamachi with blood orange and zest
  5. Duck Breast salad with baby Gem Lettuce and candied pecans
  6. Steak tartar
  7. meatballs
  8. short rib plate
  9. BBQ chicken legs
  10. Meyer Lemon Sorbet
  11. Meyer lemon pie

Though, I did make the pie and sorbet, YC made the sorbet edible by whipping it in my Ninja, which makes it creamy and rich – LOVELY!

So, there you have it – the dishes were lovely. The Maguro was insane – though too rich for me. The Salmon was godly! The dusk breast was a home run! I consumed at least half the beef tartar and a large part of the chicken. The meatballs were finished motzei shabbat – for a Melava Malka.

Wine wise, there was much more on the agenda. We started with a bottle of 1997 Four Gates Chardonnay – that was sadly on the other side. Next up was the 2009 Asif/Midbar/Yaacov Oryah Semillon. As stated above, I think the wine was epic three years ago, and now I do not see what I saw then, but I will give it the benefit of doubt. Next up was the 2014 Alpha Omega, a lovely wine, but one that needs a day to really open, which we really enjoyed and finished Saturday night! Next up was the fantastic 1997 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Reserve, Alexander Valley – what a crazy good wine! The wine was lovely, ripe, rich, layered, and roped with lovely tannin and draping mouth. That was followed by the epic and world-class 2006 Domaine Roses Camille – brought by YC! WOW what a wine! The wine is really coming into its own, but I will not open my last bottle for another 5 years. Next, it was the lovely 2010 Brobdignagian Besomim, a blend of Grenache and Petite Sirah (a GPS). The wine is really coming into its own, lovely! Finally, we had some NV Shirah Bro.Duex, a wine that is a blend of 2010 and 2009 fruit, but a wine that I adore and have so much respect for. The wine is rich and really enjoyable – BRAVO guys!!!

In the middle of the evening, Joshua Rynderman swung by and we opened a half bottle of his lovely Kos Yeshuos Rose of Cabernet! The wine has evolved, the deep fruit is slightly fading, and in its place is even more acid, pith, and saline. Impressive – but if you have some, I would recommend drinking up within the next 6 months!

Shabbat Day

Sadly, I was zonked from all my traveling and I was out early in the evening. I woke Saturday day and I was finally with it, and good too as we had more wine to taste! We had a bit of the Salmon left over, and with it we opened the 2013 Koenig Cuvee Elisa Cremant D’Alsace. Sorry, it started off sweet and never really relented, to me it was an elegant bottle of Champagne style Muscat, not my cup of tea. But those that like sweet Koenig Pinot Grigio or Gewurtztraminer, will like this as well.

From there we moved to the Cholent and the last three bottles of Yaacov Oryah wines; the first was the 2014 Claro – the GSM from Yaacov Oryah, and what a lovely wine it was! As described above, the wine is made for a restaurant in Tel Aviv, it is a ready to go wine, simple, but complex, fruity, yet controlled, a truly lovely wine that reminds me of the epic 2014 Netofa Red – minus the Grenache. The next wine were the 2011 Iberian Dream Reserva and Gran Reserva. This is the same blend of fruit; Tempranillo, Grenache, and Carignan – but one that follows the Rioja style of aging. The Reserva is at least one year in oak and two in bottle, while the Gran Reserva is at least two years in oak and three in bottle! Just to take a side note here – the Spanish really understand and appreciate the concept of bottle aging!! Seriously! Who else requires bottle aging as part of the wine’s classification!

Anyway, the wines are lovely – the Reserva is so closed it is insane! The Gran Reserva needed a day and it is now open and really hopping. The two wines are complete opposites of each other, even though they are based upon the EXACT SAME FRUIT!  The Gran Reserva is a red fruit bomb, while the Reserva is pure black fruit – really cool how oak and age can change a wine’s profile!

We quickly worked through the cholent and wine and then it was time for some sleep! Motzei Shabbat we opened a bottle of 2011 Chateau Royaumont and a bottle of 2005 Yarden Blanc de Blancs. Well there you have it! Another weekend of insanity and debauchery, I will be taking it easier for the next few weeks, and I am fine with that for now!

My sincere many thanks to Yaacov Oryah, YC, Benyo, and Joshua Rynderman, for making the madness all that much more enjoyable and the wine notes follow below:

2009 Yaacov Oryah Semillon – Score: B++
The nose on this lovely wine is ripping with bright fruit, nectarines, grapefruit, melon, tangerine and flint – very nice. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is lovely with an initial attack of intense citrus, lime, and lemon, with intense saline, and orange blossom. The finish is short with mineral, and nice spices. This wine was held for 6 years until it was ready, interesting approach.

2014 Yaacov Oryah Alpha Omega – Score: A- (and more)
This wine is a blend of Semillon, Viognier, and Roussanne. Officially this an orange wine, as the must sat on the grape skins for 72 or so days. However, the color os far more golden the orange. This wine is crazy fun if the bottle is left open in a fridge for a day or so. The nose on this wine, after time, is rich, layered and truly hedonistic, with waxy notes, paraffin, with lovely orange, nectar, honey, and cherry blossom notes – lovely! The mouth on this medium bodied wine is layered and complex with lovely acid, viscous mouth feel, while staying crisp and bright – which is where this wine truly differentiates itself from oaked chards, showing lovely dried mango, candied melon, with sweet quince and candied pith. The finish is long with still ripping acid, tart fruit, with hints of tannin, green tea, honeysuckle, mad candied tangerine, and vanilla lingering long. BRAVO!!!!

1997 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Reserve, Alexander Valley – Score: A- (and more) (mevu)
This is a mevushal wine from almost 20 years ago, that blows me away! The wine needed an hour to open and when it did – wow what a real joy!!! The nose on this wine is a pure delight with crazy tobacco, green notes, tar, licorice, dirt, and herb. The mouth on this lovely wine is plush, full in the mouth with ripping acid, and rich plush tannin that is ripe with blackberry, cherry, herb, insane mushroom, dirt, gripping tannin that are mellowing into a cacao joy land, with lovely leather, forest floor, and sweet oak. The finish is long and spicy and green with rich herb, graphite, cloves, and lovely roasted herb. BRAVO!!!

2006 Domaine Roses Camille – Score: A- to A
This wine, like the 2005 vintage is made up primarily of Merlot grapes and is another great example of what elegance looks like in French Bordeaux. I let this wine open for 24 hours. The nose starts off with an attack of lovely green notes, raspberry, with mushroom, and nice graphite and mineral. Over time the nose opens to layers show dark cherry, rich aromas of tobacco, and candied fruit. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is soft, rich, plush, and elegant in all the right ways, with layers of concentrated fruit, with ripe blackcurrant, nice mouth coating and plush tannin, and a hint of cedar that comes together quite nicely. The finish is long and luscious with chocolate covered tobacco leaves, tobacco covered fruit, all under a canopy of green and red fruit. The mouth is rich and layered but it is the elegance of the wine and the finish that bring this wine home.

NV Shirah Bro.Deux – Score: A- (and more)
The wine is a blend of 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc, 18% Malbec, 18% Petite Verdot, and 10% Syrah – Hey they never promised a Bordeaux blend – just a good name! This wine does need some air – please give it an hour or more!
This wine is slightly shifting, in a great way, with blue notes showing over the green notes, but over time, the it shows tobacco, mineral, herb, along with cherry, and green notes. The mouth on this medium+ bodied wine is classical Bordeaux (not withstanding the Syrah), with lovely green bell pepper, blackberry, tobacco, along with great layers of concentrated, extracted sweet and ripe fruit, nice acid, along with now integrated but still very alive tannins that make for a lovely mouth coating experience, along with nice sweet cedar. The finish is long and spicy with nice chocolate, mineral, rich mouthfeel, hints of date, and charcoal on the long lingering and rich finish – BRAVO!!!

2015 Kos Yeshuos Vin Gris – Score: A-
What can I say, I am a freak for acid and tart fruit and this wine is literally crack for people like me. The wine is made by a young man who I have known for a long time, as he grew up, for much of his young life, in our Jewish community. With that said, he has made other things and well, I was not impressed. This wine, is his first attempt at a rose and it is dynamite! The wine is made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that was left on the grapes for a short period of time to get it that light – not quite rose color, hence the Vin Gris name. The wine is a classic Garagiste wine – as he actually made it in his father’s garage. Still, do not let the humble origins of the wine making location – define your opinion. Sadly, only a few bottles were made, but the vineyard and technique both show hope for more great wine to come in the coming years!

The nose on this wine is redolent with intense tart fruit, insane pink grapefruit, gooseberry, straw, litchi, peach, rose hip, and floral notes. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is insane, it has become even more of a saline and acid bomb, since the last time I enjoyed this wine! The wine is an acid bomb that is balanced with less fruit but with a nice body, along with layers of tart salted apple, crazy grapefruit, intense lemon drops, rose water, tart juicy strawberry, and mineral. The finish is long and tart, where citrus flavors command attention, along with absolutely insane saline, slate, and mineral, with a dollop of tangerine, and then a long new rise of intense saline and salt – INSANE experience.

This wine has now become mad acid, tart and juicy fruit and intense saline and salt. If I closed my eyes and tasted this – I would think it was a mix of Sauvignon Blanc and some red wine – which humorously is what Cab was bred from – Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. BRAVO my man!!!

2010 Brobdignagian Besomim – Score: A- (and more)
This wine is a blend of Grenache and Petite Sirah. The wine has changed a bit since my last tasting, the nose explodes with jammy fruit, but now shows blueberry, raspberry, currant, good loamy earth, and of course, insane spice! The mouth on this medium bodied wine is heavy, rich, and unctuous, but is now mellowing with draping tannin, leather, and sweet spices. It all starts with the same old story, sweet and cracked spice, followed by black plum, blue notes, lovely mouth coating tannin, dirt, and herb. The finish is, you guessed it, long and spicy, with crazy vanilla, tobacco, and dried cherry. Lovely!

2013 Koenig Cremant d’Alsace Rose Brut Cuvee Elisa – Score: B+
This is a sparkling light pink wine from Alsace made from 100% Pinot Noir with the méthode champenoise. The nose on this wine is bright with nice raspberry, strawberry, lovely yeast, and dried currant. The mouth on this light to medium bodied wine is nice, but sadly it is too sweet and ripe, but with time that blows off a bit, but overall the wine is too sweet for me. The mouth is richly acidic with lovely yeast, small mousse bubbles, with lovely sour cherry, guava, and nectarines. Nice enough but lacking complexity, with a nice tart long finish.

2014 Yaacov Oryah Claro – Score: A-
This wine reminds me of the 2013 Netofa Red, side by side I would have a hard time picking one from the other. The wine is unoaked – like the Netofa red, but this is a GSM with some Barbera for acid and PS for color and tannin.
The nose on this wine is hopping with blackcurrant, ripe blueberry, bright and dirty. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is lovely and deeply acidic with lovely smoky, roasted meat, with lovely spice, blackberry, goji berry, with lovely mineral. Long and tannic finish with ribbons of harsh mineral, graphite, and lovely blue fruit lingering long with pith.

2011 Yaacov Oryah Iberian Dream, Gran Reserva – Score: A- (and more)LOVE THIS WINE!!! The nose on this lovely wine is Rioja in a glass with really ripe cherry, plum, hints of blackberry, and mad dirt. The mouth on this lovely medium bodied wine has hints of ripe fruit, but is lovingly controlled with crazy a robe of velvet red fruit, dirt, loam, and rich cranberry that is layered with nice extraction, lovely black fruit, and lovely spice. The finish is long and spicy with green notes, dirt and sweet spices, mounds of chocolate, mushroom, with cloves, nutmeg, and lovely graphite and rock. Bravo!!!

2011 Yaacov Oryah Iberian Dream, Reserva – Score: A-
This is the second of the two wines I tasted from Yaacov Oryah’s take on Rioja wines. This wine is far more black and ripe than the Gran Reserva and it is super closed to start. After a day of air – the wine showed its true ripe and black colors.

The nose on this super ripe but controlled wine is rich with black plum, blackberry, forest berry, loam, and lovely mineral. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich and layered and very plush with layers of concentrated and focused black fruit, layered in rich elegance and dirt, mouth draping tannin, with lovely rich forest floor, dark berry, and sweet ripe notes abound. The finish is long and ripe, with dark chocolate, vanilla, tar, smoky notes, and rich concentration – BRAVO! These are the only real wines that come close to Elvi’s Rioja wines!

2011 Chateau Royaumont, Lalande De Pomerol  – Score: A- (and more) (Mad QPR)
OK, if I could tell Miles to go pound sand, I would just hand him a glass of this wine and walk away. This is the exact opposite of what Merlot came to represent in the early Aughts!

The nose on this lovely and captivating wine is insane and very unique for such a young wine, it has all the things I love, it is rich and layered with extraction and barnyard that hits you in a weird way for such a young wine. The nose on this lovely wine shows rich dirt, barnyard, mineral, forest floor, bramble, dark fruit, and herb. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is rich and layered with crazy mouth coating, almost searing tannin, along with a nice fruit structure, tart juicy raspberry, currant, blackberry, green notes, cherry, and graphite. The finish is long with sweet and tart fruit, along with lingering tannin, leather, coffee, and lovely mineral. The mouth finishes dry and squeaky clean, with intense earth, dirt, and mushroom. BRAVO!! Great QPR!!

2005 Yarden Blanc de Blancs – Score: A- (and more)
The 2005 vintage was tasting lovely, not as sharp and focused as the 2007 was and will be again, but a very nice sparkler all the same.
The nose shows rich notes of toast, yeast, lovely brioche, floral notes, and tropical fruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is lovely with small mousse bubbles, followed by bright acid, lovely yeast notes, rich fruit, mouth filling, lovely baked green apple, along with white toasted brioche, lovely citrus, grapefruit, dried mango, and bracing acid and dried quince that lingers long and tart!

Posted on March 8, 2016, in Israel, Israeli Wine, Kosher French Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Rose Wine, Kosher Sparkling Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

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