A birthday party long in the makings

Well, this past weekend I had a long-delayed birthday party at home, with friends and great wines. In honor of my birthday, I made the classic Tunisian Friday night dinner, but without all the classic trimmings; Couscous with boulettes.

This was one of my better couscous for a few reasons. First of all, the axiom – more is better, is truly meant to describe how much chicken you should throw into a chicken soup recipe. Second, I threw in a bunch of onions, zucchini, and ground up – oven roasted – mushrooms into the meatball recipe. Sadly, the makoud was lacking, because I refused to douse it with oil and eggs. The age old Tunisian cooking rule holds very true to makoud, if the dish does not look like an oil spill, you have done it all wrong. In this case, the lack of 12 eggs and an easy hand on the oil made for more of a potato mash than a souffle.

With that, the rest was up to me and Benyo, from Four Gates Winery to handle the rest of the wine duties. ER and HK brought apple cobbler dessert, while SR and JR brought some dessert that was hijacked by Rochel for later consumption. Fear not, they both know the drill, some things that are dessert based, never make it to the table, they are essentially Teruma to the goddess of the house.

TN brought a lovely bottle of 2012 Hagafen Brut, but we never got to it, as I had a bottle of Drappier ready to go for my Birthday toast.

So, with the logistics taken care of food wise, it was time to layout the wines for the evening. Benyamin brought two never released wines and two released wines, one which initially was corked, and the other was epic.

I had twelve bottles laid out, in case we had duds, but because we were literally batting 100 until the corked 2003 Syrah, that I never dipped into more. The specials from Benyamin were just that. First, we had a 1995 Pinot Noir, before it was called Four Gates, and it was lovely for about 20 minutes, old world and all. The ripping acid made it all work, but the fruit was very fragile and sadly died off quickly. The other Burgundian joy was the 1996 Chardonnay, and that was pure joy. It was a beautiful 20-year-old Chardonnay, with fruit galore, acid backbone, and residual sugar that helped support the entire wine. BRAVO!!

So, while there are a few A- to A wines in the list, the order of what I liked the most would go like this. At the head of the line, the 2005 marciliano is also awesome, and may be the real winner, with the 2005 Montiano next, followed by the 2006 Four Gates Merlot, than the 2009 Shirah Mcginley, then the 2008 Baladoz, then the Four Gates Chard, then the 2004 montviel, with the Yarden El Rom at the end. Once the 2003 Four Gates Syrah was saved with saran wrap, it was ahead of the Shirah syrahs. The Drappier is beautiful still, this is the early bottling, losing no punch at all.

So, the lineup in order of consumption are below and the wine notes follow them. My many thanks to those that put up with me, my wife especially.


1995 Benyamin Cantz Pinot Noir – Score: NA
We made kiddush on this lovely wine, and while it fell apart quickly, it held up for kiddush and 10 minutes afterward. The smell was pure dirt, earth, cherry, and barnyard. The tannins were there, but the structure was losing its grip. While it was there, the cherry fruit was obvious with currant and nice spices. Bravo!

NV Drappier Carte Blanche, Brut – Score: A-  (mevushal)
The wine is a blend of the traditional Champagne grapes: 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier. The nose light gold colored wine is explosive with rich toast, fluffy white chocolate, herb, grapefruit, quince jam, strawberry, malting yeast, and minerality. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is super rich with an energizer bunny small bubble mousse, more toast and brioche, nice yeast, rich herb, super bright and tart green apple that mellows down to a creamy apple sauce, along with mad acid, herb, grapefruit, and mineral. The finish is long and rich with more small bubble mousse, herb, more yeast, and mineral. This is a lovely and balanced wine that does like more time in the glass. Even better leave a few glasses of wine in the bottle, cap it with a normal cork and try it the next day – quite lovely! This was one of the earlier releases, and it is still showing beautifully!

1996 Four Gates Chardonnay – Score: A-
What a wine, this is so lovely and crazy golden, with ripping tart fruit, with candied nectarines, peach, candied citrus peel, with lovely caramel. The mouth on this wine is old-world in style, with age showing well, with ripping acid, backing creme brulee, rich glycerol structure, with candied summer fruit, apricot, and lovely spice. The finish is long with acid galore, yellow plum, hints of guava, and brioche with sweet tea on the long finish. BRAVO!!! Drink by 2020

2004 Château Montviel, Pomerol – Score: A- to A
WOW what a wine! This wine proves that Merlot can indeed make a wonderful wine! This wine is redolent with mushroom, lovely barnyard aromas, dirt, mineral, and dried herbs. The mouth on this full bodied wine is crazy rich and refined with layers upon layers of dirt, mushroom, along with ripe blackcurrant, black plum, cassis, along with green notes, more herb, and crazy tannin that comes at you in layers of lovely fruit, tannin, dirt, toast, and herb, WOW! The finish is long and dirty, with butterscotch, vanilla, leather, crazy dried herbs, and mushroom, herb, dirt, and fruit lingers long with mouth coating tannin – BRAVO!!! My goodness can Merlot crank it when done correctly! This wine is at peak and drink by 2020

2005 Falesco Montiano Kosher Lazio IGT – Score: A- to A
This wine is a classic – 100% Merlot wine and what a true joy, it does remind me of Four Gates Merlot. The nose on this wine is rich with raspberry, blackberry, plum, and sweet fruit, that is wrapped in barnyard and mushroom. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is ripe, but super controlled, with a lovely fruit focus and structure, that backed by a super core of mineral, and draping drying tannin, that gives way to red and black fruit, with lovely green notes and foliage. The finish is long and mineral based with a green core and tar thrown in for good tidings, along with a lovely dollop of tobacco leaves, and leather. Yes, I could have gone with my leather trenchcoat smoking a cigar reference, but this wine is far too genteel and elegant for that turn of phrase. Bravo! Drink by 2021.

2005 Falesco Marciliano Umbria IGT – Score: A- to A
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, from the Umbria district in Italy. What can I say, I was looking forward to this wine after YC and his friend shared a 2006 vintage with me at his house.
The nose on this fantastic wine is redolent with lovely mushroom, loamy dirt, and hints of brett, with crazy earth, forest floor, with raspberry and black fruit. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is balanced with intense acid, lovely funk, barnyard notes, along with spice, lovely tobacco, wrapped in crazy mouth drying tannin, along with layers upon layers of concentrated dark fruit, blackberry, plum, lovely green notes, rich mineral, with more forest floor, along with foliage and a fruit structure that is quite impressive. The finish is green focused, with a mineral graphite core, and chalk, while also being perfectly balanced with mad mineral, licorice, cloves, more tilled earth, intense spices, chocolate, and tannin that rises long. BRAVO!!!!!! Drink by 2022

2008 Château Tour Baladoz, Saint Emilion – Score: A-
The nose on this wine is beautiful with old-world class, showing impressive mushroom and barnyard, followed by black fruit, raspberry, with mineral, tar, and green notes galore. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is lovely, rich and layered with a mineral core that gives way to mouth coating tannin, elegance, with currant, black fruit, blackberry, mushroom, showing great grace and fruit structure, that is round and rich. The finish is long and green, with foliage galore showing great acid, and graphite backbone, with slate, and chalk, giving way to coffee, and more green notes. What a joy of a wine. Drink by 2022

2008 Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon, EL Rom – Score: A-
This wine is still there, but it has moved to a place that does not make me a happy person. I really did not taste much of it. It is clearly at peak, it did not need its two hours of airtime to open, but it may also be beyond my interest going forward. The nose is still very nice, the mouth is pushed, with no dates, but really ripe fruit, full bodied, drenched in blackberry, plum, earth, with mouth coating tannins and layers of fruit that come at you none stop. The finish is long and green, with sweet tobacco, dark chocolate, and leather.

2009 Shirah Syrah McGinley – Score: A-
I have not had this wine in a year and it is now at peak and in still drinking well. The wine is a Syrah sourced wholly from the Santa Barbara vineyards of McGinley Vineyards, along with 4% of Viognier that was co-fermented. What a nose, the wine opens with notes of candied fruit, ripe blueberry, pear, passion fruit, roasted animal, tar, ripe blue and black notes, and black tea. The full bodied mouth is rich, layered, and concentrated with rich blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry, dark cherry, and tannins that are now fully integrating and mouth draping, showing well with lovely sweet oak. The finish is long and blue, with tons of roasted animal, licorice, along with an impressive amount of graphite, mineral, with chocolate covered coffee beans, cinnamon, black pepper, and spice. Drink by 2018

2010 Shirah Syrah Mourvèdre Thompson Vineyard – Score: A-
This is another classic wine blend from the Weiss brothers (AKA blend masters), a blend of 75% Syrah and 25% Mourvèdre, both were sourced from the Thompson Vineyard in Santa Barbara County and aged for 24 months in french oak.
This is one dark and brooding wine with intense depth and attack. The nose starts with dark fruit, sadly the sweet white summer fruit has moved on and is now showing elegant dark black fruit, Asian spice, blueberry, and rich spices. The mouth on this full bodied wine almost screams Touriga instead of Syrah, while the nose has lost the white summer fruit, the mouth still has it in spades, with crazy white fruit, boysenberry, intense tart citrus acid, along with layers of sweet black and blue fruit, strawberry, intense spice, and lovely sweet tannin. The finish is long and tart with more bracing acid, tart fruit, cinnamon, chocolate, cloves, leather, and more spice. The fruit is intense, sweet, controlled, with bracing acid and great spice, BRAVO! Drink by 2018

2003 Four Gates Syrah Rare & Reserve, Webb Family Vineyard – Score: A- to A
Sadly, this wine started off corked. After Shabbat, we tore off some saran wrap and dumped it into a glass of the wine, and bingo, it was lovely! The first time that trick finally worked for me!
This was the first Syrah that Four Gates Winery has ever released, and maybe the best one so far. The wine is at a point in time where it is impressive and old world, but still gripping with tannin, still it is at peak. The wine starts off as black as the night with lovely blackberry, black plum, blueberry, smoky notes, and graphite. The mouth on this full bodied and rich wine starts off with layers upon layers of concentrated black and blue fruit, blackcurrant, good oak extraction, lovely cedar that is now coming together into a lovely mouth coating and round wine, with still gripping tannin, and rich sweet black tea. The finish is long and balanced with spoons of spice, cloves, black pepper, baker’s chocolate, and tobacco, on a bed of ripe black, red, and blue fruit. The fruit is not as sweet as the Weiss and Brob wines, this is a far more Hermitage style wine, with mineral, rich extraction, leather, black pepper, and baker’s spices. Drink by 2018

2006 Four Gates Merlot La Rochelle – Score: A- to A
Wow, this wine is starting to fill out and become rich, but it is shockingly still young! It is extracted, and in your face, but with a bit less complexity than its bigger brother the M.S.C. The nose on this wine is hopping with rich plum, insane mushroom, and barnyard is starting, with raspberry, and menthol. The mouth on this full bodied wine is still bombastic, with tannin that drys the mouth, followed by plum, awesome scraping graphite, blackberry, and red fruit. The finish is long and green, with mint, menthol, lovely acid, spice, black tea, coffee, and tar. The wine is a true joy showcasing black fruit, raspberry, coffee, and minerals. This wine has evolved insanely well! Drink by 2022

Posted on January 23, 2017, in Food and drink, Kosher French Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Sparkling Wine, Kosher White Wine, Wine and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on A birthday party long in the makings.

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