Vertical tasting of Elvi Wines Clos Mesorah, Invita, and more in Miami
Over the past week, I have been posting on winery’s that I visited while in Israel and the new 2014 French wines, that I tasted in Paris. Well, the funny thing is that I did not need to leave the United States to taste all of the newest releases of Elvi Wines (or current releases if you live or visit Europe, yeah we are always last to get Elvi wines here in the USA), along with an epic vertical of the Clos Mesorah wines.
I have been a fan of Elvi Wines for a long time, ever since I posted my first in-depth article on their wines, in 2012. Dr. Moises Cohen, the owner and the head winemaker of Elvi Wines, continues to create masterpieces that grace my top 25 wines of the year, every year running.
A year after I wrote my article, I was honored to meet Moises’s entire family, first at the KFWE in NYC in 2013, and then two years after that, when my wife and I stayed at Clos Mesorah just two hours by train outside of Barcelona, Spain.
One of the biggest issues I think that has held back this lovely winery, has been the labels. I am really happy to see that they are being streamlined under six major labels, though more streamlining would be better still, and is coming soon, as you read on. The major issue is that Dr. Cohen makes a lot of wines from all around Spain. Starting in Rioja, where he makes his epic Herenza wines. Next we move on to Priorat, where he makes the lovely EL26 wines. Then on a 20 minute ride east to the Montsant region, which is really a sub-region of Priorat, where he makes his world-famous Clos Mesorah wines. Moving south to the center of Spain, you will come upon, the La Mancha wine regions, where the Adar red comes from, along with Invita, and the Vina Encina wines. Finally, there is the Cava region, where the lovely Cava is made.
With all these DOC, wine regions, the labels were hard to manage. You see, by law you could not have a single label, that included multiple wine regions, under the Spanish wine laws, until recently! So until now, even if you wanted to have three total labels, it would not be legally possible in Spain, and you cannot sell wines in the USA with illegal Spanish labels. Unless, you made all the wine labels, with the all-inclusive – table wine moniker! Which is a horrible and stupid idea, because the meaning, life, and reality of Elvi Wines and the ship as its logo, is that they are all sourced from different regions throughout Spain! EL26 does not taste like Clos Mesorah at all, and the vineyards are only a 15 minute drive away from each other. Sure, they have some different varietals in the blends, but the point of wine regions is the differing soil, climate, and environment that makes for vastly different wines.
This is still taking shape, but I look forward to the seeing what Elvi will turn out now that they can legally keep the distinct wine regions on the label, while merging the marketing angles down to fewer overall labels.
If you look at all of the wines that Elvi makes – they do fall into three overarching categories. There are the upper level wines, the middle ones, and the lower level labels.
The upper level wines, include the EL26, Adar red, Clos Mesorah, and Herenza Reserva. The El26 has been made in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. The Adar red has been made in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2012. The Clos Mesorah has been made in 2009, 2010, 2013, and 2014. Finally, the Herenza Reserva has been made in 2009 and 2010. All of these are up to the current releases, there are more vintages not yet released.
The middle level wines include, the two remaining Herenza Rioja wines; Herenza Crianza and Herenza Semi, and the beautiful Invita Blanco and Invita Rosado (The Invita Rosado/Rose is not available in USA yet, maybe one day)!
Finally the lower level wines include the Vina Encina Blanco, Vina Encina Tinto, and Vina Encina Rosado.
If you want to read more about the story behind Dr. Cohen’s wines and his incredible technology that he not only made, but also uses every day in the vineyards, please read my earlier and first post on the winery!
Clos Mesorah and Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib
One final subject before we get into the actual tasting. Is there a difference between the Clos Mesorah and Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib and which would you buy? Well, let us start with the fact that I only stated Clos Mesorah, and not all of Elvi Wines, as only the CM comes from the same wine region as Capcanes, that being – Montsant DOC. Next, the blends of the two wines are slightly different. Capcanes makes use of Carignan, Grenache, and Cabernet Sauvignon, while Clos Mesorah, swaps out the Cabernet Sauvignon and uses Syrah instead, while keeping the same Carignan and Grenache.
Now to the question of which would I buy, to me they are pretty close. The CM has always impressed me since day one, while only some of the Capcanes have blown me away since day one. They are always good, but they have not always been an A- to A. In the end, I buy them both, if that helps. The CM is more expensive than the Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib, and it is a very different blend of grapes as well. Capcanes has been making Peraj Ha’abib for a very long time, since 1995, and I have never disliked a single one. Still, if I had to choose one, my answer would be both. They are different in their own ways and if you have the space you will never regret either one, but if I had space for only one, I would choose the Clos Mesorah.
New-world versus Israel
I know, why do u need to drag Israel into this lovely tasting? Well, because Israel is no less New-world than Spain or the USA. Look at the 2009 Recanati Carignan, the Recanati is 100% Carignan while the Clos Mesorah has 30% of it in its blend! The 2009 Recanati Carignan is 100% date juice, nice date juice, but date juice nonetheless! Now look at the 2009 Clos Mesorah or the 2006 EL26, they are both beautiful!
Israel needs to learn that new-world does not mean insane, unbalanced, and over the top. New-world can be bold, ripe, and fully in control. I wish it was as obvious as I make it out to be, but sadly, given the icy to non-repeatable reception I have received from my post on the epic failure of Sommelier this year (wine wise that is), I can say the truth, IMHO, is not being received well. I understand that, but one day, my hope is that we will get back to the good old days, of Teperberg or Yarden controlled wines. Really, the dream is possible for any winery in Israel! What is needed is not just the potential, but more importantly – the will, to make great, balanced, controlled, and unique wines once again.
So, when I heard that Elvi was going to do a vertical of all the Clos Mesorah wines that had been released up until that time, and the two Herenza Reserva as well, I knew I had to be there! So, in December of last year, around the time of KFWE Miami 2016, EH and Moises got together and threw a great party where we were able to taste many wines, including some that never made it to the USA. The wines showed beautifully, and the event was epic, to say the least. Elvi Wines crushed it, with EL26 wines dating back to 2005, along with the vertical of Clos Mesorah wines, and two of my favorite wines on earth, the 2009 and 2010 Herenza Reserva.
Mr. Cohen was in his element, explaining the region, soil, climate, and vintages – which were quite different, of each of the wines. If the wines were not perfect enough, the backdrop just took your breath away. The rooftop allowed for a stunning and unique vantage point of Biscayne Bay, the Atlantic Ocean in the distance, and the glittering lights of Miami, FL. below!
Wine after wine was poured and each one was better than the next, because the Herenza were last! Of course, the Clos Mesorah are no slouches, throw in the older EL26 and current ones, and it was a night to remember.
If that was not enough, it ended with 5 vintages of a great white wine, that somehow cannot sell here in America, InVita. The white wine is a blend of Pansa Blanca (the fruit used in Cava) and Sauvignon Blanc. The exact percentages of the varietals vary slightly by vintage. Still, it is always around 60% of Pansa Blanca and 40% of Sauvignon Blanc, give or take 5 to 8% each way.
The white wines all side by side were so much fun, it was epic. You could literally taste the differences in the vintages. Some were hotter (riper fruit), some colder (less ripe), and some were long and temperate (the 2015 with insane acid)! Also, the best part of the tasting, IMHO, was that the people at the event could finally see the potential in quality white wine that was not named Chardonnay, let alone aged white wines! The Invita is a wine that has the aging power, and yet feels youthful at the same time!
The thing that is truly impressive to me about Elvi Wines, is that you can have such an impressively diverse array of wines, coming from a single winery, with a single vision of creating great wines from all around Spain, Bravo! This is not a winery of Cabernet and Chardonnay! This is a winery of unique and joyous flavors, with a voice all to their own.
Finally, to be fair, there was lots of food, of which I mostly did not touch. I did try some of the sushi, which was quite nice. However, by the time I left, the food was all gone, so I will let the leftovers talk for themselves (or the lack thereof).
My many thanks to EH for setting up and running the show, Dr. Moises Cohen for sharing the wines with us, and last and certainly NOT least, to ER for letting us mess up his beautiful house for an evening!
The wine notes follow below in the order they were enjoyed (or close to it, as I went a bit out-of-order):
Partial Vertical of Elvi Wines EL26
2005 Elvi Wines EL 26 – Score: A-
This wine is a blend of 40% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot. The nose on this wine is nice and dirty, with red fruit, mushroom, and black plum. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is complex and elegant with dark cherry, dirt, loam, followed by still nice extraction, earth, rich spice, oak, with layers of tannin and sweet but controlled fruit, blackberry, nice black fruit, saline and good dirt. The finish is long and spicy with sage, anise, and roasted meat, smoke, and spice with coffee and earth, tobacco, graphite and barnyard. Drink UP!
2006 Elvi Wines Priorat EL26 – Score: A-
This wine is a lovely blend of 35% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. It starts with an aromatic nose of anise, ripe blackberry, black pepper, raspberry, and plum. The mouth is full and concentrated with mouth coating tannin, nice dirt, graphite, black cherry, ripe fruit, with spicy wood all coming together into a nice mouth. Finish is long with spice, mineral, herb, eucalyptus, tobacco, and chocolate. This is a massive and extracted wine with ripe fruit and one that balances well with the oak and spice. Drink by 2019
2008 Elvi Wines EL 26 – Score: A-
This wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, and Merlot. The nose on this wine is redolent with crazy roasted animal, dark fruit, tilled earth, and mad mineral. The mouth on this wine is insane, it is a beast to say the least, with crazy acid, candied fruit, fig, intense saline, along with layer after layer of rich chocolate, earth, spice, blackberry, spiced plum, blueberry, mad black fruit, and sweet cedar. The finish is long and spicy and rich with lovely mineral, saline, chunks of roasted meat, tobacco, leather, and more black fruit and searing tannin lingering. The wine is showing sweet fruit leanings, but the wine is a blockbuster. Drink by 2021
2014 Elvi Wines EL 26 – Score: A- to A (tasted the next day at KFWE Miami 2016)
This wine is a blend of 45% Carignan, 35% Grenache, and 20% Syrah. To me this is the best showing of any EL26 so far, quite a wine. This wine is showing far more accessible than previous vintages. The 2014 vintage in Spain makes for wines that are easily approachable now and yet has the power to last a long time.
The nose on this wine is fruit forward with dark candied raspberry, blackberry, and spiced boysenberry, with root beer and earth, showing spice, anise, and cranberry. The mouth is beautiful and controlled, with great mouth coating tannin, sheer elegance, with great sweet and focused fruit, lovely extraction, showing ripe and tart strawberry, raspberry, and boysenberry all mixed together into a compote, with black fruit and earth. The finish is ridiculous, some of the best of the evening, with sweet fruit and ripe structure, yet balanced and focused, with coffee, leather, and sweet spices, nutmeg, and mineral galore, with scraping graphite, BRAVO!! Drink by 2026.
Complete Vertical of Elvi Wines Clos Mesorah
2009 Elvi Wines Clos Mesorah – Score: A- to A
The wine is a blend of 40% Carignan made from 90 year old vines, 30% Grenache, and 30% Syrah. This was the first release of the Clos Mesorah wine in a kosher format and it is well worth the wait. The wine is lovely and personally edges out the Capcanes Peeraj Ha’bib and makes it the best kosher Montsant out there.
The wine has a crazy rich and perfumed nose of ripe but controlled blackberry, crazy spice, black cherry, roasted meat, lovely blueberry, black fruit, and floral notes. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is rich and crazy with concentrated and layered fruit,raspberry, blackberry, plum, lovely integrating mouth coating tannin, along with a massive attack of spice, buttered herbs, and good cedar that fills the mouth and makes for a rich mouth-feel. The finish is long and earthy, with beautiful acid, mushroom, barnyard, followed by rich baker’s chocolate, showing anise, sweet baking spices, that is backed by graphite, mineral, and a never-ending barnyard base. Bravo!!! Drink by 2024.
2010 Elvi Wines Clos Mesorah – Score: A- to A
The 2010 Clos Mesorah is the 2nd vintage of this epic wine from Moises Cohen and Elvi Wines. The 2009 vintage notes can be found here, with much of last year’s wines. The blend is not defined on the bottle, but if it is anything like the 2009 vintage, it is made up of a blend of Carignan made from 90 year old vines, Grenache, and Syrah. This is the second of the Clos Mesorah wine in a kosher format.
The wine has a crazy rich and perfumed nose of ripe but controlled black fruit, lovely blueberry, floral notes, with rich smoke aromas, roasted meat, earth, mineral madness, intense coffee espresso madness, and more black fruit. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is rich, crazy concentrated and layered with black and blue fruit, all balanced with still searing tannin, lovely balancing acid, blackberry, black plum, rich earth, along with a massive attack of spice, herbs, sweet dill, and good cedar that fills the mouth and makes for a rich mouth-feel. The finish is long and spicy with truly rich milk chocolate, almost mocha, with more coffee and mushroom, sweet fruit, wet earth, and spice lingering long, with tannin and mineral, taking center stage with graphite, and saline on the long finish. Bravo!! Drink by 2024.
2013 Elvi Wines Clos Mesorah – Score: A- to A
This is the flagship wine of Elvi Wines (though the Herenza Reserva may have a word to say about that) and it is a blend of 50% Carignan, 30% Grenache, and 20% Syrah. Elvi Wines makes 7K of these bottles. The wine was sourced from vines that are 20 to 100 years of age.
The nose on this wine has changed from being a ripe and blue/root beer nose to more smoke and older-world notes, with still lingering aromas of boysenberry, but overpowered now by intense smoke monster nose, with rich black olives, roasted meat, earth, licorice galore, and black fruit. The mouth on this full-bodied, and richly extracted wine, hits you with layers of concentrated fruit, with an attack of blue and black fruit, blackberry, boysenberry, and cherry, with sweet cedar, balanced perfectly, showing great elegance, along with mad mineral, graphite, slate, rich and freshly tilled earth, along with deeply concentrated black fruit. The wine is the perfect example of elegance and balance with ripe fruit that flows into a plush mouth made from mouth coating and drying tannin, backed by a rich fruit structure. This is truly a wine speaks for itself. The finish is long, intense, and earth based, with rich layers of chocolate, searing acid, showing rich roasted animal, lovely mushroom, insane mineral, graphite, and floral notes, behind a wall of smoke and fruit. BRAVO!!! Drink by 2025.
2014 Elvi Clos Mesorah – Score: A- to A
This is the flagship wine of Elvi Wines (though the Herenza Reserva may have a word to say about that) and it is a blend of 50% Carignan, 30% Grenache, and 20% Syrah. Having enjoyed these wines now for many years, my notes of the very same wine evolve as the wine does. This wine is very young, and has yet to change. But having said much of these characteristics when I first tasted the 2009 Clos Mesorah, I can say, that with time these notes will move in the direction of the 2009 CM, moving older world with age – truly a joy to taste!
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 35% Carignan from vines that are 105 years old, and 15% Syrah. Wow what a California Syrah nose, with intense root beer, watermelon, crazy how this smells like Shirah Syrah, with blueberry, and boysenberry, and spiced plum punch. The mouth on this full-bodied wine wow, the mouth is full bodied, extracted, and crazy rich, with layers of extraction and concentrated fruit, showing searing tannin, ripping acid, that gives way to black and blue fruit, blackberry, plum, with crazy chocolate and coffee coming together to show mouth drying tannin, with earth, spice, cloves, black pepper, and spicy, with heady spice and blue fruit. The finish is long and spicy, with sweet spice and fruit that gives way to chocolate, roasted meat, and graphite. Really impressive wine bravo! Drink by 2025.
2010 Elvi Herenza Rioja, Reserva – Score: A- to A
This wine is made up of Tempranillo grapes grown at the highest altitude in Rioja, Rioja Alta. The Reserva moniker in the DOC classified area of Rioja, means that the wine must be aged for at least three years, of which at least one year is in oak. This wine was aged in French and American oak for 30 months and then bottle aged till last year.
Wow what a glass of umami, pure hedonism, bravo, what a joy, with root beer, soy sauce, blueberry, roasted meat, black pepper, mushroom, dirt, smoke, and toast. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is far more accessible than the 2009 vintage, with sweet fruit, earth, dirt, crazy candied and juicy blue fruit, that gives way to cherry, candied and spiced raspberry, with mouth coating and drying tannin, rich juicy and concentrated fruit, insane focus and attack, followed by pomegranate, and tart cherry in the background with mounds of earth. The finish is long and juicy, with sweet fruit, nutmeg, sweet baking spices, dark chocolate, more dirt and mineral, smoke, and crazy spices, anise and licorice. Bravo!! Drink by 2023.
2009 Elvi Herenza Rioja, Reserva – Score: A- to A
This wine is made up of Tempranillo grapes grown at the highest altitude in Rioja, Rioja Alta. The Reserva moniker in the DOC classified area of Rioja, means that the wine must be aged for at least three years, of which at least one year is in oak. This wine was aged in French and American oak for 20 months and then bottle aged for years until release.
The nose on this dark-colored wine is filled with dark fruit, ripe plum, root beer, sweet oak, and what I can only call soy sauce. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is richly layered and extracted with more dark fruit, showing a crazy inky structure, with candied fruit, dark plum, blackberry, spice, more extraction and sweet cedar. The finish is long and mature with great structure, milk chocolate, dill, spice, dark herb, and a bit more soy sauce. This is a uniquely different wine than the common Cabernet or Syrah, it is a wine that is really out there and shows the prowess of Moises and his winery – BRAVO!! Drink by 2024.
Invita Vertical Tasting
To say this was fun, would be an understatement. Invita is a wine that could never sell in the USA, for reasons I cannot understand. It is a bright and ageable wine. It is beautiful in its youth and with a few years under its belt. Even after tasting powerhouse wines like CM and Herenza Reserva, the Invita’s insane acid was able to cut through the reds and allow you to feel the bright, fresh, and joyous fruit and notes of these wines. Thanks again to Dr. Cohen for sharing them with us!
2011 Elvi Wines Invita – Score: A-
The wine is a blend of 65% Pansa Blanca and 35% Sauvignon Blanc. Pansa Blanca is a grape that is rarely used in still wine and makes for a very unique flavor and wine experience. This is not your average white wine that we suffer with and not another Chardonnay. Rather, it is a rich and mouth filling wine that is brightened by the blend of Sauvignon Blanc, but rich and tropical from the Pansa Blanca. The best part is that now that this wine has age, the funk of aged Sauvignon Blanc is starting to come out and show its true abilities.
The nose on this golden-colored wine, explodes with bright lemon, Asian pear, green apple, melon, grapefruit, slate, and heavy floral notes. The mouth is big and round with nice balancing minerality, round and ripe – losing its sweeter side, with honeyed notes, honeydew, that make for a full mouth, with still balancing acid, lemon drops, and pink grapefruit, that all give way to luscious funk! The finish is long and spicy with ripping acid, lemon/lime, rose hip, more floral notes, and crazy long-lasting citrus zest. Drink by 2019.
2012 Elvi Wines Invita – Score: A-
The wine is a blend of something like 65% Pansa Blanca and 35% Sauvignon Blanc. Pansa Blanca is a grape that is rarely used in still wine and makes for a very unique flavor and wine experience. This is not your average white wine that we suffer with and not another Chardonnay. Rather, it is a rich and mouth filling wine that is brightened by the blend of Sauvignon Blanc, but rich and tropical from the Pansa Blanca. The best part is that now that this wine has age, the funk of aged Sauvignon Blanc is starting to come out and show its true abilities.
The nose on this lovely wine is also showing nice funk now, with great quince, earth, spice, slate, and smoke. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is lovely, with great acid, showing perfect balance, lovely mouthfeel, pineapple, lemon, honeysuckle, honeyed notes, and spice. The finish is long and spicy, with ripping acid, lemon drop and grapefruit, and more mineral and slight pith. Drink by 2019.
2013 Elvi Wines Invita – Score: A-
The wine is a blend of something like 65% Pansa Blanca and 35% Sauvignon Blanc. Pansa Blanca is a grape that is rarely used in still wine and makes for a very unique flavor and wine experience. This is not your average white wine that we suffer with and not another Chardonnay. Rather, it is a rich and mouth filling wine that is brightened by the blend of Sauvignon Blanc, but rich and tropical from the Pansa Blanca. This wine is just on the edge of showing nice age and funk. It was still very bright and fresh and yet to move to the older stylings.
This vintage was very tropical in nature, almost shocking in a way, with still classic notes of Sauvignon Blanc with fresh-cut grass, passion fruit, guava, along with lovely notes of quince, pineapple, banana, and lemon. The mouth is not slowing down from the last time I had this wine, but the tropical notes are subsiding, with still ripping acid and pith, lovely spice, now showing beautiful mineral, saline, quinine, along with the classic honeyed notes, lemongrass, gooseberry, pink grapefruit, and straw. The finish is long and spicy, with white pepper, hints of funk, cloves, and more spice. Drink by 2020.
2014 Elvi Wines Invita – Score: A- (QPR)
This wine is a blend of 60% Pansa Blanca (the fruit used in Cava) and 40% Sauvignon Blanc. Pansa Blanca is a grape that is rarely used in still wine and makes for a very unique flavor and wine experience. This wine is as dry a wine as you will find on the kosher market, with maybe a Sancerre beating it by a hair – if that! The 2014 vintage is a shorter tropical trip than the 2013 insanity, but it is still tropical!
The nose on this lovely and intoxicating wine is ripe with apple, lychee, Asian pear, peach, grapefruit, and crazy tart fruit aromas that make my mouth water thinking about what I am to taste next. The mouth on this medium bodied wine shows weight from a lovely viscous and plush fruit structure, with apple blossom, lemon zest, quince, lovely straw and grass, all coming together into an insane acid attack, with mineral and saline – impressive! The finish is long, racy, and tart with gooseberry and dried fruit, with hints of bitter almond and lemon pith. Lovely! Drink by 2020.
2015 Elvi Wines Invita – Score: A- (QPR)
The wine is a blend of something like 65% Pansa Blanca and 35% Sauvignon Blanc. Pansa Blanca is a grape that is rarely used in still wine and makes for a very unique flavor and wine experience.
The nose on this wine is still very young, with lovely Sauvignon blanc notes taking center stage, showing cat pee, gooseberry, with nice spice and lychee, fresh-cut grass, straw, and grapefruit. The mouth is weighty and nice, with saline, great spice, guava, pineapple, passion fruit, tropical in nature, with slate, and lovely olives, spice and cloves. The finish is long and lingering with crazy acid and lemon drop, more tropical fruit juice, grapefruit, and tart fruit galore. With pith, floral notes, bright fruit, and slate finishing in the mouth. Bravo!!! Drink by 2021.
2015 Vina Encina Blanco – Score: B+ (mevushal)
This wine is a blend of 80% Macabeo, 20% Moscatel. This is a new mevushal wine and while it is simpler than the Invita, it is quite nice for the price.
Nice nose of spice, gooseberry, grapefruit and Asian pear. The mouth on this wine is lovely, with good acid, intense honey, honey suckle, nice floral notes of Jasmine and rose, with good acid, nice pith, not searing but good fruit with nice dirt and spice. The pith finish is long and floral. Nice! Drink Now.
Posted on February 9, 2017, in Food and drink, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine Tasting and tagged Blanco, Clos Mesorah, el26, Elviwines, Herenza Reserva, InVita, Moises Cohen, Rioja, Vina Encina. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.