A Shabbat in Jerusalem with epic old world wines

As I have been posting so far, I enjoyed my last trip to Israel and Europe, and I am almost done with my Israeli winery posts. Last we left off, we had just had our second kosher wine tasting at DD’s house, and the first of the three wineries we visited on Friday – Domaine du Castel Winery. However before we get back to the other two wineries we visited on Friday, I wanted to post about the wines we enjoyed over the Shabbat that followed.

I will leave the story for another day, but I can say that Jerusalem was smoking hot Friday and Shabbat (chamsin-like), but thankfully dry. I spat throughout the tastings on Friday, where we went to Tzora Winery, Flam Winery, and the afore-posted Castel Winery. However, some of the group were less careful about spitting and combine that with the searing heat that did not cool till almost midnight – and that made for a viscous 1-2 punch that slowed some folks at the dinner table on Shabbat. However, come Shabbat day all were active and wine was flowing like bonkers. I brought over two wines, as I was asked to drink and forget Israeli wines, please, which is all I could have access to!

However, I was able to find the lovely 2016 La Vie Roubine rose and a total pass of a wine, the 2016 1848 White blend, flat and unimaginative, and the fantastic NV Yaacov Oryah Old musketeer, so I was 2 for 3, which is a very high batting average, but not a good wine present average. Though the NV Yaacov Oryah Old musketeer hopefully makes up for it.

Friday Night

The walk to dinner was preceded by a quick davening in a Sephardic shul that brought back memories of my youth when I spend Shabbosim in Jerusalem. Old and young mingling and davening with their own expressions and intonations, but all still together in spirit and fervor, a real joy. Of course, the other great part is that there was no schlepping of any sort! Gotta love praying in Jerusalem! There was a class by some Rabbi, but I remember none of it, I think that is clear enough.

As we made our way up to our host, the heat was receding a bit, but that is like saying it is easier to walk through torrential rain than a hail storm. It was tough, and it was straight uphill, a small fact that everyone felt free to not disclose to me ahead of time, very nice! To be fair I was not the one schlepping the 8 bottles of wine up that hill, those were strapped to the back of the “not so with us” participant, who courageously powered up the hill, weaving here and fro but upwards all the same! I had to stop once and when we arrived at our host’s home, I was literally blanched and unable to stand – the heat, the hike uphill, it took a toll on me and I must have drunk a gallon of water until I was human again.

Finally, we were ready for kiddush, at least most of us, and that was done on grape juice! Like what! Grape juice! Then I realized – this may be the home of a Frenchman, but it is also home to a few kids who drink grape juice first and then wine. The smallest of the three drinks wine just fine, but the other two enjoy tasting it. The house itself is quite lovely and the fact that it is still standing, notwithstanding the three young terrorists that live within its walls, is a testimony to the building skills of the masons and builders of Jerusalem!

I will skip the food as I was not really tracking what I was eating, not because it was not great, but more because I was greatly enamored by the wines in front of me and the need to sleep ASAP, it had been a long day at that point.

Friday night we had some wines, but the real drinking would be the following day on Shabbat, so we tasted the 2016 1848 White wine blend, which was a total letdown. We had heard better things. Next, we had some of the 2010 Gachot Monet Bourgogne, a lovely wine, but as I stated here already, the wine is in drink now mode. That was followed by two crazy wines – the 2015 Domaine Chantal Lescure Pommard and the 2009 Capcanes Peraj Habib, I think. To be honest, I did not totally keep track of which wines we had what day, but these were part of the Shabbat meal, so I am going with these two. The dessert was accompanied by the best – non-Sauterne dessert wine on the market, irrelevant to its cost, the 2008 old musketeer from Yaacov Oryah! That wine is so crazy it deserves its own category!

I must say that downhill, when the evening is finally cool and not burning the very air we breathe, is far easier than uphill! We made our way home quickly and I was out the second my head hit the pillow – tomorrow (or was it today my then) would have to wait!

Shabbat Day

I woke at a good time and made my way to the aforementioned Sephardic minyan, which was some 20 minutes or so ahead of me, and in classic Israeli form that was more like 1 hour plus in minyan years. I made my way through the davening and did the daf and still finished with them, so I guess it all worked out.

By the time I made my way back, my housemate was up and ready and we made our way back up the hill, this time it was not as hot yet and the house we came to was in full air conditioning mode, so the chamsin was kept outside blessedly!

The entire group was now in full form and all the bottles came out and it was quite a list. The aforementioned 2016 La Vie Roubine which still showed well, and was nice over Succoth as well. The 2009 Yaacov Oryah Emek Hatzayidim (Hunter Valley) Semillon – which showed beautifully. Next came the 2015 Tzora Shoresh Blanc, which has changed but still lovely. Next came the 2012 Chateau Haut Condissas, Medoc, a wine that shocked us all. I did not remember it being such a fruit forward Medoc wine, but it is indeed ripe! Next came the 2013 Capcanes Flor del Flor, Grenache – which was as insane as always. Followed by the most hedonistic wine from Spain, IMHO, the 2010 Elvi Herenza Rioja, Reserva! The Reserva is insane – a wine onto itself and one that is hard to compare with.

We powered through the wines and the food that accompanied these wines was indeed lovely, but as previously stated, I was trying to keep all these in my head and honestly I have a decent head for wines, but I am not in the same galaxy as GG, so it makes things a bit more difficult. Besides, all the food and wine, the kids were a bit more wound up and that made for an entertaining meal. Throughout the meal, the poor host had to try to keep one from killing the other, and it was honestly Russian Roulette of which was the perpetrator and which was the victim, each happily changing sides throughout and driving their parents crazy. They are really very nice children, but hey they are children!

Finally, we crashed on the couches and the rest is history. We made our way to shul for Mincha, enjoyed Seudah Shlishit at our host, and then made our way home in the cool Jerusalem air. My many thanks to my host and housemate – I crashed both of their abodes and they were very kind with their time, homes, and food/wine. Again my thanks and my blessings that we should always enjoy each others company throughout our lives – may they be long, prosperous, and blessed. The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:

2016 1848 White wine blend – Score: 85
This wine had basic notes of fruit and some mineral. Not interesting

2009 Yaacov Oryah Emek Hatzayidim (Hunter Valley) Semillon – Score: 92
The nose on this wine is lovely, with rich honeysuckle, dry straw, grapefruit, and lovely minerality. The mouth on this wine shows a rich and acidic core, with white peach, rich lemon Fraiche, crazy rich slate, mineral, dry straw and dry kiwi all wrapped in an incredible fruit focus that is really all about the perfect balance of acid, mineral, saline, and slate. The finish is long and tart with green apple, yellow/pink grapefruit, and green notes, tart notes lingering long. Bravo. Drink by 2019

2015 Tzora Shoresh Blanc – Score: 91 (shmita wine)
This wine has changed since we had it last, it started to show tropical notes, with bright fruit, lemon, lemongrass, followed by jasmine, passion fruit, kiwi, and flint. The mouth is medium bodied and showing nice acidity, fruit focus, and tart stone fruit, with a good dollop of minerality, and herb. The finish is long with grapefruit, slate, salinity, and concentration. Drink by 2018.

2010 Damien Gachot-Monot Bourgogne – Score: 89
Recently this wine has been dropping a bit and is in drink NOW mode, it has a year at most. I must admit I was expecting more old world notes to start from this wine, it starts off more Cali in style than Burgundy, but as it opens it literally transforms within 10 minutes to a classically old world wine, insane, with clear sweet notes of dill, herb, and dried cherry, to start, but with time that changes to rich loam, dirt, earth, with mounds of saline, mineral, and lovely sweet juicy raspberry, dried red fruit, and lovely spice. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is clearly sweet, and Cali in style to start, but with time, it opens to classical Burgundy, old-world notes of hints of sweet notes, but far more balanced, with mushroom, hints of barnyard, candied lifesaver, all wrapped in mouth drying tannin, that flows into smokey oak, charcoal, and lovely tilled earth. The finish is super long, richly balanced with impressive acid, with more smoke and mushroom lingering long, with almost hints of smoked meat, spiced plum, and candied fruit. A fun experience and a crazy good price! Drink between 2018 – 2019.

2015 Domaine Chantal Lescure Pommard – Score: 93
Wow, what a wine! This wine starts off showing very red berry fruit, with insane mineral, rich charcoal, smoke, roasted meat, and lovely dirt. With more time the nose turns blue and red, showing more like a Syrah than a Pinot Noir, with intense smoke and animal, in the end, the wine moves back to its red fruit, but slightly darker in nature, with more mineral and dirt, and less of the smoked animal. Tons of fun. The mouth on this medium bodied wine follows the nose and turns from red to blue and then to darker red, with rich loam, always in full control, with incredible mouth coating tannin, that gives way to scraping mineral, with menthol, red currant, all balanced with lovely acidity and incredible elegance. The finish is long and super balanced showing epic control, lovely spices, with green notes, foliage, and lovely Italian herbs. Bravo!!!! Drink by 2028.

2013 Capcanes La Flor del Flor de Primavera, Grenache – Score: 93
The nose on this wine is ripe and jammy, showing ripe plum, rich dirt, with hints of mushroom, rich red fruit, and earth. The mouth is full bodied and richly extracted with good mineral focus, charcoal, earth, rich graphite, with dark cherry, blackberry, and cassis, that gives way to tar and roasted animal, and wrapped in lovely mouth coating tannins. The finish is long, dark fruited, and rich, with nice elegance, layered with rich concentrated fruit, that gives way to hints of mushroom and nice garrigue. Bravo! Drink by 2023.

2010 Elvi Herenza Rioja, Reserva – Score: 94
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.

This wine was slow to open, it is less open than 2009, but with time – like 8 hours in a decanter the wine really showed what it’s made of. The wine showed slightly differently than the last time I enjoyed this wine in Miami.
Wow, what a glass of umami, pure hedonism, bravo, what a joy, with root beer, soy sauce, roasted meat, black pepper, mushroom, dirt, smoke, and toast. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is far less accessible than the 2009 vintage, with sweet fruit, earth, dirt, crazy candied and juicy red fruit, that gives way to cherry, candied and spiced raspberry, with mouth coating and drying tannin, rich and juicy fruit, showing incredible focus and attack, followed by 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 Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib – Score: 95
This is the third time I have enjoyed this wine and each time it blows my mind. It had changed slightly from a year ago, but not very much.
What a nose, intoxicating and redolent with smoke, toast, roasted animal, rich blue fruit, loamy earth, insane mushroom, barnyard, and tar. The mouth on this full body wine lives up to expectations, with rich mouth coating tannin, draping and elegant, with rich extraction and lovely pencil shavings. The mouth shows rich mineral that gives way to charcoal, mushroom, nice barnyard, with layers of concentrated dark fruit, blackberry, dark cherry, currant, and rich black tea. The finish is long and extracted with tobacco, more mouth-coating mineral, and focus that really shows the impressive potential of Spanish wine to be an as old world as Bordeaux with a new world twist, bravo!! Drink by 2028.

2012 Chateau Haut Condissas, Medoc – Score: 91
This wine scares me and is sadly not showing well at all. It is either in a dumb period or it is a wine to dump ASAP. To start with this wine is ripe, and while it is overall well made, it lacks the acid and fortitude to keep going for a long time IMHO.
The nose on this wine is ripe with mounds of forest berry, dark black fruit, with clear oak influence, but balanced with some forest floor and tilled earth. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is missing something and it makes me think it is in a dumb period, because while this wine is ripe, it also should not be missing so much of what I remembered tasting last year, still showing blackberry, dark chocolate, ripe plum, and coffee, all wrapped in nice mouth coating tannin. The finish is long and herbal, with green notes, and some hints of tart fruit. I will try this again in a year and see where it is. As of now, I would drink up by 2023, but I hope it has more to it than that.

NV Yaacov Oryah Old musketeer – Score: 94 (Shmita wine)
I took this wine from the tasting I had at the Red and White wine bar with Yaacov Oryah a day earlier, and as stated before it is essentially indestructible. It was “opened” originally using the Coravin, so it did not look uncouth as much as it was just slightly emptied.
This is a unique dessert wine I have ever enjoyed. No, it is NOT a sauterne and it does not have any of the botrytis funk, but what it lacks in terms of terroir and environmental impact, it has in spades with regards to technical makeup and impressive patience. This wine was made in the sherry wine style, using the solera technique (a fractional blending system from different age-scales of stacked barrels), which takes forever to get to its full potential. As the wine ages in the barrels its slowly consumes the oxygen and oxidizes the wine slowly, this slow oxidation also makes sure that the wine itself will never further oxidize and makes for a wine that is close to indestructible.

This wine is made from a blend of late harvest Muscat of Alexandria and 2015 chardonnay that was added in later on to give the wine its incredible balance and acidity. The nose on this wine is almost worth the cost of admission (which I must say is high indeed) showing a crazy nose of caramel, dried nuts, candied walnuts with white chocolate, dried flowers, candied grapefruit and yellow peach. The mouth is richly balanced and lovely with really intense mouth coating sweetness that is both incredibly oily in nature and one that glistens in the glass with legs that go on forever, But it is also perfectly balanced by great acid with rich spices, spicy oak, with candied pear and lychee, really nice. The finish is long and never ending with a sweetness that is perfectly balanced and NOT cloying. Bravo!!

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Posted on November 7, 2017, in Israel, Kosher French Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher White Wine, Wine and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Yamine Assouline

    Hello hello Many thanks for your extremely interesting articles Where is it possible to purchase Yaakov oryah wines in israel ?? Many thanks Yamine Assouline Geneva,Switzerland

    Envoyé de mon iPhone

    >

  2. Best, Edward S.

    How can I get in touch with Yaakov Oryah to order his wines?

  3. Nice article! Regarding the HC 12 I have a few of these so you provoked me to open one… Totally agree with you on it! The acid is certainly medium low at this point and it was really bothering me.Tannins were strong still…i also had 1.last year and it was lovely…strange… Cheers. Btw when you’re in town let me know. We started a Brooklyn Sephardic Syrian RCC and would like for you to join us when you’re in town.

    • Joseph thanks for reaching out and it was a shocking experience and one I will try again in the next few years. I have many bottles, so I am in no rush, but I wish I had more of the 2011 HC which was much better. Thanks for the invite! An SY RCC – Bravo!!!

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