A Horizontal of 2013 Pinot Noirs and other top Pinot Noir to buy now

A few weeks ago, Benaymin Cantz from Four Gates Winery and friends came over for a Friday night dinner, and I thought it was a good time to open my 2013 Pinot Noirs that I have been saving. I must say, in hindsight, I should have done it earlier, as some of the wines were already past their time or DOA.

My love for all things Pinot is well known, and I had such high hopes. Overall, the night was fine, it was just not at the level I had hoped for. Thankfully, Benyo brought two extra wines, and they made the night super special! They were, a 1997 Four Gates Pinot Noir and a 2005 Four gates Merlot. M.S.C.

It is funny how the media can change people’s perspectives, and in some cases twist it in a way that we would not expect.  Say Pinot Noir and most wine drinkers will think of the enigmatic anti-hero Miles Raymond, and his explanation on his love for Pinot Noir; “…It’s, uh, it’s thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early. It’s, you know, it’s not a survivor like Cabernet, which can just grow anywhere and thrive even when it’s neglected. No, Pinot needs constant care and attention. You know?…“.  Pinot is a complicated grape – but not to its own detriment.  Listen to Miles throughout Sideways and you may come to think that Pinot is fleeting, flinty, thin, and complicated. In the end, as you watch that horrible movie, you quickly realize that Miles was simply projecting in a fire fueled rambling and using Pinot Noir as his conduit.

To the French, Pinot Noir is called Burgundy – following the tradition of French wineries to name their wines after the region where the grapes are grown. Americans have had success with Pinot – in California, Oregon, and Washington State. New Zealand, has really taken the lead in bringing the grape into the 21st century. The French Burgundy has its terroir (earthy dirt flavors, sometimes barnyard flavors as well). The New Zealand and American Pinots show characteristics that are more akin to Syrah then Burgundy – fruit forward, meaty wines with soft caressing tannins. The rest of the world is choosing sides. Though true terroir flavors are hard to replicate outside of Burgundy, many countries have been successful at bringing out the true fruit characteristics that the land is willing to share and are creating wonderful Pinot Noirs. Israel was starting to come into its own with Pinot Noir, now all I would buy from Israel, in regards to Pinot would be from Gvaot. Even if the 2013 Pinot was DOA, I have had good success with Gvaot Pinot Noir. Right now, the best bet is France and the USA, with a drop from Israel, and after that, we are on empty.

Sadly, Pinot Noir to me is one of those wines that is so badly mangled in the kosher wine world, that it is no shock that most kosher oenophiles, turn face when u say Pinot Noir. Not on account of the Pinot Noir grapes themselves, but rather on account of the pathetic state of kosher Pinot Noir wine on the market.

Say, Pinot Noir to me, and sadly I can only think of:

Pinot Noir is one of my favorite wines, NO NOT because of sideways! I loved the wine long before that horrific cult movie hit the theaters. I love PN for what it stands for – complexity through things other than fruit! A well made Pinot Noir, in my humble opinion, needs to be of medium body, medium fruit structure, accompanied by mounds of dirt, mushroom, barnyard, and earthy goodness. The ultimate aspect of a great PN is the secondary flavors, not the fruit, not cherry cola, and for the LOVE OF GOD not OAK! It is all about the secondary and old age notes that come with time and love.

Sadly, look at that list. Four Gates is tough to get in quantity. The Gvaot Pinot is available, but they are more Cab and rich in nature than a pure ethereal wine, though very impressive. The landsman 2011 PN was impressive, as was the 2013 and now 2016, the others have been misses for me. The Eagle’s Landing 2013 vintage is still available at the winery. The Makom was nice in the past and not many new ones recently. The real winners are the French options, but they are NOT cheap.

So, where are we? Clearly, that is a VERY short list. Some like the Galil Pinot and other such structured wines, but to me, they are just bad Cabernet in a Pinot’s clothing. This is a short list. Heck, there are HUNDREDS of Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, even many Cabernet Franc options. But say Pinot and numbers dwindle in the blink of an eye. Further, many of the options here are vintage based. For the true Pinot lover, Four Gates and France are your sure bets. Sadly, only the last one is pumping out wines consistently.

The shocker of the tasting was the 2013 Gush Etzion Pinot Noir, it was earthy and fun, and did not die after a day. It was quite a solid wine. Same for the 2013 Shirah Pinot Noir, that wine disappeared in no time, which is always a quality indicator of a wine. Beyond that, the obvious winner was the older Four Gates wine, the 2013 Hagafen was fun, sadly, the Prix of the same wine was an oak bomb.

There was also a bottle of the 2015 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley. The 2014 vintage was my wine of the year, last year. The 2015 vintage, will not win that accolade this year, but it showed far better in my house than at the KFWE this year.

My many thanks to Benyo for the great wines. The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:



2005 Four Gates Merlot, M.S.C. – Score: 95
This wine is a perfect example of what California can create. It is a pure joy that shows hedonism in all the regal manner you can imagine it. Bravo my friend!
The nose on this wine is packed with blackberry, cherry, plum, eucalyptus, mad mineral, graphite, rich mushroom, and good hints of green notes, and dirt. The mouth on this full bodied wine is richly layered and extracted with waves of concentrated fruit, intense ripe raspberry, plum, cassis, and mouth coating still gripping tannins that all come together with bracing acidity, sweet oak, and lovely sweet dill, and mushroom. The finish is long and spicy with leather, spice, still searing tannin, sweet notes, espresso, chocolate, and hints of tobacco and cloves – BRAVO!!! This is a wine that is still going nowhere anytime soon with more acid and tannin to keep this alive for another 6 years. Drink by 2022.

1997 Four Gates Pinot Noir ­ – Score: 95
The wine was full-bodied with layers of fruit, it showed beautifully and so old world with dirt and spice a wine that is complex and rich, a hedonistic experience which can only be described as both old world and yet truly rich and ripe. The black fruit was still kicking with cherry cola, deep and freshly rooted earth, mushroom, along with barnyard, and still impressive and velvety tannin, with layers and lovely menthol, green notes, and earth galore. The finish was long, with mineral, rich espresso, and still bright fruit that lingers. BRAVO!!! Drink NOW!

2013 Gush Etzion Pinot Noir – Score: 90
This wine was really fun, a long shot at best, in my mind, but I brought it back from Israel and it was nice. The folks at the table did not like it as the fruit was not screaming, but that was a plus to me. The nose was earthy and dirty, with a bit of fruit, showing nice raspberry, dark cherry, a hint of plum, and overall a nice version of Pinot Noir. The mouthfeel is not layered, but still nice and it is at its peak or a bit past. The finish is tobacco, tar, and dirt, my kind of wine! Drink up!

2013 Hagafen Pinot Noir – Score: 90 (mevushal)
Lovely nose of oak that is commanding attention, with smoke galore, cherry and rich earth with spice and red currant fruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is nice, it shos Pinot in it real form, with red berry with nice acid, with sweet tannin, sweet dill galore, and green notes and lots of oak, showing nice spice nutmeg and cinnamon and sweet herb. Long and sweet and spicy finish with plum and spice, earth, and lovely coffee. Drink by 2020.

2013 Shirah Pinot Noir – Score: 90
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 mouthfeel, along with sweet raspberry jam, lovely sweet dill, strawberry coulis, 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. Drink by 2019

2013 Covenant Landsman Pinot Noir – Score: 91
The nose on this lovely wine is intoxicating with rich blueberry, strawberry perfume, and sweet wood. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is rich and layered with spice and coffee, followed by layers of fruit and nutmeg, candied kirsch cherry, blackberry, and really nice tannin. The finish is long and spicy with rich dirt, and mineral. With more time the wine opens to still layered and concentrated fruit, with sweet white chocolate and sweet spices – BRAVO!! Drink by 2020

2013 Hajdu Pinot Noir, Makom – Score: 89
The nose on this wine is rich with toast and chocolate covered cherry, with spice and mineral. The mouth on this medium bodied wine shows rich cherry and toast dominating with cranberry and currant, with a nice mouthfeel, good tannin, with hints of blueberry, and riper red fruit. The finish is long and spicy, with toast, intense coffee, more sweet fruit, mad coffee, and citrus zest. Drink by 2020

2013 Herzog Eagles Landing Pinot Noir – Score: 93
What a wine, this is such a joy to smell and drink. The nose on this wine starts off with dirt, real loam, and herb galore, followed by classic cherry notes, hints of raspberry, black fruit in the background, and lovely floral notes that remind me of rose. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is balanced, with searing acid, crazy herb and dirt, followed by searing tannin that is still punching hard, all the while being complex and layered, with saline, and earth, ripe cherry and raspberry, and sweet cedar that gives way to layers of black fruit, and mushroom. The finish is long and earthy with mineral, graphite, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg, with basil and green notes. Bravo! Drink by 2021.

2013 Yarden Pinor Noir – DOA

2013 Hagafen Pinot Noir, Prix – Score: 86 (mevushal)
When we last tasted this at the winery it was on its way down, the oak had overpowered the wine and it was essentially oak juice, and very sweet. This was not far off from that, but even duller. Sad.

2013 Gvaot Pinot Noir – DOA
Sadly, the Gvaot was dead, oxidized and not fun.

2015 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley – Score: 91 (mevushal)
I have this wine a few times, and while I think it is nice, it is not the crazy winner that the younger brother from 2014 was. The nose is nice, it shows ripe fruit, riper than 2014, but clearly also far more accessible than 2014, with ripe blackberry, anise, raspberry, with cherry, smoke, tar, and currant fruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is ripe, far ripper than the 2014 vintage and lacking all that crazy umami that 2014 had, still while the wine is far more accessible to start, it shows complexity, with some earth, but more dark plum, dark black fruit with nice draping tannin, rich fruit, good acid, more licorice, sweet fruit and graphite. The finish is long and green and sweet but balanced with rich milk chocolate, nice tobacco, and sweet red and dark fruit lingering long. Drink by 2028.

—————— Other Pinot Noirs I have had recently ——————

2016 The Butcher’s Daughter Pinot Noir – Score: 86 (mevushal)
The best that can be said of this wine is that it is not flawed. Outside of that, the wine is like water, simple, but with time it opens a bit, to show a bite, and some acid and tannin. The notes are classical, showing nice cherry and raspberry, with hints of mushroom and nice dirt, with fruit, and balance. A nice quaffer.

2016 Twin Sun’s Pinot Noir, Special Edition – Score: 84
This wine is yet another letdown, it is essentially oak, more oak, and then loads of vanilla, spice, and really no fruit.

2016 Landsman Pinot Noir – Score: 91
This is fun, the nose on this wine is dirty, with lovely mineral, and spice, it reminds me of the 2013 landsman when it was first released. The nose shows the lovely fruit of dark cherry, raspberry, licorice, mint, and menthol galore. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is impressive, rich, layered, and richly smokey, with hints of mushroom, dirt, and lovely spice, the wine is not overly oaked at all, the wine shows nuance, red forest berry, soft yet very present tannin, and more dirt, really fun. The finish is long, green, red, and dirty, with ripe sweet strawberry, vanilla galore, nutmeg, and cloves. Bravo!!

2016 Tura Pinot Noir, Mountain Vista – Score: 85 (mevushal) USA ONLY
The nose and wine started off cooked, and after I looked at the label it was clear, the wine is mevushal. Look, I have nothing against mevushal, Hagafen and Herzog do it very well, but Tura, not so much!
The nose starts off stunted and then opens to ripe plum, prune, and dark cherry, with earth and spice. The mouth on the light to medium bodied wine is where the wine really lets us down, it is cooked, but worse, after 10 minutes it is essentially water, showing little fruit, and too much ripeness, the tannin is almost non-existent, and the fruit while there and ripe, are hollow. The finish is ok, with more pomegranate, plum, dirt, and mineral. This wine in Israel may well be very nice, but the mevushal USA version is boring.

2016 Gvaot Pinot Noir, Gofna – Score: 91
The nose on this wine is nice, showing saline, with rich tart fruit, sweet Oak and lovely cherry fruit. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is rich and layered with lovely earth, spice, and rich textures, showing impressive tannin structure, with nice acid and mouthfeel, showing beautifully, with crazy green notes, and red fruit. The finish is long and mineral-driven with lovely spices, ripe strawberry, raspberry, nice smoking tobacco, and flint. Nice! Drink by 2021.

2016 Eagles Landing Pinot Noir – Score: 89 to 90
Nice jammy nose of ripe but not pushed fruit, with sweet oak, nice rose hips, and floral notes that give way to cherry and earth. The mouth on this wine is almost balanced, too sweet for me, rich and layered, with saline, and earth, with ripe cherry and raspberry, and sweet cedar that gives way to layers of ripe fruit, rich, and impressive that is ripe, with searing tannin, rich sweet fruit that never gives up. The finish is long and earthy with mineral, graphite, sweet spices, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg, with basil and green notes. Drink by 2023.

2016 Vitkin Pinot Noir – Score: 88
The nose on this wine shows off lots of oak, with strong coffee notes, candied cherry, lifesavers, and fig. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine starts with cedar, sweet notes, candied raspberry, and dark fruit in the background, showing nice mouth coating tannin, good acid, but the fruit is uni-dimensional and not very complex. The finish is long and sweet, showing green dill, nice sweet spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, and earth. Drink by 2020.

2016 Maison Roy & Fils Shai Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley – Score: 91 to 92 (tasted in March 2018)
This wine really takes time to open up, it needs to be decanted for a few hours. After the wine fully opened it was still a bit shy, but is lovely with dark plum cake, showing lovely rose, and floral notes, with anise, white pepper, and mounds of milk chocolate. The mouth on this medium bodied wine fills the palate with layers of dark plum, pomegranate, dark cherry, blackberry, with red fruit galore, all backed by lovely mouth coating tannin, and nice balancing acid, lovely campfire smoke, with sweet notes that abound, rich earth, mineral, and hints of lovely saline. The finish is long and green/lemongrass with caramel, milk chocolate, and a nice viscous feeling that gives way to tart fruit, mineral, slate, saline, and lasting floral notes. Nice! Drink from 2019 to 2024.

2017 Pacifica Pinot Noir, Evan’s Collection, Columbia Gorge – Score: 85
The nose on this wine is classic Pinot, rich dark cherry, with ripe raspberry, followed by green notes galore, and rich loam – nice! The mouth on this medium bodied wine is a letdown, the nose was lovely, but the mouth tastes cooked, with dark currant, elegant tannin, and non-balanced notes. The finish is long green, with red fruit, and off-tasting notes.

2015 Peraj Haabib Flor de Primavera Pinot Noir – Score: 91 (QPR)
The nose and mouth are not a Pinot Noir, it is more akin to a Bordeaux or a Rhone style wine. The nose starts off with ripe fruit, mushroom, forest floor, with ripe blackberry, earth, and nice red fruit. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is well balanced, with good acid, showing nice dirt, fresh loam, earth, and rich mushroom, that gives way to more great acid, ripping tannin focus, with great layers and nice concentration, a new world take on an old world wine, with great vanilla, cedar, lovely coffee, and spices, warm spices, cinnamon, cloves, with more rich barnyard and mushroom, and nutmeg. Bravo! Drink by 2021.

2014 Domaine Chantal Lescure, Pommard – Score: 93 (tasted last on November 2017)
Fruity but stinky and lovely with roasted meat, lovely earth and rich mineral with dirt and rich green notes, with red and blue notes with rich herb and rich green notes. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is really crazy rich dirt and rich extraction showing lovely green olives, saline, rich coffee all wrapped in inane mouth coating tannin and rich mouth that is never-ending, green and rich with foliage, sweet herb, with raspberry, currant, and dark Kirsh cherry and rich tannin. The finish is long and green with lovely cloves sweet spices, leather, more meat, and tannin that linger long with elegance and style. Bravo! Drink from 2020 to 2028. (Available in France)

2015 Domaine Chantal Lescure Pommard – Score: 93 (tasted last on September 2017)
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 from 2020 to 2028. (Available in France and here in the USA)

2010 Damien Gachot-Monot Bourgogne – Score: 89
At this point, these wines are hit or miss. Some are good, most are not. DRINK UP!!! 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 UP!

2010 Damien Gachot-Monot Cote de Nuits-Villages – Score: 88
Sweet nose with dark fruit and tart ripe red fruit, smoke, and toast. Nice smokey mouth with great acid and attack, but not as focused as the Bourgogne, with now more temperate tannin, jammy blackberry, and plum, with sweet red fruit, cherry, and currants, that is coating and attacking and lightly extracted. The finish is long and fruity with sweet spices, toast, cinnamon, cloves, and licorice. Drink by 2019

2010 Damien Gachot-Monot Beaune 1er Cru, Les Cents Vignes – Score: 92
This nose in comparison is far less sweet, more controlled with good fruit focus, ripe fruit, but balanced with mushroom, mineral, and green notes. The mouth on this wine is nice, showing good focus, with tart and concentrated cherry, currant, no real black fruit, but nice red plum, all wrapped in lovely mouth coating tannin, with garrigue, lovely mineral, saline, green notes, foliage, and really fun menthol and tart red fruit. The finish is long and tart, with great red fruit, incredible tart ripe and juicy strawberry, with a lingering amount of mushroom, vanilla, sweet oak, earth, dirt, and really nice green notes. Bravo! Drink by 2021



Posted on September 27, 2018, in Israeli Wine, Kosher French Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on A Horizontal of 2013 Pinot Noirs and other top Pinot Noir to buy now.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: