Four Gates Winery’s January 2020 new releases

Disclaimer – do not blame me for posting this AFTER Benyo sold his wines. That was not MY choice. I was asked to wait on my post until after the sale of the wines this year. Also, Four gates Winery and Benyamin Cantz (which are one the same), never saw or knew my notes until I posted them today.

As you all know, I am a huge fan of Four Gates Winery, and yes he is a dear friend. So, as is my custom, as many ask me what wines I like of the new releases, here are my notes on the new wines.

I have written many times about Four Gates Winery and its winemaker/Vigneron Benyamin Cantz. Read the post and all the subsequent posts about Four Gates wine releases, especially this post of Four Gates – that truly describes the lore of Four Gates Winery.

Other than maybe Yarden and Yatir (which are off my buying lists – other than their whites and bubblies), very few if any release wines later than Four Gates. The slowest releaser may well be Domaine Roses Camille.

Four Gates grapes versus bought grapes

It has been stated that great wine starts in the vineyard, and when it comes to Four gates wine, it is so true. I have enjoyed the 1996 and 1997 versions of Benyamin’s wines and it is because of his care and control that he has for his vineyard. That said, the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes he receives from the Monte Bello Ridge shows the same care and love in the wines we have enjoyed since 2009.

I have immense faith in Benyo’s wines that are sourced from his vineyard and from the Monte Bello Ridge vineyard. The other wines, that he creates from other sources, are sometimes wonderful, like the 2010 Four Gates Syrah that I tasted recently, and I would have sworn it was a Rhone wine, crazy minerality, acid, and backbone, with fruit NOT taking center stage, though ever so evident, the way is meant to be! Others, while lovely on release may well not be the everlasting kind of Four Gates wines.

The new wines

This year we have the return of 2017 Petit Sirah, along with a new 2017 Malbec, and blend called Mazal, it is Non-Vintage. There is the return of the 2018 Chardonnay but in a far drier format. Along with a new entry a 2015 Ayala Claret wine.

The rest of the wines are the normal suspects, but this year’s crop, like last year, is really impressive. First, you have the return of the 2016 Four Gates Cabernet Franc, followed by the 2016 Four Gates Pinot Noir, 2015 Four Gates Merlot, 2015 Four Gates Merlot, La Rochelle, and the 2014 Four Gates Frere Robaire.

Prices and Quantities

I have heard it over and over again. That I and others caused Benyo to raise his prices. First of all that is a flat-out lie. I never asked for higher prices, but when asked the value of his wines, the real answer I could give was more than 26 dollars.

Let us be clear, all of us that got used to 18/26 dollar prices and stocked up on his wines in those days should be happy. The fact that he raised prices, is a matter of basic price dynamics, and classic supply and demand. Four Gates has been seeing more demand for the wines while the quantity of what is being made is slowing down.

The law of Supply and Demand tells you that the prices will go up, even if I beg for lower prices.

Now Four Gates Winery is one of the few cult wineries in the kosher wine world that releases wines every year. Sure there have been crazy cult wines, like the 2005 and 2006 DRC wines, or some other such rarities.  His wines are in a class of their own, especially when it is his grapes, and there is less of it out there.

Lastly, the fact that he sold out his year’s stock of wine in 22 minutes or so (ignoring the other varietals that I skipped as well), tells you that his wines are in demand and that the prices will reflect that.

So, I am done with the discussion, and I hope you all got some of the wines. If not, no worries, there are many other great wines out there!

Finally, this past year’s top 25 wines of the year, did not include Four gates wines, as I was asked to not post the notes. The scores are below, you can figure out for yourself how many of them would have been on that list!

Sadly, all the wines we tasted were shiners, so there are no pictures.

The notes speak for themselves. These are the wines I liked, there are two other wines that will be sold, but I am not a fan of them, I am sure others will be. The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:

2018 Four Gates Chardonnay, Estate Bottled – Score: 90 to 91
The nose on this wine is super dry, far drier than previous vintages, with less oak, still, it is a clear California Chardonnay, with clear oak leanings, but lighter on the oak than normal, with tart green apple, stone fruit, and spice. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is lighter than previous vintages, but still lovely with sweet oak, with creme brulee, sweet pear, with nutmeg, cinnamon, and sweet herbs, with searing acid, nice tannin, lovely citrus, buttered popcorn, and lovely oak that brings it all around. The finish is long, green, herbal, with sweet spices, lovely orange pith, and heather, nice! Drink by 2025.

2016 Four Gates Cabernet Franc, Estate Bottled – Score: 92
The nose on this wine is ripe, black, and brooding, with clear red fruit leanings, showing earth, smoke, and Asian spices, with green notes, and rhubarb. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is ripe, but the lovely acidity is beautiful with lovely mouth-drying tannin, showing layers upon layers of beautiful sweet and ripe cherry, cassis, tart, and juicy and ripe strawberry and raspberry, with sweet spices, with sweet notes, with dark chocolate, earth galore, green notes, and sweet cedar, with pith and loam. The finish is long, red and green, with a lovely mineral-core, graphite, leather, and dirt. Lovely! Drink from 2022 until 2028.

2016 Four Gates Pinot Noir, Estate Bottled – Score: 91
The nose on this wine is classic chicken-cherry cola, with crazy Pinot notes of sweet fruit, spices, herb galore, with mint, oregano, and roasted herbs. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is lovely, with layers of sweet pomegranate, sweet and juicy with layers of fruit, spice, and sweet red plum, with searing acid, mouth-drying tannin, and lovely smoke, with toast, and loam. The finish is long, green, ripe, and herbal, with ripe fruit notes, and oak. Nice. Drink by 2027.

2017 Four Gates Malbec – Score: 90
The nose on this wine is screaming roasted espresso coffee, with smoked meat, roasted herb, and loads of blue and red fruit. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is sweet, less ripe than the Petite Sirah, with juicy and sweet strawberry, boysenberry, and raspberry, with smoke, herb, with layers of fruit, herb, and smoke, sweet oak, and sweet spices, with chocolate, and sweet tobacco galore. The finish is long, sweet, and tart and juicy, with smoke, and leather. Nice! Drink by 2023.

2015 Four Gates Merlot, Estate Bottled – Score: 92 to 93
The nose on this wine is beautiful, stunning, with crazy red fruit, loads of mineral, spice, herb, loam, forest floor, and mushroom, wow, this is so close to a French wine it is stunning. The mouth on this wine is layered, fruit, and earthy, with intense concentration and extraction, with mouth-drying tannin that is highly exaggerated, that will need loads of time to integrate, with juicy strawberry, raspberry, and lovely smashmouth approach to wine, with sweet fruit and some heat to start. The finish is long, green, sweet, but perfectly balanced with great acidity, foliage, herbs, and lovely sweet spices, with a beautiful weight and structure that will last for 20 years or more. Bravo! Drink from 2027 until 2032 or more.

2015 Four Gates Merlot, La Rochelle, Estate Bottled – Score: 92 to 93
The nose on this wine is incredible with loads of roasted coffee, crazy smoke, earth, and fruit, with sweet cedar, with loads of sweet fruit, and hints of black fruit in the background. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is lovely, layered, with crazy fruit, showing layers upon layers of concentrated and extracted fruit, with elegance, sweet and ripe fruit, with blackberry, raspberry, and strawberry, with crazy astringency, mouth drying and coating tannin, green notes, earth, sweet fruit, loads of mineral, graphite, saline, and green olives. Wow! The finish is long, green, smoky, and sweet, with mineral, sweet tobacco, and earth galore, with sweet oak, and lovely elegance. Bravo! Drink from 2026 until 2034.

2015 Four Gates Frere Robaire – Score: 93
This wine is a blend of 76% Merlot,  33% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1% Cabernet Franc. The nose on this wine is akin to the La Rochelle, with more acidity, and more green notes. The nose on this wine is lovely, ripe, green, layered, and expressive, with blackberry, milk chocolate, red fruit, and sweet spices. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is ripe, layered, and expressive, with loads of blackberry, cassis, raspberry, and earth, with sweet spices, layers of concentrated fruit, extraction, and mineral, with loads of graphite, smoke, and sweet cedar, with a beautiful acid backbone and menthol. With time the wine comes together in an elegance that continues to remind me of Chateau Malartic – wonderful. The finish is long, green, tobacco, menthol, smoke, and earth, with loads of leather, and earth, with more milk chocolate, and searing tannin and acid lingering long. Drink from 2025 until 2035. Bravo!!!

Posted on January 14, 2020, in Kosher Red Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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