Four Gates Winery’s January 2022 new releases

I was not going to post these notes but I received too many requests – so OK, here you go!.

As you all know, I am a huge fan of Four Gates Winery, and yes Benyamin Cantz 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 show 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 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.

No new wines

This year there are no new wines, there is a red blend, but that is a blend of existing red fruit that Benyo owns. The Petit Verdot is from Santa Clara Valley AVA, and another Malbec from the same vineyard as in 2017, in Santa Cruz, but not from the Four Gates vineyards. The Chardonnay is under the Ayala label, and I did not get good notes on it to post them.

The rest of the wines are the normal suspects, but this year’s crop is less ripe than last year. First, you have the 2018 Four Gates Cabernet Franc, N.V. Four Gates Red Blend, which is a blend of his fruits, 2016 Four Gates Merlot, M.S.C., last year we had the non-M.S.C., the 2017 Four Gates Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 2016 Four Gates Fraire Robaire, which was a no-show last year.

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 about 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.

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 9 minutes or so, tells you that his wines are in demand and that the prices will reflect that. This year’s sale lasted 2 minutes longer but there were more wines to sell. Benyo and I did have conversations on how to get the tech better, there are clear issues, hopefully, next year it will be better, but no promises there, and I am not involved!!

So, I am done with the discussion, and I hope you all got some of the wines. Sadly, all the wines we tasted were shiners, so there are no pictures.

The notes speak for themselves. Again, this year, I “liked” all the options for sale, though I did not buy Malbec or Petit Verdot, in case anyone is asking. I did not get to taste the Chardonnay in the best manner, so there are no notes for it. The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here and the explanation for QPR scores can be found here:

2019 Four Gates Malbec, Santa Cruz, CA – Score: 90 (QPR: POOR)
This vintage is a bit more balanced than in the past with nice blue and black fruit, nice herb, root beer, good smoke, and a nice overall approach. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is nice, with good fruit, saline, smoke, good acidity, blueberry, blackberry, boysenberry, with hints of raspberry, earth, and smoke. The finish is long, acidic, with mouth-draping tannin, good fruit focus, and nice earth. Drink by 2026. (tasted January 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 14.20%)

2018 Four Gates Cabernet Franc, Santa Cruz, CA – Score: 92 (QPR: WINNER)
The nose on this wine is nice, floral, fruity, earthy, with good smoke, green notes, and rich saline. The mouth on this medium-bodied is lovely, layered, with good fruit, nice mouth-draping tannin, lovely acidity, with lovely raspberry, dark cherry, currant, and green notes, with foliage, and mushroom. The finish is long, green, earthy, smoky, and tannic, with great acidity and graphite. Drink from 2026 until 2033 (tasted January 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 14.50%)

2019 Four Gates Petit Verdot, Santa Clara, CA – Score: 88 (QPR: POOR)
The nose on this wine is ripe with rich black and blue fruit, hints of pomegranate, cranberry, dark cherry, and smoke. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is ripe, showing dense fruit, not as much acid as I like, with rich fruit, raspberry, blackberry, with saline, and green notes. The finish is long, green, herbal, and smoky. Drink until 2025. (tasted January 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 12.90%)

N.V. Four Gates Claret, Santa Cruz, CA – Score: 91 (QPR: GOOD)
The nose on this wine is earthy, smoky, dirty, with good floral notes, violet, rosehip, black and red fruit, with green notes, herbs, and smoke. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is well-balanced, smoky, floral, herbal, and rich, almost layered, with density, mouth-draping, showing raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, and rich saline. Nice! The finish Is long, dark, brooding, balanced, with dense smoke, graphite, earth, leather, and dark chocolate. Drink by 2028. (tasted January 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 14.50%)

2016 Four Gates Merlot, M.S.C., Santa Cruz, CA – Score: 92.5 (QPR: GOOD)
The nose on this wine is pure heaven, smoke, dirt, fruit, earth, all wrapped in black and red fruit, perfectly balanced with licorice, sweet vanilla, and green notes. Lovely! The mouth on this full-bodied wine is layered, extracted, and rich, with great control, balance, showing blackberry, dark plum, blueberry, dark raspberry, rich saline, dense fruit, all balanced perfectly, rich saline, black olives, iron shavings, sweet dill, graphite, and earth. The finish is long, dark, rich, layered, and lovely, with fruit and great balance, milk chocolate, sweet dill, foliage, forest floor, and loam. Drink from 2028 until 2033. (tasted January 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 15.20%)

2017 Four Gates Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz, CA – Score: 92.5 (QPR: EVEN)
This wine started less ripe than it shows now still it is fine the way it is, but it reminds me more of 2018 Pavillon Leoville Poyferre than a pure Cab. The nose on this wine is ripe, pushed, but shockingly controlled, with loads of ripe black and blue fruit, with hints of bramble, floral notes, rosehip, licorice, tar, and smoke. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is layered, rich, concentrated, and complex, with layers of blackberry, smoke, earth, boysenberry, sweet oak, with a mouth-draping tannin elegance, sweet baking spices, and milk chocolate. The finish is rich, sweet, chocolate-laden, with mineral, graphite, hints of saline, and earth/loam. Bravo!! Drink from 2025 until 2034. (tasted January 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 14.50%)

2016 Four Gates Frere Robaire, Santa Cruz, CA – Score: 93.5 (QPR: EVEN)
The nose on this wine is ripe, but well balanced and lovely, with notes of blue, black, and red fruit, with smoke, roasted meat, sweet spices, dark plum, and sweet basil/mint. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is rich, layered, unctuous, plush, and complex, coming at you in layers of blackberry, ripe and juicy boysenberry, red plum, intense saline, mineral, graphite, iron, and sweet spices, with a mouth-draping tannin plushness, nice! The finish is long, green, ripe, smoky, earthy, and dirty, with a rich mineral core, graphite floor, tar top, and earth in between, impressive, with milk chocolate and leather on the long finish. Bravo!! Drink from 2029 until 2037. (tasted January 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 15%)

Posted on February 9, 2022, in Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting, Winery Visit and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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