Four Gates Winery’s January 2023 new releases
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 the care and control that he has for his vineyard. That said, the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes he receives from 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 which 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.
One new wine
This year we have the return of Petit Verdot is from the Santa Clara Valley AVA, and another Malbec from the same vineyard as in 2019, in Santa Cruz, but not from the Four Gates vineyards. There is a new Cabernet Franc, all the way from Santa Barbara County, not a location I normally associate with Cabernet Franc, but it is a REAL WINNER, in all ways!
That ends the list of wines I call – not Four Gates wines. I state this because the Four Gates Cabernet Sauvignon, is also not from the Four Gates vineyard, but for all intent and purpose, of what I care about, the quality is as good or better than the Four Gates vineyard and it has proven itself as such for more than a decade!
The rest of the wines are the normal suspects, though this year’s crop feels riper than the 2017s, still, the Cabernet and Merlot are incredibly beautiful wines. There are two Chardonnay and they are both sold under the Four Gates label, there is no Ayala this year. Next, you have the 2019 Pinot Noir, a bit riper than I like it but a solid wine. Then you have the 2018 Merlot and the 2018 Merlot, La Rochelle, both are beautiful wines! The true star of this release is the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, a shockingly ripe but true wine, the fruit is clean, expressive, and true to its nature, a lovely and very unique wine. Finally, there is the 2018 Frère Robaire, which while nice, is a step back from what I expect from a Frère 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 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 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 you 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.
This year, the prices reached their highest Zenith, and it took some 30 minutes to fully sell out. The lower-priced wines sold out in the usual 8 or so minutes while the Cabernet and Merlot and Frère Robaire were the last to go. Still, the crazy prices people paid for the Auction wines that just finished selling this past Sunday show the intense demand for Four Gates wines.
My thanks to Michel and Sima Rynderman for hosting the tasting and for putting up with me and Benyo crashing their home and keeping them both up far later than we should have!! Also, Michel’s awesome Apple phone was used to take lovely pictures – thank you, sir!!!
The notes speak for themselves. Again, this year, I “liked” all the options for sale, though I did not buy the Malbec in case anyone is asking. The wine notes follow below, in the order, they were tasted – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here and the explanation for QPR scores can be found here:
2021 Four Gates Chardonnay, Cuvee Rishon, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA – Score: 92 (QPR: WINNER)
This is a very unique wine from Four Gates. This is a Chardonnay that was picked early, hence the “Cuvee Rishon” name. It is very different than previous vintages – very cool! The nose of this wine is fruity, not oak-bomb, with rich gooseberry, guava, melon, and Asian Pear, very fun, with rich saline, orange blossom, jasmine, and spice. The mouth of this medium-plus-bodied wine is not in line with the nose, with a lovely mouthfeel, great acidity, sweet oak, spice, orange, nectarines, green/yellow apple, Asian pear, and lovely sweet oak, sweet baking spices, and more saline. The finish is long, tart, ripe, balanced, and refreshing, with lovely vanilla, cloves, nutmeg, sweet oak, and yellow blossom lingering long. Bravo!! Drink until 2030. (tasted December 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 14.2%)
2021 Four Gates Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA – Score: 91.5 (QPR: GOOD)
The nose of this wine is fruity, not oak-bomb, with rich guava, melon, Asian Pear, honeydew, rich saline, orange blossom, jasmine, and spice. The mouth of this medium-plus-bodied wine is more in line with the nose, with a slightly fuller mouthfeel than the Cuvee Rishon, nice acidity, sweet oak, spice, orange, lemon/pomelo, yellow apple, Asian pear, and lovely sweet oak, sweet baking spices. The finish is long, tart, ripe, balanced, and refreshing, with lovely vanilla, cloves, nutmeg, sweet oak, and yellow blossom lingering long. Bravo!! Drink until 2028. (tasted December 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 14.2%)
2020 Four Gates Petit Verdot, Santa Clara Valley, CA – Score: 91 (QPR: EVEN)
This is what Petit Verdot should smell and taste like, clean lines, not over the top, and well-balanced. The nose of this wine is lovely, with bright fruit, smoke, herbs, lovely baking spices, roasted animal, soy sauce, lovely violet, rosehip, and nice black, red, and blue fruit. Nice! The mouth of this medium to full-bodied wine is layered, and lovely, with ripe boysenberry, raspberry, ripe strawberry, and ripe plum, all wrapped in sweet tannin, cedar, smoke, and intense acid, well balanced, with gripping tannin, and nice fruit focus. Bravo! The finish is long, bright, tart, ripe, and balanced, with more smoke, leather, roasted meat, and great fruit. Drink until 2026. (tasted December 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 14%)
2020 Four Gates Malbec, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA – Score: 88 (QPR: POOR)
The nose of this wine is too ripe for me but this will hit the spot for those that like this style. The nose of this wine changes quickly and turns very fruity, too ripe, with zinberry, ripe blackcurrant, leather, meat, smoke, tar, and over-the-top fruit. The mouth of this full-bodied wine is too ripe for me, almost fig-like, with dried fig, blackcurrant, smoke, dried plum, and mouth-draping tannin with nice sweet oak. The finish is long, ripe, over-the-top, and smoky. Drink by 2026. (tasted December 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 15.2%)
2020 Four Gates Cabernet Franc, Santa Barbara County, CA – Score: 92.5 (QPR: WINNER)
This wine is sourced from Santa Barbara County and it shows. The nose of this wine starts with nice bell pepper, spice, cloves, cinnamon, gravel, hints of jalapeno, and nice red fruit. The mouth of this medium-bodied-plus is ripe, with nice ripe strawberry, raspberry, plum, and hints of elderberry, with a bit too much green notes, nice acidity, good fruit focus, nice acidity, refreshing, with good mouth-draping tannin, and some elegance, nice! The finish is long, tart, ripe, and fruity, with good acidity, nice leather, vanilla, and good red/blue fruit. Drink until 2030. (tasted December 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 14.2%)
2019 Four Gates Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA – Score: 90 (QPR: EVEN)
The nose of this ripe, blue, and red lifesaver candy, with good smoke, oak, lovely baking spices, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, coriander, just a spice bomb. With time the nose calms and shows nice fruit, dirt, loam, cherry, mushroom, and lovely smoke, still, it is ripe! The mouth of this full-bodied wine is ripe, candied fruit, with lovely acidity, nice smoke, candied raspberry, strawberry, boysenberry, lovely earth, and dirt, with nice tannin and sweet cedar. With time the wine opens more and calms to show more dirt and mushroom, with nice red and blue fruit and less candied notes, still it is ripe. The finish is long, ripe, candied, and smoky, with leather, dirt, vanilla, cherry cola, and sweet spices. Drink until 2031. (tasted December 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 14.2%)
2018 Four Gates Merlot, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA – Score: 94 (QPR: GOOD)
The nose of this wine is lovely, so close to old-world, yet new-world in style, with ripe fruit, ripe raspberry, strawberry, dark plum, smoke, loam, earth, sweet spices, violet, and tar, BRAVO! The mouth of this full-bodied wine is beautiful, yes it is ripe, but so well-balanced, so dense, rich, layered, and bright, with tart and juicy raspberry, dark cherry, strawberry, bright plum, smoke, mouth-drying tannin, with lovely extraction, smoke, charcoal, tar, and loam, wow!! The finish is long, dense, dark, brooding, ripe, and balanced, with great acidity, smoke, ripe fruit, leather, and spice. BRAVO!!! Drink from 2025 until 2034. (tasted December 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 14.5%)
2018 Four Gates Merlot, La Rochelle, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA – Score: 93.5 (QPR: GOOD)
The nose of this wine is dense, ripe, and beautiful, darker and more brooding than its sibling, Merlot, with black and red fruit, smoke, loam, charcoal, tar, dirt, vanilla, elegant, and lovely! The mouth of this full-bodied wine is lovely, ripe, dense, layered, smoky, and herbal, with lovely acidity, roasted herbs, blackberry, raspberry, ripe cherry, mint, eucalyptus, dense tannin, and toast. The finish is long, ripe, balanced, and lovely, with ripe fruit, great fruit focus, smoke, leather, spice, and oak lingering long. BRAVO!!! Drink from 2025 until 2033. (tasted December 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 14.5%)
2018 Four Gates Cabernet Sauvignon, Monte Bello Ridge, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA – Score: 95 (QPR: GREAT)
The nose of this wine is elegance, sheer elegance, still new-world, but wow, with intense notes of smoke, sweet cedar, black and red fruit, earth, loam, intense minerality, graphite, and rich saline. WOW! The mouth of this full-bodied wine is incredible, rich, layered, dense, extracted, elegant, and beautiful, with intense minerality, graphite, charcoal, chocolate, sweet oak, elegant mouth-draping tannin, smoke, blackberry, raspberry, plum, and earth. This wine is so elegant, dense, and rich, wow! The finish is long, dark, brooding, smoky, earthy, spicy, and herbal, with lovely roasted herbs, mint, eucalyptus, and leather, with sweet spices, and scraping minerality. WOW! Drink from 2026 until 2034. (tasted December 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 14.5%)
2018 Four Gates Frere Robaire, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA – Score: 93.5 (QPR: GOOD)
This wine is a blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, & 10% Petit Verdot. The nose of this wine is stunning, classic Frere Robaire, but elevated, and that is already rarified air, with lovely elegance, a vintage that again makes me think of Chateau Malartic, with intense minerality, dense and vibrant red and black fruit, menthol, eucalyptus, roasted herb, blue fruit in the background, and lovely minerality. The nose changes over time to show ripeness and not what I expect, thankfully, with even more time the fruit subsides and the wine comes close to what it was at the opening, but a bit rounder. This wine reminds me more of the Chateau Montviel 2018 than a classical Frere Robaire. The mouth of this wine is lovely but less than I was hoping for, with a ripeness that feels out of whack a bit, maybe from the Petit Verdot, nice blue and black fruit from the Merlot, and Cab, with blackberry, plum, boysenberry, smoke, vanilla, ripe fruit, nice tannin and acidity, and nice earth. The finish is long, ripe, smoky, and earthy, with sweet oak and tannin lingering long with the ripe fruit. Drink from 2028 until 2036. (tasted December 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 14.4%)
Posted on January 30, 2023, in Kosher Red Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting, Winery Visit and tagged Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Four Gates Winery, Frere Robaire, La Rochelle, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Pinot Noir. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.
Hi David, Just wanted to say that I really, really enjoyed your post today! Hope you and Rochel are doing well! All the best, Liz
Hello ER!! Thanks for the kind words!
How is it possible to buy 4 gates wines? I’ve been trying for literally years, but as far as I can tell there’s no notification system. You just have to keep visiting the website and hope they actually have something for sale. How do you actually buy any of their wines?
I am sorry to hear. Every year, Benyo puts the selling schedule on the website before Jan 1 of the year. Like this year, the schedule was up on Jan 1, 2023 for the 2023 sales. I am sure he will continue this going forward