Search Results for 2003 four gates syrah special reserve

2003 Four Gates Syrah, Special Reserve, Santa Clara Valley

This is not the first time I have written about the 2003 Four Gates Syrah and it will not be the last one either, as I have at least one more bottle left, thank goodness. However, this one was as good as I have tasted in sometime and one that continues to impress in its body, richness, and flavor profile. I have had the joy to taste some Brobdingnagian Syrah wines, and it reminds me of the Four Gates Syrah in so many ways. The 2004 and 2005 vintages, while nice, were never in the same league, which is a shame, and the fruit, of course was not sourced from the four gates vineyards – as they come from the Santa Clara Valley. Still, the fruit shows itself so well that it almost makes you wonder why there are only three vintages. The 2009 Four Gates Syrah comes from the same vineyard and in many ways is as blue and beautiful as the 2004 or 2005, but unfortunately, none compare with the 2003.

I decided this week that though we were having no guests it was time to enjoy a bottle of the 2003 Syrah. It opened beautifully and showed all of it juicy fruit from the get go. It laid its soul bare within 20 minutes of opening and continued its fruit forward and oak induced romp for a couple of days! This is not a wine that I am worried is going away anytime soon, and a wine that I will not open again for two years. That said, if you have one or two bottles left, and have not enjoyed it recently, open the bottle and be done with it! There is no reason to try to time this wine perfectly! The wine is at its peak now and will be there for a couple of years – but why wait? Drink up and be merry. Since, I have had this a few times now in the past year – I am waiting to pop another one open.

The wine note follows below:

2003 Four Gates Syrah, Special Reserve – Score: A- to A
This was the first Syrah that Four Gates Winery has ever released, and maybe the best one so far. The wine is clearly ready to drink but it still has some sea legs underneath it. The wine starts off as black as the night with lovely blackberry, black plum, blueberry, smoky notes, and graphite. The mouth on this full bodied and rich wine starts off with layers upon layers of concentrated black and blue fruit, blackcurrant, raspberry, good oak extraction, green bell pepper, lovely green notes, and lovely cedar that is now coming together into a lovely mouth coating and round wine. The finish is long and balanced with spoons of spice, cloves, black pepper, baker’s chocolate, and tobacco, on a bed of ripe black and blue fruit. The fruit is not as sweet as the Weiss and Brob wines, but rather the wine is more Rhone in style with mineral, oak extraction, leather, black pepper, and baker’s spices.

Lovely kosher Califonia wines from Herzog, Hagafen, Covenant, Shirah, and Four Gates

2003 Four Gates Cabernet FrancWhenever I write about California wines, I get the same old question – what about Israeli wines? Hey do you think to read other posts – or just this one? Do not get me wrong, I love Israeli and French wines, but what can I do, I am a Cali boy and I like California wines just as much.

I just posted about Rhone varietal wines, and I missed one that is a really lovely wine – the 2010 Herzog Petite Sirah, Prince Vineyard. I wrote about this wine and the Herzog winery before in this post. However, when we tried it for a Petite Sirah vertical a few year ago – it was not close to what I had at the winery only a few months earlier. Well, I should have posted the Herzog PS in my previous post – but I missed it, so here it is in the Cali wines that I have enjoyed recently.

I must start off by saying that Herzog has been killing it recently with its Weinstock and Baron Herzog labels as of recently. These are fantastic wines that are all QPR and mevushal to boot! The 2010 and 2011 Weinstock Petite Sirah, Cellar Select are BOTH lovely and mevushal. The 2010 Weinstock Cabernet Franc, Cellar Select is also lovely (the 2012 is nice but not at the same level), clear QPR winner, and mevushal again. Same goes for the 2012 Baron Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon – a lovely QPR wine, and mevushal of course.

That said, the wines I tasted recently were nice, but none of them were at the level I was expecting, especially the 2009 Clone Six Cabernet, which was nice but not close to the awesome 2008 mind-blowing older brother. The Z2 Zinfandel was nice and better than in previous tastings, but not an A level wine still. The 2010 Meritage was truly quite lovely and a mouth coating wine that stays with you.

When I think Shirah Winery, I think Rhone varietals, but not this bottle! The 2012 Shirah Coalition is another crazy blend from the Weiss Brothers, and their mad scientist wine lab, called Shirah Winery. This one is a blend of 50% Sangiovese, 20% Dolcetto, 20% Zinfandel from Agua Dolce Vineyards, and 10% Merlot from Agua Dolce Vineyard! Like seriously??? To me I am willing to go out on the limb and say – this is the best kosher Italian wine out there (other than maybe the Falesco wines) – with tongue firmly embedded into cheek. Sure, it is not Italian, but the grapes all grow in Italy, and two of them are indigenous to Italy! Why is the growing region more important than the quality and enjoyability – BRAVO again guys! Read the rest of this entry

Kosher Syrah Tasting – Cool Weather vs. Warm Weather Syrahs

This past week I finally got the chance to put together the kosher Syrah tasting that I have been craving. I have been stockpiling Syrah for some time and now we finally had the chance to try them all at the same time. I have been at all of the kosher California wineries; Herzog Cellars, Four Gates Winery, Agua Dulce Winery, Shirah Winery, Covenant Winery and the Brobdingnagian Winery, and I have caught the bug of cool weather Syrah. This is not a myth; this is a real change in the manner of which the Syrah expresses itself.

The Syrah tasting consisted of a bunch of kosher California Syrah, along with one from Australia and Israel in the following order. The 2009 Harkham Aziza Shiraz, Preservative Free (not tasting as great as when I had it in Sydney), 2009 Shirah Power to the People, 2003 Four Gates Syrah, 2008 Syraph Syrah/Grenache, 2007 Brobdingnagian Syrah, and the 2004 Yarden Ortal Syrah. The first five are cool weather Syrah, while the Yarden Ortal is an example of hot weather Syrah. The 2007 Brobdingnagian was Jonathan Hajdu’s inaugural release and since than he has gone on to become the associate winemaker at Covenant Winery, while also making more of his Brob wine. The 2008 Syraph was essentially the first release by the Weiss Brothers, though they did make a smaller batch of wine in 2005 as well. The story of Jonathan and the Weiss brothers can be found in a lovely written article by Gamliel Kronemer here.

In cool weather climates, the Syrah grape is very happy to show expressions of smoked meat, black pepper, tobacco, and leather around their core of blue-black fruit. They also have nice acidity, which helps to brighten the mouth and balance out the wine’s palate. The clear note here is that the grape expresses blueberry and watermelon in ways that will astound you. The bright sweet blueberry along with rich black fruit make for a wine that is unique and truly flavorful. The blue fruit may not always appear at first, but a trademark of the cooler climates, in Australian and California, was that they all exhibited rich blueberry fruit intertwined with some lovely black and sometimes watermelon along with spice. In warm climate regions, characteristic Syrah flavors tend toward dark fruits, cherry, white pepper and earthy notes, though leather and tar are sure to also make a guest appearance.

Read the rest of this entry

Four Gates Winery Syrah Vertical

On October 22, our friends invited us along with Benyamin Cantz, proprietor of Four Gates Wine, and a few other friends for a Friday Night meal that would be accompanied by a vertical tasting of all currently released Four Gates Syrah(s). A vertical tasting is what it sounds like; vintages of a similar wine from a single winery. A horizontal tasting is common wines and varietals from multiple wineries and vintages.

We had the wonderful opportunity to taste the 2003, 2004, and 2005 Four Gates Syrah in the same sitting. The meal started off with a tasting of the 2004 Four gates Chardonnay. I have had two different tasting notes about this wine, one with toasted oak and butterscotch, and one being oaky and fruity. This time the wine showed off its toasty oak, butterscotch, ripe fruit, and lemon/citrus fruit, another hit.

I want to thank our friends for hosting the wine vertical. The meal was awesome and one that paired extremely well with the wines being served.

The wine notes follow below in the order they were enjoyed:

2004 Four Gates Chardonnay – Score: A- (no change from last tasting other than color being darker)
The nose on this electric gold colored wine is filled with heavy and luscious toasted oak, a whiff of burnt oak, lemon, melon, peach, toasted almond, spice, Crème brûlée, and butterscotch. The mouth on this full bodied wine is spicy with Crème brûlée, layers of concentrated toasty oak, along with butterscotch, melon, and a hint of almonds. The mid palate is packed with more oak, lemon, and bright acidity. The finish is long and spicy, with tasty oak, butterscotch, and lemon. The oak calms down a bit with time, but the flavors are still there with tight concentration and brightness.

2005 Four Gates Syrah – Score: A-
The nose on this purple to black colored wine filled with tar, chocolate, black pepper, licorice, alcohol, oak, black plum, blackberry, and thyme.  The mouth of this full bodied and layered wine is filled with mouth coating tannins, black plum, blackberry, and tar.  The mid palate plays off the mouth coating palate with more tannin, acidity, oak, and chocolate. The finish is long and smoky, with tar, black pepper, plum, and acidity.  Quite a nice wine that has a few more years left in it.

2004 Four Gates Syrah – Score: A- to A
The nose on this deep to brooding purple to black colored wine is screaming with inky black ripe fruit, cassis, blackberry, raspberry, plum, chocolate, tar, black pepper, and oak.  The mouth on this full bodied and velvety wine is inky and dense, along with waves of cassis, blackberry, and plum.  The mid palate of this wonderfully complex wine has integrating tannin, oak, acid, and tar.  The finish is long with tar, oak, chocolate, cassis, plum, and black pepper.

2003 Four Gates Syrah, Special Reserve, Santa Clara Valley (same as the last tasting) – Score: A
WOW! This is a killer wine. The first thing that hits you when you open this bottle of wine and peer into its purple-black stare is the ripe blueberry notes that come screaming out at you, along with blackberry, cassis, plum, tobacco, chocolate, tar, and rick oak. The mouth on this full bodied, mouth filling, concentrated, and structured wine comes at you in layers with fruit that follows the nose, ripe blackberry, plum, blueberry, tar, and oak. The mid palate is balanced with acid, oak, tobacco, and chocolate. The finish is super long, black, and spicy, with rich oak, chocolate, tobacco, tar, leather, and blackberry. This is a truly wonderful wine that is highly structured with lovely tannins and a wine that still has a few years left under its belt. The nose is killer with the lovely ripe blueberry and blackberry, along with the oak, tar, chocolate. It follows through with the mouth till its tantalizing finish. Quite a powerful that has its sea legs beneath it and bright horizon ahead.

Herzog and Four Gates Wines

This past week we met with some friends and I must admit we brought the dud of the evening 😦 which is a real shame.  Herzog Winery makes some fantastic wines, but the Syrah Special Reserve line is one that is fantastic right out of the chute.  I have had a few of my friends get burned on this wine line.  The 2001 vintage was supposed to be the bomb, and in the end, it bombed.  The 2003 vintage was even better out of the chute, yet unfortunately it too has met a similar demise.  All I can say for now on this varietal follows the adage from my hometown (Chicago – go WhiteSox) – drink early and often 🙂 .  And if you wish to test fate – buy one more at most and if it is the bomb feel blessed, and if it bombs, chalk it up to another learning experience (albeit a bit of an expensive one).

So if my donation to the evening was the dud, all we can say is that the Four Gates Winery wines we had were the hits.  The evening started with a Four Gates Cabernet Franc 2005 and ended with a Four Gates Syrah 2004, with my dud was sandwiched between them.  In closing, to be fair, the 2003 vintage of Herzog Syrah Special Reserve may be a poor showing of its original self, but the new vintages are doing fine – and showing well, just drink them now and enjoy.

In order of what we drunk – best wishes!

Four Gates Cabernet Franc 2005 – Score: A-
The Four Gates Cabernet Franc was a real joy to drink, it is a classic Cabernet Franc with a Tasmanian Devil attitude.  I need to stress that this is not a copy of one of my favorites which is a Cabernet is a Franc’s clothing.  Nope this one is a real Franc – but with a bit of tude to boot.  The nose on this dark garnet colored wine just explodes with cranberry, cherry, raspberry, and vegetal notes.  Stopping for a editorial comment – a Cabernet Franc must have floral, berry, and herbaceous flavors to make it a Franc to me – end of editorial.  This one has all of those along with an acid core that solidifies the wine’s body.  The mouth on this medium bodied wine explodes with a red fruit attack that is wrapped in an acidic core that tames the fruit, while accentuating the fruit quality.  The mid palate is filled with continued acidic notes and lovely herbaceous flavors.  The finish is long and filled with fruit and wood shavings.  All and all a real winner.  This one stood up to some serious food, but I would not throw it at lamb or such.

Herzog Syrah Special Reserve 2003 – Score: B
This line of wines (Herzog Syrah Special Reserve) need to be drunken early – maybe two to three years after the vintage year. They must be doing something to them to make them so accessible early. They have no cellar life – a real shame!!! The spicy, fruity, and tar flavors are long gone. The color is still a nice purple, but the nose has gone south. There are aromas of blackberry, oak, and a bit of nutmeg. The mouth of this medium-full bodied wine is almost fruitless at this point. There are still hints of black fruit. The mid palate has a slight burn of alcohol and the finish is woody with a hint of pepper.

Four Gates Syrah 2004 – Score: A-
This wine was enjoyed with the last bit of lamb and then continued on to desert.  When thinking about the wonderful lamb – only one word comes to mind – steamrolled.  The poor lamb had no idea what hit it.  The Syrah continued its assault on the peach cobbler and the two were actually quite a nice pair, though not as nice as the lamb pairing.  The sugar in the cobbler was nice with the acidity and body of the Syrah, but the spicy and tangy flavor of the lamb paired better with the acidic and full bodied Syrah.  Enough editorial.  To be truly fair this wine needs a few hours of airing – as the alcohol flavor blows off by then and the lovely fruit, tar and inky flavors come pouring out.  The nose on this purple colored wine (with orange halos) is filled with blackberry, tar, and tons of oak.  The mouth on this full bodied wine is packed with black fruit; blackberry and plum along with a huge inky and viscous mouth-feel.  The wine almost levitates in your mouth, almost like time stands still while it wishes about in your mouth.  The mid palate is filled with more ink characteristics and leather notes.  The finish is long and satisfying with notes of tar and wood.

2019 kosher wine year in review, Taxes, Tariffs, and more

Well, it is another Gregorian year and though there have been many new things going on in the world of the kosher wine world, with European Wine Tariffs maybe being the biggest of them. Still, maybe even bigger, is that for ONCE we have finally had some movement on my yearly and unchanged list of issues in the kosher wine industry. Maybe someone is listening.

First, let us do a quick recap of last year’s issues and the state of them, and then a few new things to think about as well!

Economics

We have too much wine out there for the official kosher wine buying populace. How do I know this? Because the amount of wine being dumped on the non-kosher market for a pittance in countries that no one visits is absurd! Wine is being dumped all over the place, and it is not going to get better anytime soon. Why? Because wineries are still popping up all over the place, and they are making really average wine at best!

Which brings me to the same issue, but in more detail. We have lots of horrible wine out there. Yes, I know I am a broken record, get over it. The kosher wine market in Israel and California needs to get better at making wines for a decent price. But I would be happy with just good wine – for a not decent price.

Again, besides the price, the overall quality of the wines is just not acceptable. The good news is we have lots of wine, but sadly the quality is not there. We need to raise the quality and then work on lowering the price.

State after 2019 of the Economics of kosher wine

Nothing has changed here. Israel is even worse than it was in 2017. Red wines from Israel were undrinkable last year, (with maybe one exception), and the white wines were boring for the vast majority, including roses. Truly, the 2018 vintage for Israel was a major bust, other than the few good wineries.

I will say that Herzog has stepped up its game. While 2015 Herzog Cabernets were boring, 2016 Herzogs were really nice. Four Gates is always the same – mostly great wines with a mix of a few misses. Shirah Winery and Hajdu Winery have both moved to the darker side, with riper and more fruit-forward wines that are not as unique as they used to be, making them less interesting to me. Thankfully, Shirah made some great white wines last year that was nice! Hagafen Winery continues to make the lovely Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and sparkling wines, but all the red wines are a waste of time. Covenant Winery has been making Cabernet Sauvignon for 17 years now, and Chardonnay for 12 years and they are consistently on my list of top best wines for Passover, the hits keep coming! Still, overall even within California, there is a lot of work to be done in regard to improving the quality and the prices.

Personally, California is backsliding, mostly because Shirah and Hajdu have not been making the same level of red wines as they have in the past. Throw in Hagafen’s total disregard for anything red and well all you have left is a few nice Herzog Cabernets, Four Gates, and Covenant Cabernets as well. Though, Kos Yeshuos is helping.

Europe is mostly a push. There are tons of bad wines coming from France, Italy, Spain, and elsewhere. In the past few years, I have been saying France needs no help, but that is not true! France is pumping out loads of useless garbage, we are just blessed with having the famous French wines that are really nice. Look at the disastrous tasting I had with Nathan Grandjean and Avi Davidowitz last year, and you can see that France is also not doing great, and those were handpicked wines!

Italy could use better options outside of Terra de Seta! Sadly, Capcanes has gone to the dark side as well. There is a new winemaker, and so far the wines are clearly riper, and less balanced than previous vintages. 2015, 2016. 2017, and 2018 vintages all show a wine style that is in your face and so foreign to what Capcanes was until 2015. A truly huge loss for the kosher wine market, IMHO. Thankfully, we have Elvi Wines, which is showing far more control and I am waiting to taste the new wines. Personally, Terra Di Seta may well be the best winery out of Europe. They have consistently delivered quality wines, at incredibly reasonable prices. Bravo guys!!!! Read the rest of this entry

2017 kosher wine year in review

Well, it is another Gregorian year and though there have been many new things going on in the world of the kosher wine world, they are all small in comparison to the larger fact that not much has changed. I truly mean NOT A SINGLE thing I brought up in last year’s set of issues has changed – NOT ONE!!

In many ways, they are getting worse, and one of those issues where I was personally promised a fix from the man in charge – well let us just say that nothing changed yet – maybe there is still hope (think LA). But let us start at the beginning and get to my issues next. So here is what I thought about 2017, in terms of kosher wine overall.

First, let us do a quick recap of last years issues and the state of them, and then a few new things to think about as well!

Economics

We have too much wine out there for the official kosher wine buying populace. How do I know this? Because the amount of wine being dumped on the non-kosher market for a pittance in countries that no one visits is absurd! Wine is being dumped all over the place, and it is not going to get better anytime soon. Why? Because wineries are still popping up all over the place, and they are making really average wine at best!

Which brings me to the same issue, but in more detail. We have lots of horrible wine out there. Yes, I know I am a broken record, get over it. The kosher wine market in Israel and California needs to get better at making wines for a decent price. But I would be happy with just good wine – for a not decent price.

Again, besides the price, the overall quality of the wines are just not acceptable. The good news is we have lots of wine, but sadly the quality is not there. We need to raise the quality and then work on lowering the price.

State after 2017 of the Economics of kosher wine

Nothing has changed here. Israel is even worse than it was in 2016. At least at the beginning of 2017, we had some 2014 whites that were still ok. Now, they are all dead. The Matar, Tabor wines are all oak juice or flat as a pancake. The 2015 wines are a total and absolute disaster. There was ONE wine I would buy again from 2015 in Israel, and that is the 2015 Tzora Misty Hills, which was on my list of top 25 wines of 2017.

I will say that Herzog has stepped up its game. The 2014 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Reserve, Alexander Valley – my 2017 wine of the year, was lovely and reasonably priced for such a good wine. Quality at Herzog is rising, Four Gates is always the same – mostly great wines with a mix of a few misses. Shirah Winery had a few wines on both the QPR wines of 2017 and the interesting wines of 2017. Hagafen Winery continues to make the lovely Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and sparkling wines. Look at Hajdu’s Italian wines – they are really fun and very well made! Covenant Winery has been making Cabernet Sauvignon for 14 years now, and Chardonnay for 9 years and they are consistently on my list of top best wines for Passover, the hits keep coming! Still, overall even within California, there is a lot of work to be done in regards to improving the quality and the prices.

So, yes California is improving, but that is about it! France does not need “improving”. Italy could use better options outside of Terra de Seta! Spain is rocking with Capcanes and Elvi Wines.

The issue though is that there are THOUSANDS of bottles and they are all undrinkable and horrible wines. I am not trying to be Politically Correct, why should I? I do not make wine (other than a few gallons of Pinot Noir to learn the process – hands-on style), I do not sell wine, I will never make money from wine – in any form or manner. I have no issue, desire, or need – THANK GOD!!!

What I do need is to make clear that the state of where we are is not healthy. We have far too much wine that no one wants. Go to stores, go online, there are hundreds of labels of wine from 2010, 2012, 2013. Old labels of old wines that no one wants. What are these poor stores to do? They have no choice! They have to buy the wines – why? because that is the game! The more you buy the stuff that does not move, the more access you get to the stuff that everyone really wants! You rub my back, I rub your back, AKA old mafia style. Nothing new, I am not spilling state secrets here. The issue is that whether we like it or not, stores are the lifeblood and they are being forced by importers and distributors to move stuff that no one wants.

Look at what I said about how many HORRIBLE Rose wines we had – they are still on store shelves! What are they going to do with that stuff?? There are still 2013 Netofa roses in some stores!!

If the wines stink, they sit on shelves, so when I want a new vintage of the hot new Rose, I cannot buy it! Why? Because the store still has previous vintages, what is he supposed to do – eat it? Why should he? I am not in the business, but this much I know – old labels of dead wine stuck on the internet and physical wine stores – IS BAD FOR BUSINESS! PLEASE fix this! Move the stock – kill the stock – I do not care!

Finally, remember that the wine business is a fickle mistress. It is a long-term game – one that needs to be managed and maintained. Names and reputations can be lost overnight when the buying public realize that what they have been enjoying for so many years is just not there anymore. Worse than that, is that all that wine, three or so years of it – the one being made, the one in the winery, and the one in the channel are all flipped on their head and now you have a real problem on your hand. That day is not here in any way. However, seeing where the public is slowly moving, that day is not as far as you would expect. The public is learning – white wine is MOVING! things are changing, and if wineries continue to build wines for the past – they will be left with a ton of inventory that no one wants. You heard it here first! Read the rest of this entry

State of the kosher wine industry – circa 2017

Kotel - 2017.jpg

Well, it has been a long time since I have posted, mostly because work is really keeping me busy, thankfully. So, Shana tova to you all, and a Gmar Chatima Tova. So, in a span of fewer than two weeks, in early September, I flew to Israel to taste the wines I had missed this year. I then flew to France to do a tasting of Royal’s French wines from the 2015 vintage and then I attempted to taste as much French wine as I could get my hands on.

The State of Israeli wine

Besides having the opportunity to visit many wineries in Israel, I had many wine tastings of Israeli wines and I can now say sadly that 2016 was not the year we had all hoped for and that Israel wines as a whole are improving, but are not yet at the stage where I can really just buy them and hold them.

The 2015 vintage is one I have described and posted about a few times now, it was not a great year unless you took super care to be careful with it and harvested early, like Tzora’s 2015 wines. The 2015 reserve reds are slowly being released throughout the country and they have no real appeal to me. Yes, as a person I know is wont to say, wine is not coca cola (or beer for that matter), we get what we are given. I agree wine is vintage based, that is for sure, but so far the wines are really not showing well across the board.

Thankfully, though I say 2015 was not a huge winner for reds, roses, or whites, 2016 was a better year for the whites and roses, as I have posted here many times throughout the past few months. It is too early to say if the vintage will be kind to the reds as well. The 2015 Shmita still has a large overhang over Israeli wines, and it needs to be fixed sooner rather than later! We are enjoying the 2016 vintage here in the USA, but in Israel, those wines are not yet released. Why? Because there is too much 2015 that is not sold outside of Israel and that is a lot of wine to sell in a country that drinks 5 liters a person, and that is on a non-shmita year! In shmita years where the Haredi do not drink shmita wines, that is a lot of wine to sell.

Still, the 2016 wines are slowly appearing, the most recent release was the 2016 Carmel Riesling Kayoumi vineyards, and it is nice, but not anything like the 2014 vintage – one of their best ever.

Overall, the 2016 vintage did not impress in regards to it being a savior from the failed 2015 vintage. While there are a few gems from the 2016 vintage, Psagot whites, Tzora whites and so on, it is not a blanket endorsement vintage like 2014 was for Israeli whites. Overall, while I continue to strongly believe that Israel is the top region for white and rose kosher wines, the past two years have made me pause and take notice to regions outside of Israel that are also helping to shape kosher non-red wine landscape.

In regards to red wines from Israel, what can I say, not much has changed on that front at all. The wines continue to be either very fruit forward or outright prune/date juice. Throughout the blind tastings we had, it was painful to drink many of the wines, and none of those wines were cheap or what Israel calls “Supermarket wines” (the baseline plonk of wineries that sell well to the unknowing).

No, these were wines that should have shown far better but did not, simple as that. In the mix of tastings were also many older vintages that were scary to taste three years or two years after release. The wines have fallen from where they were a few years ago. Again, the issue at hand is the out of balance wines that are either flawed or just too ripe for the wine to bear.

I was talking with a few winemakers in Israel on this trip, and one told me that watering back the wines are officially not legal in Israel. California is the “watering-back” capital of the world, as this economist article so well points out. Bordeaux 100% disallows the use of water in wines, well – because it never gets hot enough there to need to water back wine! Israel, which gets hotter than California, though this year felt crazy hot to me in Cali, is not allowed to water back – “officially”. Read the rest of this entry

A birthday party long in the makings

Well, this past weekend I had a long-delayed birthday party at home, with friends and great wines. In honor of my birthday, I made the classic Tunisian Friday night dinner, but without all the classic trimmings; Couscous with boulettes.

This was one of my better couscous for a few reasons. First of all, the axiom – more is better, is truly meant to describe how much chicken you should throw into a chicken soup recipe. Second, I threw in a bunch of onions, zucchini, and ground up – oven roasted – mushrooms into the meatball recipe. Sadly, the makoud was lacking, because I refused to douse it with oil and eggs. The age old Tunisian cooking rule holds very true to makoud, if the dish does not look like an oil spill, you have done it all wrong. In this case, the lack of 12 eggs and an easy hand on the oil made for more of a potato mash than a souffle.

With that, the rest was up to me and Benyo, from Four Gates Winery to handle the rest of the wine duties. ER and HK brought apple cobbler dessert, while SR and JR brought some dessert that was hijacked by Rochel for later consumption. Fear not, they both know the drill, some things that are dessert based, never make it to the table, they are essentially Teruma to the goddess of the house. Read the rest of this entry

The French Connection – kosher wine style

2002-2007-four-gates-chardonnay-2013-garrus-rose-bonnet-ponson-champagne-2007-hajdu-syrah-2007-yatir-forest-2001-barrail-de-zede-2005-elvi-el26-2009-cabernet-sauvignon-franc-2007-barkan-merlot

I must be honest, it has been too long, that is all on me. I have been taking notes for four months, but I have been very slow to post, so I am sorry. With my Mea Culpe aside, here are my notes on three wine tastings I did revolving around kosher French wines.

I recently came back from NYC where I was privy to enjoy many great French wines, with a few Cali and Israeli thrown in for diversity. The focus of the trip was a party with my friends, but without my knowledge, it turned into an insane French wine tasting fest – that I truly must thank those involved, IC, and JS.

The first tasting was insane, we tasted 22 wines from France, California, and two token Israeli wines (both of which were so overshadowed by the french and Cali that it is almost a waste of virtual ink to talk about them in comparison). The French were epic, the few California (Four gates and Hajdu) were great, the lone Spanish was lovely, and as for the previously stated two Israeli wines, one was date juice, and the other was OK.

Shortly after landing I made my way to EL (thank you my man!), and then later to the home where the event was taking place, to help with setting up, and “unofficially”, to start tasting what was open! The hilarious part was we got to taste things that were not even on the menu, including a wine I had only tasted once before, the 2009 Capcanes Peraj Habib, a wine that Jay Miller (of Wine Advocate) had called/scored the best kosher wine, at that point, in 2011.

So, the first two wines we tasted were both epic, the 2009 Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib, and some 2001 Chateau Leoville Poyferre. These were both normal format wines, but as you continue to read through this post, many of the wines I tasted were in either magnum (1.5L double a normal bottle), double magnum (3L four times a normal bottle), and a Jeroboam to boot! Read the rest of this entry

%d bloggers like this: