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Age is beautiful – Four Gates

I must say that as annoyed as I am from how few people age their wines, and how early they drink young wines, I have been seeing a new desire for well-aged wines. In my article on Bordeaux, I wrote about how to build a successful cellar, and recently, I have been enjoying some wonderfully aged Four Gates wines.

As I stated in that article, Four Gates has been blessed with land and climate that gives Benyamin Cantz grapes that are dripping with acid and terroir. The grapes he sources from his vineyard, that he personally tends to, are; Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.

I have posted about two large tastings with friends at Four Gates where we enjoyed some well-aged wines, here in 2014 and then again in 2015. In those cases, just like recently, the wines all showed beautifully, though one showed more new-world in style than other vintages. The first and oldest that I enjoyed was the 1996 vintage Merlot, long before Benyamin used monikers like La Rochelle, M.S.C., or Cuvee D 🙂

Yes, you are now thinking, wait the first vintage of Four Gates was 1997, no? Yes, you are correct, however, Benyamin also made an entire vintage in 1996, however, because of liquor licensing reasons, he was not allowed to sell, but we sure enjoyed MANY of them for years!

Of the recently tasted Four Gates Merlot wines, the 2001 vintage shows a very old world style. The 2006 vintage, in comparison, is a more new world style, with the 2005 vintage straddling between them both, with a slight leaning to an Old world styling. Finally, the 2009 vintage is also a more new world Merlot in style and is still a baby, but I posted it here as I seem to not have posted notes about it before.

The Pinot Noir is very old world in style and one that is a true joy to taste, though it is not a Burgundy in any way. Burgundy Pinot Noir is far more earth and dirt focused, while this is more fruit focused, but it is still a wonderful old world style new world Pinot Noir – Bravo my friend!!!

It was a lovely Pinot but did not come close to maybe one of the best Pinot Noir I have ever tasted, the 1997 Four Gates Pinot Noir – that wine was insane!

My many thanks to Benyo for sharing his wines and allowing me to truly enjoy what age can do for a wine that has the potential to improve from long cellaring.

My notes follow below:

 

2001 Four Gates Merlot, La Rochelle, 2005 Four Gates Merlot, M.S.C, and 2006 Four Gates Merlot, La Rochelle

1996 Four Gates Merlot – Score: A- to A
Lovely dirt and incredible barnyard, with lovely green notes, foliage galore with ripe raspberry and currants. Wow, what a mouth, medium body with mouth draping tannin, crazy acid with still beautiful red and black fruit, plum, red cherry, and ripe fruit with lovely sweet dill, smoke, and beautiful sweet oak. The finish is long and green and tannic, with acid that jacks the whole thing up, with more barnyard and loam lingering long. Drink by 2019.

1999 Four Gates Pinot Noir – Score: A-
Wow, what a joy, the wine opens eventually, with a rich mushroom that takes a bit of time to show, with lots of lovely fruit, cherry cola galore, lovely smoke, and earth. The mouth on this full bodied Pinot Noir is filthy, with layers of rich mouth draping tannin, lovely mushroom, earth, rich and evocative acid, with lovely raspberry and cherry taking front stage. The finish is long and cherry filled, with good concentration, acid, coffee grinds, toast, smoke, and more mushroom on the long red berry finish. Drink by 2019.

2001 Four Gates Merlot, La Rochelle – Score: A-
The wine is clearly showing its age, in all the right ways! The nose is rich and filled with lovely barnyard, rich soil, loam, followed by lovely green notes, rich eucalyptus, menthol, and dark fruit abounds. The mouth is full bodied but softer than the other Merlot we tasted this evening, showing lovely cassis, black plums, and raspberry, that give way to still beautiful acid, with gripping tannin that give way to green foliage and lovely mineral. The finish is long and green, with rich dill, vanilla, leather, followed by black fruit, butterscotch, and lovely tobacco, all still wrapped in a cocoon of still lively acid and mushroom heaven. Bravo! Drink by 2021.

2005 Four Gates Merlot, M.S.C. – Score: A- to A
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 2024

2006 Four Gates Merlot, La Rochelle – Score: A-
Tasting this beside the 2001 vintage La Rochelle, and 2005, I can say that this is nice but not as good as those two. The nose on this wine is hopping with rich plum, raspberry, eucalyptus, blackberry, sweet oak, spice, chocolate, along with lovely mushroom. The wine does not feel old, it still young and not showing the same secondary notes that the 2001 vintage feels like. The mouth on this full bodied wine is integrating nicely and the tannins create a caressing mouthfeel that is mouth coating, but it is fruitier than the 2001 or 2005, with dark plum, blackberry, and raspberry, with lovely mineral, graphite, and loam. The finish is long and lingering with black fruit, raspberry, oak, chocolate, and minerals. Drink by 2024.

2009 Four Gates Merlot – Score: A-
What can I say – way to go Benyo! This is a classic Benyo Merlot nose, a brilliant purple colored wine, showing a lovely rich and redolent nose with great blue and black fruit, blueberry, blackberry, oriental spice, crazy rich roasted herb, sweet oak, and pomegranate. This is a lovely rich and dark and full bodied wine with ripping acid, lovely saline, mineral, butterscotch, black fruit, green notes, all wrapped in rich layers of tannin, concentrated fruit and spice. The finish is long and spicy with chocolate and spice and cloves, nutmeg and vanilla. With time, the mouth opens more to show rich mushroom and mounds of loam. BRAVO!!! Drink by 2027.

Lueria Winery and the latest releases

Lueria Winery Tasting Room.jpg

Well, I have finished all the KFWE posts, and my past personal wine tastings posts, and now it is time to get back to posting about wineries I visited on my last trip. To remind you, I came to Israel for Sommelier 2017, then flew to Paris and back the next morning for the Bokobsa tasting. Upon my return to Israel, I drove north for a day, before coming back to the Jerusalem area, and then flying home. I have already posted all the wineries I visited in Israel’s North, excepting for my visit with Gidi Sayada at the lovely new visitor tasting room of Lueria Winery. We tasted all the new releases and as always, it is a joy to sit down and taste wines with Gidi.

The wines that Gidi makes use the grapes that were planted by his father, Yosef Sayada some 22 years ago. The vines were planted on the hills surrounding Moshav Safsufa. Interestingly, Safsufa is an Aramaic word meaning – late ripening fruit. The burial place of the revered kabbalist Rav Yitzchak Luria, who was one of the foremost Kabbalist experts in his time, overlooks the vineyards. It is in his honor that the winery is called Lueria Winery.

Lueria Winery has been growing slowly but surely, going from a few thousand bottles in 2006 to more than 100K bottles in 2016. Most people would not think that Lueria Winery is pumping out that much wine, but since Gidi started making wine, after learning winemaking in Israel, and cutting his teeth with Tal Pelter of Pelter Winery (not kosher) and Matar Winery, it is clear to see that he has found his own way now. With the abundance of his father’s grapes to choose from, some 45 acres, comprising many classic varietals, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, along with some more Mediterranean varietals, like Syrah, Sangiovese, Barbera, and Roussanne.

This winery, like many throughout Israel, is not afraid to make half of their wines – white wines. Why? Because contrary to the USA palate, Israelis have finally found the love for all things white and rose! Sadly, this year, Gidi did not make a rose. In its place, he started a new label, the 2016 Roussanne! Also, gone is the pure dry Gewurztraminer that we had a few years here and there. Now, he is making some dry Gewurztraminer and placing it into the lovely, Lueria White wine. The white varietals used in the winery are Gewurztraminer, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, and Roussanne. There are very few wineries in Israel making Pinot Grigio, the ones I know of are Dalton (a five-minute drive from Lueria Winery), Lueria Winery, and Yarden Winery. Each wine is stylistically different from each other. The Dalton PG is all about acid and fruit and is light on the mineral. Shockingly, the Yarden PG is less about fruit and more a balance between the fruit and mineral. Finally, the Lueria Winery PG is smoky and mineral rich, with nice fruit as well. Get them all and then taste them in a blind tasting!

The red wine labels have been cleaned up, in both appearance and names. Now it is just two blends Rosso and Terrace at the first level, followed by two single varietal dominated wines, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon. With the Grand Vital being the flagship wine of the winery, which is a blend of the best barrels from each vintage. Its parts change each year but it’s mostly dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, along with some Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Sometimes Syrah is added as well, but in the past many years that has not been the case. I think the streamlining and simplification of the labels, along with cleaning them up a bit as well, really makes for a lovely lineup of wines.

Read the rest of this entry

2015 St. Urbans-Hof Nik Weis Selection Riesling, Wiltinger, Gefen Hashalom

2015-st-urbans-hof-nik-weis-selection-riesling-wiltinger-gefen-hashalom

Sadly, when I tasted through the horizontal of the Rieslings last week, I had yet to receive the new 2015 Nik Weis Riesling. This Riesling is not the same as the 2014 Nik Weis Riesling. The 2014 Riesling was a SAARFEILSER, which comes from a St. Urbans-Hof vineyard at the Mosel tributary Saar. This vineyard is one of the closest vineyards to the river itself. The SAARFEILSER vineyard has a southern exposure, that allows for the sunlight to reflect off the water, which makes it one of the warmer vineyards in Nik Weis’s portfolio. Last year’s Saarfeilser

Last year’s Saarfeilser wine was made pretty dry, and considerably drier than this year’s Wiltinger style wine. The Wiltinger wines are made sweeter, and more fruit forward, though they have a lower alcohol content. Why? Well, the higher the ABV (alcohol content) the lower the residual sugar. This wine comes in at 9.5% ABV, while last year’s Saarfeilser came in at 12% ABV.

Once again, the world of kosher German wines is very small indeed. Also, I have only had these two, and from what all my friends who know German Rieslings, these wines are what we are meant to hold all other wines to, not the other way around. Sadly, my palate desires drier wines, and as such, the 2015 vintage is not a wine I go gaga for.

As I noted in the notes, this wine is still a year away from being ready, if you must enjoy it now, open it two or three hours before drinking time. Also, I would not drink this wine at cellar temp, I would go more with room temperature, as the colder it gets, the more muted is its nose. Truly, if there is one con to this wine, it is its muted and stifled nose. The mouth is well balanced and truly clean. The wine I compare it to, the 2015 Hagafen Riesling with 2% residual sugar, is far more tropical than this wine which is clean and old-style in nature. Still, The Hagafen is richer and more acidic to handle its rich sweetness. The Wiltinger is acidic, no question (once you allow the wine to air out, otherwise from opening it tasted flat), but while it has racy acid, I would crave a drop more.

I bought my bottles from Gary at Taste Co – email him at: info@tastewineco.com or call at (212) 461-1708.

The 2015 vintage is meant to be one of the best in a long time in Mosel and Saar areas (Saar is a sub-region of Mosel). I am thinking of putting a few of these aside along with the 2015 Hagafen 2% and watch them age alongside each other.

My wine note follows below:

2015 St. Urbans-Hof Nik Weis Selection Riesling, Wiltinger, Gefen Hashalom – Score: A- (QPR)
WARNING! This wine needs time, LOTS of it, please do NOT jump to any conclusion about this wine before you have had it open for at least 6 hours and not overly chilled either., the cold mutes the already non-redolent nose.
When you first open this wine, this wine is a complete letdown, but as stated let this puppy open! Still, to a dry wine freak like me, it is a letdown from the 2014 vintage. So, where is it actually? It is sweet, no way around that, but it is very balanced and well integrated. The 2015 Hagafen 2% Riesling is also sweet, but the acid is more in your face and balanced, but it is also far more tropical, while this wine is not tropical in any way.
What is shocking is that this wine has a 9.5% ABV! While the wine has lots of RS, its profile shows clean and lean, which makes for an interesting wine, just not sure how interesting it will really be long term. Right now, I would prefer the Hagafen, but this wine has lots of potential, and its lean markings can make for a fun wine a few years from now.

The nose on this wine is dry, it is in NO way tropical like the Hagafen and other sweet Rieslings, which is very different than its mouth, the aromas are not redolent, like the 2014 vintage, it shows yellow apple, stone fruit, with flint, honeysuckle flowers, and other floral notes. The mouth takes time to open, but with time it does come around, it shows like a wine with 2% RS or more, showing nice integrated acidity, with crazy honeyed fruit, impressive citrus blossom, with sweet-tart lemon, almost like a limoncello, with peach, apricot, nice mineral, slate, with a viscous mouthfeel from the abundant residual sugar, but a wine that is clean, and really focused.
Now, will this wine appeal to many? I think so. The wine freaks who crave the dry 2014 vintage, will like that better. The people who like sweeter wines will find this wine well balanced and all-around a very enjoyable wine to taste and drink, with a plethora of food combinations, from fish, cheese, Asian and spicy dishes, and roasted fowl or fish. Nice!

Adir Winery – Latest releases

adir-winery-and-dairy-2I have been visiting Adir Winery for years now, and it finally dawned on me that I have not yet made a proper post on the winery. I did post about the winery in passing two times, here and here, but it was high time to take a little more time to talk about this winery and to post wines notes for the current releases.

This was my third winery that I visited on my trip to the north, on my last visit to Israel. I had already been Kishor in the early morning, followed by Matar by Pelter after that, and then on to Adir Winery after Matar.

Adir winery started long before it was a winery, long before they thought of a winery. It started with the Rosenberg and Ashkenazi families. The Rosenberg family came to Israel in the late 1940s, leaving war-torn Poland for a new life. The Ashkenazi family immigrated to Israel in the early 1950s from Turkey. Eventually, they both found themselves in the Upper Galilee, near Moshav Ben Zimra. The Rosenbergs started planting vines in the 1980s, and then again in the 1990s, essentially planting much of the vines on the now famous Kerem Ben Zimra slopes and plateaus. In the meantime, the Ashkenazi family raised the largest flock of goats in the north, producing milk and cheese.

In 2003, the families got together and built what to many did not seem obvious from the start, a dairy and a winery in one. The dairy serves lovely cheeses and ice cream to the masses that come to the winery, while the wine is served on the other side of the building.

The winery has three main lines of wines. The first is their Kerem Ben Zimra wines, which has Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Then there is the A wines, which are blends, and have a white and red. Finally, there is the Plato and now a 10th Anniversary wine.

As I was visiting this time, Adir is in the midst of its biggest ever expansion, moving from two large building to 3 even larger buildings. The current wine cellar will move to another building, while the current tasting room will expand into another building as well. It will all be state of the art, and from what I could see very cool, with audio and visual sensory technology, along with lots of space to serve more cheese and wine than before. Read the rest of this entry

Four Gates Winery – the newest wines for 2017

In case you have all been sleeping under a rock for the past 10 years – you all know my deep love for all things Four Gates. Last year was a great year for Four Gates Wine, and this year is no different. Once again, I have been asked about prices, and I am seriously not sure why this is being directed towards me. Sure, I am his friend, but prices are not my decision. Four Gates makes a tiny amount of wine and it is his business what he charges for them.

With that business out-of-the-way, let’s get to the wines for this years release. This year there is a new varietal, a Petite Sirah and there is a return of a Zinfandel, and there is a re-release of the 2013 Syrah and the 2013 Chardonnay. The Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel, are not his grapes of course, as Four Gates vineyards is made up of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.

The Cabernet Franc from this year’s release, also a 2013, comes from his aforementioned vines. It is a vastly different wine than the 2013 Cabernet Franc that he released last year, that was made from grapes sourced from the Monte Bello Ridge area. The Monte Bello Ridge CF was pure mineral and less fruit. This 2013 Cabernet Franc is a return of the classic Four Gates Cabernet Franc, rich in its floral and fruit notes.

There are two 2013 Merlot, and sadly I only have notes on the MSC, but from what I remember the non – MSC is lovely. The notes follow below, in the order they appear on his website:

2013 Four Gates Merlot, M.S.C – Score: A- to A
I really love this wine, it shows really old style notes, showing mushroom, earth, with bright red and black fruit mingling into pure hedonism. The mouth on this beautiful and elegant wine is layered and concentrated with ripe blackberry, plum, and rich earth, mushroom, and forest floor, with green notes, and old world structure and mineral, with new world fruit, all wrapped in mouth draping tannin and green notes. The finish is long and green, with earth, menthol, coffee grinds, and roasted herb.

2013 Four Gates Cabernet Franc – Score: A- to A
It is back!! The Franc is classic, with lovely floral and feminine notes, showing rose, floral notes, with green notes, earth, raspberry, and red fruit. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is lovely, old world, and expressive, with ripping acid, wrapped in lovely mouth coating tannin, showing red fruit, with black currant, rich earth, lovely garrigue, earth, and green foliage abounds, all with epic focus and bright fruit. The finish is long and green with spice, mint, lovely saline, graphite, mineral galore, with coffee notes and roasted herb. BRAVO!

2013 Four Gates Syrah – Score: A-
In the past year, little has changed in this wine. One word does correctly define this wine – FILTHY!!! The wine opens slowly – but once it does, the wine opens to a crazy redolence of blue fruit, followed by squid ink, licorice, sweet oak, intense black fruit, mushroom, and wondrous spice. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is layered and extracted to the max with intense black and blue fruit, blueberry, blackberry, blackcurrant, followed by lovely barnyard, crazy earth, mineral, graphite, rich extraction, dense concentration of fruit and mineral, and great acid. The finish is long and spicy, with cinnamon, all spice, root beer, and hints of asian spice, and roasted animal, and miso! BRAVO!

2014 Four Gates Zinfandel – Score: A-
This is a fun wine, a lovely classic California Zin, with blue notes galore, raspberry, currants, followed by bright fruit, and earth. The mouth on this full-bodied is really fun, full throttle California, showing lovely acid, zesty fruity juicy wine, with fun blueberry, blackberry, and zesty fruit, wrapped in a nice cloak of tannin and zesty spice. The finish is long and spicy with cloves, cracked black pepper, and nice spice. Nice!

2015 Four Gates Pinot Noir – Score: A-
This wine reminds me of the Cali Pinot Noirs to start, rather than the older world style of Benyo’s wines, to start. The nose on this wine is ripe and sweet, with sweet cherry notes, raspberry coulis, and baking spices. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is ripe and round, with good fruit structure, nice earth, dirt, and good sweet spices, that are wrapped in lovely searing tannins to start, but give way eventually to mouth coating tannins that integrate slowly. The finish is long and both tart and spicy, with great tobacco, earth, dill, and menthol that lift the ripe fruit and give it elegance and complexity.

2014 Four Gates Petite Sirah – Score: A-
The nose on this wine is dark and brooding, with hints of blue notes, followed by blackberry, plum, earth, and good mineral focus, with time the nose is redolent with blue notes, black fruit, and root beer. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is fun, it is slightly rustic in style to start, but that passes and turns more elegant, with mouth drying and coating tannin, giving way to a lovely inky structure, that is backed by lovely blueberry, boysenberry jam, balanced well with mineral and tobacco, with dark chocolate, and luscious tart and juicy strawberry, all wrapped in sweet oak. The finish is long and tart, with good sweet fruit focus, nice mineral, graphite, great tart fruit structure linger long, with tart boysenberry sorbet, and bright fruit lingering long. Nice!!

2013 Four Gates Chardonnay – Score: A-
The nose on this lovely gold colored wine screams of sweet oak, with honey notes, peach, apricot, guava, mad butterscotch, and creamy sweet notes. The mouth on this full bodied beast is rich, opulent, and viscous with layers of brioche, followed by rich summer fruit, quince, pineapple, grapefruit, lemon/citrus notes, creamy notes, vanilla, and lovely crème fraĂ®che. The finish is long and creamy with lingering oak, great spice, nutmeg, cloves, mad intense acid, and overall balance from the oak and fruit. This is clearly Benyo’s first heavy oaked Chard, but give this wine time to settle out and round out. With time it will show the trademark creamy, buttery notes that make his wines so appealing.

Scoring on kosher wine musings explained

how-to-judge-03The world of wine has started to look askance at wine scores and I understand why. How can you truly score something that is subjective? As those who read this blog know, I have come to love old world wines more than some new world ones, that is a subjective point of view. So, if I score a wine B, but it has no flaw other than being very ripe to me, is that truly fair? I have stated already many times, that I was moving this way, and for those who like reds from Israel in particular, they should find some other folks who share their opinions.

With that said, I have been harbouring desires to move to a true point system, and after much thought and discussions with a few people, I have decided to stay the course with letter scores. But, I want to make them far clearer and define the criteria around them. The reason why I wanted to move to a point system was that I was finding the letter scoring limiting and that there are clear differences between a 91 and a 93 point wine. That said, in the grand scheme of things, it really does not matter. I used to score wines A- (and a bit) or A- (plus) or A- (and more), all of these were my attempt to differentiate a 90 (A-) from a 91 or a 92 or a 93. In the end, I either go with a number score or I stick with the letter scores. So, since I have decided on the letter scoring – I will do away with the fine grain attempts I made with letter scoring and stick to the more coarse grain letter scoring overall.

So here is my version of the scoring system (a take on the 100 point scale).

C : Flawed and not recommended at all

B : Light flaws but find something else preferably

B+ : This starts to be a wine I would drink, but I would not go out of my way to find and buy

B+ to A-: I would drink this and if the price was good I may go and buy it as well

A-: These are wines I like and do stock in my home

A- to A: These are top of the line wines to me that are truly special

A: These wines are as close to Classic as I could see

A+: I have had one of these in my life – the 99 Giraud, and that was more an experiential score than a real 100 point score, but these will be far and few between.

In the end, there will be far more A- wines out there, from here on out. Instead of having 91 or 92 or 93 wines out there, there will be lots of just A- wines. To get to A- to A (a 94 or so, that will require a very unique wine indeed.

 

2014 Mia Luce Rosso and 2012 Lior Cabernet Sauvignon Annee

2014 Mia Luce Rosso and 2012 Lior Cabernet Sauvignon Annee

I forgot to also put my Shabbat wines in my last post about my trip to Israel. So, here they are, please note that the 2014 Mia Luce is a Syrah wine, the first time that he made Syrah instead of Carignan (other than his first Rosso which was Merlot).

The wine notes follow below:

2012 Lior Cabernet Sauvignon Annee – Score: B+
I was told that I had to taste this wine and many around me told me it was not going to end well, so I had very little expectations for this wine. In the end, this is a wine without flaws, not much complexity, but a better Israeli Cabernet than I have had to suffer through.
The nose on this wine starts off with ripe notes, good butterscotch, sweet oak, dark plum, forest berry, and sweet mint. The mouth on this full bodied wine is layered but lacks complexity to grab your attention, the fruit is concentrated and while there is nothing wrong with this wine, there is really nothing to grab you. The mouth is full bodied with blackberry, cassis, sweet plum, and dried cherry. The finish is long with nice mouth coating tannin and sweet notes lingering long with tobacco, dark chocolate, dill, and sweet herb. Drink up, this wine is turning after a few hours of air, not a wine IMHO to buy or to hold, with so many other better options out there.

2014 Mia Luce Rosso – Score: A- (and much more)
This is a new wine for kobi – in terms of blend that is. Until now the Rosso has been a Carignan wine essentially, except for the first year (2009) which was mostly Merlot! This year the blend is 91% Syrah, 6% Marselan, and 3% Carignan. The nose on this wine is beautiful and elegant with ripping with dried animal meat, fresh picked blueberry, and green notes abound as well. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich and extracted and needs time to open, when it does the mouth is rich and layered, with mouth draping tannin, with ripe plum, boysenberry, tart black fruit, and raspberry, balanced perfectly with great acid and sweet oak. The finish is long and green with milk chocolate, tobacco, root beer, green herb, sweet dill, and lovely sweet spices. BRAVO!!!!

First days of passover – wines and all

Well, if you can believe it, the first days of passover are over and we have been enjoying lots of wines. The best part of the first days was that they were all enjoyed with family – which is the best way to enjoy the Holidays!

I will keep this short and sweet – the wines were mostly great – except for one wine that I was really looking forward to tasting – sadly it is not one I will buy more of. Other than the single disappointment – the rest of the wines were a huge hit.

We enjoyed matzah ball soup, brisket (yes an obvious choice), and potato kugel for the two evenings. For the lunches we went with simple cheese and matzah! What a joy it is – I look forward to eating hand shmura matzah with cheese every year!

The wines were lovely, starting with two rose wines that are available in Israel; the 2015 Carmel 2 Vats and the 2015 Tabor Rose. The 2015 Tabor rose is only a slight step behind the 2014, and that is saying a lot for the shmita year of 2015, which was not a home run for many wineries. That said, the 2015 whites and rose are showing well, which to me solidifies what I have heard and seen so far – which is that wines whose fruit were picked early, before the heat waves and the sand storms had a fine year, but they are still not equal to the epic 2014 vintage.

Following those two lovely wines was the letdown wine – the 2012 Tabor Merlot, Adama. Tabor is clearly the QPR winner in Israel with Recanati, Netofa, and Dalton. Sadly, this vintage was pushed with a 14.4% alcohol, which is high for Tabor’s Merlot. It is too ripe for me, no there are no dates, but the wine lacks in its previous perfect balance and earthiness. The next wine we had was the epic 2013 Domaine du Netofa Latour red. The wine was perfect for the 4 cups, as the wine is low in alcohol and big in flavor! Read the rest of this entry

2013 B.R. Cohn Cabernet Sauvignon Kosher Trestle Glen Estate Vineyard

Two weeks ago I enjoyed a bottle of the new B.R. Cohn wine that is kosher, from the 2013 vintage. This is the winery’s third incarnation, and while it does not hit the 2008 monster of a wine, the 2013 is really nice and far better than the 2011 vintage (which to be fair was a very tough year to make wine). The wine is still from the same region and vineyard as the last 2 vintages, which were from the 2008 and 2011 vintages.

I spoke before about the BR Cohn brand and how they made the wine. The first vintage was from 2008 and that was a killer wine. The wine was truly elegant and rich at the same time. On top of that, the price was truly reasonable, at 28 or so dollars. However, for this vintage, and the past one in 2011, they have essentially doubled the price and are now charging some 50+ dollars for the wine, unless you are part of their wine club, which is not kosher. In the end, this vintage in my opinion may be worth the 50 dollars – if you are willing to give it the time, but it is still not at par with the 2008 vintage. An interesting fact about this wine, is that it has never been mevushal, even though it is made in the Herzog Winery where mevushal wines are a way of life. My guess is that they think this wine is more of an oenophile wine and that the mevushal moniker carries with it a nasty stereotype.

The wine note follows below:

2013 B.R. Cohn Cabernet Sauvignon, Trestle Glen Estate Vineyard – Score: A-
This is a classic licorice laced Cabernet, that tastes very akin to the Herzog Alexander Valley Cabernet, which makes sense as they are both sourcing their grapes from Sonoma County. This wine shows deep black and red fruit, balanced well with nice tannins and good acid. This is the third incarnation of the BR Cohn Kosher Cabernet Sauvignon and as in the previous bottlings, this wine is NOT mevushal. This one reminds me much more of the 2008 vintage than the 2011 vintage, which make sense given the hard year that 2011 was for Northern California Cabernet.

The nose on this dark purple colored wine is rich with notes of blackberry, cassis, dark plum, rich licorice, roasted herb, sweet oak, and dark cherry. The wine is truly muted and bottle shocked at this point and it needs a few hours of decanting to start to show its true colors. I would not drink this wine now, I would let it lie for at least 6 months and then start to taste one a year until you run out.

The mouth on this medium bodied wine is layered and rich with soft yet unrelenting mouth coating tannins, followed by rich black fruit, blackcurrant, nice earth, loamy dirt, along with mounds of mint, herb, and good balancing acid. The finish is long and green with nice leather, leafy tobacco, dark chocolate, and more mint on a long and earthy finish. Nice!

2013 Pascal Bouchard Chablis Le Classique and 2012 Four Gates Pinot Noir Ayala

Well this past week was a quiet one, and one that was really well enjoyed being back home from Alaska! To keep it simple, we made a lovely paella that I love to make right before Shabbos starts, but we skipped all the toppings. It stays warm in the oven and does not over cook, which is great. In some ways, it is better than risotto, because getting the correct consistency for risotto after being in the oven for an hour to two hours after making it – is really hard!

For the protein (we skipped the Paella toppings) we went with sausages and my wife’s patented honey roasted lemon chicken – AWESOME!

For wine, we paired it with two wines that were better than I thought they would be. One was one of the new 2012 Four Gates Ayala wines, one that I did not post about here. In hindsight I should have, the 2012 Four Gates Ayala Pinot Noir is very nice. Soft and plush but robust enough to catch your attention. I also tasted a bottle of the 2013 Pascal Bouchard Chablis, that I wrote about on my kosher French wines post.

I will warn you that the Chablis starts off a bit sweet, showing its residual sugar, but with time the crazy acid and tart fruit emerges. This is an unoaked Chardonnay, and though oak is lovely in Chardonnay, this wine is nice and viscous with enough weight to handle pasta sauces and roasted chicken.

The wine notes follow below:

2013 Pascal Bouchard Chablis, Le Classique – Score: A- (mevushal)
I actually like this wine now more than when I had it at KFWE. Please beware – this wine starts off with a very clear and distinct residual sugar attack, that calms down with time. So when you open this wine, give it air and decant it. It will grace you with a lovely bite and attack of lemon that was missing before doing so.
The nose on this unoaked Chardonnay – after decanting, shows lovely pear, apricot, English lavender, funk, and lovely herb. The mouth on this wine medium bodied wine is free of oak, with a weight to it that belies its lack of wood, also it is without the hollow I sensed earlier at the KFWE, showing nicely with tart fruit, lemon, citrus joy, along with with nectarine, orange, tangerine, peach, and summer fruit. The finish is long and refreshing with lovely pith, tart fruit, intense spice, mineral, and cloves. Bravo! and this wine is mevu!!!

2012 Four Gates Pinot Noir, Ayala – Score: B+
The nose on this wine is filled with cherry, raspberry, coffee, and herb. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is spicy and green with strawberry, cloves, mint, eucalyptus, along with still searing tannin, mad acid, and red fruit. The finish on this wine is mineral based and core with awesome acid, spice, sweet dill, and lovely searing tannin with spicy oak and hints of barnyard. This is not a complex wine as much as it is a solid wine with good fruit structure and acid.

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