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Relaxing weekend away from the house with great food and some nice wines

This past weekend saw us out of the house and enjoying a wonderful shabbos with friends, a home away from home. As usual, our hosts pulled out all the stops and made mounds of wonderful food. The least we could do is bring some wine to pair with the bountiful spread. On a side note, the last time we had one of the bottles listed below; the 2003 Kiddush Hashem Syrah, it was DOA, this time it was alive and enjoyable. Once again, the lore and history that backs these wines is quite crazy, though in the end, they are ready to drink and the winery is out of business, at least for now.

Many thanks to our hosts for letting us crash for a few days and for making us feel so welcome and at home. The wines listed here were tasted in the order that they appear:

2009 Hameshubach Midbar Silver Label (Israel, Negev) – Score: B to B+
When we tasted this wine we could have sworn it was a Pinot with little to no Cabernet presence. The nose on this dark ruby to light garnet colored wine was filled with kirsch cherry, bramble, black currant, light oak, raspberry, and floral hints as it opens in your glass. The mouth on this light to medium bodied wine is soft and somewhat plush with nice tannin, kirsch cherry, raspberry, black currant, and rose notes, as it opens in the glass. The mid palate is somewhat out of balance with bracing acid, oak, and soft tannin. The finish is long and floral with cherry, black currant, and spice lingering after the wine is gone.

2003 Kiddush Hashem Syrah Great Oaks Ranch – Score: B++ to A-
This wine has been a hit or miss for me, some of the bottles are either DOA or worse. This bottle was actually a success, so that was nice. The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine is filled with tobacco, oak, raspberry, currant, blackberry, plum, dirt, graphite, and mint. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine displays a lovely full mouth feel from the integrated tannin, blackberry, raspberry, inky structure, and tar. The mid palate is balanced with acid, tobacco, oak, and dirt. The finish is long with oak, blackberry, tobacco, dirt, roasted meats, black pepper, and tar.

2006 Galil Mountain Winery Viognier (Israel, Galilee) – Score: B++
The nose on this light gold colored wine is filled with peach, pear, fig, apple, floral notes, citrus, cut grass, and toast. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich with peach, apple, pear, and citrus. The mid palate is balanced with core acid, citrus, cloves, butter, caramel, and a hint of oak. The finish is long and spicy, with oak, butter, peach, and a lingering finish of cut grass and butter.

Hameshubach Midbar, Ella Valley Cabernet Vineyard Choice, Herzog, Cabernet Sauvignon To Kalon Vineyard

This past weekend we had friends and family over for a lovely Friday Night meal. The meal started off with a warm bowl of Roasted Butternut squash soup and a bottle of the 2007 Hameshubach Midbar, Gold Series. The wine was looking a bit brown, but the flavor profile is exactly what I remembered it to be when I tasted it in March. Clearly a bottle to drink now. The soup tasted quite nicely, rich and sweet, with a twang of bitterness to compliment the flavors, from the orange rind. Benyamin Cantz (Benyo) from Four Gates Winery was there as well and brought over a 15 year old Champagne. The Champagne tasted nice, with tight bubbles, deep core acidity, some toasted almonds, and a hint of citrus fruit.

At the same time we opened a bottle of the 2006 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, To Kalon Vineyard that came from the Herzog Club. We opened it then to give it time to air out while we started on other wines. We then opened my last bottle of the 2003 Ella Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Vineyard Choice and that was a wise choice. The wine’s color was fine, along with its nose and mouth, still it was at its peak and starting to lose some of its complexity, so it is a good time to drink this up.

We then served Mushroom and Crookneck Zucchini Risotto, a plate of salami and turkey pastrami, along with braised roast beef, spinach kugel (parve souffle), and a fresh green salad. The Ella Valley Cabernet paired wonderfully with the roast and salami, while the risotto’s creaminess and mushroom earthiness added a certain level of balance to the palate of the food. We then poured the 2006 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, To Kalon Vineyard, and to be honest I was not initially impressed at all. It was OK, but it was more of a medium bodied wine with a finish that was lacking. Still, I kept some around, and the next day it tasted much better. This wine is the press wine of its monster of a brother, the 2006 Herzog Generation VIII Cabernet Sauvignon, To Kalon Vineyard, Napa Valley. It bigger brother is a massive wine with broad shoulders, a mouth feel that is rich and opulent, rich black fruit, and a finish that goes on forever. Its younger brother is far less massive and its finish is a bit lacking. The Generation VIII is free run wine, while this is press wine. Now, press wine is not bad wine, but what it has in tannin (in spades) and sometimes in color, it lacks in true fruit and depth. This is not to say they are bad wines just different. Many wineries will blend the two, the free run and the press wine. To make up for some of its issues, Herzog aged the wine in oak for 42 months, which may sound crazy, but oak does add lovely characteristics and helps this wine out immensely.

Truly this dichotomy reminds me of the 2006 Covenant Red C and the 2006 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon. The Red C is a far more medium bodied wine than is the Covenant Cabernet. You see the 2006 Red C is also pure press wine, while the 2006 Covenant Cabernet is pure free run.

I will say that the 2006 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, To Kalon Vineyard is a nice wine, but I find it also reminds me of the styling’s of the 2008 B.R. Cohn Cabernet Sauvignon Kosher Trestle Glen Estate Vineyard, lighter in body, more finesse and elegance than sheer power, but I believe still lacking.

The wine notes follow below:

2007 Hameshubach Midbar, Gold Series (60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, and 5% Petite Verdot) – Score: A-
The nose on this garnet to mahogany colored wine explodes with rich raspberry, ripe blackberry, ripe black plum, mounds of rich chocolate, cedar, smoky notes, tobacco, and fig. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is rich and exploding with dark and brooding blackberry and black plum along with tar like flavors. The mid palate is balanced with rich oak, acid, chocolate, and tobacco. The finish is super rich and long with black fruit, blackberry, chocolate, tobacco, tar like flavors, and vanilla. This wine is clearly at or beyond its peak, drink up!!!

2003 Ella Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Vineyard’s Choice (97% Cab, 3% Cabernet Franc) – Score: A- to A
The nose on this purple to black colored wine is hopping with rich ripe cherry, blackberry, cassis, figs, crushed herbs, smoky notes, and lovely rich oak. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich and structured with ripe blackberry, cassis, raspberry, and loamy dirt. The mid palate is balanced with rich oak, loamy dirt, crushed herbs, and chocolate. The finish is super long with sweet oak, ripe blackberry, chocolate, smokiness, roasted meats, crushed herbs, and dirt. Drink this up – it is time.

2006 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, To Kalon Vineyard, Napa Valley – Score: A-
The nose on this garnet colored wine is rich with chocolate, blackberry, raspberry, crushed herbs, rich cedar oak, vanilla, and licorice, a lovely and elegant nose. The mouth on this medium bodied wine has raspberry, red fruit, spicy notes, blackberry, and nice tannin. The mid palate is balanced with acid, integrated tannin, spicy oak, vanilla, and chocolate. The finish is not so long with chocolate, vanilla, spicy oak, smoky notes, and licorice. I thought the lack of a solid finish and it understated mouth structure was a lacking, but what it lacks in those things it does make up a bit with its elegance.


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