Well here we are again. After last month’s all Israeli RCC in honor of Tu Bishvat, this month the theme was VeNahafoch – and so other than a bonus bottle that I wanted everyone to taste blind, the requirement this month was that the wines be anything other than Israeli. As our wonderful chefs were indisposed this month, we opted to go to a restaurant – Kinor BaKikar in the center of Jerusalem (in Kikar HaMusica) – and while oerhaps not plated as nicely as we are used to, the food was wonderful and the staff attentive. And now on to the wines….
Hagafen, Brut Cuvée, Late Disgorged, 2012 – WOW! What a way to open the evening! Almost Rose in color. On the nose citrus, pears and some nice yeastiness. In the mouth it had a nice medium body with an almost creamy mouth feel – with more pear and citrus and that wonderful yeasty flavor I love. Really nice!
Roger Moreux, Sancerre, Chavignol, 2007 – So this wine was interesting and impressive in that it was still alive 11 years later. Comparing it to the incredible 2012 is unfair (it is my all time absolute favorite Sauvignon Blanc) – even though it is by the same producer. But it was still nice. On the nose there was a little funk with some floral notes and citrus. In the mouth more citrus and medium level acidity with a rounder than expected mouth feel. I am guessing that this bottle was slightly over the hill. So if you are holding any it is probably time to drink up as it is likely on the decline and hit or miss at this point.
Tanya, Alon, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014 – This was tasted blind as a bonus bottle – and I will write a separate post about it.
Barons Edmond et Benjamin de Rothschild, Haut-Médoc, 1989 – The surprise of the night for sure. 29 years old – and still alive! Don’t get me wrong, the wine is way over the hill with no tannin or acid left. But if you are a fan of those secondary and tertiary flavors people always talk about namely earth, mushrooms and tobacco – and you are very lucky and your bottle was excellently conserved – you are in fora treat. Again – WAY over the hill – but super impressive nonetheless. In fact, while most of us were taking no chances and drinking the wine soon after it was poured, one of us let it sit in the glass for about 45 minutes and the wine had not fallen apart!
Herzog, Special Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2002 – Sweet-Sixteen! New world to hilt, but SO well made. Plenty of fruit and oak and even a touch of perceived sweetness – but all balanced. The tannin is very well integrated at this point but still present with low to medium acidity. Not sure how much longer this one can go so drink up, but this bottle drank very nicely. This wine I think on release went for like $20 or so – talk about QPR…. Also this is just goes to show you, New World does not have to mean over the top. Here is a a wonderful well made fruity wine that just works! Nice.
Capçanes, Peraj Ha’Abib, Montsant, 2010 – I almost blew this one by not decanting. It is still relatively closed. Luckily we were at a restaurant and therefore there was a seemingly endless supply of wine glasses and I let mine sit for as long as I could with an occasional vigorous swirl and after about 40 minutes it started to give . On the nose dark fruit and a little oak. In the mouth, juicy berry, dark fruit with nice earthiness,followed by a little coffee. Tons of acid and nice tannin. This wine still has a good 2 years till it hits peak IMHO. Was in my top 2 of the night. Really tasty!
Château Fourcas Dupre, Listrac-Médoc, 2010 – Full disclosure – this was my contribution. I will honestly admit that I made a mistake by bringing it tonight. I wholly underestimated how young this wine is. After two hours in the decanter the wine was still relatively tight and at the 2.5 hour mark after sitting in mt glass until dessert – the wine was just starting to come into it’s own. I took the last glass or so home with me in the bottle and there it was. Nose is all old world goodness with some funkiness and earth. In the mouth tons more earth and mushroom and maybe some raspberry with still super strong tannin and very nice acid. Another QPR superstar. I picked this guy up for $25 a couple of years ago – this was my last one – I should have bought more and let them sit. Note to self – stock up on the 2015!
Terra di Seta, Chianti Classico, Riserva, 2010 – In general I like this wine a lot – but I think it got out-classed this go around. Hasn’t really changed much since the last time we had it. Light to medium body with some earth and red fruit. Soft tannin and medium acidity. Overall a very nice drink. Just not in the class of some of the others served.
Château La Clare, Médoc, 2011 – This was a very nice Mevushal frenchie. It presented old world on the nose – but I think in the mouth, there was a LOT more fruit that I wasn’t expecting. The tannin was so very well integrated already, it had me really wondering how the non-mevushal version of this wine would have tasted (I have no idea if this wine was even made kosher in a non-mevushal version). I sort of got the impression that had it not been mevushal, the tannin might have been firmer, the fruit less pronounced and this wine might have a significantly long shelf life. Still – even as is, it was really very nice but if I had to put bets on it, I would say that the wine’s structure will deteriorate earlier (2-4 years from now) just as the flavors are really coming to peak.
Château Moulin Riche, Saint-Julien, 2011 – Certainly one of the top 2 wines of the night for me – if not the top. Excellent earth and black berries on the nose. In the mouth the wine was plush with earth, black licorice, cocoa and more earth. Tannin there throughout though not overbearing with excellent acidity that balances the package out. I have had this wine only once before but it wasn’t decanted and was only a hint of what this has become – awesome!
Château Trigant, Pessac-Léognan, 2012 – A wonderful value purchase providing EXCELLENT QPR (assuming you can find it). Pretty sure it goes for about 30 Euro in France. On the nose earth, licorice mushrooms and basil. In the mouth black licorice, mushrooms, earth, dark berries with acid and tannin in balance. Really nice – and when you factor in the price, a true find!
Hagafen, Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, 2009 – So interesting tasting two dessert wines side by side. Also a lesson in how food interacts with wine and how careful you have to be in pairing things. Whenever I write full notes I make sure to get a full feeling for the wine without any food – it really wouldn’t be useful otherwise as fat, acid, sugar etc all can interact with the wine and create a different taste. In truth, of course, that is the way wine is meant to be served – with food and each side complimenting and enhancing the other. But in order to provide some sort of consistent note, you need to be able to taste it without anything interfering with wine. None of that is really possible during one of these nights where the evening is built around a festive meal (and therefore I never give scores or consider these to be real notes – just impressions). In this case I tasted a little dessert before getting to the dessert wines. I think that had the effect of flattening this wine out a bit. The wine was still balanced but if I could do it over, I would love to have tasted this before I ate any fruit. Still a very interesting well made wine.
Covenant, Zahav, Late Harvest Muscat Canelli, 2014 – In contrast, this wine wine stood up to anything we threw at it (pineapple, passion fruit whatever) and in fact only seemed to be enhanced by the desserts it was served with. Perhaps a touch sweeter than I would like – but just a touch. Overall very nice. As I noted above – my palate was already playing tricks so I can’t really be more specific than this. What was funny is that half the table preferred the Hagefen and half preferred the Covenant. But after trying the desert and retasting, the majority voted for covenant so clearly the food was altering perception here. Very interesting indeed!
All in all, it was a great night. Chodesh Tov!