Scheduling an RCC for Tishrei is always tricky. There are very few usable days in the month because of the chagim – early in the month is hard becasue of all of the prep for each chag and pushing it until after means that you are very close to the next month. Doing it before Rosh Hashanna means that you are pretty close to the prior month. This year though we had a couple of guests coming in from England who asked a good 5 months in advance about scheduling an RCC while they were here – so how could I say no?
Uri did most of the cooking this time around with Bracha handling desert. We had what I would guess is the most complex composed dish until now at an RCC Israel (Leg meat compression, chicken skin tuile, sous vide chicken breast, chicken cream, liver and red onion jam – you can check the pic below) – which was wonderful. All of the other food was on point as usual. As an aside – if you’ve never tasted smoked honey before (it was part of the desert), you’re missing out!
Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Blanc de Blancs, Late Disgorged, 2007 – We started off with a bang. I loved this. It had everything I was hoping for. Nice freshness AND those toasty notes that I crave and that creaminess in perfect balnce without too much acidity. I thought this was great. Worth the price? Certainly worth more than many of the true French Champagnes on the market. So if you are going to go high-end anyway, you might as well go for this.
Domaine des Pendus Aliza Vignobles, Aligoté – Muscat Sec, 2014 – This was my first time trying this unique bottle. Unfortunately I think it simply was over teh hill with very little acidity or fruit left – leaving some nice grassy notes with maybe a hint of citrus in the background. Not much else though – which is a shame. I doubt I’ll ever get to try an Aligoté – Muscat blend again!
Gvaot, Masada, Pinot Noir, 2012 – As I drank this I was thinking “ch ch ch ch ch cherry bomb” (probably showing my age with that lyric reference. I thought this was a big win. Is it in the style of an old world Bourgogne ? Of course not! This is as new world as it gets. But what’s wrong with that? Super tasty and really well made. I would guess though that it is likely at it’s peak – so start to drink if you are lucky enough to be holding.
Kedem Estates, Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes, 2012 – This wine was on the list purely for it’s uniqueness. It was a one-off made by Kedem in upstate New York using regional grapes from the Finger Lakes region which is near Syracuse and Rochester. Now I am sure you are saying to yourself – “Kedem? you mean Concord and Malaga kiddush wine Kedem?!?! What is that doing at an RCC?” Well yes, Kedem makes all of that disgusting kiddush wine. But Kedem is just one of the many, many brand names in the Royal Wine corporate family. Yes – the makers of Herzog and importers of all of that delicious French wine. Same company. For obvious reasons, they usually keep the brands distinct – sweet kiddush wines and grape juice = Kedem & dry wines = Herzog – but as this wine was made in NY state by the east coast team – they deservedly got to take credit for it. Is it incredible? No. But it’s REALLY nice. Great old world earthy nose. IN the mouth – well – the wine needs some serious air – at fist it showed very muted with some generally nice red fruit and berries. Many of the people around the table pissed all over it saying it sucked. It didn’t. Special? No, but nice-enough and unique just because of the region. I told them you are reacting to branding – if you tasted this blind you would have a very different opinion! As it happens there was a quarter of a bottle left and at the end of the meal my friend Alexandre decided to retaste and afterwards recommended that I do the same. I did and all of those earthy notes present in the nose were now enveloping the fruit in the mouth. This went from being nice-enough and unique to being really nice (and at only $12 a bottle excellent QPR)! I decided to see if my theory would hold up. I put the bottle under the table and asked if anyone would like to taste a blind bottle before desert? around 2/3’s of the diners said yes. Out of the 8 or so who re-tasted , only one didn’t like it! Now you could say that it was because they had palate fatigue at that point or were drunk and didn’t care. I would make the opposite arugument. The last 5 bottles we tasted before coming back to this bottle were The Flam Noble ’10, Misty Hills ’11, Echo de Roses Camille ’11, Peraj Habib ’10 and Haut Condissas ’05. Next to all of those blockbusters, this wine tasted OK! That’s a true accomplishment! Just one note – while this wine sold for $12, you can’t find it. It was a one-off and is sold out even at the winery. Like I said – points just for being that unique! [Edit Sep. 6,2018: I have been informed that there is still some available in the Kedem Tasting Room in Marlboro NY ]
Har Odem, Reserve, Merlot, 2011 – By far my least favorite of the night. It was served a couple of degress too warm, but on top of that it drank really hot (alcoholic). Also, from a flavor standpoint, it was just very generic. Pass.
Shiloh, Secret Reserve, Shiraz, 2010 – This wine is well made – let’s get that right. Nice structure – and while oaky, not out of balance. What’s the problem? It doesn’t taste like Shiraz. IMHO if you are going to do a single varietal – it should taste like the varietal you are trying to showcase. Instead, this tastes more like a CS than a Shiraz. Not bad, just not what I was looking for.
Carmel, Mediterranean, 2011 – While this bottle was physically served a bit too warm, it still shined. My previous notes stand. Best vintage since the ’07 for sure.
Gvaot, Gofna Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 – Hmm. This one was a little tough. IMHO it’s a good year from primetime and still needs some time to integrate.
Covenant, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2011 – While pleasant, this was one of the weaker examples of Covenant’s Napa Valley CS. 2011 was a really tough year in Napa from what I understand, so taking that into account, kudos to the Covenant team for putting out something that maybe wasn’t there best, but was still OK.
Flam, Noble, 2010 – This wine continues to impress. Still drinking young. This wine hasn’t moved much since we last tasted it about a year ago – which makes me think it has plenty of time ahead to develop – though it’s really enjoyable now!
Tzora, Misty Hills, 2011 – So this was the only real disappointment of the night. It sort of tasted flatter than I expected and a touch sweet. Bad – no. I guess I was just expecting a lot more depth at this stage considering the excellent pedigree. Pays to retaste – maybe this was an off bottle.
Domaine Roses Camille, Echo de Roses Camille, Pomerol, 2011 – This 100% Merlot was opened about 5 hours before dinner and then decanted for over 3 before we got to it and it was just starting to open at that point. What it did us give was really enjoyable though. Wonderful nose, really nice lush fruit – but still very young and tight. Needs another year or 2 is my guess to really hit its stride.
Capçanes, Peraj Ha’Abib, Montsant, 2010 – One of the top wines of the night for me. I learned my lesson after our last tasting about 6 months ago and decanted for about 2 hours. That made things MUCH easier. Rest of my notes from that night hold true. Really impressive stuff.
Château Haut-Condissas, Médoc, 2005 -This wine continues to impress. I thought it perfect and really yummy. Great stuff with forest floor, dark ripe berries, chocolate, cigar – really an awesome box of flavor that you want to take your time unpacking layer by layer. Great stuff that I wish I had more access to. One of my favorites!
Château de Rayne Vigneau, Sauternes, 1er Grand Cru Classé, 2014 – In 2014 we were blessed with not 1 but 2 top shelf kosher Sauternes. I have written about my love for the La Tour Blanche before. It continues to be the best kosher Sauternes available. While not quite at that level, this one comes close. Beautiful nose of honey, mandarin orange and pineapple which all carry through in the mouth with a hint of nuttiness on the finish. Worth seeking out. This was likely also our most successful desert pairing as well – with the food and wine complimenting and reinforcing each other. [Edit Sep. 6, 2018: I totally blanked on the fact that it is not one of 2 first growth Sauternes for the 2014 vintage but 3. There’s also the Clos Haut-Peyraguey is the 3rd – but it really is at a lower level than either of the 2 mentioned here, though I hear it is already improving. Will have to get another taste….Thanks GG for the reminder.]
Chodesh Tov & Shana Tova!