RCC Israel # 33 – Cheshvan 5780

With the Chagim finally over, I am starting to settle back in to a more normal routine. These last couple of weeks have been interesting for me wine-wise – but those posts are not yet complete – and I try to get the RCC posts out within a day of the event – so here you go….

From a food perspective, it was almost a home run. The Jerusalem artichoke soup was excellent and the goose breast salad was tasty – and Uri continues to up his dessert game with yet another inventive plate borrowed from Eleven Madison Park. The only piece that didn’t come out as planned was the Beef Wellington. Most of the components were truly excellent – the duxelles was perfect and the layers of seasoning and wrappings and puff pastry itself were all on point – but the beef ended up being medium-well instead of my personal preference of medium-rare. That still didn’t REALLY hurt the dish – it was super moist and juicy which is hard for a piece of meat so lean – especially when cooked above medium. So I’m just nitpicking there.

On the wine front, it was more of a mixed bag with one bottle corked and one or two others that didn’t show as well as I would have expected. Still, overall it was a fun night, with most of the wines showing nicely indeed. One overall note – as is often the case when we have an RCC at Uri, with the kitchen being in such close proximity to the dining room and Uri searing the Goose breast during the meal, it was near impossible to get an accurate nose on these wines and I have not included those notes below. [It was a relative small price to pay – that Goose breast was excellent and I’d eat it every day of the week.]

Golan Heights Winery, Gamla, Brut, N.V. – This was the latest edition of this bottle which utilized 2016 fruit. As expected this punches way above its price range. Beautiful bright lemony goodness for NIS 65 a bottle. Really, you can’t ask for much more. Unfortunately, this is almost impossible to find out in the wild already so I am anxiously awaiting the next release.

Four Gates, Chardonnay, 2013 – I thought this wine showed wonderfully. The oak here is used to round the wine out without making it fat – and the acid keeps it super balanced. There is SO much going on here flavor-wise. Some quince and lime and excellent minerality. Really this is a true pleasure to drink. This was a bottle that I contributed and I am super sad that was my last…..

Latour Netofa, 2011 – I had an epiphany the other day and it was reinforced st the RCC. I realized that certain people react to the finish in this and many other Netofa wines in a way that is not at all dissimilar to the way certain people react to Cilantro (or Cusbara as it is known here in Israel). There is something there that is simply perceived in a way that is radically different for a subset of the population. Half the table detected a metallic bitterness on the finish. Half did not. While I suffer from Cilantro sensitivity and abhor its presence in anything that goes into my mouth, I have no such issue with Netofa wines.This bottle showed wonderfully with dark brooding fruit and excellent spice. The tannin is now fully integrated into the core of the wine while the acid keeps it nice and lively. The wine is at peak now and will likely hold there for another year maybe longer. [Side note – for those of you who are sensitive to this flavor in Netofa reds, try their Tel Qasser Red which has a wholly different profile with none of the above mentioned bitterness – you won’t be sorry.]

Tzora, Shoresh, 2013 – Showed beautifully with ripe dark red fruit held in check by medium+ acidity. On the finish you now have some tertiary flavors coming out but really this is just the beginning of development. This bottle was excellent in my opinion and still has quite a few years ahead of it, with the tannin just now being nicely integrated and actually drinks much younger than the 2014 vintage.

Yatir, Petit Verdot, 2013 – I always enjoy the Yatir PV. It might be my favorite version of this varietal. The 2013 at this point is full of tangy raspberry and deep rich dark red fruit with typical varietal spiciness and a nice full body. I enjoyed this very much. Only negative here was that the finish was shorter than I would have liked – but I barely noticed while enjoying this with the goose breast salad which had raspberry component that of course went excellently.

Hagafen, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 – This one didn’t do it for me. It tasted sweeter than I would have expected and quite frankly was just meh at best.I mean there was nothing wrong here – but there are FAR better mevushal Cab options at this price point and even cheaper.

Flam, Reserve, Syrah, 2013 – No real change here from my last notes. The 2013 is one of their best (only beaten by the 2011) and still has time ahead.

Carmel, Kayoumi Shiraz, 2012 – This wine is simply not ready at all and IMHO really you are doing yourself a great disservice by opening it now. Usually I disallow it when people suggest it as there is still plenty of this on the shelves, but we had a last minute cancellation and this was the only bottle that the attendee could lay hands on with 20 minutes notice. Having said all of that, it still is really nice, just not well developed with tons of ripe blueberry and pepper and a little bit of menthol. I would give this another year at least to fully come into its own.

Yatir, Forest, 2012 – This was in the top 3 of the night for me. Perfectly balanced with ripe red fruit and berries, nice warm spice and a little hit of leather and pepper. The tannin here has integrated nicely and has started to soften a bit, but is still providing a nice core with the acid to keep this guy fresh and exciting for a good few years yet. Really nice.

Gvaot, Masada, 2012 – This bottle was corked. Therewas no saving it, the TCA was overwhelming.

Château Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estèphe, 2010 – This wine was by far the best wine of the night though again – a waste to be serving now. It is now he 3rd time I have had it this year – and each time I get just a little bit further with it. We decanted for 3 hours and that simply wasn’t enough. Luckily this was the last regular wine of the night and dessert took a little longer than usual to come out so I had a good 20 minutes to work the swirl and coax this beauty out of its shell. When it finally peaked out you got a ton near black fruit mixed with mushrooms, some graphite, a little bit of menthol and some nice earthiness deep in the back. Huge wine – super enjoyable.

Alfasi, Sauvignon Blanc, Late Harvest, 2011 – I had a bottle of it on Rosh Hashannah and it tasted tired and lacking acid but I wanted to give it another chance. Unfortunately this bottle tasted exactly the same. Uni-dimensional and rather flat with honeyed dried fruit as the primary flavor. Time to drink up.

Chodesh Tov and happy drinking everyone!

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