And now we are out of the teens….
For RCC Israel #20 we decided to go dairy in honor of the upcoming Shavuot holiday. This is always a challenge as most wines that are age-able and RCC worthy are reds. That doesn’t mean there aren’t excellent choices for whites and Roses – there are and I find myself drinking more of these wines than ever before, perhaps even more on average then reds – but the RCC has guidelines – and those guidelines are mostly kept to and that said, there simply are not enough kosher whites produced to base an RCC around. In fact, the only producer I am aware of making age-worthy whites on a regular semi-regular basis is Ya’akov Oryah – and his Hunter’s Valley Semillon appears frequently at our table for this reason, and in a couple of years I am sure his orange wines will make there way there as well. After that you have a couple that can age and hold for a longer than usuall time, but not much. From Netofa we have the Latour Netofa White and the Tel Qasser on a regular basis , which likely fall just short of the RCC aging requirements – and of course every few years we get a release of the Chavignol Sancere. But for now that’s it – perhaps it’s time for Elvi to start looking at producing a Riojo Blanco in addition to their excellent InVita (which DOES age nicely as well but like Netofa is also just shy of what we are looking for), or for Royal to start producing some age worthy whites in France. But until that happens we are left with mostly reds.
What we have learnt at RCC Israel is don’t be afraid of serving reds with a dairy meal. Just make sure to have a cheese board as well as some dishes that have some fat content to stand up to the reds. We also throw in a couple of bonus whites to carry us through. The food then can shine with the wine – and it did. And of course, we then can experience a dairy desert – the way desert is SUPPOSED to be – without any substitutions. And it was all great. Loved the crunch texture contrast of the beets into the creamy rissoto. The fig and goat cheese tart provided some excellent gaminness that went very well with Syrahs that were served – with the cheesboard standing up to the reset of the reds and more. The cook on the salmon was perfect – and the desert – this was my favorite so far. Milchig creme brule, matcha ice cream, pistachio cake, fresh raspberry, nectarine all paired beautifully with the Tzora Or. Thanks as always to Bracha and Uri who are just incredible – and to Uri’s wife Jordana who puts up with this ridiculousness each month. Just a wonderful night!
Now on to the wines – there were a quite a few bonus bottles this month, including a cute vertical of the budget-priced Carmel Appellation Reches Adom, which certainly added to the festivities:
Golan Heights Winery, Gamla, Hashmurah, Brut, NV (2015 edition) – Honestly, this wine is weaker than the last release and is actually showing it’s age much earlier. Still nice, but already missing a little of the acidity that made it great on release, without developing the yeasty notes that I love in it’s age-worthy big-brother – the Yarden Blanc de Blancs. Right now this is showing some nice green apple with a hint of citrus.
Carmel, Appellation, Reches Adom, 2011 (Bonus Bottle) – while not dead yet this guy is well past peak – which is no surprise. It really isn’t targeted to be enjoyed for more than 2-3 years after release. But I’ll tell you something, it was still enjoyable and for NIS 33 a bottle if I saw it today, I would pick it up to have with dinner. Medium body, with barely there tannin but some nice earthy flavors and ripe fruit . Truth is, there was remarkable consistency in the flavor profile of this very low-end wine over the 4 vintages that we tasted. Again – well past peak, but enjoyable nonetheless. Drink up of course if you have any.
Carmel, Appellation, Reches Adom, 2012 (Bonus Bottle) – In slightly better shape than the ’11, with firmer tannin but I actually liked the flavor profile of the ’11 better. My guess is that the ’11 was a better bottle on release than the ’12. Here the fruit is riper yet with less of the earthy notes. Also a bit rounder. But structurally in better shape. Needless to say drink up.
Carmel, Appellation, Reches Adom, 2013 (Bonus Bottle) – So this bottle is drinking wonderfully right now, but will not hold for much longer. Tannin is in the center and acid is still present. Drink now.
Carmel, Appellation, Reches Adom, 2014 (Bonus Bottle) – So this is the most current and last release of the wine (it has been discontinued). Every once in a while you can find it here and here in a supermarket or at wine shop where they discover a case or two. Drinking well now and likely for the next year or two. A QPR all-star at NIS 33 a bottle. I CANNOT understand why Carmel discontinued this and replaced with the crappy Har Chorshan.
Covenant, Red C, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 – So my first impression here was the overwhelming amount of cinnamon I detected. To the point that I would say that there is a bit of a fireball/red hot (the candy) profile here – obviously not THAT spicy, sweet or alcoholic, but it’s there. Ultimately, while this wine is not for me (too sweet and round), its a very food friendly bottle that went well with the beet risotto.
Carmel, Single Vineyard, Kayoumi, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008 – The original menu said Shiraz – which is my fault. What we drunk was the Cab. It tasted GREAT. What a year ’08 was for Carmel. With the exception of the ’08 Mediterranean which I really didn’t care for, every other wine that i have had of theirs including stuff from the lowly Appellation series has far exceeded expectations. This wine is drinking beautifully now and shows old world with some great tobacco and leather and earth and robust dark slightly ripe fruit held in check by the still firm but centered tannin. Drink now, it’s not getting any better – though it also shows no signs that it is falling of yet. OF course, that could change at any point now. So enjoy ’em if you happen to be holding…..
Carmel, Single Vineyard, Kayoumi, Shiraz, 2010 – Very nice, though I preferred the ’11. Coffee, tobacco, and dark berries, and a little bit of roasted meat with nice acid. Slightly shorter finish than I remember. The wine is now is fully ready and at peak and will likely hold for the next couple of years, though not more than that.
Carmel, Single Vineyard, Kayoumi, Shiraz, 2011 – Same basic profile as the ’10 but more in balance and with a better finish with some nice spice. Really delivered. This wine isn’t going anywhere in the near future and might still be developing. I wouldn’t be in any rush to do drink through these just yet.
Shirah, Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard, Syrah, 2013 – Big Cali Shirah with tons of blue and red fruit and some nice roasted meat notes. A bit ripe, and missing some of the spice and kick I have come to enjoy in my Syrah – but certainly the most food friendly of the 3 of this varietal that we tried. To me, this guy might be slightly past peak – but I can’t be sure.
Matar, CB, 2012 – This is a Cali style Bordeaux blend and really shows nicely that Israel can do new world fruit forward style wines with depth but without being over the top. . It is their top of the line wine and in it’s great. Nice structure, full body, tons of dark fruit and berries with excellent warm spice a little bit of earth. Tannin is still out in full force on the finish. I really liked this one.
Carmel, Limited Edition, 2008 – I never get tired of this wine, no matter how often we have it at our RCC’s. Whenever someone offers this as one the choices, I immediately pick it. My notes have not changed at all – still my all-time favorite Israeli wine. The wine is awesome. PERIOD.
Gefen Hashalom , Weingut Hans Wirsching, Iphöfer Silvaner, 2016 – While nice as a unique experience, the wine itself is just OK, nothing really special. Bright, easy drinking and food friendly. I think it sells in Europe for the equivalent of $20 – if it was half that, it would be a no-brainer. Still, really nice and refreshing, just nothing too deep here with some floral notes, apples and pears. Slightly effervescent. Went very well with the salmon.
G’vaot, Chardonnay-Cabernet, 2014 – This guy is past peak. Is a pass for me at this point. Been finding that this blend really can’t go more than 2 years past- release before deteriorating.
Yaacov Oryah, Hunter’s Valley, Sémillon, 2009 -Notes have not changed since last month 😉. One of the very best!
Tzora, Or, Late Harvest Gewürztraminer, 2016 – One of the top Israeli desert wines, super impressive even in it’s youth. All of the tropical fruits you could possibly want balanced out by some excellent acid. Like I said, still VERY young and will develop more of that honeyed goodness a bit later. In this state, worked excellently with the desert served.