As I have written previously, it’s really nice when friends from abroad join us either for RCC’s or to get together for tastings or winery visits or really whatever. One of the people I enjoy spending time with is Yossie Horwitz. Besides writing his weekly newsletter and FB page, Yossie is of course perhaps most famous for being the man responsible for creating and bringing the RCC concept to the kosher wine world. Yossie said he was going to be in for a short visit and suggested putting together a dinner, but with Rosh Chodesh 3 weeks away RCC was out of the question. So we decided to put together an RCC style dinner with a little bit of a winery visit and some blind bottles thrown in for good measure – really the best of all worlds. My dear friend Simon Jacob hosted and our RCC chef Uri Zaltzman did the cooking (we had someone else planned as Uri had done an RCC less than a week ago, but that didn’t end up working out – and Uri really saved the day by jumping in at the last second under WAY less than optimum conditions). There was some beautiful food (pics of which you can see below) – including a really inventive (and deceptively simply titled) Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar. My thanks to Uri, Simon ,and of course Yossie who was the impetus for this to happen. And now on to the wines:
Champagne Bonnet-Ponson, Non Dosé, Premier Cru, NV – We opened with this beautiful bottle which is not available currently here in Israel – this bottle was carried back from France. They have done a really nice job here, creating a very fresh super dry sparkler. In general, I prefer the more yeasty toasty notes that you get with standard Champagne – and this doesn’t change my opinion (the exception being the Drappier Zero-Dosage which was really superb). That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy – this is an excellent champagne, I just am an old-school kinda guy when it comes to this stuff and like the standard version better.
We the moved to the 2018 Yaacov Oryah Barrel Samples – we tasted 3 wines – 1 white and 2 orange. As they are still unfinished, I won’t write real notes and only general impressions:
Opposite’s Helper or in Hebrew עזר כנגדו (which sounds much better), 2018 – This is a white blend of Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc (55-45) – Really interesting fresh and tasty wine – bursting with flavor. Also really easy goingdown. This guy is only 12.5%! I am guessing it will be a massive hit. Regarding the name, Ya’acov’s wonderful wife Patricia convinced him to go all in on this wine (I believe this is the largest production of a single wine that he has ever done at about 5000 bottles) – hence the shoutout.
Alpha Omega, Chardonnay, 2018 – On the skins for about 2.5 weeks, this varietal orange wine comes in at 13%. What was so interesting to me about this wine was how many notes it shares with it’s white half brother mentioned above. Also – for me it sort of lacked a lot of the nose that I have come to expect from Ya’acov’s Orange wines. But I guess when you do a 100% varietal, you get what the grape (and skins) give you.
Alpha Omega, Gewürztraminer, 2018 – Also on the skins about 2.5 weeks an also coming in at 13%. The wine was slightly pink in color as opposed to orange. This wine has a NOSE. On open it is CRAZY lavender and jasmine – and that follwos through in the mouth . With air, you get some o f the tropical fruit that is more typical – primarily lychee. This was by far the most interesting of the 3 for me. I am super psyched about it.
Von Hövel, Hütte Oberemmel, Riesling Kabinett, 2014 – The Von Hoevel 2014 vintage produced what IMHO are the best kosher Rieslings ever made. Neither of these was imported officially either into the US or Israel. This bottle (like every other one I have had the pleasure to taste came to us from France. While the other wine in the series is the better wine – this wine is likely the nicer wine to drink now. Not much movement since my initial tasting about a year ago. On the nose some excellent petrol funk and honey. In the mouth the wine just keeps on unfolding with layers of complexity that match the nose for the most part. The wine is off dry for sure – and even on the sweeter side – but talk about a well made bottle. I have 1 left of these and 2 of the more expensive Scharzhofberger – and I plan on holding on to all of it for about a 6-8 as that is what people say that well made German Riesling can go for. These are the 2 best kosher Rieslings out there IMHO.
Carmel, Appellation, Reches Adom (Ridge Red), 2014 (tasted blind) – Decided to replay this from RCC Israel # 14 – unfortunately, the bottle has seen better days and is now over the hill. in all fairness – it’s been over a year – and this bottle went for about NIS 30 – so no complaints.
Or Haganuz, Horkenus, 2010 (tasted blind) – Decanted for about 1/2 an hour – more to mask what it was than because it needed it. So at the exact opposite end of the spectrum, this wine goes for about NIS 350. What it has in common with the 30 shekel bottle above is that it too is past peak. This was not a bad wine – but MASSIVELY overpriced IMHO. There were better 2010 options out there for less and which are still alive and well. But, in a any event, based on this bottle I would say drink up.
Gvaot, Massada, Pinot Noir, 2012 – This bottle did not show as well as the last time I had it and based on this bottle I would say it’s time to drink up. Some of the cherry was missing and the wine somehow tasted fuller bodied and less silky than it has in the past. It could be that I was tasting it side by side with a burgundy, but I don’t think so. I really like this bottle in the past – less so this time out.
Domaine D’Ardhuy, Côtes de Beaune Villages, 2014 – This was a really nice Burgundy – if not super complex. But it hits all of the right notes. Silky and light with everything you would expect. It perhaps is lacking a bit of depth – but that might develop, it’s still very young. This is another bottle that was brought in from France where it is reasonably priced.
Winemaker’s Expressions, Makom B’Sonoma, 2016 – Private label wine made by Covenant , this wine is a Malbec based blend. Bottle shocked on open, it was very tight and perhaps overly muscular. I left mine in glass as the night progressed. 45 minutes after pouring, it was in much better shape and relaxed a little bit. Still – sort of got the feeling that I was only getting part of the picture. As I have mentioned many times before, I LOVE Malbec, so I hope I get the chance to restate this eventually.
Shirah, Luna Matta Vineyard, Aglianico, 2013 – Disclaimer, this was the bottle that I brought. I happen to love it and I am sad that it is my last bottle. On the other hand, it’s slightly past peak as a lot of that bracing acidity is gone, but still nice dark controlled juicy fruit – really excellent. Would love another bottle or 2 to enjoy. In any event, drink up if you have it, it’s not getting any better.
Tzora, Shoresh, 2014 – No change from the blind tasting we had a month or so ago. I like this wine very much – just don’t think it’s going to get any better.
Tzora, Misty Hills, 2014 – After tasting the Shoresh ’14 blind and then again tonight, I thought this would be a really interesting comparison. Let me say something up front. IMHO, there is some sort of change that went on at Tzora. The wines do not seem as built for aging as they used to. It could be simply a function of vintage. ’14 was not east at Tzora in general. But unfortunately this is a theme that has repeated itself quite a few times with various wines of theirs of late – and it’s something to keep an eye on. Again – that doesn’t mean the wine was bad – it was nice! But it seemed a bit more flat than the Shoresh did, which it certainly didn’t previously. Anyhow – something to watch in the future.
At this point there was a little bit of smoke coming from the kitchen – sort of killed any real ability to get a sense of how these next couple of wines smelled.
Domaine Du Castel, Grand Vin, 2016 – Decanted for about 3 hours. The most New World Grand Vin yet, this wine is just GREAT. Excellent extracted ripe dark fruit – but not overdone or pushed. Nice tobacco and a hit of chocolate on the finish. Acid and tannin play together with the fruit for really balanced wine. Loved it. This is a wine to stock up on.
Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Katzrin, 2008 – What some consider to be one of the best if not the best New World Bordeaux blend that Israel has ever made. I think this wine is still at peak. As I have often mentioned, I am sucker for balance – and this wine is all about elegance and balance. Ripe controlled dark fruit, soft integrated tannin and medium acidity come together for just a wonderful package.
Four Gates, Frere Robaire, 2011 – Also severely bottle shocked having just come off a plane. That was super sad as the last time I had it, it was a superstar.
Château Pontet-Canet, Pauillac, 2003 – Decanted for about 3 hours. Was starting to come together. No significant change from previous notes, other than it is(very) slowly approaching it’s window.
Château de Fesles, Bonnezeaux, 1997 – this is my first and likely last time tasting this. This bottle was clearly past prime as it had less acidity than I would have hoped. Having said that, this wine is still nice and elegant with beautiful pear and caramel and honey. Would have loved to taste it 5 years ago…..
Yaacov Oryah, The Old Musketeer, NV – Zero change here from previous notes. Continues to be simply one of the best dessert wines out there . Though SUPER expensive, drinking it is an experience. I have not yet met someone who wasn’t thoroughly impressed if not blown away.