RCC Israel # 34 – Tevet 5780

This month we scheduled RCC to be New Year’s Eve and took the opportunity to ring in 2020 with an appropriate 20 wines. Chef on duty was Avi Katz, who did a nice job overall with the food. A couple of highlights there were the potato soup with crispy lamb bacon, which was excellent – and the cornbread with candied jalapenos, cauliflower puree and maple bourbon sauce. While the cornbread itself was a little dry, as a composed dish it worked well, and the candied Jalapenos were just out of this world. In fact, I added some to the ice cream which was served as part of desert (Pecan Pie, Vanilla Ice Cream, Caramel – also excellent) for an added dimension, and that went over really well too. There was a course that did not work – and it was unfortunately the main course – but so it goes. Wine wise overall we did really well. There were four bonus bottles – including a 1997 Napa Cab, which was still showing well – which added to the 16 bottles on the menu brought us to the magic number.

But what really made this night special were the people – a really nice mix with a record high of five ladies in attendance! In addition, we were hosted by Barrie and Simon Jacob in their home in Yemin Moshe, which is one of my favorite places for RCC. Barrie played sous chef all night – really, I can’t thank her enough. Simon was the source of three out of the four extra bottles including the aforementioned ’97, plus the opening wine – besides his own regular bottle. Besides being probably the nicest people on the planet, the man hosts, his wife helps cook – and he pulls these bottles. Just the best. I have no other words to describe them. An added bonus for me was that my friends Michal and Yeruchum, who are here visiting their son in yeshiva for the year, were able to join (and bring a couple of locally hard to find bottles). How often do you get to sit at a wine dinner like this with friends you have known for over 30 years? This night was true treat. But we are here for the wine so let’s get to it:

Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Blanc de Blancs, Late Disgorged, 2007 – No real change from the last time I had this. It’s truly an excellent bottle. And I can’t say this enough, there is no better producer than GHW for bubbly. Yes it beats every other sparkling producer out there, and this is one of their best!

Dalton, Single Vineyard, Sémillon, El Kosh, 2013 – Here we are over six years after harvest, and this wine is alive and well and has developed some excellent depth. A funk monster both on the nose and in the mouth followed by some hay and finally apple. Believe it or not, this paired REALLY well with the cauliflower puree and the cornbread – with the funk doubling down on the cauliflower and the cornbread bringing out the hay. I think the last time I had a good bottle of this was at a blind tasting a couple years ago with Raccah where it also showed really well. Since then, I have had one other bottle at a friend’s – but the bottle was poorly stored and didn’t show well at all. . I found three of these that I bought in ’15 or ’16 hidden in the back of my wine fridge totally forgotten until looking for something to bring to this RCC. I would say the only thing “missing” was the acid. It was present, but it could have used a touch more with the creaminess of the puree – but likely I would have not noticed that deficiency with a different pairing. Still worked well. From what I hear, random bottles of this pop up in stores. I would be wary unless you are sure of the storage…. IMHO, based on this bottle it can go another year or two, but why risk it – it’s not going to gain any further depth.

Four Gates, Ayala, Chardonnay, 2017 (Bonus Bottle) – unfortunately, this bottle was off – there was some sort of weird effervescence that was there (perhaps secondary fermentation – though that would be hard to believe based on the producer). We tasted it blind. It was clearly Chardonnay, but also clearly off.

Hagafen, Cabernet Franc, 2011 – On the nose, you have some nice earth and herbs, followed by red fruit. In the mouth, this bottle showed nicely overall though it’s past its prime by a year or so. Still very nice with some toasted herbs, earth, ripe cherry, and tobacco, followed by some cigar box and chocolate on the finish. Tannin is really just a ghost here, coming in at the end just to say hello. Drink up if you have any.

City Winery, Deep Roots, Petit Verdot, Chalk Hill, 2013 – Very nice bottle here. Good nose with some violet and spice. In the mouth, mostly black and some blue fruit with again that nice spicy zing followed by some mocha. Good stuff.

Flam, Reserve, Syrah, 2010 – No real change from my last note and I was surprised. A number of these have shown poorly – but I am going to write that up to storage at this point. When stored properly this bottle is still beautiful. It is at peak and can hold there for another couple of years IMHO.

Dalton, Single Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Meron, 2008 – Dead.

Yatir, Forest, 2008 – After the previous bottle, I was expecting the worst. But, while over the hill – and that could have been storage related – this bottle was nonetheless enjoyable for what it was. The nose was rather muted, but what I got was dark. In the mouth, all of the key characteristics were there. Nice and full bodied, rich dark blue and black fruit with the Petit Verdot making itself felt and dominating here. In fact, the only thing that showed age was the relative lack of tannin and acid. But I would not be surprised if that was due to poor storage at some point. The wine has not gone sweet or anything – it just has lost some of its core.

Gvaot, Masada, 2012 – For many around the table, this was the wine of the night. It was certainly in my top five – though it is one of the bottles that I brought, so maybe I’m not objective. About a year and half ago I said I would hold off opening any more bottles for another year or two, thinking it would hit prime-time then. Pretty sure I was on the money. For me, it’s exactly where it needs to be. That doesn’t mean it’s going anywhere anytime soon. It will likely hold here for another three years at least. The rest of the previous note on this remain valid. Beautiful bottle.

Shiloh, Secret Reserve, Merlot, 2010 – This bottle is ripe, but has developed some nice earthiness around the dark red fruit with nice tobacco on the finish. Medium plus body. Tannin is fully integrated but still assertive medium acidity. Showed nicely but was outclassed by the Flam Merlot that followed it.

Flam, Reserve, Merlot, 2010 – Flam, Reserve, Merlot, 2010 – No real change over the last year. This wine is at peak and can probably hold there for another year (if it has been properly stored). Beautiful showing for this bottle though. Great stuff.

Ya’acov Oryah, Iberian Dream, Gran Reserva, 2011 – This wine is currently at peak and has been for about a year. It hasn’t moved at all and that’s a great thing. Probably was not paired ideally, but what can you do. Nice tart red fruit, which then moves black, followed by great earthiness, mushrooms, and toasted herbs with some nice tobacco on the finish. Excellent.

Flam, Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 – Out of the four Flams we had tonight, this was the one that I liked the least (always have, this is nothing new). Not bad – just a little overdone fruit-wise. Still very nice – big and bold dark red fruit, nice spice, and a huge chocolaty finish. Medium + acidity with very well integrated tannin. This bottle is also likely at peak and based on the structure, I would guess that it will not last as long as any of the other vintages.

Flam, Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011 – From my least favorite vintage of the Flam CS to my MOST favorite. This is a monster wine and was my favorite bottle of the night. Yup. The best. The earth on the nose is even more prominent than previously. In the mouth, still presents so perfectly as Old World. Really right out of Bordeaux. Great earthiness, tobacco, with the dark rich red fruit still holding nicely in the back. Also, what is great is that it may still have not peaked. Acid and tannin are still providing a great core to this medium + bodied beauty. Plenty of time ahead…

Herzog, Special Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, 2009 – Ten years in, this wine is still holding its own, though it’s likely slightly past peak at this stage. The nose was diminished to be almost non-existent. In the mouth we have very dark red and black fruit, followed with warm baking spice – cinnamon and nutmeg, followed by chocolate and some clove. The tannin is now fully integrated here. Like I said – still nice, but drink up.

Herzog, Single Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Trestle Glen, 2011 – I loved this bottle. In my top three of the night with the ’11 Flam CS and the ’12 Gvaot Masada. Great nose here, with very dark ripe fruit followed by chocolate and some smoke. In the mouth, this wine drinks SUPER young. The acid is still screaming with great tart red fruit, followed by dark plums and chocolate. On the finish, you have excellent toasted herbs mixed with earth and a nice graphite thread running through with powdery tannin blanketing the mouth. This wine is really nice and has another five years ahead easily.

Herzog, Special Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 1997 (Bonus Bottle) – WOW. 22 years old. Still alive. Now I’m not going to say this is youthful. It isn’t and its past peak. But it was still quite enjoyable and a testament to those 90’s era Peter Stern wines. This bottle likely cost about $30 (or less) on release back in ’99 or ’00, and here we are two decades later thoroughly enjoying. Remember – this is NOT the Chalk Hill (which sometimes still tastes youthful!) – this is their “entry-level” Napa! The nose was barely there. In the mouth there is beautiful black and dark blue fruit with some nice lead pencil. The tannin is barely holding on and the acid has rounded out a bit. Drink up if you are somehow still holding any of this.

Dalton, Anna, Liqueur Muscat, NV – No change from previous notes. Paired really well with the dessert!

Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Blanc de Blancs, 2011 (Bonus Bottle) – To finish, Simon pulled out a few bottles of bubbly. The ’11 is the current BdB release and is KICKING. This is one of my favorites. Really great acid and lemon tartness, but the yeast and brioche is already present in the background. I see this bottle doing great things over time.

Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Rosé 2013 (Bonus Bottle) – I am not usually a fan of the Rosé – and I know I am in the minority there. But – and maybe it was the festive mood we were all in (it was a great night) – this recently released bottle showed incredibly well. Crisper than previous vintages, with some surprisingly toasty notes. Need to retaste under better circumstances (people were getting ready to leave and we started to clear down). I have high hopes though.

All in all it was an excellent night and a wonderful start to 2020.

The Lineup

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