Finally, things are returning to some semblance of normalcy, and I was able to fly to the US. Primarily this was to visit my parents and my siblings, nieces and nephews, whom I had not seen in over a year. As we say on Pesach – if that is all I had gotten to do, dayenu – it really would have been enough. But, while I was there, I also got to meet up with some friends. Sitting, eating, and of course drinking with people whose company I enjoy is something I no longer take for granted. The trip was short and, as coordinating with people is still a little difficult in the US (vaccinated, outdoors, etc.) I was able to catch up with only a few people – but as always, quality over quantity – and I was able to indeed spend some quality time with some excellent friends. This first post will deal with a few miscellaneous wines that were standouts over the course of the visit, while the next two posts will deal with overviews of Royal’s current beautiful French and Spanish releases (with a little Cali thrown in for good measure), as well as an overview of M & M’s wines which I have to say, are truly excellent – but more on that later.
2019 Vignobles Mayard, Le Hurlevent, Châteauneuf-du-Pape – This is a new wine from my friend Nathan Grandjean of Yavine in France. He has been slowly growing the number of wines that he acts as a negociant for. So far all of them have been good to great, and this wine is no exception. It is super fun. On the nose, there is a ton of floral notes coming in waves, followed by nice cherry and raspberry with just a little smoke. In the mouth, you have a classic CdP with excellent nice toasted herb, which moves into dark ripe cherry, rich tobacco, and a hit of peppery spice. This full bodied wine comes in at 15% but I didn’t feel it at all. There is excellent acidity and a ton of tannin here. This wine was super fun to drink now. It was shared with me by Yossie Horowitz, and my friend Yeruchum joined as well – and we knocked off that bottle easily. Now while it was fun to drink now, this room has a way to go until it hits peak. Judging by other CdP’s from lesser producers, I would guess this guy has 12-15 years ahead of it – maybe more. Over the last ten years, we have had VERY few CdP’s on the market. Vignobles David had the ’11-’12 Les Masques, and last year there was the ’17 Maison Cristia that was released as well, which was very nice. The Vignobles David’s are probably drink now at this stage though, and while nice, they were not on this level. The Cristia was nicer than the Les Masques, but this Hurlevent edges that out too. I know there was a (more) premium CdP made by this same producer, but I don’t think it has been released yet. Based on this, I am looking forward. Of course, it would be nice if this was imported to Israel….. Then again, it is only imported to the US privately – so I guess I shouldn’t cry too hard. Anyhow – kudos Nathan and thanks Yos!
2010 Four Gates, Syrah – When you visit Yossie, you never know what wine he might pull out of the cellar. Living in Israel all of these years, one producer whom I regularly miss out on is Benyamin Cantz’s Four Gates winery. I had zero experience with this specific vintage. All I can say is that this wine is BEAUTIFUL now. The nose is rich and earthy. In the mouth, the tannin is nice and integrated yet firm with acidity to still carry it through despite its age. The mouth just has this beautiful rich earthiness with the fruit still prominently there behind it, – blueberry, mostly currant with nice roasted meat and toasted rosemary. This wine would go beautifully with roast leg of lamb. But who am I kidding. I doubt if I am ever going to see it again. Based on how the wine showed, I would say this wine is drink now – but it will likely hold for another few years. Big thanks to Yossie for sharing!
2016 Barons Edmond Benjamin Rothschild, Haut-Medoc (Mevushal) – While this wine is not necessarily unique, it is a wine I was interested in checking in on. So when I saw it in Yeruchum’s stash, I grabbed it. I haven’t tasted it since being in France a couple of years ago. At the time, I was really impressed and thankfully the wine continues to shine. It’s really the very best Benjy & Eddie in recent memory. The wine usually lasts about ten years these days, and this one is right on target. Totally approachable now, it’ll hit peak in 2-3 years and hold there for a couple more. Everything here plays well together – acid and tannin, fruit and earth – all really well balanced. For the most part, my notes from back then hold. Perhaps the wine is a bit more savory at present, which makes it even better! Nice! My thanks to Yeruchum and his wife Michal for sharing and Mazal Tov on the recent move – the house is beautiful (Iy”h by me… ;-))
2008 Domain Du Castel, Grand Vin (Magnum) – The night before I flew, I had dinner at the Gellers with my friends David Raccah and Simon Jacob, where we proceeded to taste through twelve wines (plus another 3-4 that were holdovers from a tasting that David and I did with Gabriel at Royal earlier in the day). Some wines were just there for the sake of tasting and writing notes. Others were there for the pure enjoyment of seeing how a wine has developed and aged. Now, you don’t always win at that game. A 2012 Katzrin Chardonnay was well past its drink by date [as I noted recently, this wine in the best vintages goes for a max of 8 years – and 2012 was unexceptional at best]. But of course there are also the huge wins. The Domain Du Castel is one of those legendary great bottles of the super 2008 vintage. On release, it received tons of accolades. There was some bricking colorwise as you would expect – but on first pour the wine was in excellent shape. In fact it was STELLAR and lived up to all expectations. Nice dark fruit, mostly plum, some baking spice, beautiful forest floor, with acidity still holding and nice well integrated sweet tannin. The finish was sweet oak and dark chocolate. Wow! Really nice. One caveat though – the wine did slightly deteriorate over the course of the three hour meal. There were some more jammy fruit notes expressed. Now for me it was enjoyable throughout. I really loved it. But, for some of us who have VERY sensitive palates (like someone whose name rhymes with Ravid Dacca) the wine was less enjoyable after the first hour. Now remember this was magnum – so mileage on regular format bottles may vary. In any event, there is nothing to gain from holding these any longer – drink ‘em if you got ‘em and enjoy.
2013 Terra di Seta, Chianti Classico – Now for me this wine was the star of the night at GG for me. Why? Because it’s a bottle that sells for $20 and on a 100 point scale scores a 92+ for me. That’s right – we are not talking about the The Gran Selezione or even the Riserva – this was the base level Classico! It also went stunningly well with the smoked brisket that GG prepared! There are some BEAUTIFUL dirty earthy notes on the nose. I mean FILTHY in the best way possible. This is followed by dark red fruit that has receded to the background. In the mouth, the acid is still super and tannin has rounded out with excellent umami/mushroom and dark fruit. The finish was super as well, with nice lead-pencil, rich coffee, and more mushroom. This is what you want to see – absolute tertiary development in a wine that sells for $20. This bottle probably can go another year or two if stored optimally, but why chance it? It’s excellent now!
My thanks to everyone who provided me hospitality during my lightening trip to the US. Looking forward to hosting you all when you visit in the holy land!
Next up – Tasting at Royal ….