RCC Israel # 44 – Adar 5783

I have a number of posts that I am behind on – and I hopefully will get to them over the next week or two. But, as always when Rosh Chodesh rolls along, I need to stop what I’m doing and get the RCC post out, and even that is behind due to work commitments – so here it is, two weeks late.

This month, we returned to Jerusalem after two months in Beit Shemesh. We were hosted once again by my dear friend Simon Jacob. Amrom Pitterman was again our chef – and I can say that honestly this was his absolute best outing yet. Every single course was a winner. Every single one. The “Fish Mosaic” was inventive and tasty, the lamb hamanatschen were insane. The confit duck was cooked to perfection, the sauces were great, and the Denver cut steak was just out of this world. Really I can’t pick a favorite. Sorbet was also the perfect way to close out this meal, which was over the top.

Luckily, the wines this Adar were no slouches. Not all winners, but really, nothing bad at all. If Mishnecichnas Adar, marbim bsimcha, then we are in for a truly glorious month. As is our custom, in the spirit of V’nahafoch, all of the wines this month are from outside of Israel. Here are my notes:

NV La Citadelle De Diamant, Mademoiselle, Brut, Rosé – (Bonus Bottle) – This is an off dry rosé made by an Israeli winery in France. Why? I have no idea. It’s not like this was anything special that required them to make this wine in France. I guess labor and grapes must be cheaper there! In any event, this was a very simple sparkling wine with some strawberry, a little citrus, and some cream. It says dry, but it tasted like it had a bit of residual sugar to me. It was balanced, but nothing that I am really looking for in a sparkling wine. 86

NV Herzog, Special Reserve, Méthode Champenoise, Russian River Valley – This wine has changed not one iota from the last time we had it. Truthfully, I was hoping that over the year it would gain complexity. Sadly it didn’t. That’s not to say it’s a bad wine, just nothing to write home about. 87

2016 Nik Weiss, Gefen Hashalom, Riesling, Ockfener – Let me get this out of the way – this wine is awesome and STILL a baby. It took a good two hours to fully come into its own. Not that it was bad at the start – but it tasted a bit simple. With time, though, the wine gains depth, and the acidity comes alive. It really shows beautifully, with some petrol notes coming through, as well as a rich mouthfeel with some lime and maybe some green melon with really nice acidity to balance this off-dry wine. Great stuff, and I will likely wait another year or two at least before opening my next bottle (which I think might be my last). 93

1993 Château La Gaffelière, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – (Bonus Bottle) – I had little hope for this bottle, as it really wasn’t built to go 30 years, But, while over the hill, this bottle was still enjoyable! In fact, if I had to guess, it was probably still drinking well 5-7 years ago. Now, it is clearly over the hill with barely there tannin and acid that is hanging on by a thread, but there were beautiful tertiary notes of earth and mushroom that I crave, backed up with some black fruit. That’s about it. But hey – it’s a 30 year old wine! Let’s just say, if you are still holding this wine, you aren’t doing yourself any favors….drink it while it’s drinkable! 86-87

2016 Christian Bonfils, Gigondas, Grand Reserve – The climate in Gigondas basically lends itself to wines that could be a bit pushed. 2016 as a vintage, being what it was, made that even more likely as is the case with this expression, which for me is a bit over the top, ripe and hot. Again, not to say that it was all bad, just a bit too bombastic for me, with a ton of very ripe blue and black fruit. The acid was nice, but, like I said, it felt a little hot to me. I doubt this wine is going to get any better. Drink now. 86

2013 Covenant, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley – Overall, this wine presented pretty well, though I would say I expected more.  Nice concentrated jammy black fruit, balanced out by good acid. There was some nice graphite in there as well. It actually felt like this was as good as it was going to get (I went back to it an hour later and the wine hadn’t really changed). It’s also not going to go anywhere in the next couple of years. So I would say drink now and for the next 2-3 years (just to be on the safe side). 89

2014 Elvi Wines, Clos Mesorah – This wine was delicious. On the nose, you had nice red and black fruit with a bit of smoke. In the mouth, more of the same, with blackberries, raspberries, smoked meat, and nice mineral, with threads of graphite running through the wine. The finish is really long with a bit of roasted herb and espresso. Really nice. The wine is in a really good place right now, but I’m not sure that it won’t yet develop further. 93

2010 Domaine D’Ardhuy, Gevrey Chambertin – This wine was one of the two that I was most looking forward to. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but while the wine showed OK, it definitely underperformed. It was absolutely varietally correct with near sweet strawberry and cherry flavors, followed by some nice cedar. The acid was right on the money too. But the wine felt a bit one dimensional, not really with any depth. From what I understand though, this really doesn’t represent the wine and this is just an “off” bottle. 89

2012 Château Tour Seran, Médoc – For me, this wine was the surprise of the night. But here is a case where the wine way outperformed what I was expecting. [BTW – we are talking about the non-mevushal version]. The wine shows very nice black fruit, both on the nose and in the mouth, with black plum and blackberries with nice extraction. There is a bit of rich earth thrown in the mix as well, with nice roasted coffee bean and some chocolate at the end. The acid balances out the package, and the tannin is well integrated but firm. Really nice overall – especially for the vintage. The wine is at peak – so drink ‘em if you got ‘em – you are in for a treat. 91

2014 Château Rollan de By, Médoc – Talk about wonderful QPR! On the nose, really nice earthy mushroomy goodness, followed by nice dark red and black fruit. In the mouth, you get more of that deep rich earth mixed with the mushrooms (more mushrooms on the nose than palate) with really nice black plum, licorice, blackberry, and raspberry. The acid is nice, the tannin is really mouth-coating here and a bit grippy. This is not a BIG wine – but it is really well made. The finish is nice with a bit of mineral, some nice earth, and pipe tobacco.  92

2016 Château Saint-Corbian, Saint-Estephe – This wine has developed a bit since my initial tasting a couple of years back. On the nose, you have really nice black fruit and great toasted herb. In the mouth, nice blackberry, raspberry, and anise, with tons of toasted herb like sage and maybe some basil followed by rich earth. The acid holds it all in check. The finish is long and satisfying, with more toasted herb, some cigar, and menthol. Another really nice bottle. 92

2012 Four Gates, Cabernet Sauvignon, Monte Bello Ridge, Betchart Vineyard– Even when the grapes are not coming from Benyo’s own vineyards, the man makes acid-bombs – but they are totally balanced! This wine shows big red and jammy on the nose. In the mouth, though, the jammy red raspberry and blackberry is balanced out by the wonderful acid, which then moves into the excellent herbs, earth, mushrooms, and mineral. The finish is long and rich with black plum, more herb, and tobacco. This bottle did not disappoint. 93

2004 Château Pontet-Canet, Pauillac – IMHO the star of the night! The nose starts with pencil shavings and mineral, followed by nice earthiness and black fruit. In the mouth, you have dark red and black fruit, with raspberry, blackberry, dark cherry, blackcurrant, followed by graphite, a bit of tar, some nice herb, and mounds of earth. The acid is medium+, and the tannin is still very much assertive, though silky and almost sweet. The finish is really nice with tobacco, cedar, and a bit of cocoa. This was a real treat! 94

2015 Tischler & Halpern Reserve, Tokaji Aszú, 5 Puttonyos – No change from my previous tastings. This is a really nice Tokaj that went perfectly with the refreshing sorbet. 91

That’s it from me. Have a wonderful month!

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