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Four Gates TNR

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R Liberman

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Four Gates TNR

by R Liberman » Thu Apr 07, 2011 6:13 am

I just placed an order for these; they were not in your 2011 Guide:

2008 Chardonnay
2007 Merlot
N.V. Merlot
Soirée
Pinot Noir
Frére Robaire

Thanks,
Robert
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Re: Four Gates TNR

by YoelA » Thu Apr 07, 2011 3:28 pm

Tasted the chardonnay, merlot and soiree last week; see my post on the San Francisco tasting
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Re: Four Gates TNR

by Daniel Rogov » Thu Apr 07, 2011 3:54 pm

Robert, Hi....

Following are my quite recent tasting notes for the wines in question.

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Rogov


Four Gates, Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains, 2008: Medium – to full-bodied, opens with notes of spicy oak, those yielding to summer and tropical fruits all on a background of white pepper and citrus peel, all turning creamy on the long finish. Drink now. Score 89. K

Four Gates, Merlot, La Rochelle, Santa Cruz Mountains, 2007: Dark garnet, showing generous spicy oak and firm tannins from its 24 months in barriques. Full-bodied and muscular, opening slowly in the glass to reveal deep layers of blueberries, currants and dark chocolate. Drink now–2013. Score 89. K

Four Gates, Soirée, n.v.: A medium-bodied odd-marriage blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Cabernet Franc, with generous spices and an overlay of mint, opens to revel ripe plum, crushed berries and cassis fruits, all on a generously acidic background. An appealing quaffer. Drink now. Score 87. K

Four Gates, Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains, n.v. A blend of grapes from the 2006 and 2007 vintages. Ruby towards garnet, medium-bodied, with gently gripping tannins and a note of spicy cedar wood. Opens to reveal raspberry and wild cherry fruits, those supported nicely by notes of roasted herbs and fresh mushrooms. Drink now-2013. Score 88. K

Four Gates, Frére Robaire, n.v.: Made from organic Caberne Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvingon grapes (49%, 46% and 5% respectively), showing medium- to full-bodied with gently chewy tannins. On the nose and palate blackberries, blueberries and cassis, those complemented by hints of spicy oak and, on the moderately long finish, hints of eucalyptus and white pepper. Drink now. Score 88. K
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Re: Four Gates TNR

by Elie Poltorak » Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:36 pm

Interesting how 4 gates don't score well with Rogov, yet they're the closest thing to a cult wine in the Kosher market.
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Re: Four Gates TNR

by Daniel Rogov » Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:54 pm

Elie Poltorak wrote:Interesting how 4 gates don't score well with Rogov, yet they're the closest thing to a cult wine in the Kosher market.


In my evaluation, Four Gates wines invariably earn scores of 87, 89 and 89 with the occasional 90 creeping in from time to time. Scores in that range indicate wines that I consider good to very good and recommended. Hardly "bad' scores.

As to being a cult winery, I suspect a good deal of that has to do with Benjamin Cantz' charming personna, his rather unique individualistic and almost hermit-like life-style, and that indeed his wines are a considerable shade different than many of the kosher wines we find on the market.

With no comparison whatever to Benjamin's wines (which as I say are very good), that a winery attains a cult-like following is not, however, an automatic indicator that the wines will be exceptionally or even basically good. Those who will remember the Tekoa winery in Israel will recognize that, for here was a winemaker that decided that the South African Berlinka grape, used exclusively in South Africa as a table grape, would make fine wine. The wines were seriously oxidized on release, and within a year had assumed a taste, texture and aroma profile of a what one might imagine to be a blend of balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and camel dung. Despite which, he did have a cultish following, a few members of that cult who still have his wines and enjoy them from time to time.

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Rogov
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Re: Four Gates TNR

by YoelA » Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:29 pm

According to the winery's website the current pinot noir is a blend of more recent vintages, so Rogov probably hasn't tasted it yet.
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Re: Four Gates TNR

by Elie Poltorak » Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:45 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote:
Elie Poltorak wrote:Interesting how 4 gates don't score well with Rogov, yet they're the closest thing to a cult wine in the Kosher market.


In my evaluation, Four Gates wines invariably earn scores of 87, 89 and 89 with the occasional 90 creeping in from time to time. Scores in that range indicate wines that I consider good to very good and recommended. Hardly "bad' scores.

As to being a cult winery, I suspect a good deal of that has to do with Benjamin Cantz' charming personna, his rather unique individualistic and almost hermit-like life-style, and that indeed his wines are a considerable shade different than many of the kosher wines we find on the market.

With no comparison whatever to Benjamin's wines (which as I say are very good), that a winery attains a cult-like following is not, however, an automatic indicator that the wines will be exceptionally or even basically good. Those who will remember the Tekoa winery in Israel will recognize that, for here was a winemaker that decided that the South African Berlinka grape, used exclusively in South Africa as a table grape, would make fine wine. The wines were seriously oxidized on release, and within a year had assumed a taste, texture and aroma profile of a what one might imagine to be a blend of balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and camel dung. Despite which, he did have a cultish following, a few members of that cult who still have his wines and enjoy them from time to time.

Best
Rogov


Although you refer to scores of 87-90 as "good to very good and recommended," that's the scoring range for the vast majority of mediocre/ok wine out there--hardly wines an enthusiast would get excited over. I don't think Beyomin's considerable charm explains his wine's following. That leaves your final explanation--that Four Gates wines are so different than everything else out there in the kosher market. Perhaps you don't appreciate it as much due to your exposure to the non-kosher market, which I suppose has many such boutique wineries, but for the kosher connoisseur, Four Gates offers something special--above and beyond many wines you may score in the mid 90s, which may be excellent, but aren't that different than their peers.
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Re: Four Gates TNR

by Daniel Rogov » Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:50 pm

YoelA wrote:According to the winery's website the current pinot noir is a blend of more recent vintages, so Rogov probably hasn't tasted it yet.


Indeed, the current wine is a blend of wines from the 2007 and 2008 vintages and I have not yet tasted that.

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Rogov
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Re: Four Gates TNR

by Daniel Rogov » Thu Apr 07, 2011 6:00 pm

Elie Poltorak wrote:Although you refer to scores of 87-90 as "good to very good and recommended," that's the scoring range for the vast majority of mediocre/ok wine out there--hardly wines an enthusiast would get excited over.


Whoa.....wines that that are "mediocre/ok" earn scores of 80-84 (Average and Not Exciting, Recommended Primarily as Entry Level Wines; wines that are mediocre and at least somewhat faulted and not recommended earn scores of 75-79.

When it comes to wines earing 87-90 points we might be talking about a great many fine Bordeaux wines that happen to give us the good luck of making for fine drinking but at more reasonable prices than their brothers and sisters that earn higher scores.

The true wine lover who scorns wines in the 87-90 point category because of their scores is going to miss a great many very good and interesting wines.

That Benjamin's wines are "different than their peers", may well make sense. Being different, however, even though that may add interest, does not necessarily translate into higher quality or higher scores. What it may translate into is greater interest and appreciation on the part of those seeking those differences. That, of course, is perfectly legitimate.

Referring once again to the wines of Tekoa (and again stressing that there is no connection whatever with those and the wines of Four Gates), those were certainly "different than their peers". That most certainly did not add to their quality. As a possible point of information, those wines earned between 50-55 points when I rated them.

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Rogov
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Re: Four Gates TNR

by Gabriel W » Thu Apr 07, 2011 6:20 pm

I think Four Gates cult status is due to:
1: The terrroir that shows through in all his estate wines.
2: The immense acid from his site.
3: His nearly immortal Chardonnays (thanks to his acid).
4: His Merlots have more mass and tannins than most Kosher Cabs.
Many wine drinkers aren't looking for wine that is soft and supple, but rather prefer ferocious wines, like Binyo's Merlot (of which I'm a fan).
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Re: Four Gates TNR

by Elie Poltorak » Thu Apr 07, 2011 6:40 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote:
Elie Poltorak wrote:Although you refer to scores of 87-90 as "good to very good and recommended," that's the scoring range for the vast majority of mediocre/ok wine out there--hardly wines an enthusiast would get excited over.


Whoa.....wines that that are "mediocre/ok" earn scores of 80-84 (Average and Not Exciting, Recommended Primarily as Entry Level Wines; wines that are mediocre and at least somewhat faulted and not recommended earn scores of 75-79.

When it comes to wines earing 87-90 points we might be talking about a great many fine Bordeaux wines that happen to give us the good luck of making for fine drinking but at more reasonable prices than their brothers and sisters that earn higher scores.

The true wine lover who scorns wines in the 87-90 point category because of their scores is going to miss a great many very good and interesting wines.

That Benjamin's wines are "different than their peers", may well make sense. Being different, however, even though that may add interest, does not necessarily translate into higher quality or higher scores. What it may translate into is greater interest and appreciation on the part of those seeking those differences. That, of course, is perfectly legitimate.

Referring once again to the wines of Tekoa (and again stressing that there is no connection whatever with those and the wines of Four Gates), those were certainly "different than their peers". That most certainly did not add to their quality. As a possible point of information, those wines earned between 50-55 points when I rated them.

Best
Rogov


While I certainly don't scorn wines due to their scores (Four Gates being Exhibit A--I love his wines) and I'll try everything once for myself rather than rely on others' opinions, the fact remains that in your guides, the vast majority of wines from the quality wineries fall within that range. While they may be good wines, they're not generally wines people get excited over.

I agree that different doesn't mean good, but in the case of Four Gates, the "different" is something that many wine lovers (myself included) are crazy about. Gabriel sums it up very well: Terrior, terroir, terrroir. The M.S.C. merlot is unlike anything else on the market. So is his stunningly bright, acidic chardonnay. Not to mention his crazy monster syrahs--particularly the '03.
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Re: Four Gates TNR

by Elie Poltorak » Thu Apr 07, 2011 6:52 pm

To clarify: I was using mediocre in the first sense of the word--i.e., ordinary. Wines scoring 80-84 are mediocre in second sense:
me·di·o·cre
   [mee-dee-oh-ker] Show IPA
–adjective
1.
of only ordinary or moderate quality; neither good nor bad; barely adequate.
2.
rather poor or inferior.
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Re: Four Gates TNR

by Daniel Rogov » Thu Apr 07, 2011 7:13 pm

Agreed with all you say. Let me remind us however, that even my scoring places the Four Gates wines far above the mediocre or ordinary. Let me also state that like you, I especially respect the Four Gates wines for their sense of place (call that terroir if you like).

Let me also point out that what any critic writes was not dictated on Sinai. Largely because of all that has been written on this thread, my curiosity has indeed been triggered and I shall set up a major tasting of the Four Gates wines, those to be tasted blind, probably alongside other kosher and non-kosher California wines. This is going to take some effort (Raccah, take notice!!!) but it will be done before the summer of 2011 is over.

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Re: Four Gates TNR

by Jonathan K » Sun Apr 10, 2011 7:14 pm

I am a big Four Gates fan. I belong to a wine tasting group and we will frequently meet and each bring a bottle and taste them blind. A few months ago, amidst the Bordeaux and Charteauneuf de papes, I brought the Four Gates 2005 Cabernet Franc. It was the only domestic wine that night and the wonderful complex nose and the flavor profile blew everybody away. There was some jaw dropping when they found out it was a kosher Cab Franc from Santa Cruz.
I have been trying to set up a vertical Four Gates Chardonnay tasting at my shul as I have several vintages of that and they are ageless. IF I ever get this done, I will report back how it went.
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Re: Four Gates TNR

by David Raccah » Sun Apr 10, 2011 9:27 pm

All right I give up. Let me please start by saying I am biased, Benyamin is my friend, and I grew my palate on his and Craig's wines. OK, I will admit that what makes his wines cool are these facts:

1) His whites are as close to ageless as they get, but again, only some of them. The 2000 is )K, but nothing to jump up about. The 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2008 and the famous 1996 are crazy awesome.

2) His wines are the closest thing in the US with clean and bright fruit. The acid and true fruit flavors show nicely and keep in the whites well, and are just fine as well for some of his Merlots.

3) His Pinot are my favorite Pinot Noir outside of Ella Valley.

There you go, yes I am biased, and yes I am more than happy to live with my beliefs, as they say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and B"H for me, I behold much of his wine that I appreciate.

David
Last edited by David Raccah on Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Four Gates TNR

by Craig Winchell » Sun Apr 10, 2011 10:36 pm

Four Gates wines are their own. Everything begins in the vineyard- high mountain, cool climate wines, with considerable Santa Cruz Mountain terroir. Then, Binyamin is letting the fruit dictate the stylistic approach of his wine. Finally, his low pressure approach to selling the wine. Fact is, he loves making the stuff more than selling it. He truly loves what he does. He comes across as a regular human being, not taking himself too seriously, not promoting himself nonstop. Is it a cult wine? Perhaps some think of it that way, not me. But it is unique wine, especially in the kosher world, because he's not touting his as the "first" or the "best, promoting. promoting, promoting. But it is evident that he likes his wine, and that makes an impression on others, because he's not trying to tell people that they should like his wines. It's solely a labor of love for him, and that is enough.
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Re: Four Gates TNR

by Pinchas L » Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:45 am

Hi Craig,

I must second your high opinion of Binyomin, but I cannot resist taking it one step further by explicitly mentioning that Binyomin's low key approach follows through to his pricing, asking what even I consider reasonable prices. And this, coupled with his more than fifteen years of experience, sets him apart from other kosher "cult" wineries.

-> Pinchas
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Re: Four Gates TNR

by Gabriel Geller » Thu Mar 28, 2013 11:31 am

YAY!!! I'm so happy to revive this thread thanks to Chef Chaim Davids, known by several on this forum as a former chef and sous-chef at the Kitchen Table, Tierra Sur, Moise and Buffalo Steakhouse here in Jerusalem and who assisted on the 2006 vintage at Covenant, I just enjoyed for the first time in almost 2 years a bottle of Four Gates and one that I had never tasted before! Chaim thanks so much again for sharing and please join us here on the forum!

Four Gates, Frére Robaire 2006: A deep cherry garnet with a royal purple hue, beautiful nose featuring (at least at this stage) essentially sweet red fruit (cherries, raspberries) without overripe jamminess as well as cigar box and ripe blackberries. Full-bodied with on the palate plush red fruit, earthy with notes of wet forest floor, bracing Benyo-acid, boysenberries, eucalyptus and milk chocolate with surprisingly big mouth-drying tannins on the long finish. Throwing quite a big deal of sediments yet given the bracing acid and the tannins that are far from being integrated this wine should hold easily for a few more years. Magnifique! :D :D :D

Best,

GG
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Re: Four Gates TNR

by Elie Poltorak » Thu Mar 28, 2013 11:58 am

Truly a pity that Rogov was unable to do the Four Gates tasting.
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Re: Four Gates TNR

by Jonathan K » Thu Mar 28, 2013 12:22 pm

Elie Poltorak wrote:Truly a pity that Rogov was unable to do the Four Gates tasting.


Not sure it would have made a difference. I think Four Gates wines were just destined to get scores in the high 80's from Rogov. From a non-professional's perspective, these scores have always seemed low to me. I also reject the notion that kosher wine drinkers are blown away by these wines because because they have a limited frame of reference. While not professional, I have a broad frame of reference, and these are superb wines.

Interestingly, the only Four Gates wine I have opened this Chag is the 2009 Pinot Noir, because the firm structure and higher acid of Four Gates wines don't really lend themselves to easy quaffing.

Thanks for reviving this thread!!
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Re: Four Gates TNR

by David Raccah » Thu Mar 28, 2013 12:55 pm

Interesting indeed, and yes Benyo is a friend, so people think I am biased. Benyo's wines have always been wines demanding of time and patience. Last year's wines were huge and aggressive and in need of time. This years - not the same. The 2010 PInot is ready to go, for the most part, and the Petite Verdot is really ready to go, soft and meaty. The Zin can use some time, but still lovely and not all wild on the edges.

David
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Re: Four Gates TNR

by Mike BG » Mon Apr 01, 2013 5:58 pm

Quick reply just after Pesach. We had the Four Gates 2010 Pinot Noir on Shabbos Chol Hamoed. It was just wonderful! Shame I could only order 4 though!
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Re: Four Gates TNR

by Gabriel Geller » Mon Apr 01, 2013 8:39 pm

Mike BG wrote:Quick reply just after Pesach. We had the Four Gates 2010 Pinot Noir on Shabbos Chol Hamoed. It was just wonderful! Shame I could only order 4 though!

Lucky you Mike! I'd happily buy one from you though given how sorry you are to have only 3 left I doubt your answer will be positive... :(

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