A few weeks ago, we had dinner with friends and it centered around an epic bites, AKA Isaac Bernstein test rollout of some new and great oldies. Any excuse to try new Bernstein fare is going to be an epic experience, so I was in. With dusk slowly on its way, the cool evening air slowly coming across the valley, and the sun slowly falling into its nightly bliss, we agreed the best bet was to eat outside, Fresco style.
The funny thing about Bernstein and his crew is that they are becoming super professional and precise and I am still living in the world of 27 courses! So, when I hear 12 courses, I kind of always have a letdown. Sure, the courses are crazy complex and layered and wonderful and I have no idea how long it takes to create or source any of these dishes, but hey I am still a caveman at heart! Still, Bernstein and Epic Bites is slowly moving me away from the awe of the multiple dish madness to the awe of the depth of fewer dishes. The more time I spend with and eat Bernstein’s creations, the more I come to appreciate the effort and the time it takes to get a dish to the point where it blows me away. The sad fact is, that I am getting so spoiled that I may never be able to enjoy another dish! Maybe, Epic Bites should start the “aggressive drug dealer” (totally dinner! Where they gives away free samples of all of their dishes. Then the customers will come to see what I am now suffering from, after they have them hook line and sinker, they will never go back to another dinner anywhere else! There is an idea for the next big event!!!
Course #1 and #2
The first two courses were really two at once – a nice and controlled manner to get through the dinner without making it last 4 hours! The first duality were Cubes of Big Eye Tuna and compacted watermelon, with Heirloom Tomatoes, balsamic reduction, and shiso dehydrated pine nut/black olive/onion dust. But the Marilyn Monroe of this couple was served in a shot glass! In it was a Tomato base/Avocado Sorbet covered in EVO and sprinkled with black salt. The seductress stole the spotlight for sure, but it was more than just body and soul, this vixen was creamy, sweet, salty, and acidic, all at the same time. The acid from the tomatoes, balanced to sheer perfection with the green and dreamy dressed avocado sorbet, all covered in a chiffon dress of EVO and accented with black jewels of salt. BRAVO!!
The Big Eye tuna and compacted watermelon was nice, it did not hit it for me, but the black dirt made up of; dehydrated pine nut, black olive, and onion was a classic tour de force for Bernstein and his gastronomical diabolic ways!
I paired the course with a bottle of the 2013 Yarden Sauvignon Blanc, which continues to impress even the most cynical of kosher wine drinkers – BRAVO!!!!
So last week saw me flying out to Israel last minute to show my support for my Rabbi who lost his mother and to show my support for a country that is under fire. Having just returned, I wanted to reflect back on my feelings and state of mind (as a person who loves Israel), and to help others understand the state of mind of the people living in a country so deeply rooted in its history.
Let me start by saying that I do not normally speak politics on this blog and I am not trying to project anything here. This posting is like all my posts – my personal diary on what I tasted, felt, and heard during my week in a country at war. Please understand the settings. First this trip happened during the three weeks and nine days, two sets of the saddest days in our history, which culminates on Tisha B’Av (the day of the destruction of our holy temple) – which is in a few days.
Jewish history is not a linear timeline, it is rather a spiral staircase where each day reappears a year later. The days starting in the three weeks are not days of joy, because those very days are littered with historical fact after historical fact proving the days are bad for Jews and Gentiles alike. I do not like to travel in the three weeks, it always turns out badly, broken cameras, cars breaking down, insane traffic out of nowhere. Essentially, it is like living with Murph on steroids!
But, family and friends are not just a convenience for when things are going well, they are a part of your life no matter when and where you are. So, when I heard my Rabbi’s mother passed, I decided it was time to visit the Holy Land – no matter the circumstances. I will not bore you with the last minute planning and miles tickets that popped open out of nowhere, because of the war – essentially it was Murphy’s Law tempered with good luck – an interesting combination to say the least.
Before, I made it to Israel, I heard the news and I heard the stories and friends told me it is dangerous, it is not a good time to go – my response was – THIS IS THE EXACT TIME TO GO! This is the time to show our support for a land that is littered with history of our forefathers and their fore-parents! This is a place that is imbued with our physical lives and memories – to a point that one cannot turn away when sorrow is near.
The trip was uneventful, thankfully Murph was a no show! I arrived into Israel a few minutes early – thanks to good winds and tidings, and I got my car and drove to the shiva house, where my Rabbi was “sitting” for 7 days. It was here where I started to take in the atmosphere that is Israel, to be around people who were there for the correct reasons – in this case – to console a family that was part of the larger Bnai Brak area for more than 50 years! My Rabbi told me stories of when he was young and he could open his windows and see the ocean, that is not the case any longer. Bnai Brak has grown and expanded to fill the entire area around Ramat Gan and its surroundings and no matter where you go in Bnai Brak, The Chazon Ish is almost everywhere. He passed away before my Rabbi was born, but he told me stories of how he had classes in the Chazon Ish’s house, and played in his backyard.
The environment may have been one of sorrow, but the mood was one of hope and transition. Clearly, there were times where the people coming to console the mourners had to run to shelter when the sirens went off, a warning of potentially impending attacks. Thankfully, though Bnai Brak and Tel Aviv have been attacked countless times by missiles, the Iron Dome has done its job in protecting its inhabitants.
After spending many hours, I made my way to Jerusalem, where I was staying and meet some friends and went to sleep. The next day, was truly one of my more sad days in a long time. I was not in the mood of going to wineries, I wanted to visit my Rabbi again, but things did not work out – as it turned out that Israel had started its offensive into the Gaza Strip, and in the fray, a fellow American citizen, Max Steinberg, had sadly fallen. He would be one of many more, that bravely gave of their soul for a country yearning for life – a truly sad twist of fate.
He was being buried a few miles from where I was staying so I and some 30,000 other people, from many different walks of life, made their way to Herzl Memorial Cemetery to pay our last respects to a fellow Country man – who paid the highest cost for a country he felt deserved his time and immense talents. The ceremony was moving in both English and Hebrew, no dry eyes were present that day, all the people I saw, were deeply moved and were there till the last minute to pay tribute to a person who loved the country as much as they all did, and did so till his last dying breath.
Sadly, another soldier passed as well, Dmitri Levitas, and he was also buried in Mount Herzl a few hours later. Going to two funerals in a day, reminded of my last trip to Israel, where right before I left, hours before my plane trip home, I sadly went to two funerals, less than 24 hours apart, of friends and family, both buried in the Bet Shemesh cemetery. I was not expecting my last visit’s sorrows to engulf me again, but that is the three weeks, that is the cycle of time which we cannot control, and that is what living is all about. I was truly down at that point to say the least, but again, it was the people in this country, hard nosed people, people who live in a land filled with grief and hope, that saw me through it all. One never really is alone in Israel, you may think no one knows you or no one sees you, but that could not be farther from the truth. Read the rest of this entry
I am that the blog has been quiet for a bit of time here and there, but hopefully I will be back into the swing of things soon. I wanted to post three wines that I loved and had recently and ones that are still available here and there – even given two of their ages. The 2005 Hagafen Zin can still be purchased from Hagafen Winery’s library collection. The Galil Yiron 2007 is available at some shops here and there – this one requires effort to still find. The 2012 Petita is available everywhere that good kosher wine is sold.
The wine notes follow below:
2007 Galil Mountain Winery Yiron – Score: A-
The nose on this garnet colored wine is hopping with an expressive and intoxicating smokey perfume of licorice, spice, tar aromas, and animal fats. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is truly explosive with now integrated mouth coating tannin, rich mouth feel and concentration of black cherry, ripe blackberry, ripe plum, and raspberry, followed by tart fruit, sweet oak, softening tannin, sweet herb, and nice acid. The finish is long, spicy and expressive with green notes, eucalyptus, graphite, dirt, tobacco, and oriental spices – BRAVO! Start drinking up – this wine has is at peak or very close, and after that who cares – the fun starts to abate, get it while the going is fun!
2012 Celler de Capçanes Montsant Peraj Petita – Score: A- (Mad QPR wine)
This wine is a blend of 55% Grenache, 30% Tempranillo, and 15% Merlot. This is a wine that continues to excel at being a QPR superstar, and this vintage is no different. The nose on this wine is rich and black with loamy dirt, oriental spices, intense graphite, crushed herb, green notes, along with freshly paved asphalt, and earthy goodness. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is crazy with mouth gripping tannins, leather, along with layers of blackberry, black cherry, and inky notes, all coming together with oak and green notes. The finish is long and mineral based with still gripping tannin, tar, and sweet herbs that linger long. This is a wine that really needs another year to come around.
2005 Hagafen Zinfandel – Score: B++ to A-
The nose on this lightly browning wine is filled with rich fruit, ripe strawberry, along with sweet cedar, brown sugar, and great spice. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is ripe and concentrated with layers of ripe blackberry, black plum, red fruit, ripe jammy boysenberry, all wrapped in a cocoon of sweet cedar and mouth coating tannins. The finish is long and rich with great acid, control, and a bounty of fruit, all leading to a chocolate, vanilla, and spice crescendo, with cinnamon, cracked pepper, and nutmeg. DRINK NOW and do not hold on to these a second longer. When opening it, give it 30 minutes and then finish there and then!
This wine sure is fun, the brown sugar, cedar, chocolate, and dark ripe black fruit all mingle with crazy vanilla and brown sugar on a long and sweet finish – BRAVO!!!
This past weekend saw us enjoying a lovely round of Cabernet Franc wines and our patented Herb encrusted gefilte fish loaf, which was followed by sausage stew. What can I say, I have a true soft spot for GREAT Cabernet Franc, and thankfully there are a few VERY good options. When I think of Cabernet Franc, top on my list is Four Gates Winery followed by Ella Valley Winery. After that, there is Hagafen Winery, Carmel Winery, Psagot Winery, and the new comer is Teperberg Winery’s 2011 Cabernet Franc – that is off the charts!
Many have spoken about the demise of Merlot and the rise of Pinot Noir from what is now called the “Sideways Effect.” Miles (the movie’s protagonist) proclaims his hatred for Merlot and his love affair for Pinot Noir, in the movie Sideways. While this has been confirmed by many trusted sources, what has been glossed over is the hammer blow that Miles delivered to Cabernet Franc. In the very same movie, Miles is poured a glass of Cabernet Franc, he smells it, sips it, and ceremoniously pours out the glass into the spit bucket, while dropping an anvil on all Cab Franc fans, as he states “”I’ve learned never to expect greatness from a cab franc, and this is no exception”. “Ouch!” This is the exact kind of snobbery and lack of appreciation for the varietal’s unique qualities, mentioned earlier, that has kept the masses away from Cabernet Franc. In the end of the movie, we find Miles drinking his vaulted and prized bottle of 1962 Cheval Blanc, which is composed of 66% Cab Franc, 33% Merlot, and 1% Malbec! We do hope that the irony is not lost on you, as it was certainly not lost on the producers!
Ask a winery why they do not sell Cabernet Franc, and they will start by disparaging it as a blending grape, and then add that it is not a noble variety. What’s so funny is that the vaulted Cabernet Sauvignon – the archetype noble grape, is actually a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc – go figure! You see, perception (and a lack of marketing) is reality, and while many have complained that Cabernet Franc is a thin and green flavored wine, that has more to do with the vintner’s and vineyard manager’s incompetence than it has to do with the grape. Cab Franc needs a fair amount of heat to bring it to its true potential, but too much heat, and it gets toasted. Poor viticulture is the grape’s Achilles Heel. Still, the wine’s olfactory charm and bright fruity composition makes it a clear contrast from today’s fat and fruit forward wines. Sure, you find wineries styling the poor Cabernet Franc grape into a Cabernet Sauvignon by suffocating it in oak and tannins. However, the wine’s true beauty lies in its clean lines, bright red fruit, and it’s crazy floral/fruity nose, that may be accompanied by some bell pepper, which causes many a wine critic to turn up their noses to this wonderful wine.
Even further is that many a winery, including one from the tasting will say that they would rather have a Cabernet Franc that lacks green notes than one that shows it. Why? Because truly Cabernet Franc started as a grape grown in France, and in a region that does not get very warm, namely Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. Napa and Israel, on the other hand, do get warm, and some in Napa would like their wines to taste along the lines of their preferences, namely less green notes. Green notes normally arise from the lack of ripeness, think of vegetal notes you sometimes taste in fruit when the fruit is less than ripe. As the fruit ripeness, the Pyrazines within the grapes are killed off by the sunlight and ripe flavors appear. I love green notes in Cabernet Franc and am not turned off by them, in my opinion of course.
That said, Hagafen works hard to get the green out of the Cabernet Franc, saying the green is seen as a flaw and they work hard to make sure it does not appear in the wine. Sure, many wineries feel the same way, but Franc is green – it is the definition of the grape – but this is the new century and I guess it is time to evolve the Franc ideal, but in my books it is wrong.
The interesting fact is that Ella Valley is really the hot bed for all things kosher and Franc and I was happy to showcase two very different styles of the wine from the same winery. The 2006 Vintage is all fruit and green, while the 2009 vintage is all about the tannin and spice and fruit, with the fruit taking a back stage presence. That will change as the wine evolves and the tannin and mineral recede to show the fruit, but for now the two wines could not be more different – which is why it is so IMPORTANT to age Franc!
If you are interested in getting into the Franc scene, the best options now are:
- The 2010 Carmel Cabernet Franc (or the 2009 as well)
- The 2010 or 2009 Ella Valley Cabernet Franc
- The 2009 Gush Etzion Cabernet Franc
- The Teperberg 2011 Cabernet Franc (2010 with its new age label is good enough as well)
Well, here are the wines we had, the crowd was meant to be larger, and I was supposed to get to a Psagot and a Gush, but such is life. The Four gates Francs were not meant to be on the menu – we had them last year, at our previous Franc horizontal. The wine notes follow below:
The 2014 Private International Food and Wine Festival is coming back again to Herzog Cellars in August!
Once again the Herzog Winery is showing off their beautiful facility with a once a year private wine and food event – the Oxnard Private IFWF! Last year the IFWF in Oxnard was a massive success!!! The wines were awesome, but even better was the food – from the world renowned kosher Tierra Sur – attached to the Herzog Winery!
For all the images, wine notes, and revelry from my previous visit, check out my post here. Well, once again, the private and intimate affair returns to the Herzog Winery, echoing the past IFWF that used to be hosted in the beautiful and intimate Oxnard winery (2008, 2009, 2010 part 1 and 2010 part 2, and the 2011 and final Oxnard IFWF)! Once again, the rooms at the Herzog Winery will be opened and you will have room to roam and peruse the many wine tasting options that will be on display for your discriminating palate! Those will include an amazing lineup of wines from France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Australia, Israel, Argentina and beyond!
Truly this is an event not to miss whether you are a wine lover, foodie – or hopefully BOTH! The Tierra Sur Restaurant will be pulling out all the stops and serving up many of their favorite treats!
Save the date! The event will take place at the Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard, CA on Wednesday, August 20, 2014 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM (PDT).
As an added bonus, I was able to procure a 15% coupon for all the attendees. Use the coupon code: MUSINGS or just click on this link. Buy the tickets and mark your calendar – I am sure it will be a lovely soirée filled with food and wine in an all so familiar, comfortable and intimate setting.
I am sure you are as excited as I am, so here is the information, I was able to get from the winery…
We are bringing the Private International Food & Wine Festival back to Oxnard for an intimate, one day engagement August 20th at Herzog Wine Cellars. The event will feature more than 200 different wines gathered from nearly every wine producing region of the world. In addition to an amazing lineup of wines from France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Australia, Israel, Argentina and beyond – a wide array of gourmet delicacies will be prepared and served by the chefs of Tierra Sur throughout the entire three hour event! This is an exclusive opportunity to choose from literally hundreds of wines, while enjoying exquisite cuisine from one of Southern California’s highest rated restaurants.
Tickets are limited, as we would like this event to focus on enjoying incredible wines from across the globe together with our close fans. Only the first 200 ticket buyers will be allowed into the event, and Herzog Wine Cellars will be closed to the public for the evening. This event will have all of the rare selections and unbelievable flavor that our Los Angeles event has, only in a completely private setting.
Summer is here and man is it hot! When I think summer wines I think rose and tart/bright white wines. We have been tasting some of these wines and they have been fantastic, for the most part. There have been some very nice reds as well, including the 2005 Hagafen Zinfandel. Sadly, 2006 was the last vintage for Hagafen and Zinfandel, because they needed to cut down on the number of labels they produce, and Zinfandel got the boot – very sad indeed.
The best rose by far was the Netofa, along with the Recanati and the Castel was OK. The 2011 Covenant Sauvignon Blanc was mind-blowing and still kicking in all the right ways. It stood up well to the 2013 Yarden Sauvignon Blanc, which is also great! The 2012 Dalton Viognier is nice, but it never had the star qualities of the 2009. I hear the 2013 is as good or better than the 2009, so I am hoping to taste it soon! The 2013 Shirah Vintage Whites is not as good as the 2012, but it is nice enough and needs TONS of time to open and really come together, so open this one and let it air!
The 2010 Ella valley Cabernet Franc is finally in the country and it is equally as good as it was in Israel! The 2009 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Edition, Clone # Six, is really nice but much sweeter than the 2008 which was/is a rock star! Both of these reds would go really well with BBQ chicken or hanger steaks, or a burger with roasted onions – yum!
Well there you go, I hope you get to enjoy some or all of these and post back what you thought! The notes follow below:
2013 Domaine Netofa Rose - Score: A- and more (CRAZY QPR)
This wine is blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Mourvedre. The nose on this beautiful cherry colored wine, is ripe with peach aromas, intense floral notes, hints of kiwi, quince, rich herb, and spice. The mouth on this medium bodied wine has lovely strawberry, tart cherry, with nice fruit structure, along with insane acid, nice melon, and tart fruit that keeps on coming. The finish is long and spicy with rose petals, green and red apple sauce, and spiced apples.
Read the rest of this entry
Over the Holiday of Shavuot, and weeks that followed, I have been continuing my love for all things Rhone, meaning Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and things like Petite Sirah and others. Over Shavuot we had one half of the Weiss Brothers with us, and it was a great time to break out my last bottle 2007 Brobdingnagian Grenache! We had a few other bottles as well, of course, but that was the winner of the night for sure.
Many of the wines we have had over the past few weeks are still available now, while some are those MUST keep wines that I hope you all start to build from great 2009/2010/2012 wines (yeah 2011 was a tough one).
Over Shavuot we served rib eye and some brisket, and it went so well with the sweet Syrah and bold wines that we enjoyed. I hope you all enjoyed the Shavuot time with wine, learning, and friends!
Over the following weeks after that we opened Summer wines, many were rose and white, which I will post separately, and many were perfect BBQ wines, like the 2011 Chabad Cuvee Zinfandel. Along with the 2011 Netofa Red made of 60% Syrah and 40% Mourvedre. We truly enjoyed the 2012 Landsman Syrah, which is good news, as some of the other Landsman have been OK but not as good as this one.
We also enjoyed a few lovely Israeli blend wines, with a mixture of Cabernet, Syrah, and other varietals. Like the 2009 Kitron Reserve LIKA, a wine named after one of his children. The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Merlot. The Tzora Shoresh was awesome, and the 2011 Trio was nice, but not great. I hear the 2012 Trio Grenache, a wine only available in Israel, is really impressive, look for that when in Israel next time.
Finally, the 2012 Capcanes Peraj Petita continues to blow me away, and the mevushal version of it is also very good and is actually more accessible now than the non mevushal version, which feels too tight still.
The wine notes follow below:
2007 Brobdingnagian Grenache, Santa Barbara County – Score: A
The name comes from the colossal, gigantic, extremely tall, and giant creatures discovered by Gulliver in his travels on the Northwest coast of California and is used today (although not by anyone I know) to describe anything of colossal size. That said, the wine does in many ways follow the moniker. The wine has a 16.3% alcohol, is massive in the mouth, and in the bottle! The bottle (empty) is one of the heaviest I have ever seen, quite extreme. The name of the winery, though unpronounceable by me, is one you already know by association. The wine is made by Jonathan Hajdu, the associate wine maker for Covenant Wines, owned and operated by Jeff Morgan.
The last time we opened this wine, the wine was inaccessible for many hours. However, this time the wine was immediately accessible with concentrated dried red fruit, raspberry, toast, smokey aromas, roasted animal, sweet cedar, insane and mad milk chocolate, and spice. The mouth on this browning colored wine is super concentrated, almost laser focused, and layered with dried strawberry, cranberry, raspberry, blueberry, root beer, and plum. The attack is what makes this wine; it is clean lined with heft and power, yet focused on delivering not a single but many blows of dried fruit and oak. The mid palate flows from the mouth with acidity to balance the beast, along with still searing tannins, cedar oak, and tobacco. The finish is super long and concentrated with more mouth coating tannin, sweet herb, licorice, white pepper, cloves, lovely acidity, sweet watermelon, and more spice – BRAVO!!!!
This wine has a year or so left – but I would start drinking them now for another year – drink UP mode.
, and indeed I had twice now in the past two weeks. In short (notes below) the wine was very nice. So, I thought I would take a moment to list a few of the wines I know about around supermarkets around the United States.
Of them all (other than in NY or maybe LA), the best kosher wine supermarket is clearly Trader Joe’s and their Terrenal and Banero lines. As of now, they have the three best wines out there, with the 2012 Terrenal Tempranillo, 2013 Terrenal Chardonnay, and 2012 Terrenal Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2013 Terrenal Malbec from Argentina, just did not work for long and from what I have heard there will be more of it coming to TJ in a slightly different blend, but for now it is not at TJ. I will post here when I get a chance to taste it. On the east coast I hear you can still get Banero Prosecco, which is still going well. Of course, for the sweet tooth, the Sara Bee is a fine Moscato.
PLEASE be careful, for those who care, NOT all Tarder Joe’s wines are mevushal – this is just an FYI and a PSA!
Of course to be fair, they also stock a bunch of Herzog wines, including the new and VERY good 2012 Baron Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, PLEASE do not laugh! I liked it so much I listed it on the Passover wine list! The whites are all a no brainer there as well, including Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc.
The next would be Costco! Yes Costco! I keep seeing and hearing from my friends that they are stocking kosher wine. Here in Sunnyvale, CA the Costco stocks Yarden and Capcanes. In Miami they also stock Capcanes for a very reasonable price. Mind you anything from Capcanes in the 2012 vintage is insane – as I listed here!
The next and newest to the list would be Deccolio Prosecco, which is actually quite delicious (I think it is a play on words – but who knows), must have been one of those marketing things. Anyway, ignoring the name, the wine is solid, with good acid, nice bubbles, and really good fruit!
So there you have it – please comment here on wines you find at other supermarkets I would love to hear from you all, like I heard from Roni – keep the comments/questions coming in!
NV Deccolio Prosecco – Score: B++ (QPR)
As I stare into the glass of bubbles I cannot help but conjure up the classic war between love and hate, the perennial battle that takes us to the brink and then lets us barely catch our breath before once again going into the breach! I speak of course about the conflict of wine brothers, acid and bubbles versus fruit and toast. In this lovely wine there is no conflict, there is just harmonious brotherly love, a focus of purity and tart fruit that forces you to raises the glass and proclaim – BRAVO!
The nose on this wine is filled with green apple, lithe notes, lovely white flowers, honeysuckle, and summer fruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine starts with lovely honey, followed by layers of light mousse, green apple, litchi, and spice. The finish is long and rich with wonderful acid, great penetrating fruit and mineral that lingers long with slate and pith – BRAVO!!!
When one speaks about Israeli wine – the name Yarden is sure to be one of the first wineries that are spoken of. Why? Because simply stated they are the defacto standard for quality in Israel. That was at least until the past few years, when the red wines took a very clear and strategic direction towards more ripe and classic new world styled wines. Why? Well, as I wrote here in my year in review, the kosher wine public is still a few years behind the wine learning curve, and they crave wine that is as subtle as a two-by-four between the eyes. Why? Well, to be blunt, starters do not have the capacity to appreciate the more subtle aspects of old world wines. That takes training and in the words of the late Daniel Rogov – the best way to appreciate and learn more about wine – is to drink more wine. Until that point, we will all have to wait for the majority of the kosher wine buying public to learn the joy of subtlety and stop craving sweets, and live with the result of that fact – meaning sweet and overripe wines. Thankfully, there are wineries that are still interested in creating well-rounded and all around enjoyable wines – like Tzora, Recanati, Netofa, Yatir, Castel, Dalton, Flam, Four Gates, and many others.
That said, Yarden is still the clear king of white and bubbly wines in Israel. First of all, there are few wineries with more than three quality labels of white wine. Many are still just producing one white wine. Tabor is one of those wineries that is showing it QPR value and clearly coming out from under the haze of Coca Cola and its perceived wine quality, in their situation “perception is NOT reality”.
Proof of this can be found in the bottle. Tabor Adama Roussanne, Gewurztraminer, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc are examples of GREAT QPR wines, though only the Sauvignon Blanc is available here in the US.
The Yarden 2013 Sauvignon Blanc may very well be the best kosher Sauvignon on the market and maybe ever made. yes, that is high praise for a white wine, but ignoring the sweeter side of Sauvignon Blanc (AKA late harvest or Sauterne) this is one of the best or the best kosher version of a dry blanc that I have tasted yet. Along with that the Yarden Gewurtz and Yarden Chardonnay – both Odem and non are great this year. Finally, the Viognier and the entire line of bubbly wines are absolutely crushing it! Even the Gamla Blanc is very nice. Essentially, while Yarden may have had some missteps or may want more ripe red new world fruit, the whites still are showing why Yarden is king of the kosher bubbly and white wines. The only real competitor in the kosher market to the vast array of Yarden’s whites would be Hagafen’s vast array of white wines and rose wines. Read the rest of this entry
Whenever I write about California wines, I get the same old question – what about Israeli wines? Hey do you think to read other posts – or just this one? Do not get me wrong, I love Israeli and French wines, but what can I do, I am a Cali boy and I like California wines just as much.
I just posted about Rhone varietal wines, and I missed one that is a really lovely wine – the 2010 Herzog Petite Sirah, Prince Vineyard. I wrote about this wine and the Herzog winery before in this post. However, when we tried it for a Petite Sirah vertical a few year ago – it was not close to what I had at the winery only a few months earlier. Well, I should have posted the Herzog PS in my previous post – but I missed it, so here it is in the Cali wines that I have enjoyed recently.
I must start off by saying that Herzog has been killing it recently with its Weinstock and Baron Herzog labels as of recently. These are fantastic wines that are all QPR and mevushal to boot! The 2010 and 2011 Weinstock Petite Sirah, Cellar Select are BOTH lovely and mevushal. The 2010 Weinstock Cabernet Franc, Cellar Select is also lovely (the 2012 is nice but not at the same level), clear QPR winner, and mevushal again. Same goes for the 2012 Baron Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon – a lovely QPR wine, and mevushal of course.
That said, the wines I tasted recently were nice, but none of them were at the level I was expecting, especially the 2009 Clone Six Cabernet, which was nice but not close to the awesome 2008 mind-blowing older brother. The Z2 Zinfandel was nice and better than in previous tastings, but not an A level wine still. The 2010 Meritage was truly quite lovely and a mouth coating wine that stays with you.
When I think Shirah Winery, I think Rhone varietals, but not this bottle! The 2012 Shirah Coalition is another crazy blend from the Weiss Brothers, and their mad scientist wine lab, called Shirah Winery. This one is a blend of 50% Sangiovese, 20% Dolcetto, 20% Zinfandel from Agua Dolce Vineyards, and 10% Merlot from Agua Dolce Vineyard! Like seriously??? To me I am willing to go out on the limb and say – this is the best kosher Italian wine out there (other than maybe the Falesco wines) – with tongue firmly embedded into cheek. Sure, it is not Italian, but the grapes all grow in Italy, and two of them are indigenous to Italy! Why is the growing region more important than the quality and enjoyability – BRAVO again guys! Read the rest of this entry