International Food & Wine Festival at Herzog Wine Cellars 2009 Results

This past week saw Benyamin and I going to Los Angeles to visit the Herzog Winery’s showcase event of the year.  The winery threw this event last year, and it was a major success.  This year I arrived a bit earlier for the press tasting and stayed on for the public one as well.  I was able to spend far more time with the three wine makers that were there this year.  I spent some time with Goose Bay’s Philip Jones – Managing Director & Senior Winemaker who is the founder of the winery.  I asked him how the relationship occurred between Goose Bay and Royal Wines.  He explained that he had always wanted to make kosher wine – but was not in the right place and time to make that happen, until a few years ago when he contacted Royal and things just popped into place.  Listening to him talk about Ph, excess acidity, malolactic fermentation, etc. really gave me an appreciation for the decisions that wine makers need to make when crafting a wine.  The myriad of minute issues that pop-up are mind boggling and the stress of not really knowing what the outcome will be, can only but exasperate the issues.  I want to thank Phil for taking the time to explain his wines to me and for making the event that much more special.  I also had the luck to talk with Joe Hurliman and to ask him a few questions about the event and the lineup of wines that Herzog was presenting from their own winery.  Of course the coming out party was for the new flagship wine from the To Kalon vineyard, but there were far more wines from Herzog that were on display and many were quite nice.  I saw Eli Ben Zaken walking about and spent some time with him around the French wine table.

I arrived at 3 PM and started tasting the French wines.  This year they had more verticals than they had last year, but they also had fewer French wines that were top notch than last year.  Also, a few of the bottles on the French table and many more around the whole event were oxidized or corked.  Either way, about 6 to 9 bottles overall had to be pulled, or were not right, which is a shame.  The French wines that were not oxidized were also not knockouts.  That is except for the usual French suspects of — Pontet Canet and Chateau Guiraud Sauternes.  The stars of last year were either no shows or DOA.

  1. Yatir was a no show
  2. Segal was a no show
  3. Castel C was there, but the 2003 vintage, which is not available.  Kind of makes you wonder what they thought about the 2006 vintage, if they did not want to bring it.
  4. Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafitte Pessac-Leognan was a no show
  5. Francois Labet Puligny-Montrachet 2002 – which was last year’s star, was oxidized.
  6. The Meursault Premeir Cru – was also oxidized or corked.
  7. Carmel and all of their wonderful single vineyard and appellation wines were a no show
  8. Finally, the 2005 Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib, Flor de Primavera tasted fine but was oxidized on the nose to the point of not being able to enjoy it.  Same goes for the Binyamina Ruby Syrah – which was a major hit the last time I tasted it.

With all the misses, there were a ton of hits including the awesome food made by Todd Aarons, chef of the winery’s Tierra Sur Restaurant.  The food was incredible, from pulled duck Gnocchi, to lamb bacon, to chicken mole.  You name it, it was there.  Essentially, the menu of the Tierra Sur restaurant was open to the guests – which was quite a treat.

So I want to thank the winery for being such gracious hosts and putting on a fabulous show.  The wines were wonderful, and the food was to die for.  The wine notes follow below:

2003 Chateau Leoville Poyferre Saint Julien – Score: A
The nose on this garnet to black colored wine is huge with blackberry, cassis, cranberry, eucalyptus, and cloves. The mouth on this full bodied and crazy bold black wine is mouth coating with sticky tannin. The mouth starts with blackberry, cassis, figs, and anise. The mid palate is boldly tannic, with oak and coffee. The finish is long and astonishing with balance of oak, coffee, chocolate, and more tannin. This wine continues to impress and is a dense black wine with complex layers of black fruit, tannin, coffee, and chocolate. Impressive, but still too tannic.

2002 Chateau Leoville Poyferre Saint Julien – Score: B
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is hot to start but that blows off after a few hours, along with cassis, cranberry, oak, and allspice. The mouth of this full bodied wine is tannic with cranberry and cassis. The mid palate is acidic, oaky, and tannic. The finish is long with a heady mix of tannin, core acidity, and a nice balance of rich oak. A nice wine, but one I think that is either sleeping now or again a bad bottle.

2002 Chateau De La Tour Clos – Vougeot – Score: B+
This is a wine that needs a TON of air. I tasted this once an hour after opening and again another hour later, and the mouth turned from flat and light bodied to tannic and medium bodied.

The nose on this electric ruby colored wine is floral in nature, with hint of oak, heavy classical Bordeaux dirt and earth. The mouth on this light to medium bodied wine has cherry and raspberry. The mid palate is fruity and tannic that flows into a long and spicy finish with bracing acidity and oak.

2003 Chateau Labegorce Margaux – Score: B-
The nose on this dark garnet wine is filled with dirt, cranberry, oak, cherry, and raspberry. The mouth on this light to medium bodied wine is highly tannic with raspberry, cherry, and oak. The mid palate is acidic and light which flows into a long finish of red fruit and acid.

2005 Barons Edmund & Benjamin de Rothschild, Haut Medoc – Score: B-
The nose on this garnet colored wine is filled with earth and dirt, raspberry, and oak. The mouth on this medium bodied wine has raspberry and cherry notes. The mid palate is tannic with exaggerated tannins that will need a fair amount of time to mellow out. The finish is long with tannin, acidity, and red fruit.

2004 Chateau Malartic Lagraviere Pessac Leognan – Score: B+
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is a classical Bordeaux nose with rich dirt, raspberry, currants, eucalyptus, and hot out of the bottle. The mouth on this full bodied wine is mouth coating from the rich tannins. The mouth starts with currants, cherry, and raspberry. The mid palate starts with rich sweet oak and balancing acidity, and flows into a finish that is long with more rich oak, acidity, and tobacco notes.

2001 Chateau Leoville Poyferre Saint Julien – Score: B+
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is oaky, with blackberry, cherry, and cranberry. The mouth on this full bodied wine is red in nature with cranberry, raspberry, and cherry. The mid palate is starkly tannic who have yet to integrate. The finish is long with red fruit, oak, and more tannin.

2004 Barons Edmund & Benjamin de Rothschild, Haut Medoc – Score: B – B+
The nose on this garnet colored wine is filled with raspberry, blackberry, currants, oak, and cloves. The mouth on this medium bodied wine carries the fruit from the nose over with more red fruit of currant and raspberry. The mid palate is tannic with harsh tannins. The finish is long with more oak and tannin. This is a nice wine, not withstanding its mevushal status.

2003 Barons Edmund & Benjamin de Rothschild, Haut Medoc – Score: B+
The nose on this dark garnet wine is a classic and savory Bordeaux nose with cassis, raspberry, loads of dirt and earth, and nice oak. The mouth on this full bodied wine is a friendly mouth that is sweet and flavorful with cassis, raspberry, and rich oak. The mid palate is acidic with bracing tannins that flow into a long tannic finish of raspberry fruit, more acidity, and a hint of coffee.

2004 Chateau Le Crock Saint Estephe – Score: B+
The color on this deep and dark garnet colored wine is filled with cranberry, blackberry, raspberry, and cloves. The mouth on this full bodied wine is red in nature with flavors of cranberry, raspberry, and cassis. The mouth flows into the mid palate with nice tannic structure, cloves, coffee, and oak. The finish is long with more oak and tannin. This is a heavy tannic wine that will mellow over time and will improve with air.

2003 Chateau Pontet – Canet Pauillac – Score: A
The color on this Bordeaux is deep garnet to black. The nose on this massive Bordeaux is chock full of graphite, cassis, blackberry, cloves, oak, and raspberry. This is a massive wine with complex layers of cassis, blackberry, and cloves. The mouth is still rich in tannin and like last year, it is still massive but the chocolate has moved to the back and the oak and tannin have moved into the fore front. The finish is expressively long and rich with coffee, chocolate, oak, and one that lasts long on your mouth with acidity from nice black fruit. This may have been the best bottle of the festival and could well be one of the best kosher wines out there. This wine is so nice because it does not have rich California oak, but it does have a rich palate of oak, tannin, and nice black fruit.

2002 Francois Labet Meursault – Score: A
In the end this was the only drinkable French white Burgundy at the festival, which was a shame. That said this one was quite nice. The nose on this light straw colored wine was jumping with lemon, custard, creamy oak, peach, apple, and somehow also crisp – quite a wonderful nose. The mouth was popping and beautifully expressive with acidity and rich fruit of peach, apple, pear, lemon, and apricot. The mid palate is rich with oak and core acidity. The finish was long with lemon custard, rich oak, and nice cidity that puts a bow on this wonderful and classical white Burgundy.

2006 Rashi Barbera d’ Alba – Score: B – B+
This was a nice and a good showing for Rashi, which is great because the last time I had a Rashi wine it was oxidized and over the hill. This is a nice Barbera with the usual acidity and light tannins along with light oak, but a nice balanced wine. The nose on this garnet colored wine has notes of cranberry, blackberry, cherry, and light whiffs of oak. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is nice and earthy with cranberry, and raspberry. The mid palate has classic Barbera acidity, with bracing yet integrated tannins, and hints of oak. The finish is long and spicy with fresh red fruit acidity. This is a nice balanced wine of red and black fruit, acidity, and a hint of oak and integrating tannin.

2004 Rashi Barolo – Score: B
The nose on the light garnet colored wine is earthy with cranberry, cherry, plum, eucalyptus, and hints of oak. The mouth of this medium bodied wine is busy with cranberry and cherry. The mid palate is balanced but not rich with tannin, acid, and light oak. The finish is medium with oak, acidity, and cloves. The wine is not a winner to me, but it is better than the 2000 vintage which was horrible recently.

2004 Gamla Chardonnay – Score: B – B+
The nose on this light straw colored wine is bright with lemon, peach, pear, and sage. The mouth on this medium bodied wine carries the nose’s fruit with bright acidity that flows into a long and spicy finish with more peach and lemon acidity. This is a nice bright Chardonnay that is not one of those oak bombs. It is balanced with just a touch of oak that gives the wine its’ spicy finish, but does not define it.

2007 Gamla Sauvignon Blanc
– Score: B
The nose on this pale gold colored wine is crisp and herbaceous with grass, lemon, and apple. The mouth on this light to medium bodied wine is acidic in a very unbalanced way. It throws the mouth of apple, lemon, and grass way off and really kills it. The acidity is front and center in the mid palate as it flows into a finish that is bright with more herbaceous flavors and lingering lemon grass flavors on your palate.

2007 Barkan Sauvignon Blanc Reserve – Score: B+
The nose on this gold straw colored wine is strikingly bright and herbaceous with custard, lemon, and peach. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is spicy and crisp with peach, apples, and minerals. The mid palate is balanced with oak, acidity, and herbs, which is really nice on a Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is still bright and fruity, but the oak adds a bit of spiciness that helps to lift the fruit flavor and balance the wine out quite nicely. The finish is long and spicy with lemon acidity that stays on your palate long after the wine is gone. This is a nice showing for an oaked Sauvignon Blanc.

2003 Castel ‘C’ Blanc – Score: A
I must say that this is probably one of the best Castel ‘C’ I have ever tasted, a real winner, and a shock to see it at the festival, as the 2006 vintage is the current vintage on the market. The nose on this straw to golden colored wine is truly lovely with peach, custard, eucalyptus, and allspice. The mouth of this medium to full bodied wine is packed and herbaceous with peach, green apple, lemon, and eucalyptus. The mid palate is bracing with nice acidity and oak that is not over the top. The finish is long and spicy, with oak, lemon custard, and sage. This is a real nice wine that is an example of a white Burgundy done correctly outside of France.

2005 Castel Grand Vin – Score: A
This is one of my favorite wines in Israel, a powerful yet elegant wine that makes you think it comes from a Chateau in France. The nose on this garnet black colored wine is filled with graphite, cassis, plum, blackberry, and sage. The mouth on this full bodied wine is black in nature and not over oaked or overly tannic, with cassis, dark plum and blackberry. The mid palate has a nice balance of acidity, oak, and not yet integrated tannins. The tannins have a few more years in them till they settle down and let the oak play around. Till then they will control the mid palate, but the acidity and oak will have a supporting role. The finish is long with coffee, oak, herbs, and a hint of chocolate. This is another excellent wine by Eli Ben Zaken.

2007 Goose Bay Pinot Gris – Score: B – B+
The nose on this straw colored wine has guava pear, and sage. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is fruity and acidic with pear, guava, and sweet wood. The mid palate is balanced with nice acidity and fruit. The finish is long with a bit more sweet wood and crisp flavors of lemongrass. A nice showing for this Pinot Gris.

2006 Goose Bay Chardonnay – Score: B+
I must say that this chardonnay is not your run of the mill chard. The fruit on this chard is almost perfumed because of its intensity and the wine is nicely balanced. The nose on this bright straw colored wine is perfumed with rich peach and tropical fruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine carried the perfumed qualities from the nose along with apple, peach, and lemon. The mid palate is acidic with a touch of minerals. The finish is long with a hint of oak and more tropical fruit acidity. The oak helps to round out the mouth, while the acidity helps to brace the fruit defined mouth.

2007 Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc – Score: B+ – A-
The nose on this light straw colored wine is heady and crisp with lemongrass, hay, and gooseberry. The mouth on the light to medium bodied wine is perfumed with bright and rich lemon and peach fruit. The mid palate is acidic with fresh fruit and lemon grass. The finish is nice with more grass and fruit flavors that linger on the palate. The wine is a really nice crisp, fruity, and grassy wine that would go quite nicely with sushi or other light fish or fowl meals.

2007 Goose Bay Pinot Noir – Score: B+
This wine has not changed much at all from my last tasting.

The nose on this dark ruby colored wine is filled with earth, cherry, raspberry, and oak.  The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is almost velvety with cherry and raspberry flavors.  The mid palate has integrated tannins, earth, and nice acidity.  The finish is long with more acidity and earth.  Yet another nice wine by Goose Bay Winery.  The wine has a surprising mouth feel and overall structure.  This is a keeper for sure.

2007 Alfasi Pinot Noir Reserve – Score: B – B+
The nose on this bright ruby colored wine is packed with white pepper, raspberry, and tart cherry. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is heavy with cherry, raspberry, earthy dirt, and mineral. The mid palate is tannic given its young age and leads into a nice finish of tart cherry, white pepper, and strawberry acidity.

2007 Bodegas Flechas de los Andes, Gran Malbec – Score: B+
This was a real nice find, as I have yet to taste it, but heard nice things about it on the forums. The nose of this purple colored wine is popping with pepper, blackberry, plum, and spice. The mouth of this medium bodied wine has blackberry, plum, and figs. The mid palate is tannic with just enough acidity. The finish is nice with black fruit acidity, pepper, along with a dollop of leather.

2007 Capcanes Peraj Petita – Score: B+
The nose on this bright ruby red color is hot out of the bottle, along with a dollop of white pepper, cranberry, cherry, and red plum. The mouth of this medium bodied wine is fleshy at times and more subdued at other times. The wine is fleshier as it opens, and then mellows out as the wine airs further. The mouth is red with cranberry, cherry, plum, and cola flavors that cascade into a nice mid palate of tannin, light oak and nice acidity. The finish is long with tannin and oak and a hint of leather.

2006 Herzog Special Reserve Russian River Chardonnay – Score: B+
The nose on this gold straw colored wine is filled with perfumed fruit of peach, pear, apples, and lemon. The mouth of this medium to full bodied wine is packed with fresh and bright fruit flavors. The rich mouth starts with peach, pear, and apple along with a vibrant mouth feel that flows into a nice balanced mid palate with acidity and semi rich oak. The finish is long and buttery with nice oak and bright peach and pear acidity. A nice California Chardonnay. This wine is so different from the New Zealand Chardonnay and the white Burgundy. It is really funny how the flavors differ with the same varietal but different regions.

2005 Herzog Cabernet/Zinfandel/Syrah Special Reserve – Score: B+ – A-
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is bursting with sweet and rich oak, cranberry, blackberry, raspberry, and spices. The mouth on this rich and complex wine comes from the 66% Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Watts “old vine” Zinfandel, and 3% Edna Valley Syrah. The rich and structured black fruit emanates from the Cabernet fruit; the Zinfandel gives the wine its fruity red flavors, while the syrah grapes give the wine its spicy structure. The rich and complex mouth structure starts with cranberry, cassis, and cloves and flows into an oaky and acidic core that is balanced with a nice amount of tannin. The finish is long and oaky with a nice dollop of tannin and spice that makes this one of my favorite wines. The wine is red and black, rich and complex, layered and spicy all at the same time.

2004 Herzog Syrah Special Reserve – Score: A-
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is packed with pepper, blackberry, cassis, and herbs. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich with blackberry, cassis, and rich perfumed oak. The mid palate is oaky and tannic. The finish is long and luxurious with chocolate, leather, oak, and spice. This is one really nice syrah that is peppery, and black with nice leather, oak, and tannin along with an unexpected chocolate traveler.

2005 Herzog Syrah Special Reserve – Score: B+
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is packed with pepper, sweet cranberry, blackberry, and oak. The mouth on this full bodied wine is fruity with cassis, cranberry, and pepper. The mid palate is oaky with bracing acidity and coffee flavors. The finish is long with chocolate, pepper, and coffee. This is not as full bodied and rich as the 2004 vintage, but a fine bottle as the same.

2005 Herzog Chalk Hill Warnecke Special Edition Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: A-
The nose on this garnet to black colored wine is rich with oak, cassis, cranberry, pencil shavings, and chocolate. The mouth on this wine is nice oak, cassis, blackberry, raspberry, and cloves. The mid palate is super oaky with acid and massive tannin. The finish is long with a nice chunk of chocolate, coffee, rich oak, light leather and still hopping tannin. The wine is a really impressive California Cabernet with a massive chocolate, coffee, oak, and fruit laden complexity that meld together quite nicely.

2006 Covenant Red C Napa Valley – Score: A
This was the winner to me between this wine and its bigger brother – Covenant. The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is hopping with pepper, blackberry, cassis, and oak. The mouth is massively tannic and highly extracted with rich blackberry, cassis, and cranberry fruit, along with pepper and spice. The mid palate of this brooding wine is more tannin, oak, and chocolate. The finish is long with heavy tannins, oak, and crazy rich fruit. This is a tightly wound bundle of tannin, fruit, chocolate, and pepper that has yet to truly work out their differences, but one that is sure to shine in a year or two.

2006 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley – Score: A-
The last time we tasted this massive and brooding Cabernet, it was chocolate laden with ripe fruit and complex structure. This time around, the chocolate was basically a no show and the complexity was slowly ebbing away into a more elegant Napa Cabernet than last year’s tasting.

The nose dark black colored wine is rich with coffee, blackberry, dark plum, and currants. The mouth of this full bodied wine is heavy with layers of blackberry, cassis, plum, and currants. The mid palate is oaky and tannic and flows into a long tannic finish with oak, coffee, and a hint of chocolate. This wine is more fruit forward and French than it is a Napa Cabernet, but it is still a nice wine. I am sure it has a few more life changing events in it, and it may well become once again a classic Napa Cabernet.

2006 Herzog Generation VIII Cabernet Sauvignon (To Kalon Vineyard) – Score: A
The previous vintages of this wine (the 2002 and 2004) were just the usual Napa fruit or Alexander Valley blended with Napa fruit from their usual Cabernet Reserve lines. This wine marks a new beginning for this label and is one which will endear itself to many of the Napa Valley fans out there. This vintage’s fruit hails 100% from the renowned To Kalon Vineyard in Napa Valley’s Oakville District. This was the wine’s coming out party, as it was released to the press and public for the first time ever at this show.

The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is spicy with cassis, blackberry, cloves, oak, and sage. The mouth of this massive and complex wine is bursting with dark fruit – blackberry, cassis, rich oak, and loads of spice tones. The mid palate is rich with extreme extraction, mounds of tannin, and oak. The finish is luxurious and long with oak, chocolate, and tannin. This wine is a highly extracting, spicy, oaky, chocolate wine that is massive and yet not overpowering, quite a masterpiece by Joe.

2005 Barkan Altitude Series 412 Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: B+
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is red than it is black. The nose starts with currants, plum, blackberry, spice, and oak. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is nice with currant, plum, blackberry, and anise. The mid palate is oaky and tannic with a dollop of chocolate. The finish is long with more oak, chocolate, and red fruit. A nice showing.

2005 Barkan Altitude Series 624 Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: B+
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is a bit more black than the 412. The nose starts with cranberry, blackberry, cassis, and oak. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is way too tannic. The tannin overpowers the palate, and will need time to calm down. Cranberry, blackberry, cassis, and oak are barely able to peek past the tannin curtain and join the party. The mid palate is again dominated by tannin along with oak and coffee. The finish is long with more oak, coffee, and black fruit flavors. The wine is nice, but will improve mightily with air and time.

Posted on February 17, 2009, in Food and drink, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Rose Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting, Winery Visit and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

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