For the past week we were tasting kosher wines at the 2012 Herzog International Food and Wine Festival. It was a wonderful event and one that was well received, look here for an in-depth write-up, along with another tasting at the Cask and a tasting at what I call ADS (Agua Dulce & Shirah), for the Agua Dulce Winery and Shirah Winery. The note below is for one of the wines that I took home – the 2010 Agua Dulce Cabernet Sauvignon. We tasted through all of the 2010 and 2011 wines of both Agua Dulce and Shirah winery. I can safely call Craig Winchell, the wine maker of Agua Dulce a friend, a person I have known for some 20 or so years and one who I have crazy respect for. Gabe and Shimon Weiss (also known as the Weiss brothers) are a pair of young and talented men. Gabe is the mashgiach (kosher certification supervisor) for Agua Dulce and the wine maker of Shirah wines. Shimon, Gabe’s brother, is the marketing genius behind the cool labels, slick website, while also being an impressive carpenter, and possessing a darn good palate as well.
I will be writing up my impressions on both wineries in due time, but for now I wanted to talk about the wine I tasted over Shabbos. I took/borrowed four half bottles from our tasting of Agua Dulce wines and they were impressive overall. I was privy to things that I do not wish to discuss but also somewhat stunted my enthusiasm for a couple of the wines, but issues that I know Craig will work out before the wines are released to the public. Craig joined the winery in 2010 and all wines from that time on were made kosher.
I took home a Cabernet that I must say, I was not expecting from the vineyards of this winery. The 90 acres of Agua Dulce’s vineyards are planted in desert plains at an elevation of 2000 feet. The winter days can be downright cold and the summer days can warm up a bit, but not to a point of Napa or the Central Coast. Gabe, who tasted the wines with us, said that the terroir of this vineyard is the black pepper that is obvious within all of its wines. There are many small black pepper bushes around, but that may well be an effect of the land and not the cause. The vineyard is a cold weather vineyard and one of the outcomes can be low ripeness, during cold summers, like the past two years. Under ripe fruit can sometimes shows green notes that in the hand of a professional like Craig can sometimes mean a masterpiece.