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2009 Bravdo Shiraz and 2011 Landsman Syrah

This past week we had lovely whiskey braised short ribs along with quinoa, and a fresh green salad. To pair with the sweet notes of the ribs, I enjoyed both a 2009 Bravdo Shiraz and a 2011 Landsman Syrah. We also enjoyed a shocker a 2004 Chateau Le Bourdieu, a wine that I had ZERO hope would be alive, but one that really was enjoyable. This is a nice wine that is in the mid-tier pricing in terms of French kosher wines, and one that is OK, but not a QPR wine.

The wine notes follow below:

2011 Covenant Syrah Landsman – Score: A-
The nose on this dark purple and brooding colored wine starts off with a BAM of blueberry liquor, something that is impossible to miss, followed by boysenberry, rich blackberry, raspberry, and spice. The mouth on this rich and medium bodied wine starts off with an attack of rich massive tannin, rich and velvety, with concentrated, sweet, and focused blue and black fruit that mimics the nose along with root beer, and enough oak to round the fruit, with all the components coming together nicely. The finish is super long and rich, that has an air of completeness while still being firm and concentrated, laced and ribboned with roasted meat, rich espresso, chocolate, and vanilla.

A very nice Syrah, and still the best in Napa so far, but I found the wine to not be as big as I first thought and the wine had a bit of trouble keeping up sweet ribs. Still a lovely wine all around.

2009 Bravdo Shiraz, Karmei Yosef – Score: A-
The nose on this wine is rich and heavy with ribbons of blueberry, black plum, cranberry, along with licorice, floral notes, and lovely crushed herb. The mouth on this full bodied wine shows the curse of 2009 (overly sweet wines), but it is controlled, with clear date notes, searing tannin, nice structure, black fruit, along with sweet cedar, and bramble. The finish is long and sweet with more date, tobacco, chocolate covered raisin, and ginger. Overall a lovely wine that continues to evolve nicely.

2004 Château Le Bourdieu – Score: B++
The nose on this just garnet colored wine (more ruby than garnet, with a still light halo, is filled with nice dirt, mineral, black fruit, barn yard (a bit) – but OK, and layers of toast and smoke. The mouth is medium bodied with nice concentration of currant, blackberry, and cranberry, along with nice integrated and mouth coating tannins, that linger long on the rise, and sweet oak notes. The finish is long with smoky tobacco, insane mushroom patch, charcoal, green foliage, and sweet roasted herbs – nice wine indeed. The true joy of this wine is the mouthfeel and lovely soft but mouth coating tannins that take on a number of comers, including cheese and sauces.

2009 Bravdo Cabernet Sauvignon and 2008 kosher B.R. Cohn Cabernet Sauvignon

This past weekend our good friends invited us and having gotten back from New York a few days earlier, which is another story for another blog posting – I happily accepted the invitation! To thank them sufficiently, I brought over two wines, one was a solid double and one was a single that was caught in a run down – sad!

The last time I wrote about Bravdo Winery (AKA Karmei Yosef Winery), it was about the 2010 red vintages, but this was the 2009 vintage Cabernet Sauvignon. To be fair, the 2009 vintage is cursed – with overly ripe fruit characteristics, that show themselves later on. When we tasted them in 2011 – they were still nice. Unfortunately, the Cab is now showing more of the date and raisin issue that haunts the 2009 vintage in Israel. Thankfully, the 2009 Merlot is still showing nicely, a wine that has successfully circumvented the issues and has the muscle to keep it where right it is for a few more years!

Many thanks to Mrs. L, EL, and LS for hosting us and making the shabbos dinner such a treat! Sorry again for no pictures.

The wine notes follow below:

2008 B.R. Cohn Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: A-
I last enjoyed this wine some two+ years ago, and then it was closed and not really showing its best. It was labeled “elegant” then, but this time, it was far from elegant. It was not a sledgehammer, but a highly fruit forward wine, that if I did not know better I would think it was a very different wine. At least that is what I thought, but then I read the notes – and WOW the wine is absolutely the same wine – but with a bit more attitude and clearly no aspect of closed nose or mouth.

Like I said enough times, this wine is no longer a wallflower, in its place is a forceful and forward thinking 90s woman styled wine. The nose is immediately accessible with ripe and almost liquored raspberry, black plum, eucalyptus, cranberry, chocolate, and a hint of vanilla. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is less elegant and more assertive, but still not one to rely upon shock and awe, rather a wine that attacks with ripe blackberry, dark plum, along with cherry liquor, lovely soft mouth coating tannins, and a mouth feel that is still luscious and attention grabbing. The finish is well-balanced with acid, tobacco, chocolate, cedar, and eucalyptus. This finish lingers long with dark chocolate covered tobacco leaves, licorice, and vanilla. Drink within a year at most!

2009 Karmei Yosef Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Bravdo – Score: B+ to A-
I hoped and prayed that Bravdo would be clean of the cursed 2009 year, unfortunately, it was not to be. In the past two years since I tasted this wine in Israel and here, the wine has turned to become a pure date bomb with serious attitude. To be truthful, it is less that it turned into something else, and more that the wine’s overripe fruit persona has taken up center stage and there is little else that shines. The spotlight is on the date component and the other characteristics have a hard time shining from the shadows – it is a shame.

The nose on this dark purple to black colored wine is rich with tar, deep herb notes, crazy ripe blackberry, massive date, cassis, and earth. The mouth on the rich, layered, and super extracted full bodied wine is filled with overripe black fruit, along with hints of red fruit that hides behind lovely mouth coating tannin that coat your mouth, cedar, and bramble. The finish is long with good acid, tobacco, vanilla, rich blackberry, vanilla, along with hints of salt and mineral – such a shame.

Three Merlot wines from Israel, two from France, Pacifica Cabernet, and one killer Herzog Napa Cab

2009 Shiloh Merlot, Secret Reserve, Judean HillsI am really behind on my blog, as I have been busy with a new hobby which is taking up all of my time. Anyway, I wanted to highlight the meal we had two weeks ago which was in honor of my nephew and his beux leaving the area to go east. So in honor of them, I wanted to try a bunch of Israeli Merlot wines. Now, when people think of Israel, Merlot is not first on their mind, mostly because many do not appreciate Merlot, which is done incorrectly tastes bland and benign. That blandness and lack of character, was initially its draw, but over time, it was nuked both by the Sideways effect and by its sheer lack of anything fun. The folks in the know, would blank at Merlot from Israel, given the areas hot climate, which is counterproductive to making good Merlot.

The truth is that I have been talking about Merlot from Israel, but Merlot only from the Shomron region, a region that has found a way to harness what Israel has to offer and channel it into lovely and rich Merlot. The Shomron is becoming quite the up and coming wine region, much like the Judean Hills was some ten years ago. Now, Castel, Flam, Tzora, and many other wineries have made the Judean Hills a household name. I think the Shomron will soon follow in its next door neighbors footsteps, and come out from under the shadow of the Jerusalem hills to capture its own claim to fame; namely Merlot!

Merlot, as stated above has many needs, one is climate, two is proper drainage, and three is it needs careful vineyard management to control its vigor, nitrogen levels, and many other intricate issues that make Merlot a finicky grape, though not as maddening as its Sideways replacement Pinot Noir. As a total aside, the Sideways movie to me was far too vulgar and not to my taste, but there is a hidden joke in the movie that many miss. In the movie, the shlubby protagonist, Miles, screams afoul of Merlot and even disses Cabernet Franc, but especially extolls his love for all things Pinot Noir. Why did Miles love Pinot Noir so much, why go to great lengths to get his beloved nectar, well he defined right at the start:

“Um, it’s a hard grape to grow … it’s thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early … it’s not a survivor like Cabernet, which can just grow anywhere and thrive even when it’s neglected. No, Pinot needs constant care and attention … it can only grow in these really specific, little, tucked- away corners of the world. And only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand Pinot’s potential can then coax it into its fullest expression.”

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Kosher wine blends tasting from around the world

Two weeks ago we enjoyed a lovely meal with friends and family and it was centered around meat lasagna and kosher wine blends from around the world. We had some vegetarians over, so I made lasagna with soy instead of meat, and in the end both pans of food disappeared, so I think it came out OK.

The lasagna dishes used the same recipe as I have here, but one used trader joe’s soy meat and the other used plain old beef chuck ground up.

I am cutting it short today – so this is the wine list and thanks to everyone for coming by and making the meal that it was:

2010 Don Ernesto Clarinet – Score: B+
2010 Don Ernesto ClarinetThe nose opens with lovely blueberry, the blend is undocumented but is quite nice for Hagafen’s entry-level wine, along with raspberry, ripe black and blue fruit, along with butterscotch. The mouth has nice toast, chocolate, mouth coating tannin, along with espresso coffee, and black cherry. The finish is long and spicy, with graphite, toast, boysenberry, and more cinnamon.

2009 Karmei Yosef Winery Bravdo Coupage – Score: B+ to A-
2009 Bravdo CoupgaeThe wine is one of my favorites and a wine that needs time to open, but I also think this wine is in a bit of a funk and needs more time to find itself, such is the way of wine – time to time. For now the score is lower than in previous tastings as it was in a funky mood.

The nose on this deep black colored wine is rich with mineral, herbaceous, black cherry, raspberry, and rich plum. The mouth on this full bodied wine is lovely but closed for now, with blackberry, heavy not integrated tannins that coat the mouth, and cedar. The finish is super long and rich with ripe fruit, heavy tannin, lovely vanilla, tobacco, and rich chocolate. Give this wine 6 months and it should start showing its real self.

2006 Elvi Wines Priorat EL26 – Score: A-
2006 Elvi Wines EL26I know this wine continues to have its polarizing following, with passionate lovers and haters, given its unique and clearly earthy qualities, I love it. The earth and mineral almost accentuate every flavor in the mouth and add so much complexity to it – that I think the mouth will explode.

This wine is a lovely blend of 35% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. It starts with an aromatic nose of anise, ripe blackberry, black pepper, raspberry, and plum. The mouth is full and concentrated with mouth coating tannin, nice dirt, graphite, black cherry, ripe fruit, with spicy wood all coming together into a nice mouth. Finish is long with spice, mineral, herb, eucalyptus, tobacco, and chocolate. This is a massive and extracted wine with ripe fruit and one that balances well with the oak and spice. Read the rest of this entry

Bravdo Karmei Yosef Winery – A World Class Laboratory for Two Renowned Viticulture Professors

Israel’s wine industry may well be 100+ or a few thousand years old, depending upon how old you are or how deep your convictions run. Carmel winery made a wine, simply called #1, as in those days that was how they labeled their wines. In 1900, at the Paris Fair, it was rated as a gold label wine! A few thousand years before that, wine was made for the temple, wine made in the Judean Hills. Still, the existing rebirth of the Israeli wine Industry, that seemed to go to sleep for some seventy to eighty years, was reborn on the backs of professors like Professor Ben Ami Bravdo, the head wine maker and co-founder of the Bravdo Winery. I think it was Adam Montefiore who stated that the true genius behind the success of the Golan Heights Winery (Yarden), was not only its fine grapes, but the fact that they were smart enough to follow Carmel, in 1983, and hire only wine makers with a degree from renowned universities, like U.C. Davis and Hebrew University. It may sound obvious now, but 30 or more years ago that was not always the case.

Around that very same time, Ben Ami Bravdo was inaugurated with his now synonymous professor title from Hebrew University. Though even before his official title, he was already teaching students for 16 years on the intricacies of agriculture and viticulture. It is not hard to see how this man is a truly influential figure in the Israeli wine industry, if you do a bit of digging. For some 35 years Professor Bravdo trained hundreds or even thousands of aspiring agriculturalists, including many of Israel’s leading winemakers. Of the four or more existing universities in Israel focusing on agriculture, Hebrew University is the oldest and the most famous.

When people call a person by their old or past title, such as Senator or Congressman, I always laugh because sure they worked to get that title and rise to the fame that it bestows upon its holder. Still, once they are out of office or power, the title does not fit the holder. With Professor Bravdo, nothing could be further from the truth. For some 40 years, from 1962 till 2001, he trained and studied the effects of viticulture in regards to both the final product; wine, and in regards to the ecology and environment. Bravdo was one of the many scientists who early on spearheaded the usage of drip irrigation in both Israel and abroad for a multitude of applications, including many New World wineries. In 2001 he left the University and was bestowed the Professor Emeritus title, one very befitting his time at the University, and still in the industry.

It was during his tenure at Hebrew University that he met and later advised, his now wine laboratory partner, Oded Shoseyov. It was Shoseyov’s PhD thesis that fascinated Bravdo, the biochemistry of grape and wine flavor evolution. Together they quenched the thirst of the starving minds that passed through their lecture halls, the very same minds that lead wineries and agricultural powerhouses the world around. Shortly after Shoseyov’s PhD they collaborated on improving and developing viticulture methods for optimizing the grape aromas, as well as experimenting with the chemical properties of the wine must and wine to improve wine and aroma qualities.

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