International Food & Wine Festival – 2008
On a cool Winter’s night, my friend and I drove up to Herzog Winery in Oxnard, CA for a kosher wine tasting and food event. The first thing that struck me was the number of Rabbi’s that were at the event. I had heard that because of the large amount of non-mevushal wine that Royal Wine Corp would be pouring that night (Herzog Winery is a subsidiary of the Royal Wine Company) – that there was a call made out for all the Rabbis that they could get.
This is the first year for the west coast version of this event. Last year the event was a huge success on the east coast – in New York and the Herzog Winery really stepped up and put on quite a show. The event was called for 7 PM for the public and 6 PM for the press. The advantage on arriving early was not for early an tasting, rather it was to be able to mingle with the winemakers that were brought in from around the world for this event. We first met Assaf Paz from Binyamina wines. Assaf is a very insightful person. We had a long talk on Carignan wines. I was in the middle of writing a piece on the 2004 Carmel Carignan Old Vines wine for kosherwine.com’s wine club and he told me that he was one of the people that saved the very vines that helped produce the very nice wine. We talked about kosher wine and Israel – a very touchy subject – but one he was very gracious with us about. We then met Pierre Miodownick – the wine maker for Royal’s Herzog Selection wines that come out of France. Pierre oversees all wine that is chosen for Kosher production and was very knowledgeable about his wines and very gracious with his time and brutally honest about his own wines – which is quite a nice change of pace from other wine makers. Joe Hurliman was around and stopped by once during our Carignan discussion as did Jeff Morgan. Both men were around during pourings and were more than happy to talk about their wines and answered almost all questions we posed – again whether complimentary or not.
The event was laid out with wineries displaying their wines on a set of tables and the food was served in Herzog’s award winning Tierra Sur Restaurant. The food was served tapas style. The presentation of the food was quite lovely. Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to sample of all of it, as it closed a bit early. We got to taste some of the fish and a couple of meat dishes – but totally missed desert.
The event had its highlights and its misses. Some of the things we took notice to:
- The public came in LA style. They came late and left early. Quite humorous really. We started tasting some wine and there was no one to be found. Later we picked our heads out of our wine glasses to look around, and all of a sudden the rooms were filled with people. We were happy to see so many folks so was Monica (Herzog’s one man show in producing this wonderful event). Monica felt there were 100-150 people that arrived for the festivities, and that it was a good start for an event that we hope will be held annually at the winery.
- Most of the people arrived for the food and a few came for the wine. I was really happy to see that the public did not come to get sloshed. I have no issue with the crowd that the event brought in. In the end, the event was held to showcase the wine and in a smaller scale – the restaurant. The crowd was respectful of people’s space and people’s attitudes towards each other.
- The buzz was almost tangible and very electric. There was noise everywhere – in a good way. People were happy to be there and all the conversations that I heard in passing were positive about the event.
- There was a ton of food, and it never ran out. The food was presented quite nicely and tasted quite good – of the little that I had a chance to get.
- Some of the people pouring the wine knew about the wine, but most had no clue. To the point of a fault. I was given a glass of Meursault Premeir Cru that was obviously spoiled, and the pourer said nothing. Same with a few glasses of Yatir wine. Quite a shame – as Herzog was presenting some of it top of the line wines in a very bad light – to its own detriment we believe.
- The event was a marked departure from its east coast version. There were many more wines poured there. But at the same time – it was so overcrowded in NY – that many who went there are thinking about not returning next year. Of course that is more bluster than reality, as there is nowhere else in the world that one can go, and see the variety of wines that were poured at either event. In the end it is about promoting the wines – and Royal will improve, we are sure, the presentation of its wines and manage the events to better meet the needs of the event goers.
The event by almost all perspectives was a smashing success, and we hope they will continue to improve both events for many years to come. Now to the wines notes:
A few overarching themes that kept appearing throughout the evening.
- The wines were more red and green than dark and brooding – weird because we tasted many big Bordeaux, California, and Israeli wines.
- Many of the wines we saw and tasted will not be in stores until Passover and maybe beyond, as some have been just bottled and some are just not in the area yet in quantity.
- I have added links to the wines through http://www.wine-searcher.com or Google when wine-searcher get finicky. I have no affiliation with this company. I just find them accurate and useful. I am tangentially affiliated with kosherwine.com and so I have not linked the bottles to them directly. They commonly show up in wine-searcher results. Of course please – ALWAYS support your local shop before you run off to a web page near you.
Segal Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 – Score: B+
This ruby colored wine was aged in oak for 18 months. The nose on the wine is filled with raspberry, plum, smoke and spice. This full bodied and round wine is smooth and has carry over notes from the nose of plum, berry and spice. The finish is long and filled with spice and smoky wood.
Domaine du Castel ‘C’ 2006 – Score: B+
This straw colored wine was aged in french oak for 12 months. The nose on the wine is filled with oak, pineapples, citrus, and lychees. This full bodied wine is edgy with strong notes of apples, summer fruits, and spicy wood. The finish is long and filled with more spice and toasted wood.
Chateau Valandraud St. Emilion Grand Cru 2002 – Score: A-
This wine has a crimson red mature color to it. The nose is heavy with earth, raspberries, and plum. The mouth of this medium bodied wine has earth and dark berries that linger long on your mouth after the wine is gone. Th
e finish is medium long with tannins and spice.
Chateau Leoville Poyferre St.-Julien 2002 – Score: A-
This wine has a deep garnet color. The nose is filled with earth, smoke, black berries, licorice, and oak. The mouth is of this medium – full bodied wine is very tannic still and is complex, deep and brooding. Spice, dark fruit, and mint all come together in a medium long and satisfying finish.
Chateau Leoville Poyferre St.-Julien 2003 – Score: A-
This wine has a deep ruby red – garnet color. The nose is filled with red fruit, raspberries, oak, and plum. The mouth is of this full bodied wine is very tannic still and wound as tight as a coiled snake around its prey. Spice, dark fruit, and licorice are overpowered by the chunky nature of the wine’s tannins. The finish is super long and linger on your mouth long after the show is over.
Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafitte Pessac-Leognan 2002 – Score: A-
This wine has a ruby red-garnet color. The nose is filled with raspberry, cherry, earth, spice, and smoke. The mouth of this full bodied wine is overpowered still with chunky tannins earth, fruit, and sweet wood. The finish is long, satisfying, and wrapped in a cloak of smoky tobacco.
Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2006 – Score A- to A
This wine has a lively garnet color. The nose assaults you with raspberry, cherry, earth, and spice aromas. The mouth of this full bodied wine is overflowing with flavors of chocolate, coffee, and oak. The long finish is wrapped in oak and smoke and the flavors linger a long time in your mouth. This is a very young wine and will develop nicely over time.
Herzog Generation VIII Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 – Score: A-
The color on this was is a lively ruby red. The nose is filled with chocolate, smoke, black cherry, and oak. The mouth on this full bodied wine is laden with cherries and plums. The chunky tannins have yet to integrate, but the finish is long and smoky and the wine lingers long after it is gone.
Herzog Chalk Hill Warnecke Special Edition Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 – Score: A-
The color on this wine is a clean Ruby-Red. The nose has aromas of black cherry, mocha, and toasted wood. The mouth of this medium-full bodied wine has notes of cassis, spice, and cocoa. The finish is long and spicy.
Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Special Reserve 2004 – Score: A-
The color of this wine is garnet with dark edges. The nose on this wine is earthy with aromas of cherry, raspberry and oak. The mouth on this full bodied wine is almost chunky as the tannins have yet to settle in. The spicy wood and red fruit all flow together quite nicely into a medium finish that ends with a flourish.
Herzog Pinot Noir Special Reserve 2005 – Score: B+
The color of this wine is light ruby. The nose on this wine is earthy with aromas of cherry, dust, spice and oak. The mouth on this light to medium bodied wine has carry over from the nose. The cherry comes through grabbing some anise along the way and ending in a medium long spicy finish.
Herzog Syrah Special Reserve 2003 – Score: A-
The color of this wine is deep garnet to purple. The nose on this wine is laden with spice, tar, black berries and toasted wood. The mouth on this full bodied beast has carry over from the nose. The tannins have yet to fully integrate – making the wine a bit chunky, but the tar, black cherries, and pepper flow easily together into a medium long finish.
Francois Labet Puligny-Montrachet 2002 – Score: A
This was one of my favorites of the evening. The color is an almost electric light straw. The nose is stuffed full of citrus, apple, lychee, and light creme. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is both acidic and citric but nicely balanced with oak and fresh fruit flavors. Lychees and peaches jump into the mid palate and stay along for the long ride to the finish and than lingers on your palate long afterwards.
Chateau De La Tour Clos – Vougeot 2002 – Score: A-
The color on this wine is a mature light burgundy. The nose on this wine is earthy, vegetal, and loaded with oak. The mouth on this medium bodied Burgundy is packed with wood, tannins that are far from integrating, and almost mud-like flavors, with a finish that was long and satisfying. This wine is far from ready, over tannic, wound tight like a boa constrictor around its prey, and fruit that is almost not visible. I am sure this one will come out of its coma and be a really fun wine with a lot more time under its belt.
Chateau De La Tour Clos – Vougeot 2003 – Score: A
The color on this wine is a mature and dark burgundy. The nose on this wine is earthy, filled with red fruit, and loaded with oak. The mouth on this medium to full bodied Burgundy is fruit forward with cherry – almost overpowering, the woody and chunky tannins. The finish is long and tannic. This wine is far from ready, the fruit has yet to integrate with the tannins and the oak is watching from the side wondering when it can join in as well.
Chateau Le Crock Saint Estephe 2003 – Score: A-
The color on this Bordeaux is deep and maturing garnet. The nose on this wine is packed with dirt and earth, a bit of vegetal aromas and a fair amount of black cherries. The mouth on this full bodied wine is still very tannic. The cherries run with the vegetal qualities into a very long and spicy finish. This one has some time yet to settle. One of the best of the night by far (and far more reasonably priced to boot)
Chateau Lafon Rochet St Estephe 2003 – Score: A-
The color on this Bordeaux is a deep ruby color. The nose on this massive wine is packed with dirt, earth, blackberries, dark cherries, and a ton of oak. The mouth on this massively bodied wine is tannic but still closer to balanced than any other 2003 Bordeaux tasted. This is more to do with it huge fruit that balances out the tannins. Earth, mint, and blackberries run along side the dark fruit that takes hold of this wine, until the extra long finish that is filled with oak and spice. A great bottle for the price and a real favorite at the show.
Chateau Guiraud Sauternes 1999 – Score: A+
First off – this wine is a killer wine. One of the top rated wines in the world – both kosher and not. That said this wine is a winner and can be cellared for quite a long time. The color on this magnificent Sauterne is golden and deep. The nose on this super concentrated wine is filled with honey, cooked fruit, lychees, and apricots along with spice and oak. The mouth on this full bodied wine is quite insane; it is almost creamy in nature. The wine hits you first with the carryover honeysuckle, cooked fruit, and spice. But the structure and acidity is what makes this a wine and not a syrupy mess. What a wine. The wine has a super concentrated finish of acid and fruit and a lingering affect on your mouth that is sure to please everyone at the table.
Chateau Pontet – Canet Pauillac 2003 – Score: A
The color on this Bordeaux is deep garnet to purple. The nose on this massive Bordeaux is chock full of chocolate, earth, oak, licorice, and dark berries. The mouth on this super concentrated and full bodied wine is still very tannic. The blackberries and cassis take second fiddle to the chocolate and coffee that dominate the palate. This massively structured wine is a beast and will take quite a long time to settle down. The finish is long and has an extra dollop of mineral and oak to close out the show. Quite a wonderful wine and quite a close to the evening as it was the last bottle that we tasted that evening.
Barkan Altitude Series 412 Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 – Score: B+
The color on this Cabernet is deep garnet. The nose is filled with spice, cherry and raspberry. The mouth on this medium – full bodied cabernet is nicely balanced with oak, berries and mint. The finish is long with spice and oak.
Barkan Altitude Series 624 Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 – Score: B+
The color on this Cabernet is light garnet. The nose is filled with raspberry and cherries. The mouth on this medium bodied cabernet is nicely balanced with oak, cherries and raspberry. The finish is medium long with sweet oak on the side.
Barkan Altitude Series 720 Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 – Score: B+
The color on this Cabernet is light garnet. The nose is filled with smoke, cherry and raspberry. The mouth on this medium bodied cabernet is nicely balanced with oak, cherry red fruit, and licorice. The finish is medium long with smoke and tobacco.
Rashi Barolo 2000 – Score: B
The color on this Barolo is a classic Piedmont red. The nose on this wine is a earthy, filled with cherry and floral aromas. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is nicely balanced with a bit of tannin, sour cherry, oak, and raspberry. The finish is short and the structure is fading. Drink now.
Carmel Limited Edition 2004 – Score: A
The color of this Cabernet/Petit Verdot/Merlot mix is deep garnet to purple. The nose on this wine is filled with deep and brooding fruit that almost smell purple in nature. Aromas of blackberry, oak, and cassis hit you. The mouth of this full bodied wine is fat with tannins that have yet to integrate. Blackberry, cassis, licorice, and a hint of chocolate fill your mouth like a velvet glove. The finish is long and the chocolate and spice linger on your palate long after the wine is gone.
Carmel Kayoumi Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 – Score: A-
The color of this brooding Cabernet is deep garnet. The nose is filled with earth, raspberry and blackberry. The mouth on this full bodied wine is still brooding with chunky and fat tannins. Once they integrate with the blackberry, cassis and oak they will make this winner a truly delightful wine. The finish is long and spicy.
Yatir Forest 2004 – Score: A
The color on this Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Syrah mix is deep garnet to purple. The nose on this wine is almost assaulting. Blackberry, oak, smoke, and spice come at you from all directions. The mouth on this full bodied wine is loaded with berries, plum, oak, and chunky tannins. The finish is super long and earthy with a bit of spice that comes along for the ride.
Posted on February 22, 2008, in Food and drink, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher White Wine, Wine, Winery Visit and tagged Herzog Cellars Winery, IFWF, International Food & Wine Festival, Kosher Wine, Wine Tasting at Winery. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.