2005 Baron Herzog Zinfandel, 2006 Goose Bay Chardonnay, N.V. Herzog Selection Blanc De Blanc Brut Champagne, 2005 Hagafen Napa Zinfandel, 2003 Barkan Cabernet Sauvignon Superieur, Baked Gefilte Fish Loaf, Pot Roast, Roasted Orange Peel Veal

This past Saturday night saw us partying with friends and family for the second night of Rosh Hashanah.  The meal started with the requisite tradition called simanim.  Simanim are a play on words and are a very basic Jewish tradition of using word play to bring out symbolism and actual changes or good tidings.  Our friends brought over two of the simanim, and we took care of  the rest.  The simanim are a yearly rite of passage, and one of my favorite Jewish traditions.  Many of the recipes have been changed to protect the innocent.  My ancestral recipes call for 4 basic ingredients, oil, oil, oil, and some vegetable or fruit and one cooking style – frying.  We decided that this tradition was awesome, but that it needed to be toned down such that it could be enjoyed for years to come, and not just for the few where we are vertical.  So it called for some baking and less oil.  We ordered the symbolic food in the order of Sephardic Jewry, and here they are:

  1. Dates or Figs (Tamar in Hebrew)
    1. The symbolism here is that God should end our enemies
  2. Broad Beans coated with a mixture of olive oil, cumin, and garlic (Rubya in Aramaic)
    1. The symbolism here is that God should increase our merits
  3. Leeks – prepared masterfully by our friends, sautéed in oil and spiced Italian (Karti in Aramaic)
    1. The symbolism here is that God should cut down our enemies
  4. Creamed Spinach – prepared masterfully by our friends, creamed with soy yogurt (Salka in Aramaic)
    1. The symbolism here is that God should remove our enemies
  5. Sweet Butternut Squash – sliced butternut squash, sprayed with oil and covered with honey, then baked in an oven set to 400 degrees (Kra in Aramaic)
    1. The symbolism here is that God should tear up our evil decrees and read before him our merits
  6. Pomegranate seeds (Rimon in Hebrew)
    1. The symbolism here is that our mitzvot (observance of the Jewish laws) be as plentiful as the pomegranate seeds
  7. Sweet apples dipped in honey
    1. The symbolism here is that God should grant us a New Year as sweet as honey
  8. Fish head – Rock Cod head baked at 350 degrees.
    1. The symbolism here is that in this New year we should be at the head of the class and not at the tail

We always joke that we should try to bring out a head of a lamb instead of a fish head and freak out everyone there.  It would be totally epic, but while it is the preferred manner of implementing the head symbolism, it would fly in the face of “behaving”.

After the fish head was eaten, we moved on to our patented baked herb fish loaf, which we sliced into three-quarter inch servings, and served with the accompanying baked onions, and guacamole.  We paired the dish with a 2006 Goose Bay Chardonnay and followed it with an N.V. Herzog Selection Blanc De Blanc Brut Champagne.  The Chardonnay was solid as good as I remember it from the last time I had.  The Champagne was a logical alcoholic beverage to share with the guys, but the deliver was flawed – maybe literally.  I am not sure, but the wine was clearly flat, fruitless, and acidic.  It’s only saving grace were the few bubbles that we left in the bottle, quite a shame.

The fish was followed by a menu of; Veal with orange peel and stuffed with mushroom and onions, Shoulder pot roast with festive vegetables on the side, spinach Soufflé/kugel, and fresh vegetable salad.  The festive vegetables were cooked with the roast, but at different stages of course.  The shoulder roast was initially seared on all sides and nicely caramelized and then removed.  Diced onions and garlic were then placed in the hot dutch oven and were caramelized until nice and brown.  The meat was returned to the pot, along with half a bottle of wine.  After the meat and wine turned into a nice piece of meat, the potatoes and carrots were added.  Twenty minutes later peas and green beans were added and cooked for a few minutes and then all of this was poured into a shallow pan to cool off and sleep overnight in the chill chest.  After some 24 hours, the meat was removed and sliced, and then placed back in the pan with all of the juice and vegetables, where it would lie until it was warmed up the next day.

To pair with the meats and vegetables we started with a 2005 Herzog Zinfandel – which was a failure, and pulled quickly from the table, but not before it was inflicted upon one of my guests – AHH!  It was followed by a 2005 Hagafen Zinfandel, which was not much better out of the bottle, but after many hours of airing, and long after the guys left the house, it became quite nice actually.  It was a shame as by now three bottles had fallen to the way side, and thankfully, I had a lovely bottle already opened and airing nicely.  This was the 2003 Barkan Cabernet Sauvignon Superieur, as I told the crowd that night, it was at its peak (the last time we had it, it was not nearly as good).  While it was now soft, it was still plush and lush with fruit and the wood and tannins had integrated quite nicely into an impressive presentation of wood, mouth coating tannins, rich fruit, tobacco smoke, and some really nice chocolate.

Two out of five wines, is not a record I am proud of, but the food was solid, and the two wines were enjoyable.  What can I say, you win some and you lose some.  If you grade the evening on the bottle hit count, clearly a subpar performance.  If however, you grade the evening based upon on the friends around the table, the Holy Day that it was, the camaraderie, and food, I think it was downright awesome.  We will always strive to make it better though – next time 🙂

The wine notes follow below (in the order they were consumed):

2006 Goose Bay Chardonnay – Score: B+
I must say that this chardonnay is not your run of the mill chard. The fruit on this chardonnay 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. The oak is showing more now and the fruit is slightly fading with the acidity still bracing. Based on my conversation with the wine maker; Philip Jones, the wines never lack from acidity, so this wine will last another year, but start drinking up.

2005 Baron Herzog Zinfandel – Score: B (maybe B-)
Close to undrinkable, at least that was the opinion of many on the table. The boysenberry, and crushed rose petals were over the top and demanded the drinker’s attention, which is a shame. The blackberry, pepper, and oak that lies in the back are nice, but not with that much noise in the foreground and on the lingering finish. The nose is nice with blackberry, boysenberry, rose petals, and oak. The mouth is wrecked with the over the top floral presentation that is followed by enough boysenberry to suffocate a horse. The mid palate is balanced with acidity and oak, but the finish is downhill with more of the same ills. This wine did not improve with time or air.  The wine was not corked or spoiled, but clearly either in a real dumb period or highly flawed.

N.V. Herzog Selection Blanc De Blanc Brut Champagne – Score: B-
Not really impressed. The nose was flat and was actually the best part, with toast, almonds, citrus, and a drop of yeast. That was all they wrote about this wine. The table barely drank it. The mouth was filled with nothing – which was the problem. The best thing that could be said was that it had some acidity, but almost no fruit, and the bubbles were almost flat. Man, a mostly flat Champagne! Anyway, a loser and one that should be drunk quickly. Thankfully there were other wines to take this failure off our minds!

2005 Hagafen Napa Zinfandel – Score: A-
WOW! this wine turned face SLOWLY! This opens in a dull mode, this wine is clearly in a dumb state right now. The nose was flat, the mouth was redolent with boysenberry and oak, but no black fruit to be found. However, after a fair amount of time, like a day or so, the wine opened up to show its true self. The tannins popped out of their coma, the mouth filled out, the nose became redolent with chocolate and tons of fun stuff. Please make sure to open this puppy early and try it every few hours, you will see it change in phases – until it reaches its climax, it was a fun experience, but unfortunate for my guests who never had the chance to taste the real Hagafen Zinfandel.

Once awake and free of its dumb and slumbering state – the nose on this purple to black colored wine is black with ripe fruit, blackberry, mounds of chocolate, spice, sweet oak, and vanilla. The mouth on this full bodied wine fills out with mouth coating tannins that are integrating, but still present. The absurd boysenberry flavors have finally faded and the wine shows a rich, black, and full mouth with blackberry, nice tannins, and semi-sweet oak with raisins. The mid palate shows more integrated tannins vanilla, rich and sweet oak, and balanced acidity. The finish is long and supports the wine’s full mouth with more rich oak, vanilla, and bright acid that carries the black fruit, acting like a bow around this lovely package. It is one crazy wine that is clearly in a dumb state and needs a bit more time to pop out of its state.

2003 Barkan Cabernet Sauvignon Superieur – Score: A
They are all gone, and that is about the only thing “bad” I can say about this wine. We drank it at its peak, and for that I am thankful. If you have one or more lying around — drink up and enjoy, it’s time has come and it is now – RIGHT now!

The nose on this almost pure black colored wine explodes with rich sweet oak, blackberry, plum, dates, and a fantastic impression of effervescent Belgian dark chocolate. The mouth on this full bodied wine is like those wonderful large chairs you see in the movies, plush, soft, enveloping, but still ever present and firm – quite a showing. This was the clear winner of the evening. The mouth follows the nose with blackberry and plum. The mid palate delivers a powerful presentation of rich and concentrated sweet oak, integrated but present tannins, and just enough acidity that plays with the enveloping tannins and fruit, almost like an orchestra. The finish is long and wonderful with more black fruit carried by the sweet oak and tannins, tobacco smoke, and a replay of the chocolate. This is not a beast or a wine that has a statement out loud. Rather this is a concentrated and plush wine, with a quiet demeanor rich black fruit, chocolate, tobacco, all wrapped up in a nice oak box. Quite a wine! I am torn in ways, I am sad I have no more, but happy that I tasted it at its peak, and not on its way down.

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Posted on September 25, 2009, in Food and drink, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher White Wine, Wine and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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