The Best Kosher Wines I tasted in 2011 allowing for some editorial freedom

This past year we have been lucky and honored to be able to taste all of these wonderful wines. There are so many “best of..” lists out there, including wine lists and the such. Some decide that the criteria is uniqueness, like the Wine Spectators top 100 wines of the year, which were not the TOP wines that they scored through the year. Others use the criteria of wines they thought were some of the best they tasted for the year. This is the list of wines that many liked in the past year, on Rogov’s forum.

I chose to use my scores as the criteria, and to use a range of 14 months for the bottles I tasted. Many of these were tasted at wine events and others drunk at my or a friend’s table. Either way, the wines are top notch and the best ones I tasted in the year+, irrelevant to when the wine was released or if it is still available, as well as wines that were interesting enough to note. Like the heading says – the best wines that I tasted in 2011 and a bit before. And yes, I may well be a bit late on the deal by releasing this a week into 2012, but hey – it is a complete list, so I hope you enjoy it. Also, there are notes here that are new to the blog. They were tasted throughout the year, and have yet to be posted, so think of some of these as a sneak preview to many wineries and wine notes to come.

Enjoy and may 2012 be even better! The wines are listed by score and then in alphabetical order from there.

Wines that scored an A or Almost A

2007 Binyamina Diamond, Avnei Hachoshen Ya’alom/Diamond
(50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah and 20% Petite Verdot) – Score: A

Wow what a blockbuster wine! Assaf Paz brought it to the tasting, and it was in very limited supply, as we said in the previous posting about the wine event.

The nose on this garnet to black colored wine explodes with sweet oak, rich and ripe blackberry, licorice, raspberry, chocolate, rich plum, along with a bit of prune. The mouth on this broad shouldered and massive wine is packed and layered with layer upon layers of rich and ripe black fruit, blackberry, and raspberry. The mid palate is balanced and flows off the mouth with rich sweet oak, acid, chocolate, and coffee. The finish is massive and long with a huge mouth coating structure, along with prune, oak, blackberry, and chocolate. This is a massive and structured wine that is unique and one that truly shows the power of Israel’s potential.

2007 Carmel Mediterranean (37% Carignan, 26% Shiraz , 20% Petit Verdot and 15% Petite Sirah and 2% Viogner) – Score: A
This is another one of those wines (like the 2005 Yatir Forest) that is more elegant than it is massive or powerful, yet it still has lovely oak, tannin, and some extraction, a nice balancing act indeed.

The nose on this light garnet colored wine is lovely and accentuated by Smoky fumes, rich oak, raspberry, cranberry, blackberry, plum, cherry, and roasted herbs. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich with ripe raspberry, blackberry, cherry, fig, and elegant tannin. The mid palate is rich with well handled oak, lovely tannin, and red fruit. The finish is long and elegant with rich, and ripe red fruit, smoky oak, roasted herbs, plum, and cherry.

2006 Castel Grand Vin – Score: A
I love this wine – it was one of the winners of the evening for sure, and one that all the people who were around me loved as well.

The nose on this massive dark garnet to black colored wine is packed and redolent with blackberry, roasted herbs, raspberry, spicy oak, plum, chocolate, and mineral. The mouth on this massive full bodied wine is mouth coating and rich with layer upon layer of rich and dense extracted black fruit, cassis, blackberry, plum, and cherry. The mid palate is balanced with oak, extracted tannin, and rich chocolate. The finish is long, extracted, awesome, and layered with black fruit, chocolate, rich plum, and almost sweet oak.

2006 Dalton Matatia (80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc) – Score: A
The nose on this black colored wine starts off with cassis, raspberry, licorice, oak, nutmeg, and spice. The mouth on this full bodied wine is inky and deep with rich plum, cassis, raspberry, coffee, and oak. The mid plate flows off the mouth nicely with acid, coffee, spice, and gripping tannin. The finish is long and expressive with plum, chocolate, coffee, and tannin.

2003 Four Gates Syrah, Special Reserve (same as the last tasting) – Score: A
WOW! This is a killer wine. The first thing that hits you when you open this bottle of wine and peer into its purple-black stare is the ripe blueberry notes that come screaming out at you, along with blackberry, cassis, plum, tobacco, chocolate, tar, and rick oak. The mouth on this full bodied, mouth filling, concentrated, and structured wine comes at you in layers with fruit that follows the nose, ripe blackberry, plum, blueberry, tar, and oak. The mid palate is balanced with acid, oak, tobacco, and chocolate. The finish is super long, black, and spicy, with rich oak, chocolate, tobacco, tar, leather, and blackberry. This is a truly wonderful wine that is highly structured with lovely tannins and a wine that still has a few years left under its belt. The nose is killer with the lovely ripe blueberry and blackberry, along with the oak, tar, chocolate. It follows through with the mouth till its tantalizing finish. Quite a powerful that has its sea legs beneath it and bright horizon ahead.

2006 Herzog Generation VIII Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley,To-Kalon Vineyard) – Score: A
The nose on this black colored wine is screaming with rich oak, chocolate, black cherry, blackberry, cassis, and rich spice. The mouth on this massive full bodied wine is rich, layered, and mouth coating with tight tannins, chocolate, oak, blackberry, and cassis. The fruit on the mouth is rich and ripe while not being overly ripe to the point of tasting cooked. The mid palate is balanced and flows from the mouth with still bracing tannins, nice acidity, oak, and chocolate. The finish is crazy long with chocolate, rich oak, blackberry, and rich ripe fruit. This is a crazy winner that will be around for at least another 8 years. I hope to have the opportunity to taste it again and again in the coming years at the Herzog Wine Festival.

2001 Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon El Rom (Israel, Galilee, Golan Heights) – Score: A
The notes on this wine have not changed drastically, the tannin is still kicking, the mouth equally as rich, and the heat has dissipated. This is one of the best wines I have tasted from Israel. The wine is still a bit closed, so an hour or two of air time would be of great help! 

The nose on this brilliant and deep garnet to black colored wine is filled with heavy layers of blackberry, cassis, raspberry, tobacco, and oak. The mouth on this wine was also a bit slow out of the bottle, but that changed quickly enough. The mouth was complex and multi layered. This is no simple wine, it hits you in waves. The mouth on this full bodied wine is still tannic though the tannins are breaking down and adding even more opulence to this rich and mouth coating wine filled with blackberry, cassis, rich sweet oak. eucalyptus, and almost jam like – but not in a chewy annoying way – more in a rich and cultured manner. The mid palate follows off the first set of layers and is where the structure comes in. The structure is built on tannin, acidity, and lush layers of vegetal flavors. The finish is crazy long and is filled with blackberry, cassis, chocolate, tobacco, rich dirt, slight vegetal notes, and sweet wood. This is really quite a fine wine and one that is not yet peaked at all, though quite enjoyable now as well.

2008 Yarden El Rom Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: A
The nose on this purple to impenetrable black colored wine is crazy rich and redolent with blackberry, cassis, licorice, pencil shavings, ripe plum, vanilla, and oak. The mouth on this rich, layered, and highly focused full bodied wine is crazy rich and opulent, with rich sweet oak, blackberry, cassis, black plum, pencil, and massive tannin. This is a massive wine that is concentrated but equally refined with the tannin, oak, and fruit still early on in their integration. However, even now the wine shows beautifully and will be better to enjoy in a couple of years. The mid palate is rich with balancing acid, blackberry, sweet oak, more rich tannin, licorice, and chocolate. The finish is super long and concentrated with sweet oak, nice tannin, licorice, vanilla, chocolate, plum, and pencil shavings. This is right on the tail of the 2001 older brother, just way younger of course. In 8 years, you will all be begging for this wine – get it while you can!

2003 Yarden Katzrin (Red) Score: A
The nose on this deep purple colored wine is screaming with exuberant jam like aromas of black plum, cassis, blackberry, black fruit, oak, licorice, and chocolate. The mouth on this massive, tannic, and crazy jam packed wine is packed with crazy black fruit, black plum, blackberry, cassis, and raspberry. The mid palate is balanced with sweet oak, and yet more oak, and a nice dollop of tannin on the side. The finish is long with more oak, coffee, dark chocolate, and tannins that keep up nicely with the oak. A truly magnificent wine that shines through almost all other wines we tasted that night.

2004 Yarden Katzrin (Red) Score: A
The nose on this massive black colored wine is screaming with black fruit, dark rich blackberry, dark plum, black cherry, rich ripe fruit, cassis, chocolate, and rich oak. The mouth on this massive full bodied wine is rich with ripe black fruit, cassis, black plum, blackberry, and cherry. The mid palate is balanced and flows from the mouth with acid, sweet oak, chocolate, and gripping tannin. The finish is long with rich oak, black fruit, cherry, chocolate, and tobacco.

2007 Yarden ROM (53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Syrah, 24% Merlot) – Score: Filthy or A
The nose on this black and impenetrable colored wine is super rich with blackberry, cherry, plum, cranberry, cassis, chocolate, cedar, and tobacco. The mouth on this rich, full bodied, and layered wine with massive extraction, and a rich mouth of blackberry, cassis, tobacco, cedar, rich layers of fruit, and plum. The mid palate is balanced with rich acid, cedar, tobacco, and chocolate. The finish is long and spicy with a smokey finish, along with ripe plum, chocolate, blackberry, tobacco, and lingers long with chocolate and tobacco. This wine is filthy and lovely in ways I have not seen in sometime. What a true joy.

2005 Yatir Forest (77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Petite Verdot, and 10% Merlot) – Score: A
The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine is another massive and explosive success by the Yatir Winery. This wine does not have an oak abuse problem, instead it has a rather elegant nose with Blackberry, lovely oak, black plum, ripe fruit, and raspberry. The mouth on this full bodied wine is mouth coating with layers upon layers of blackberry, cranberry, cassis, and candied raspberry. The mid palate flows off the mouth with lovely tannin, oak, and bracing acid. The finish is long with rich black fruit, chocolate, licorice, anise, smoke, and tobacco.

Wines that scored an A- to A

2009 Adir Shiraz – Score: A- and a bit
The nose on this purple to black colored wine is lovely with rich roasted meat, fresh espresso, chocolate, blackberry, ripe plum, blackcurrant, and cedar. The mouth on this massive, extracted, and rich full bodied wine made me exclaim WOW!, followed by roasted meat, espresso, mouth coating tannin, rich blackberry, blackcurrant, black cherry, and more rich cedar. The mid palate is part of the massive mouthfeel from clear oak influence, rich tannin, and ripe fruit, followed by nice acid, chocolate, roasted meat, and cedar. The finish is long, gamey, and spicy, with nice cedar, roasted meat, vanilla, tar, chocolate, and a pique of garrigue. This is a crazy lovely wine that some may hate, but I find unique.

2007 Alexander The Great Amarolo – Score: A- to A
I have tasted this wine three times now, and the first time was from a barrel, with the next two times being from a bottle. When I tasted the wine in 2008, it was just the Cabernet Sauvignon, now the wine is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Petite Verdot, Shiraz, Merlot, and Grenache. The bottle is beautiful with thick metal labels on a large Syrah style bottle – quite unique. The nose on this super rich and ripe purple to black colored wine is rich with raisins, prunes, candied cherries, blackberry, cassis, ripe plum, vanilla, sweet oak, date, rich tobacco, a really rich and aromatic nose. The mouth on this rich and full bodied wine hits you with vanilla to start, along with candied fruit, blackberry, cassis, super ripe plum, lovely rich mouth coating tannin, with layers of rich candied and black fruit. The mid palate is balanced with rich acid, ripe plum, tobacco, rich tannin, and blackberry. The finish is super rich and spicy with nice leather, tobacco, ripe plum, vanilla, cassis, candied fruit, and date.

2006 Barkan Cabernet Sauvignon Superieur (90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot) – Score A- to A
The nose on this purple to black colored wine was exploding with oak, cassis, raspberry, licorice, plum, black cherry, and vanilla. The mouth on this muscular and massive full bodied wine starts off with black fruit, oak, cassis, and gripping tannin. The mid palate is balanced with chocolate, coffee, oak, more massive tannin, and acid. The finish is long and extracted with chocolate, black fruit, and vanilla.

2009 Barkan Tzapit (Blend of Marselan, Caladoc, Carignan, and Pinotage) – Score: A- to A
The nose on this dark purple to dense black colored wine is screaming with nice banana, black pepper, ripe plum, blackberry, ripe dates, tar, slight roasted meat notes, vanilla, and chocolate. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine shows massive tannins that are still course, with a unique mouth that is a by product of the unique components, banana and black pepper are rich in the mouth with full mouth coating tannins, concentrated fruit, blackberry, plum, and roasted meats. The mid palate is balanced with rich acid, roasted meat, more massive tannin, chocolate, tar, dates, and nice cedar. The finish is long and super spicy with lovely cedar, vanilla, tannin, chocolate, tar, black pepper, and dates. The dates, vanilla, cedar, tar, and roasted meat notes linger long on the palate.

This is a wine that needs time and will show more classic black fruit, still, a wine that has nowhere but up to go.

2006 Binyamina Avnei Hachoshen Odem Syrah (blended with 2–3% of Viognier) – Score: A- to A
The nose on this purple to black colored wine explodes with rich mocha, tobacco, super ripe blackberry, plum, raspberry, creme de cocoa, and sweet oak. The mouth on this rich and full bodied wine is layered and concentrated with inky structure of tar, blackcurrant, heavy oak extraction from 18 months in oak, blackberry, dark plum, and oak. The mid palate is spicy and balanced with acid, chocolate, plum, and dates. The finish is long and spicy with oak, chocolate, blackcurrant, plum, leather, vanilla, and dates. The wine lingers with date, ripe plum, sweet oak, spicy notes, and ripe blackberry.

2008 B.R. Cohn Cabernet Sauvignon Kosher Trestle Glen Estate Vineyard – Score: A- to A
The nose on this wine starts off closed and not very enjoyable. After quite a few hours the wine becomes very enjoyable and “elegant”. This is not a sledge hammer wine, not an overly complex or layered wine, rather this is a wine that has enjoyable characteristics. The nose on this purple colored wine starts off closed and muted. Over time it opens to display light notes of sweet oak or cedar, raspberry, black plum, eucalyptus, cranberry, tobacco, chocolate, and a hint of vanilla. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is elegant in its attack, again, not one that relies on shock and awe, rather a wine that attacks with ripe raspberry, plum, cranberry, lovely tannins, and a mouth feel that is luscious and attention grabbing. The mid palate is balanced with acid, tobacco, chocolate, cedar, and eucalyptus. This finish is spicy and long with ripe plum and raspberry, tobacco leaves, dark chocolate, licorice, and vanilla.

2009 Bravdo, Karmei Yosef, Shiraz – Score A- to A
The nose on this black colored wine is rich and redolent with heavy tar, date, blackberry, rich chocolate, super rich cedar, tobacco, crushed herbs and garrigue. The mouth on this full bodied powerhouse of a wine is rich and lovely with mouth coating tannin, blackberry, currant, and garrigue. The mid palate is balanced with more attack of blackberry, tar, cedar, tobacco, and vanilla. The finish is super long, extracted, and spicy with tar, more mouth coating tannin, tobacco, cedar, garrigue, and vanilla. Quite a rich wine that still needs to settle down. Enjoy this puppy in a year or maybe a bit more. Also, do not let the shape of the bottle scare you, this is a real doozy of a Shiraz, even if in a Bordeaux style bottle.

2009 Bravdo, Karmei Yosef, Coupage – Score A- to A
This melange is a truly unique blend of 40% Cabernet Franc, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 27% Shiraz. A few comments on this wine, it shows its blend and components quite well throughout. You can always pick out the flavors that are derived from the different grapes, but overtime the particular characteristics give way to other characteristics, all the while still being true to their origins – a very unique wine.

2007 Brobdignagian Wines Grenache Santa Barbara County – Score: A- to A
The name comes from the colossal, gigantic, extremely tall, and giant creatures discovered by Gulliver in his travels on the Northwest coast of California and is used today (although not by anyone I know) to describe anything of colossal size. That said, the wine does in many ways follow the moniker. The wine has a 16.3% alcohol, is massive in the mouth, and in the bottle! The bottle (empty) is one of the heaviest I have ever seen, quite extreme. The name of the winery, though unpronounceable by me, is one you already know by association. The wine is made by Jonathan Hajdu, the associate wine maker for Covenant Wines, owned and operated by Jeff Morgan. Jonathan also makes a Syrah, which I hope to get to taste soon.

The nose on this massive wine is almost unapproachable out of the bottle. It is closed, with just hints of what is to come. After 30 minutes of sitting in the glass, the wine’s nose pulls the wool out from under its eyes and exposes a world of joy, starting with expressive oak, cedar, tobacco, concentrated dried red fruit, raspberry, and spice. The mouth on this currant colored wine is super concentrated, almost laser focused, and layered with dried cranberry, raspberry, and plum. The attack is what makes this wine; it is clean lined with heft and power, yet focused on delivering not a single but many blows of dried fruit and oak. The mid palate flows from the mouth with acidity to balance the beast, along with nice tannins, cedar oak, and tobacco. The finish is super long and concentrated with more oak, red dried fruit, tobacco, and spice. This is quite a wine and one that should be enjoyed first from the glass, and then with food.

2007 Capcanes Flor de Flor – Score: A- to A
This is a wine that only recently became kosher, a cuvee of the winery’s Cabrida wine. The wine is made entirely from old vine Grenache that are said to be 80 to 1110 years old. I have had this wine three times, and I did not like it before this tasting. The nose on this garnet colored wine is rich with dirt, smoke, plum, tobacco, raspberry, cranberry, bramble, roasted meat. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is rich and layered with roasted meat, cheese notes, lovely mouth coating tannin, rich inky structure, tar, raspberry, plum, cranberry, and bramble. The mid palate is lovely with acid, oak, roasted meat, and tobacco. The finish is long and smokey with more cheese flavors, tar, tobacco, oak, fig, and tannin.

2007 Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib, Flor de Primavera – Score: A- to A
The nose on this garnet to black colored wine is screaming with blackberry, cassis, black plum, chocolate, mocha, smoke, and sweet oak – what a nose! The mouth on this full bodied wine is layered with nice tannin, blackberry, cassis, raspberry, and plum. The mid palate flows off the mouth and is balanced with spicy oak, chocolate, cocoa, and tannin. The finish is super long with rich black fruit, chocolate, tobacco, and plum – a lovely wine indeed!

2005 Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib, Flor de Primavera (Magnum) – Score: A- to A
The nose on this black colored wine is exploding with rich black plum, cassis, blackberry, chocolate, sweet oak, and blueberry. The mouth on this massive full bodied wine is exploding with lovely rich and concentrated fruit, blueberry, layers of blackberry, cassis, and extracted oak flavors, and nice tannin. The mid palate flows off the mouth with oak, more lovely tannin, and black plum. The finish is long and extracted with tannin, blackberry, cassis, and chocolate finish.

2003 Carmel Cabernet Sauvignon Kayoumi (Israel) – Score: A- to A
The nose on this expressive yet refined royal blue to purple colored wine is exploding with heaps of tobacco leaf, rich ripe black plum, blackberry, crushed herbs, smoked meat, and spicy oak. The mouth on this big and refined wine is layered, complex, and somewhat concentrated all at the same time. The mouth is coating and full with mostly integrated tannins that give the mouth a soft and refined feel while still having heft. Black plum and blackberry are all buoyed by core acidity and spicy oak that borders on cedar, black plum, spice, tobacco, smoked meats, and soft caressing tannins. The mid palate flows balanced and full from the mouth with more core acidity, cedar oak, and tobacco. The finish is super long, luscious, and fantastic, with black plum and blackberry fruit, along with oak, spice, tobacco, and smoked meats that linger long after the wine is gone.

2008 Carmel Single Vineyard Kayoumi Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: A- to A
This is a real Cabernet with no roasted meat or other stuff, rather it is purely tuned with rich black fruit, cedar, and tobacco. The nose on this purple to black colored wine is rich with clean cedar, blackberry, cassis, rich tobacco, lots of forest fruit, black plum, and vanilla. The mouth on this massive and full bodied wine is layered and concentrated with ripe blackberry, cassis, black pepper, rich and layered with more black fruit. This is a classic black colored wine, rich and black with rich mouth coating tannin, and lovely forest fruit. The mid palate is balanced with rich acid, cedar, blackberry, cassis, and vanilla. The finish is long, spicy, and lovely with vanilla, blackberry, cassis, cedar, spice, and tobacco. This is one sick wine!

2005 Carmel Special Edition (65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Petit Verdot, 15% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc) – Score A- to A
The nose on this dark purple colored wine was intense and layered with black plum, raspberry, black currant, oak, licorice, and fig. The mouth on this broad shouldered and full bodied wine followed the nose with black plum, cassis, spicy oak, and not yet integrated tannin. The mid palate flows off the mouth with bracing acid, spicy oak, tobacco, and chocolate. The finish is long with still present tannin, chocolate, spicy oak, black plum, and fig.

2003 Chateau Leoville Poyferre Saint Julien (62% Cab, 28% Merlot, 8% Petite Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc) – Score: A- to A
The nose on this garnet to black colored wine has a huge and crazy nose of chocolate, oak, date, raspberry, black plum, bramble and loamy dirt. The mouth on this rich, concentrated, and extracted full bodied wine shows still gripping tannin, raspberry, loamy dirt, ripe plum, with clear oak impact, giving the mouth a rich and layered attack of ripe fruit. The mid palate is balanced with nice acid, oak, chocolate, and more nice tannin. The long and spicy finish is huge with nice tannin, chocolate, oak, plum, raspberry, and more nice dirt. This wine attacks and does not let up till well after the wine is gone.

2005 Chateau Malartic Lagraviere Grand Cru Pessac-Leognan – Score: A- to A
WOW what a killer wine. The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is smoking with an almost smoke screen like aroma, serious spice, over a sea of intense dry and candied cherry, raspberry, blackberry, and fig. The mouth on this blockbuster full bodied wine is intense and concentrated with lovely tannin, cherry, raspberry, blackberry, and more intense flavors. The mid palate is balanced and flows off the intense mouth with oak, acid, and coffee. The finish is super long and concentrated with bright fruit, acid, fat cigar tobacco, and a long slug of mocha.

2007 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: A- to A
The nose on this purple to black colored wine is screaming with sweet oak, blackberry, chocolate, mocha, fig, and raspberry. The mouth on this rich and full bodied wine is full in the mouth with mocha, raspberry, blackberry, cassis, and sweet oak. The mid palate is balanced with acid, spicy oak, and nice tannin. The finish is long and luscious with oak, tannin, chocolate, and dark fruit.

2008 Covenant Lavan Chardonnay, Napa Valley – Score: A- to A (exactly like in Oxnard)
The nose on this vibrant yellow colored wine is screaming with lychee, green apple, guava, peach, oak, and almonds. The mouth on this full bodied wine is creamy and hopping with butterscotch, apple, peach, and oak. The mid palate is balanced and structured with bracing acidity, spicy oak, oak tannins, and mineral. The finish is long and creamy, with more butterscotch, almonds, oak, peach, and lychee.

2003 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: A- closer to A
Are you kidding me! This wine is as close to “filthy”as it gets without being covered in dirt and muck! This puppy is downright crazy, lovely, and insane! This wine was the clear winner of the evening, even against my clear, biased wines that I have a love affair with, the 1996 Four Gates Chardonnay and the 2001 Capcanes. Both were really nice, but in the end, fell a bit short, each for different reasons. This wine was the clear winner, and for bloody good reason! One other crazy thought, when this wine finally calmed down and lost some of its special characteristics, it was VERY close to the Capcanes. To the point where they were almost brothers, excepting for the color, where the Capcanes was clearly going brown and the Covenant being black as day.

The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine is packed with rich ripe blackberry, tobacco, chocolate/mocha, crushed herbs, blackcurrant, vanilla, raspberry, plum, and sweet oak. The mouth on this blockbuster medium to full bodied wine is concentrated, layered and mouth coating with lovely and almost integrated tannins, blackberry, blackcurrant, raspberry, and ripe plum. The mid palate flows off the mouth with balancing acid, sweet oak, mocha, tobacco, and more nice tannins. The finish is long, spicy, and continuous and, while maybe being the best part of this wine, which is saying a lot, with sweet cedar in the fire box, a long puff from a fat stogie, a warm cup of mocha in your hand, while munching on blackberry, black currant, and vanilla. Tobacco, plum, blackberry, and sweet cedar linger long on the palate.

2008 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon (Larkmead Vineyard) – Score: A- to A
The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine explodes with rich chocolate, blackberry, raspberry, rich ripe plum, nice sweet oak, mineral, and licorice. The nose is truly rich and voluminous, a true joy. The mouth on this full bodied wine is super rich and full in the mouth with ripe and rich blackberry, rich tannin, soft with still searing but lovely tannin, nice toasty oak, and black plum. The mid palate is balanced with acid, chocolate, sweet oak, tobacco, and vanilla. The finish is super long and almost smooth and spicy with massive black fruit, blackberry, rich ripe plum, leather, with massive oak, spicy vanilla, blackberry, and toasty oak linger long on the palate.

2005 Ella Valley Vineyards Choice Chardonnay – Score: A- to A
The nose on this light gold colored wine is rich and very expressive with light oxidation, creme brulee, peach, toast, grapefruit, and guava. The mouth on this rich and mouth filling full bodied wine is has fruit that follows the nose with guava, grapefruit, and kiwi. The mid palate flows off the mouth with nice balancing acid, creme brulee, toast, and butter. The finish is long, creamy and buttery, with oak, creme brulee, grapefruit, and fig. This is truly one of those lovey creamy wines that carries itself well with bright fruit.

2007 Ella Valley Chardonnay – Score: A- to A
The nose on this light gold colored wine is filled with honey, kiwi, grapefruit, peach, brioche, flinty mineral, and oak. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is bright and rich with honey, kiwi, grapefruit, apricot, and peach. The mid palate is balanced with acid, oak, toast, and light creme brulee. The finish is long and lovely with toast, brioche, creme brulee, bright grapefruit, kiwi, and mineral, with the creme brulee and grapefruit lingering long.

2005 Ella Valley Cabernet Franc (Israel, Judean Hills, Ella Valley) – Score: Almost A
The nose on this purple colored wine is hopping with blackberry, cranberry, raspberry, plum, sweet oak, tobacco, chocolate, meaty notes, vanilla, and nice mint. The mouth on this medium bodied wine filled out as it got more air. The mouth on this medium bodied is layered with rich oak, cranberry, blackberry, plum, and tannins that calm down as the wine sits in the glass. The mid palate is balanced with a rich mouth, just enough acidity, and not yet integrated tannins. The finish is long and luxurious with a playful amount of spice, tobacco, chocolate, and vanilla that is joined in by rich fruit. This was the winner of our Cabernet Franc lineup once again – unfortunately I do not have any more. This is a wine that still has another year or two under its belt and another winner for this wonderful winery.

2007 Ella Valley Syrah – Score: A- to A
The nose on this lovely purple to black colored wine is screaming with oak, tar, blackberry, mint, eucalyptus, plum, bramble, and chocolate. The mouth on this full bodied and viscous wine is layered with blackberry, bramble, mint, plum, tar, chocolate, blackcurrant, and raspberry. The mid palate is balanced with acid, chocolate, nice tannin, and oak. The finish is long with pepper, blackberry, oak, chocolate, tar, plum, and blackcurrant. The mouth lingers with blackcurrant, blackberry, tar, chocolate, and oak.

2006 Four Gates Frere Robaire – Score: A- to A
This wine is still young and needs time, but one worth the effort. To start the wine has black notes of blackberry, dark plum, rich oak, chocolate, with hints of orange and vanilla. The nose is subtle yet rich. The mouth of this full bodied wine is a tight wine to start with dark plum, not yet integrated tannins, oak, and cherry. The mid palate is bracing with acid, oak, and chocolate. The finish is super long and lingering with tannin, chocolate, cherry, and plum. After more time the wine wakes up and explodes with heavy tannin and more bright red fruit, over time the wine returns to its roots with a super rich mouth feel, chocolate, and ripe red and black fruit.

2004 Four Gates Syrah – Score: A- to A
The nose on this deep to brooding purple to black colored wine is screaming with inky black ripe fruit, cassis, blackberry, raspberry, plum, chocolate, tar, black pepper, and oak. The mouth on this full bodied and velvety wine is inky and dense, along with waves of cassis, blackberry, and plum. The mid palate of this wonderfully complex wine has integrating tannin, oak, acid, and tar. The finish is long with tar, oak, chocolate, cassis, plum, and black pepper.

2004 Galil Mountain Winery Syrah Yiron Kosher – (Israel, Galilee) – Score: A- to A
To start I opened this bottle because I was told it was drink now time, personally, this beast is going nowhere fast in my opinion. The nose on this purple to black colored wine is exploding with rich and concentrated aromas, rich cedar, baking chocolate, leafy tobacco, hints of tar, heaps of black pepper, smoky notes, coffee, raspberry, blackberry, cassis, plum, crushed herbs, and eucalyptus. The mouth on this super rich and concentrated wine hits you in layers upon layers of still not integrated tannin, licorice, black pepper, blackberry, plum, chocolate, and cedar. The mid palate is balanced with sweet cedar, nice acidity, more nice tannin, tobacco, and chocolate. The finish is super long and spicy with crazy rich cedar, blackberry, crushed herbs, plum, tobacco, chocolate, figs, a hint of tar, with a dollop of vanilla. Black pepper, crushed herbs, chocolate, tobacco, plum, and vanilla linger super long. This wine is in no hurry to be drunk, but is lovely now.

2004 Pontet Canet – Score: A- to A
The nose on this purple to black colored wine has a massive nose of rich and ripe blackberry, plum, raspberry, chocolate, tobacco, smoke, and loamy dirt. This nose is rich but not overripe to the point of a Napa Cabernet, definitely more refined and lovely. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich and concentrated and lovely with true gripping tannin, raspberry, blackberry, plum, and more spicy oak. The mid palate is rich and balanced with nice acid, spicy oak, tobacco, chocolate, and crazy tannin. The finish is super long and spicy with more crazy and rich tannin, blackberry, chocolate, date, tobacco, dirt, and mushroom. The wine is killer and a bit better than the 2003 vintage. This wine has many more years ahead of it.

2009 Reacanati Carignan Reserve, Kerem Ba’al – Score: A- to A
The grapes for this wine come from bush like vines (wild vines) that are dry farmed – which makes for more concentrated flavors. This is the first year for Recanati (along with Binyamina) that is releasing a Carignan varietal from low yield vineyards. The nose on this dark purple to black colored wine is rich almost overripe with rich blackberry, date, raspberry, ripe plum, rich spice, black pepper, and chocolate. The mouth on this rich, layered, and intense yet accessible and lovely with inky wine structure, date, ripe plum, crazy ripe blackberry, blackcurrant, and massive rich and mouth coating tannin that are slowly integrating. The mid palate is rich with good acid, spice, still massive tannin, chocolate, and oak. The finish is long and ripe with plum, blackberry, raspberry, chocolate, tobacco, and spice.

This is quite a lovely wine that some may think is a bit overripe, but just on the edge for me.

2005 Recanati Special Reserve – Score: A- to A
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is screaming with cassis, blackberry, raspberry, black cherry, oak, and mocha. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich and opulent with concentrated layers of chocolate, cassis, raspberry, black cherry, and blackberry. The mid palate was balanced with acid, massive tannin, and chocolate. The finish is long with black and red fruit, oak, chocolate, and tobacco.

2006 Shiloh Mosaic (60% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot) – Score: A- to A
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is rich with oak, raspberry, plum, cranberry, heavy dirt, acid, light chocolate, and dark cherry, rich and lovely red fruit nose. The mouth on this rich and full bodied wine is heady with massive tannin, raspberry, cranberry, cherry, with layers of fruit attack and not yet integrated tannin. The mid palate rich with more tannin, oak, acid, and chocolate. The finish is lovely and long with more tannin, chocolate, oak, plum, raspberry, and spice. This is a wine that is not really ready to come out and party – give this a few more months and then it will shine for quite a few years.

2007 Tzuba Metsuda/Metzuda (80% Cabernet, 15% Franc, 5% Malbec) – Score: A- to A
The nose on this rich and opulent black colored wine is layered with rich blackberry, chocolate, currant, raspberry, eucalyptus, fig, mint, oak, and tobacco. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich, layered, and concentrated with mouth coating tannin, blackberry, raspberry, and currant. The mid palate is rich and balanced with nice oak, still rich mouth coating tannin, and chocolate. The finish is super long and spicy with rich chocolate, blackberry, raspberry, tobacco, fig, and more nice tannin. The blackberry, tobacco, chocolate, and tannins linger long. A wine that is almost ready and will be around for 4 to 5 years.

2008 Tzuba Metsuda/Metzuda (60% Cabernet, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc) – Score: A- to A
The nose on this rich and opulent black colored wine is layered with rich blackberry, tobacco, eucalyptus, roasted meat, raspberry, currant, oak, and fig.. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich, layered, and concentrated with massive mouth coating tannin, rich and ripe blackberry, raspberry, currant, and spice. The mid palate is rich and balanced with nice oak, still rich mouth coating tannin, tobacco, and chocolate. The finish is super long and spicy with lovely tobacco, rich chocolate, oak, blackberry, toast, and leather. The blackberry, tobacco, chocolate, and tannins linger long. A wine that is not yet ready and will be around for 5 to 6 years.

2005 Yarden Blanc de Blanc Sparkling Wine – Score: A- and a bit
The nose on this lights straw colored wine, which laid on lees/yeast for five years before being disgorged is rich with yeast, toast, bright lemon, grapefruit, apple, creme, peach, and fig. The mouth on this medium bodied sparkler is attacks with a crazy and lovely mossue of small bubbles, lemon, rich toast, creme, and grapefruit. The mid palate is bracing with tart acid, toasty notes, creme, and almonds. The finish is bright and long with tart lemon, toast, fig, yeast, grapefruit, creme, and peach. A lovely and bright sparkler that lacks some of the Champagne charm but has its own to make up the difference.

2006 Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon (Israel, Galilee, Golan Heights) – Score: Almost A
This wine is not going to sneak up on you – it is more like a combination of a sledge hammer and a two-by-four hitting you right between your eyes. The nose on this massive, complex, and sledge hammer styled wine explodes with super ripe blackberry, raspberry, chocolate, herbs, rich oak, licorice, plum, tobacco, and sweet cedar. The mouth on this massive full bodied wine is now showing softly integrating tannins that give the wine a super lovely mouth feel. Please do not let the lovely mouth feel fool your perception of this wine, it is massive, aggressive, and heavily layered wine with rich ripe blackberry, plum, cassis, and dates. The mid palate is inky black fruit, massive sweet oak, dates, and balancing acid. The finish is super long and spicy, with nice spice, cassis, date, oak, chocolate, tobacco, and still gripping tannins.

2008 Yarden Kela Vineyard Merlot – Score: A- to A
The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine is rich with crushed herbs, black cherry, relaxed fruit, cedar, blackberry, espresso, and cassis. The mouth on this full bodied, massive, layered, concentrated, yet finesse style wine with inky structure, spicy, with crazy rich mouth coating tannin that is slowly integrating. The mid palate starts off with nice balance and acid, cedar, espresso, and inky structure. The finish is long and super spicy, inky, with tar, blackberry, with rich espresso lingering along with vanilla.

2004 Yarden Ortal Vineyard Merlot – Score: A- to A
The nose on this purple colored win is rich and alive with rich cedar, tobacco, blackberry, raspberry, ripe plum, dark cherry, and smoke. The mouth on this full bodied wine is mouth coating and plush with rich blackberry, raspberry, plum, and nice now integrating tannin, which makes for a lovely mouth coating mouthfeel. The mid palate is popping with balancing acid, chocolate, tobacco, cedar, and nice tannin. The finish is long with more black fruit, chocolate, tobacco, cedar, plum, blackberry, and nice tannin. The mouth is rich and the finish is even more lovely with nice integrating components.

2006 Yarden Tel Phares Vineyard Syrah – Score: A- to A
The nose on this dark garnet to purple colored wine is exploding with rich plum, raspberry, black cherry, sweet oak, white pepper, and smoke. The mouth on this massive full bodied wine is accentuated with smoke, tannin, raspberry, plum, cassis, and mouth coating tannin. The mid palate flows off the mouth with acid, tannin, and lovely coffee. The finish is long and fun with pepper, ripe plum, raspberry, oak, chocolate, and coffee. This is one fun bottle of Syrah that is not going anywhere in the near or distant future.

2008 Yarden Tel Phares Syrah – Score: A- to A
The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine is crazy rich and expressive with tar, date, super ripe cassis, plum, crushed herbs, cedar, spice, black olives, and chocolate. The mouth on this full bodied wine hits you up front with another WOW! rich and massive tannin that has yet to integrate but gives the mouth a very rich and coating mouth feel, along with cassis, blackberry, plum, crushed herbs, and chocolate. The mid palate is rich with acid, cedar, black olives, tar, and chocolate. The finish is long and spicy with rich cedar, tar, inky mouth and finish, cassis, black pepper, spice, chocolate, and vanilla. This is a super rich Syrah, with a bit more control on the chunkiness of the tannin than the Adir Shiraz, but both are quite lovely.

2007 Yarden Yonatan Syrah – Score: A- to A
The nose on this brilliant purple to black colored wine is crazy rich with crushed herbs, smoked meat, tar, blackberry, ripe plum, cassis, raspberry, light oak, and vanilla. The mouth on this super rich and concentrated full bodied wine shows clear influence of the oak it lied in, along with loamy dirt, rich and mouth coating tannin, tar, ripe plum, blackberry, cassis, and chocolate. The mid palate flows off the rich and layered wine with more tar, oak, rich and not yet integrated tannin, and more chocolate. The finish is long and lovely with tar, vanilla, ripe plum, smoked meat, oak, loamy dirt, mineral, and nice tannin.

2006 Yatir Cabernet Sauvignon (85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Petite Verdot) – Score: A- to A
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is massive and broad shouldered with red and black fruit, blackberry, cassis, raspberry, cranberry, sweet oak, chocolate, and sweet fig. The mouth on this massive wine is super extracted and full bodied with rich raspberry, blackberry, and candied cranberry. The mid palate flows off the mouth with more extraction, rich tannin, and oak. The finish is long and lovely with tannin, oak, blackberry, chocolate, and vanilla. Another blockbuster Cabernet from the Yatir Winery.

2008 Yatir Shiraz – Score: Close to Filthy, A- to A
The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine is crazy rich with roasted meat, blackberry, ripe plum, black pepper, vanilla, and tar. The mouth on this super rich and mouth coating full bodied wine, starts with rich tannin, roasted meat, blackberry, ripe plum, and black pepper. The mid palate is richly acid with roasted meat, cedar, vanilla, and black pepper. The finish is long, super spicy, and smokey with blackberry, black plum, black pepper, vanilla, tar, and a hint of espresso.

Wines that scored an A-

2008 Binyamina Avnei HaChoshen Ya’alom/Diamond (50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Syrah and 10% Petit Verdot) – Score: A-
The nose on the electric blue colored wine is rich in redolent in date, blackberry, raspberry, roasted meat, tar, tobacco, cassis, black cherry, inky aroma, cedar, and black pepper. This is a crazy rich, layered, and concentrated wine with inky structure, blackcurrant, roasted meat, black cherry, lovely and mouth coating tannin, cassis, and cedar. The mid palate is rich and balanced with acid, cassis, cedar, black pepper, tannin, date, tobacco, and chocolate. The finish is long and spicy, with nice acid, date, tobacco, roasted meat, raspberry, chocolate, cedar, and vanilla. Vanilla, lovely tannin, lingers with blackberry, cassis, date, roasted meat, tobacco, and chocolate. Nice wine that should stand on its feet till 2017 or so. This is nice but not with the same depth as the 2007, but placing here for comparison.

2009 Binyamina Carignan Reserve – Score: A-
This is the first varietal Carignan released in the winery’s Reserve series and a result that made me take notice. The nose on this psychedelic electric purple colored wine has rich roasted meat, black cherry, blackberry, cassis, cedar, vanilla, and rich espresso coffee. The mouth on this rich full bodied wine has clear impact from oak with rich extraction, roasted meat, blackberry, black cherry, cassis, espresso, and nice mouth coating tannin. The mid palate is rich with acid, roasted meat, espresso, vanilla, chocolate, and more mouth coating tannin. The finish is long and rich with mouth coating tannin, blackberry, cassis, roasted meats, espresso, vanilla, cedar, and tobacco. Roasted meats, vanilla, cedar, tobacco, and chocolate linger – quite impressive!

2005 Borgo Reale Brunello di Montalcino – Score: A-
The nose on this black colored wine is rich with prunes, raisins, candied cherry, oak, smoke, dirt, bramble, and tar. This is a lovely and unique nose. The mouth on this full bodied wine is massive and smokey with a rich smokey mouth, nice integrated tannin, heavy dirt, raspberry, raisins, and candied cherry. The mid palate is balanced with nice acid, tobacco, oak, smoke, bramble and dirt, chocolate, and tar. The finish is long and oak rich with nice tannin, bramble, dirt, smoke, tobacco, chocolate, and nice tar. Another unique wine with unique flavors and mouth feel.

2003 Chateau Pontet Canet, Pauillac – Score: A-
The nose on this vibrant dark garnet colored wine is packed with dirty mineral aromas, oak, smoky notes, fig, spice, anise, and red fruit. The mouth on this full bodied wine is full in the mouth with lovely tannin, layers of fruit, crazy extraction, and oak. The mid palate flows off the mouth with oak, crazy nice tannin, lovely extraction, and chocolate. The finish is crazy long with mounds of chocolate, layers of red fruit, and more crazy nice tannin.

2009 Dalton Petite Sirah – Score: A-
This is Dalton’s first release of this varietal, and they hit it on the nose, with a wine that smells and tastes like a PS. Interesting side note, there are many wineries releasing new and unique wines in 2009 vintage. The nose on this black colored wine is lovely with black pepper, cedar, chocolate, blackberry, cassis, vanilla, tar, and tobacco. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich with a lovely inky structure and huge mouthfeel that comes from a rich, focused, and concentrated wine of tar, blackberry, cassis, and rich tannin. The mid palate is balanced with acid, chocolate, tar, cassis, and cedar. The finish is long and inky with chocolate, tobacco, black pepper, cedar, ripe plum, nice tannin, and vanilla.

2007/2008 N.V. Four Gates Pinot Noir Kosher – Score: A-
This wine has turned blacker since the last time I tasted it and I love it! The wine is showing far more black fruit characteristics than earlier along with coffee and more dirt. The nose on this light purple colored wine is bursting with Chicken Cherry Cola, raspberry, black plum, black fruit, coffee, dirt, and mint. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is a concentrated attack of fruit, with blackcurrant, raspberry, chicken cherry cola, and black plum. The mid palate is bracing with acidity, along with not yet integrating tannins that play nicely with the wine and the bright fruit, and coffee. The finish is super long with oak, nice acid, black plum, dirt, coffee, and kirsch cherry. This is not an over oaked wine in any way, and that is clear from my notes, still the oak is present in places and works well when it does peek out from under the fruit haze.

N.V. Four Gates Soirée – Score: A-
This is another wine from Four Gates that needs abundant amounts of air to see its true potential come out to play. This wine starts off with, a Four Gates and Santa Cruz flavor, chicken cherry cola, raspberry, sweet oak, prune/plum, herbaceous, mint, and vanilla. With time, this wine comes out to play with a more expressive nose with deep floral and mineral notes. The mouth of this medium to full bodied wine has spicy and rich oak, chicken cherry cola, plum, raspberry, layered and structured with red fruit dominating. The mid palate is acid packed with more playful tannins. The finish is super long and layered with oak, coffee, plum, and vanilla. With more time the mouth fills out as the tannins calm down and round out the mouth, along with rich oak, black cherry, raspberry, plum, dates, and herbs. The finish is super long with more plum, spice, rich oak, and coffee. This wine starts off quiet and builds with time, until it hits its stride with ripe red fruit, structure, mouth feel, lovely tannins, and bracing acid that keeps the wine balanced yet striking. This is a wine that needs time. Open it and taste, then let it sit for two hours and taste again, and then try it another three hours later and see what you get.

2009 Gat Shomron Ice Wine (Viognier Based) – Score: A-
We tasted many of these wines, and I hope to get the full lineup written up on the blog soon, till then this will have to do. The nose on this light gold Viognier based ice wine hits you like a ton of bricks with rich and lovely intense floral notes, rich sweetness, guava, super rich honey, lemon, and oil. The mouth on this full bodied wine is crazy rich yet balanced with lovely sweetness and rich acidity, nice honey, oily mouth, rich with guava, lemon, and mineral. The mid palate is well balanced with rich acidity to handle the rich honey and guava sweetness. The finish is long and spicy with more honey, guava, mineral, rich floral, and nice sweetness. This is a unique ice wine and one I would happily serve and enjoy with my best of friends.

2008 Yarden 2T (50% Tinta Cão and 50% Touriga Nacional) – Score: A-
The two grapes used in this wine are commonly used in both dry and Port wines in the Douro region of Portugal, the names both start with T – hence the 2T moniker. The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is rich and aromatic with espresso, black cherry, tar, cedar, and spice. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is rich and soft, yet layered and concentrated with black cherry, tar, rich tannin, and more rich espresso. The mid palate is in your face with espresso, massive tannin, a hint of vegetal notes, and cedar. The finish is long and spicy with rich espresso, black cherry, cedar, tar, and vanilla. Tar, espresso, cedar, black cherry, and raspberry linger long on the palate – a unique wine for sure.

2006 Yarden Tel Phares Syrah – Score: A-
The nose on this purple to black colored wine is rich with ripe blackberry, cassis, tar, bramble, chocolate, cherry, smoke, and spice. The mouth on this full bodied wine is super rich and ripe in the mouth with lovely mouth coating tannin, plum, blackberry, tar, and super spice. The mid palate is rich with spice, acid, chocolate, and tar. The finish is super long and spicy with blackberry, cassis, ripe cherry, tar, super spice, and black berry.

2006 Yatir Forest (82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18% Merlot) – Score: A-
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is rich with blackberry, more red fruit than the 2005 vintage, raspberry, cherry, and sweet oak. The mouth on this full bodied wine is filled with candied raspberry, ripe raspberry, and cherry. The mid palate is balanced with oak, lovely and coating tannin, and acid. The finish is long and luxurious with chocolate and smoke.

2008 Yatir Petite Verdot (85% Petite Verdot, 15% Cabernet Franc) – Score: A-
The nose on this dark garnet to deep black colored wine is rich with roasted meat, blackberry, cassis, rich espresso, oak, blackcurrant, raspberry, tar, crushed herbs, and tobacco. The mouth on this rich and mouth coating wine starts off with heavy not yet integrated tannin, espresso coffee, roasted meat, blackberry, blackcurrant, and raspberry. The mid palate is balanced with tar, acid, tobacco, roasted meat, vanilla, and cedar. The finish is long, luscious, and spicy with more roasted meat, vanilla, cedar, tobacco, and tar. This is a very interesting wine that shows its animal and espresso flavors along with rich black fruit that will turn your head.

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Posted on January 4, 2012, in Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Sparkling Wine, Kosher White Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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