Herzog International Food and Wine Festival 2011 Results

Well 2011 has come and gone and I am finally getting the chance to write up the 2011 International Food and Wine Festival (IFWF) that was held at the Herzog winery in Oxnard. In some ways it was the best ever and in some ways it was not. To start, 2011 was the fourth incarnation of this event and each time it has been well worth the trip. This past year’s event, in many ways, was the best. The food, as usual, was fantastic! The food is catered by Chef Todd Aarons, the head chef of the Tierra Sur, the world-class restaurant that is in the Herzog Winery. As usual, the food that Mr. Aarons and his staff prepare the event is bite size or a bit larger format, food that easily fits on a small plate. Essentially, think of them as normal or slightly large tapas, depending upon the food in question. As usual, the tapas were just divine, and as usual I always get the scarps. I say that because, I want to finish tasting the wines before I eat the awesome food, which would seriously inhibit my ability to write coherent wine notes. Of course, there is never a lack of good wines to taste, so essentially, I always eat whatever is left over as they are winding up the food and wine service. It is a mad rush to get some pictures and eat some food – truly sad, and totally my fault!

This past year’s event was even larger than its predecessors. As usual, the Herzog winery was fully decked out and expanded in the back by adding on a few heated tents. Normally, the French and Israeli wines were poured from the back room and the tent, behind the back room, which itself abuts to the parking lot behind it. This past year, they expanded further by pouring only Israeli wines from the entire back areas, moving Capcanes to the Spanish and Italian section, and moving all the French wines to its own room – the Herzog Situation or Conference room, which is off to the right from the entrance, essentially on the other side of the building. Some may look at that and say they relegated the French wines to the “basement”, but the way I see it, Royal has SO MANY wines to show off from its portfolio, and only so much room in the winery that they chose the best holistic group they could that would not look too small or take up too much room, in the conference room, and that fell to the French wines.

This was the first of the, not so good points, and that was the lack of communication around this change of venue for the French wines! I totally understand the complexity of it, and there was signage. However, given the drastic change that was in affect, a bit more information for some would have been good. I found myself telling many people about the new location for French wines, that they thought were AWOL for 2011. That said, I think this will not be an issue in 2012, as the event will be moving from Oxnard and the Herzog Winery to LA at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Century Plaza!

Of course, with all the room taken up by wines and wonderful food, there still needs to be place for the humans and this was issue number two, which again will be fixed in 2012. That being, there was very little room to move about as the evening moved on. I found myself having to find a corner to just write notes, let alone not to feel claustrophobic, which is a problem I do not normally exhibit. That said, I hope that the new venue will allow the event to stretch its wings and soar to higher heights with more space and more opportunities to showcase its wonderful food and wines.

I truly believe that 2011, was the first year where the wines totally out shone the food, excepting for 2008, when the French wines were truly off the hizzy. This is not in anyway a slight to Aaron’s food, rather it is a compliment to Royal wine portfolio, that has now reached world class, and something I am sure they are extremely proud of. I do not need to repeat the story of Herzog, which can be found in the middle of last year’s post, as that would be just repeating myself. I just hope you read this and it grabs you enough to buy some tickets that are going really fast for the 2012 version of the International Food and Wine Festival which will be happening in LA this year – enjoy the notes. I need to add my personal thank you to the entire Royal and Herzog staff for putting together such a great show, and much luck on your new 2012 event!

The wine notes follow below, in the order they were tasted:

2007 Domaine l’OrDeLine Chateauneuf du Pape – Score: B+ to A-
Would love to know how Herzog pulled this one off, and who is the negotiant for this wine.  I found a lovely write-up about the winery and the name, anyway, on to the note.
The nose on this light gold colored wine is hopping with kiwi, grapefruit, lemon, gooseberry, mineral, apple, and white peach.  The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich with white fruit, tropical fruit, and mineral.  The mid palate is round and balanced, with nice spice and mineral.  The finish is long with clean yet round flavors of of fruit, spice, mineral, and bramble. The wine is so classic in its minerality and clean lines yet ripe and luscious.

2009 Pascal Bouchard Chablis – Score: B+
The nose on this straw colored wine has peach, apricot, nice mineral, and grapefruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is bright with bracing acidity and nice dirt and mineral background that adds a bit of complexity. The finish is long and tart and lingers nicely on the palate, with the dirt and grapefruit/peach showing well on the finish.

2009 Chateau Maime Cotes de Provence – Score: B++
The nose on this light rose colored wine with a tint of orange is rich and slightly sweet with quince, peach, kiwi, fig, strawberry, and light mineral and spice. The mouth on this light to medium bodied wine is lightly sweet and unique with a rich and zesty mouthfeel. The wine is balanced and tart with nice spice. The finish is long and spicy with tart quince, strawberry, and mineral lingering long.

2009 Domaine Lafond Tavel – Score: B++
The nose on this pink/rose/cherry colored wine is a lovely rose with a bit more punch than your average rose colored wine! The nose starts with peach, strawberry, currant, raspberry, tart and bright dark cherry, along with rich dirt and mineral. The mouth on this medium bodied wine again channels its nose with a more rich bodied wine than your average Rose, with bright and rich fruit, while being nicely balanced with light tannin, bright fruit, and mineral. The finish is long, spicy and bright, with rich red fruit and nice mineral. This is a unique Rose and one that is quite lovely.

2004 Chateau Puligny Montrachet – Score: C
The nose on this light gold colored wine is showing obvious signs of reduction, stink and oxidized nose, quince, green apple, peach, apricot, light oak, and grapefruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine again shows oxidized reduction, with still nice acid and loamy dirt. The finish is long and spicy with peach, tart green apple, and green tea. Sadly this wine, and a few other bottles that I also tasted is almost not score-able, really just cooking wine.

2010 Domaine Netofa – White – Score: B++
The nose on this light gold colored wine shows clean and lovely nose of green apple, peach, grapefruit, kiwi, light quince, and rich/nice loamy dirt and mineral. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich and balanced with nice minerality, along with nice bright fruit that mingles well in the mouth. The finish is long and spicy with nice quince, tart green apple, grapefruit, and green tea.

2010 Baron Herzog Pinot Grigio – Score: B+
The nose on this straw colored wine is nice with green tea, lemon, green apple, and kiwi. The mouth on this light bodied wine is nice with a tart and rich mouth of fruit and nice balanced acid. The finish is long and nice with ripe grapefruit, green tea, and tart fruit. This is a nice quaffer that would go well with light fish dishes and salads.

2009 Covenant Lavan Chardonnay – Score: B+ to A-
The nose on this straw to light gold colored wine is rich and toasty, with lemon citrus, fig, creme brulee, rich toast, melon, honeysuckle, peach, apricot, and brioche. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich and mouth coating with white fruit, toasty oak, and nice balanced citrus. The finish is long and spicy with rich toasty oak, fig, ripe melon, lemon citrus, brioche, and creme brulee.

2009 Binyamina Chardonnay Reserve Unoaked Galilee (Israel, Judean Hills) – Score: A-
The nose on this straw to light gold colored wine has stayed fairly consistent between the two times I have tasted this wine, some 6 months apart. The nose explodes with rich ripe and tart summer/tropical fruit, pear, kiwi, lychee, honey, grapefruit, ripe lemon, apple, and floral notes. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is super rich with explosive fruit that follows the nose, peach, lemon, apple, kiwi, lychee, and grapefruit. The mid palate flows off the mouth with super rich and tart lemon, honey, apple, and mineral almost yeasty. The honeyed and spicy finish is super long with crazy tart fruit, lychee, grapefruit, kiwi, lemon, floral notes, and mineral. The wine is super enjoyable with more than enough attention getting fruit, minerality, and floral notes. The lack of oak is a benefit with this fruit and makes one wonder whether oaking this wine is such a good idea!

2009 Binyamina Chardonnay Reserve Galilee (Israel, Judean Hills) – Score: B++
The nose on this light gold colored wine started off muted and not nearly as bright as its unoaked brother. The nose opened to a rich and deep honeyed nose, oak, smoky toast, floral notes, grapefruit, lemon, yellow apple, and mounds of caramel and butterscotch. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is rich with honey, oak, pear, kiwi, grapefruit, lemon, and apple, all rounded with a tad of oak which seems to dull the fruit. The mid palate is oaky with toast, cut grass, and butterscotch. The finish is long and richly honeyed with butterscotch, oak, kiwi, lemon, melon, and grapefruit. Honey coated butterscotch candy along with ripe grapefruit, lemon, and melon linger.

2009 Binyamina Sauvignon Blanc Reserve (Israel, Galilee) – Score: B+
The nose on this straw to light gold colored wine is ripe with kiwi, grapefruit, peach, green apple, mineral, light cat’s pee, and bright lemon. The mouth on this nice and medium bodied wine is rich and tart with bright citrus and tropical fruit, and balanced with nice acidity. The finish is long and tart with bright citrus, kiwi, and tempered with mineral.

2007 Domaine du Castel ‘C’ Chardonnay – Score: B++
This is the second or third time we have tasted this wine and it is now starting to show its age and its losing its bright fruit and showing more and more burnt oak and less fruit. The nose on this light gold colored wine smells burnt with mounds of toasty oak, peach, green apple, almond, and apricot. The mouth on this full bodied wine is mouth coating while still astringent with bright acidity, light and dying fruit, and crazy heady burnt oak. The finish is long and spicy with lemon, green apple, and crazy burnt oak. Drink up!

2008 Elvi Wines Ness Blanco (Spain, Castilla-La Mancha, Ribera del Júcar) – Score: B+ to A-
This wine is a 50/50 Muscatel and Sauvignon Blanc blend, one that is not very common to me. When we tasted this a year ago the wine was showing nicely with Sauvignon Blanc more than Moscato. The nose on this light gold colored wine is screaming with rich honey, guava, wet grass, kiwi, and lovely grapefruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is off dry to semi-sweet with nice rich tropical fruit, honey, and balanced acidity, along with wet grass and spice. The finish is rich and tart fruit with nice honey, spice, more grass, and lemon. This is a nice tart wine with good wet grass yet rich all at the same time. This was a fun wine that has now turned more honeyed and round.

2009 Yatir Sauvignon Blanc – Score: B++
The nose on this straw with light gold halo colored wine started off with a butter or malo funk that was a bit off, along with nice kiwi, lemon, green apple, spice, and mineral. The mouth on this medium bodied wine was nice with rich brightness that is tempered slightly and rounded nicely by the oak influence. The wine is balanced nicely and the finish is long and spicy with rich tart fruit, rounded oak, and spice. A nice Sauvignon Blanc but one that just does not have enough complexity to bring the entire package together.

2009 Yatir Viognier – Score: A-
The nose on this straw colored wine is rich and heavy with bright lemon, kiwi, fresh green grass, melon, honey, and guava. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich and mouth coating yet balanced perfectly with lovely honey tones, fresh grass, and guava. The finish is long and spicy with tons of tart fruit, kiwi, and nice honeyed fruit that rounds out a finish on a grassy knoll. This is a lovely Viognier that is not as classic with rich perfume and all, but one that makes its own very enjoyable path.

2009 Elvi Wines Mati, Rioja – Score: B++ to A-
This is a lovely and extracted Tempranillo wine that sat in oak for five months and shows the oak influence by lovely coffee and light oak attributes. The nose on this dark garnet colored wine was rich with nice loamy dirt, dark plum, blackberry, strawberry, raspberry, mushroom, light oak, and espresso coffee. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich and mouth coating with more loamy dirt balanced nicely with rich tannin and acid. The finish is long and zesty with black and red fruit, nice tannin, and dirt.

2008 Elvi Wines Herenza, Rioja, Crianza – Score: A-
The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine is rich and oaky with chocolate, dark cherry, bright mineral, rich earthy loam, dark plum, cedar, raspberry, cranberry, and rich espresso coffee. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is rich, expressive, mouth coating, and lightly extracted with rich dirt, mineral, and nice fruit. The wine is balanced nicely with acid, coffee, chocolate, and vanilla. The finish is super long, spicy, and rich with dark cherry, spice, vanilla, rich espresso coffee, and chocolate. The wine is rich with a mouth of chocolate, espresso coffee, dark cherry, and black cherry linger long after this wine is gone, which is quite quick!

2007 Elvi Wines Makor (85% Bobal and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon) – Score: B++ to A-
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is rich with ripe plum, rich earth, raspberry, date, and black cherry. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich with light hints of oak, influenced from 20% of the wine being in oak for 10 months. The structure of the mouth is rich and inky, textured with nice earth notes and dark fruit, almost concentrated and rich. The wine is nicely balanced with rich and zesty acid and nice mouth coating tannin. The finish is long and tart with nice earth, rich still gripping tannin, and nice ripe and rich fruit. The oak does not show strongly in the mouth but it’s influence is felt nicely.

2007 Elvi Wines Vina Encina (33% Bobal, 26% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Tempranillo) – Score: B++
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is rich and screaming with candied fruit of cherry, raspberry, currant, garrigue, bramble, light oak, and tobacco. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is rich and spicy with candied red fruit and nice earth and bramble tones that is nicely integrating and coming together to highlight light oak influence and integrated tannin. The wine is nicely balanced with spicy notes, rich red and candied fruit, rounding oak, nice tannin, and spice.

2007 Elvi Wines Adar (25% Bobal, 25% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Tempranillo, 5% Petite Verdot) – Score: A-
The Adar has many similarities to the Vina Encina as it shares some common components, however, it differs clearly in its blacker fruit, richer dirt, and coffee. The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine is rich with candied fruit of black cherry, raspberry, dark plum, blackberry, deep earthiness, cassis, and coffee. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich with nice candied red and black fruit, balancing acid, mineral, mouth coating tannin, and spice. The wine is not so oak forward as much as it is oak influenced and rounded by sleeping in a 300L oak barrel, where the impact is not as pronounced as a smaller barrel. The finish is long and spicy with nice coffee, black fruit, integrated tannin, dirt, and oak.

2008 Elvi Wines Matiz, Rioja – Score: B+
The nose on this dark garnet, 100% Tempranillo wine, starts right out of the bottle with a powerful nose of chocolate and tobacco. As the wine opens up, the chocolate and tobacco give way to cherry and raspberry notes. The mouth on this full bodied wine is smooth and concentrated, with cherry and raspberry fruit that follow the nose. The mid palate is bright enough to balance out the wine while sharing space with a hint of tannins that are integrating nicely. The finish is long with a return of the cherry fruit, acidity, on a bed tobacco leaves and chocolate candy.

2005 Elvi Wines EL 26 (40% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot) – Score: A-
The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine is highly extracted with rich and ripe blackberry, black plum, toasty oak, raspberry, loamy dirt, bramble, chocolate, and tobacco. The mouth on this rich and super extracted mouth is complex and layered with massive and mouth coating tannin, rich and toasty oak, ripe and black fruit all coming together to make a wine that is very rich and spicy with ripe black fruit with all the components coming together nicely. The wine is balanced and the finish is toasty long and super extracted with even more mouth coating, ripe black fruit, plum, rich chocolate, and tobacco leaves.

2007 Binyamina Shiraz Reserve – Score: A-
The nose on this purple colored wine is rich with roasted meat, ripe blackberry, black cherry, black pepper, spice, ripe plum, raspberry, tobacco, and cedar. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is mouth coating and rich with nice black fruit, tannin and cedar play nicely on the palate and flow into a long and spicy finish with more mouth coating tannin, tobacco, black pepper, spice, blackberry, chocolate, and vanilla. The wine is a lovely example of a smooth ripe Shiraz without overripe or sweet overtones while being spicy and complex enough to get your attention.

2007 Binyamina Zinfandel Reserve – Score: B+
The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine starts off way to hot, however over time it calms down to expose chocolate, tobacco, cedar, raspberry, plum, blackcurrant, black cherry, crushed herbs, dirt, and mound of black pepper. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is starting to show its age with excessive date flavors that taste oxidized, plush mouth feel from nice tannin, rich loamy dirt, and fruit. The finish is long and spicy with heaps of black pepper, cedar, vanilla, and chocolate linger.

2005 Carmel Kayoumi Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: A-
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is super rich with, now classic Israeli Cabernet aromas and flavors, blackberry, tobacco, cassis, rich cedar, and some nice earthiness. The mouth on this full bodied wine is super rich and mouth coating, the mouth coating tannins have melded nicely with the rich cedar to create a nicely balanced wine whose parts are all coming together nicely, though the tannins are still a bit austere. The finish is long and concentrated with tobacco, spice, nice chocolate, and still not integrated tannins coming together to linger nicely.

2008 Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib, Flor de Primavera – Score: A-
The nose on this garnet to black colored wine is screaming with blackberry, cassis, black plum, chocolate, mocha, rich toasty cedar, and spice – what a nose! The mouth on this full bodied wine is layered with black fruit, nice mouth coating tannin, toasty cedar, that comes together in a lovely and spicy manner. The wine is nice and balanced, but still coming together in all its parts. The finish is super long and spicy, with more nice cedar, chocolate, black fruit, and tannin. The toasty cedar, plum, blackberry, and chocolate linger nicely.

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 cedar, blueberry, and rich tobacco. 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 mouth coating tannin. The wine is nicely balanced with rich and expressive tannin, cedar, and tobacco. The finish is long and extracted with nice tannin, blackberry, cassis, tobacco, and chocolate finish.

2007 Yatir Forest (50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% petite Verdot, 7% malbec, 7% Merlot) – Score: A-
The nose on this dark purple colored wine explodes with rich and concentrated plum, blackberry, toasty oak, crushed herbs, and dirt. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich and layered with massive mouth coating tannin, rich toasty oak, and rich black fruit, and nice core acid all coming together into a nice and velvety mouth feel. The finish is long and spicy with nice black plum, rich chocolate, nice crushed herb, lovely green bell pepper, chocolate, coffee, and nice dirt. This is a rich and layered wine with big tannin that needs time to settle down, along with earthy and green goodness.

2007 Capcanes Flor de Flor (100% Grenache from 105 year old vines) – Score: B++
This wine was all the rage for a year already from a winery that has been producing world-class wines that happen to be kosher. When we had the first chance to taste this bottle in Oxnard, I was not impressed as impressed as others were. The wine starts off with a nose of light oak, earthy and mushroom, raspberry, currant, loamy dirt, and some floral hints. The mouth on this medium bodied wine has integrated tannin, chocolate, tobacco, with oak that is coming together quite nicely. The wine is OK but nothing on it grabbed me with either complexity, focus, or concentration that would make me stand up and take notice.

To be fair, we tasted this wine again in NY and it showed far better – here is the note for that tasting.

2007 Segal Cabernet Sauvignon Unfiltered – Score: A-
The nose on this dark purple colored wine starts off with rich earthiness, dates, rich and ripe blackberry, cedar, tobacco, and creme de cocoa. The mouth on this full bodied wine is super rich, layered, and concentrated with massive mouth coating tannin, that is married in a lovely way with rich cedar, and ripe black fruit. The mouth is focused in way that accentuates the ripe black fruit along with the oak extraction that makes for a lovely wine. The wine is rich but it is also balanced with good acidity. The finish is long and rich with cedar, date, chocolate, tobacco, and rich black fruit. This is a lovely wine that is ready now, but could use a year and will be fine till 2017 or 2018.

2007 Barkan Superieur Pinotage – Score: A-
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is rich and filled with cedar, tobacco, raspberry, plum, currant, nice smoked meat, herbaceous notes, tobacco, and rich spice. The mouth on this full bodied wine is super rich and concentrated with massive mouth coating tannin, rich cedar, nice red fruit, and heady tobacco that is coming together quite nicely. The wine is well balanced and the finish is long, massive, and super spicy, with a fat stogie, black pepper, cedar box, ripe red fruit, and a spice box that ties the entire package up perfectly. This is by far the best Pinotage I have ever tasted, but to fair, that has not been very many.

2006 Barkan Superieur Shiraz – Score: A-
The nose on this deep purple colored wine is super rich and extracted with rich black pepper, tar, earth, bramble, ripe black plum, blackberry, raspberry, coffee, mint, and rich cedar. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich and massive with an inky structure, full on spice attack, along with a concentration and focus that comes from the rich tannin, cedar, and black fruit, and inky structure all coming together nicely. The finish is long and spicy with cedar, chocolate, tar, black pepper, and plum all lingering nicely on the palate.

2007 Domaine du Castel Grand Vin (70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 5% Petite Verdot) – Score: A-
The nose on this purple colored wine is rich with toasty oak, blackberry, plum, earthiness, crushed herbs, and raspberry. The mouth on this full bodied wine is massive and richly extracted with massive mouth coating tannin, rich black fruit, rich toasty oak, and rich earth notes, all coming together in a very harmonious manner. The finish is long and rich with still massive tannin, rich fruit, chocolate, coffee, mint, and garrigue.

2006 Binyamina Cave (65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 2% Petite Verdot) – Score: A-
This wine has been around for many years and this is the first vintage that I really liked. In part that had to do with the fact that Binyamina, who bought and now owns the boutique winery, was flash pasteurizing the wine (Mevushal), for the US export business. Now, the wine is being left alone and it is improving greatly. The 2006 vintage was a fantastic vintage for Israel, and this bottle is no less wonderful. The nose on this garnet colored wine is super rich with nice cedar, rich candied fruit, raspberry, black cherry, chocolate, blackberry, and mint. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is hits you with a rich concentration of black fruit, rich cedar wood, nice tannin that comes together nicely. The finish is long with cedar, rich chocolate, cedar, and nice tannin that last long on the palate with a hint of mint and herb.

2007 Binyamina Diamond, Avnei Hachoshen Ya’alom (50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah and 20% Petite Verdot) – Score: A
We tasted this wine last year at the event in Oxnard when Assaf brought in a bottle or two of this wonder on the slide. The wine we tasted this year was an almost identical wine that we tasted last year – rich and wonderful.

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.

2006 Binyamina Ruby, Avnei Hachoshen, Syrah – Score: A- to A
The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine is packed with super sweet and ripe blackberry, cassis, tobacco, ripe black plum, raspberry, creme de cocoa, and sweet oak. This full bodied wine has a crazy complex and layered mouth with an inky structure, rich extraction, integrating tannin, and sweet oak, all coming together nicely now. The finish is long, spicy, and complex with nicely integrated tannins, date, sweet oak, ripe plum, and chocolate. This wine is rich and layered, though the wine is coming up on its end life – another year or so.

2006 Binyamina Sapphire, Avnei Hachoshen Sapir (45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Syrah and 25% Merlot) – Score: A-
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine hits you first with some alcohol, dark plum, blackberry, raspberry, coffee, mineral, and cedar. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich and layered with nice mouth coating tannin and sweet cedar that are coming together nicely. The wine is balanced with a long and spicy finish of blackberry, coffee, rich tobacco, and cedar. A lovely and rich wine with solid focus and complexity.

2007 Binyamina Aquamarine, Avnei Hachoshen Tarshish (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) – Score: B++ to A-
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is rich and expressive with rich coffee, oak, blackberry, cassis, plum, raspberry, crushed herbs, and pencil shavings. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is rich with spicy oak, red fruit, nice tannin and date. The finish is long and spicy with spicy oak, coffee, nice tannin, and herbs.

2009 Goose Bay Pinot Noir Reserve (not mevishal) – Score: B++ to A-
This is a non-mevushal version of the usual Goose Bay Pinot Noir. The slap that the Goose Bay wines get are that they live for a year or two and no more. Many think it is because of the mevushal process, but this one is not mevushal and so it is a great wine to either be confirm or be a rebuttal to the lack of longevity of the Goose Bay wines. This is a small batch wine, only 250 cases were produced. The nose on this bright ruby colored wine is rich and bright with tart cherry, a rich and loamy dirt that is actually perfumed, rich coffee, raspberry, strawberry, and currant. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is rich with still integrating mouth coating tannin, rich candied and tart red fruit, nice earthiness, and oak, from being in new French barrels for 11 months. The parts are still coming together, with the tannic structure needed time to settle in. The finish is long and tannic with nice tart red fruit, coffee, and kirshce cherry. Look for a bit of leather in a year and the wine to be coming together as well.

2009 Goose Bay Pinot Noir – Score: B+
When tasting this wine at the event the wine was not showing well at all. We later drank this wine and it showed far better. The nose on this ruby colored wine has strawberry, light cherry, bramble, rich earth, espresso coffee, and rich oak. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich and almost dense with spicy oak, nice tannin, rich red fruit, and mounds of dirt, with kisrche cherry making a solo appearance on the finish.

2003 Chateau de la Tour Clos Vougeot, Grand Cru – Score: B++
AHH!!! This wine is infuriating! One bottle is rich and extracted and crazy cool, the next time I taste it from a different bottle it is DOA. The thing I do with the French wines is taste them a few times along the evening, as they tend to be hit and miss. If I find a wine that is consistent across bottles, we are good. At this tasting it was OK. This is the third time we are tasting this wine, and it is still as I remember it, powerful tannins, rich mouth feel, and oak extraction that is just now getting under control. That said, please stay with my previous advice, buy from a reputable merchant who will be happy to take the wine back if the bottle is DOA. This is an expensive wine, so be sure to have that assurance.

The mouth dark garnet colored wine is rich with spicy raspberry, cherry, plum, coffee, rich earthy loam, mushroom, oak, and crushed herbs. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich with still massive tannin that is melding now lovely with the rich oak and bright and intense red fruit. The wine is perfectly balanced and the tart and intense fruit rise on the finish with more tannin, oak, rich coffee, and lovely dirt. This is a great wine if the bottle is right.

2009 Domaine Netofa, Latour Netofa (70% Syrah and 30% Mourvedre) – Score: A-
The nose on this classic Rhone styled wine is super rich and bright with ripe plum, blackberry, crushed herb, rich tar, cherry, and nice mineral. The nose is super rich and expressive and makes you stand up and take notice with rich earth and fruit. The wine also has a controlled approach to oak, though the oak influence is noted in the perfumed nose and rich rounded mouth, but not a star, more of an accent that really makes the wine seem Rhone like and less American Rhone-rider like. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is super rich and inky in structure, along with nice bright and ripe fruit, and mouth coating tannin that makes for a lovely wine that is rich yet controlled with nice fruit. The finish is long, spicy, and balanced with nice acid, rich fruit, tar, coffee, and mineral. One of the best kosher Rhone styled wines.

2009 Chateau de Parsac, Montagne-St-Emilion (mevushal) – Score: B++
The nose on this deep garnet colored wine is screaming with earth, loamy dirt, mushroom, rich raspberry, currants, anise, and oak. The wine is a Bordeaux blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. This medium to full bodied wine starts with a rich caressing mouth coating tannin, that is supported by more earth, raspberry, and currants, along with nice oak and coffee. The finish is long and spicy with rich coffee, more nice mouth coating tannin, rich earth, plum, and ripe currant. Quite a nice mevushal bottle!

2009 Flechas de Los Andes Gran Malbec – Score: B++
The nose on this garnet colored wine is super rich with heavy extraction with rich toasty oak, blackberry, crushed herb, rich tobacco, plum, raisin, chocolate, and cherry. The mouth on this insanely full bodied wine is rich and toasty with mouth coating tannin, rich toasty oak, tobacco, and rich fruit all come together to create a mouth that shows its influence from oak encasement. The finish is long and spicy with massive tannin, raisin, chocolate, and tobacco. This wine is super rich and focused but the complexity is what is missing to make this a superior wine.

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, loamy dirt, rich fruit, along with clear oak impact, giving the mouth a rich and layered attack of ripe fruit and massive mouth coating tannin that is still coming together. The mid palate is balanced with rich and bright fruit, along with a long and spicy finish, nice tannin, chocolate, oak, red fruit, and more nice dirt. This wine attacks and does not let up till well after the wine is gone.

2005 Chateau Leoville Poyferre Saint Julien (62% Cab, 28% Merlot, 8% Petite Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc) – Score: A-
The nose on this garnet to black colored wine has a huge and crazy nose of chocolate, oak, raspberry, blackberry, cassis, mint, creme de cocoa, tobacco, and mineral. The mouth on this rich, concentrated, and extracted full bodied wine shows a massive and complex mouth with rising tannin, rich oak, and chocolate that is truly unique. The wine is classically French with balancing acid. The finish is super long and lovely with tobacco, rich oak, mint, mineral, and chocolate. This is wine is truly lovely and very enjoyable tasting it side by side with its slightly better and older 2003 sibling.

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 mouth coating tannin, ripe red and black fruit, spicy oak that brings the entire rich wine together. The wine is balanced, 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.

2004 Chateau Labegorce Margaux – Score: B+
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is rich and expressive with lovely mint, crushed herb, eucalyptus, blackberry, raspberry, plum, oak, and coffee. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is nice and round with lovely mouth coating tannin, rich and ripe fruit, nice oak, and coffee. The finish is long, with rich tannin, raspberry, chocolate, oak, and mint. The mouth is showing well but I would not hold this for a long time, maybe a year or two at most – drink up!

2005 Chateau Malartic Lagraviere Grand Cru Pessac-Leognan – Score: A-
WOW what a rich and smoky wine. The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is smoking with an almost smoke screen like aroma, over a sea of intense dry and candied raspberry, ripe blackberry, rich currant, mint, plum, and rich chocolate. The mouth on this blockbuster full bodied wine is intense, structured, and concentrated with lovely and massive tannin, rich fruit, and smokey oak. The finish is super long and concentrated with bright fruit, acid, fat cigar tobacco, nice oak, mint, and a long slug of mocha. This is a rich and layered wine that is well worth seeking out and one that will reward your perseverance for another 6 or 7 years at least!

2008 Herzog Oak Knoll Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) – Score: A-
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is rich with nice raspberry, blackberry, plum, chocolate, cedar, cassis, and pencil shavings. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine starts off with a strong hit of spicy oak, ripe fruit, and massive tannin that has not yet even started to come together, this wine will hopefully be there soon, but for now open early or decant. The finish on this wine is long and spicy with rich spicy oak, ripe black and red fruit, and a fair amount of chocolate. This is a wine that needs time and as it ages look for some leather and richer fruit to appear.

2006 Herzog Generation VIII Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley,To-Kalon Vineyard) – Score: A
This is the third or fourth time I have tasted this wine, and every time I taste it I am impressed and in true awe. The nose on this black colored wine is screaming with rich toasty oak, creme de cocoa, black cherry, blackberry, cassis, and rich spice. The mouth on this massive full bodied wine is rich, layered, huge, and concentrated, with mouth coating 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.

Posted on February 6, 2012, in Israeli Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Rose Wine, Kosher Semi Sweet Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting, Winery Visit and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. interesting notes, David. The Zur Agency, Royal/Herzog’s agent in Israel, is having a similar tasting in Israel without most of the Israeli wines you listed (except Netofa which is the only Israeli wine they represent in Israel) and I am interested to taste a lot of the non-Israeli kosher wines you tried to see how they stack up against Israeli wines.

    Generally speaking, I think Israel by far is the best region in the world for kosher wines (partly because so much of non-Israeli wine is mostly mevushal which can show in wines more so as they age) I’m eager to taste some of these wines that I’ve so far heard of but ignored as I’ve indulged in honing an Israeli specialization

    • First off David, I love your work and I do love Israeli wines. That said, some are overly “sweet/fat” and that is why I am so excited by the work of Recanati on their Syrah and Carignan, though the 2008 RSR is also a bit too sweet.

      The cool thing about some of Netofa’s wines is that they remind me of nice acidic and balanced French wines. Also, please try ALL of Elvi’s wines, they are unique and do not carry that same sweetness, though they are in a Mediterranean climate, of coarse.

      Also the Capcanes Peeraj Habib, and the winning French wines are worth a look as well.

      David

      • thank you for the kind words David (do you know the “Kids in the Hall” song “these are the Dave’s I know”)

        there are more and more Israeli wines going from what you might call “sweet/fat” and others might call New World or ripe/higher alcoholic fruity to more subtle/nuanced lower alcohol Old World wines

        Recanati is one fine example and we’re seeing more movement here on the boutique front than the larger wineries (as the boutiques need to show uniqueness to justify typically higher prices)

        Recanati’s winemaking team changed in 2008 with California trained US born Lewis Pasco being replaced with Israeli born although California trained Gil Shatsberg (note his name is in print in several incarnations including Shatzberg)

        Recanati wine were award winners before the change so it was a big risk for Gil an Ido Lewinsohn (the other winemaker at Recanati) to change styles (not Gil had worked at Carmel as part of the team and senior winemaker at the Israeli boutique Amphorae (where he won several awards) before moving to Recanati) Ido had worked on Lewis Pasco too but was more of an assistant to Lewis than to Gil we he’s more influential as part of the winemaking team with Gil taking the lead

        why that is important is Ido has a lot more European & international training that has helped with Recanati’s evolution post 2008…

        Ido studied at Italy’s University of Milan as well as interning in France and Tasmania before working at Recanati (and has a non-certified garage winery in Israel called Lewinsohn Winery…Garage du Papa label)

        Gil is the decision maker but Ido has helped in choosing new Burgundy coopers, implementing the use of sur lees (for reds and whites) and non-malolactic Chardonnays (which is becoming more common in Israel…i.e Odem Mountain and Tzuba’s Chardonnay)

        BTW… I’m getting pushed towards writing scores since Daniel Rogov passed last year… the industry has a vacuum of someone giving 100 point scores (wine shops and importers and even consumers seem dependent on them… I’ve resisted because I have reservations of scoring any art form ( and I like to think of wine as “organic consumable art”) but if the industry has a need I might step into the role…what I would probably do is only publish scores of wines I recommend because I think wine scores capture a moment in time and to publish a bad score can hurt well motivated people who’ve invested years and small fortunes into a wine… we’ll see how it plays out but this is my first announcement that scores might be forthcoming…I’m not sure how I’ll approach tasting notes even if I give scores because I think tasting notes are so personal that it makes newcomers feel awkward when they don’t taste and smell the same attributes…I’d rather tell technical information such as malolactic non-malo…sur lees non sur lees…type of oak (French or American) ratio new to old and a few key flavors/ vineyard information…winery flavor notes (if I find them to hold true and educate on what they might expect by telling varietal notes on whats in the wine

        from my time attending wine school and my experience since I came to believe you can have several good palettes in the same room write completely different notes so to publish them as gospel can be interesting as far as far as comparing notes but unfair or confusing to consumers as too what they should expect from their experience

        BTW I’ve been recruited by a new site Wines from Israel which should launch soon…we’ll see how that plays out as well

        best of luck in your endeavors and once again it was nice meeting you at Sommelier in Tel Aviv

  2. Thanks for the information. I learned quite a bit from your article.

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