2012 Herzog International Wine Festival – a feast for all the senses under the big top!

This past week I was under a big top enjoying kosher wines from around the world and Chef Aaron Todd’s sumptuous splendors were available for all to enjoy. The event was the 2012 Herzog International Food and Wine Festival (IFWF) that was being held at the stately Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Century City. Last year’s event was held at the state-of-the-art Herzog Winery, in Oxnard CA. The intimate lighting and setting was lovely last year, but the combination of the Royal’s larger wine portfolio, the wonderful food, and the growing crowds made it feel like the event was getting too big for its britches. So, with much dismay we waited to hear where the event was going to move to. When the word came out that the event was going to be held at the legendary Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Century City – the event became the must attend hot ticket event for everyone who enjoys food and wine in the LA area – which is about all Los Angelenos.

Now before anyone thinks the event was held in the stately Los Angeles Ballroom – it was not. Actually, it was held in the lovely Plaza Pavilion, whose name does not even begin to give the unique 9,000+ square foot space its due. The event was moved from the somewhat cramped, yet intimate, setting of the winery to a beautiful tent that is a permanent fixture in the hotel and the social calendar of many a LA party hopper. Actually it is with good reason, if I may say so, as the room is a long rectangle with sufficient yet dim-able lighting and enough space to host the many food and wine stands that the 500 or so attendees partook of. Never during the evening did I feel cramped or claustrophobic like I did last year. Further, while the smell of charring wood and meat is a huge turn-on (for me), it totally messes with my olfactory abilities, which when attending a wine tasting (not drinking) event – really bites! There were copious examples of carnivore delights, which were all prepared on site, but the smells did not permeate the walls of the pavilion. The larger space allowed for more vertical sitting spaces with round tables, in case you were not heads down like I was tasting wines. Also, the ability to stroll out of the pavilion and sit in the reception area, a few feet away, made for a far more roomy feeling event. Finally, the pavilion’s lovely champagne, antique gold and chocolate-brown colors, along with the chandeliers and wall-to-wall carpeting made for an evening of sheer elegance and grandeur. Just an aside, while the surroundings were indeed attention grabbing, the guests who attended the event were equally well draped. Some came with tails and a top hat, others dressed to kill in evening ware gowns and suits. I of course, jeans and long sleeve shirt, however, the majority of the crowd were clearly channeling the elegance of the evening.

The confluence of events that just happened to fall on Wednesday, February 15th, made it feel like the odds were stacked against a successful foray out of Herzog’s home base. First it rained – I mean pouring rain! If any of you saw L.A. Story, I hope you can appreciate how rare that is – even in the so-called winter! Further, POTUS decided to do not one, but TWO drive-bys, bringing traffic to a standstill while people craned their necks to catch a glimpse of the most powerful man in the free world. Still, blessedly, nor rain nor sleet nor traffic (the latter a very common malady that Los Angelenos are used to) can keep good citizens of LA from enjoying some seriously good wine and food. The event to me was a major success for many reasons, but the main reason was the fact that sure the event was attended by Jews interested in seeing what wines to buy for the upcoming Purim and Passover. However, there was a large contingency of party goers who attended the evening festivities to enjoy good food and wine – irreverent to their religious and dietary beliefs (which trust me in LA is saying a LOT)! The opportunity to show the L.A. glitterati that the word kosher does not relegate one to an automatic 15 minute timeout, is serious step forward for the kosher industry.

As usual I was there bright and early, and kindly they let me through so that I could spend the early time taking the requisite pictures of bottles and such (yeah they may not win me any awards – but are better than last year for sure)! Once the required photos were taken care of, I moved on to going through the white wines, many of were new, and then the reds, with the rose wines sandwiched in between. There were many winners and some losers. The clear feeling from many on the forum was that for some reason the wines were wound up tight and in deep sleep. With so many to taste that leaves you very little time to awaken them from their slumber – lest you end up tasting 10 wines instead of 70. I found this to be the case as well, many of the wines were closed tight and the big red wines, like the To Kalon and others were not showing as well as last year. It caused me two problems, it slowed me down as at times I was not sure if it was me or the wines. Second, when people came to ask me what I thought about the wines, it made me give pause, as I was not sure if I was answering for the wines we tasted or for the actual wines – which is the opposite effect that the event is intended for.

In the end the clear winners were some of the French wines, which I have tasted in the past two years, but not this time around and the Shiloh Wines, a small portion of which I had tasted the night before (at the cask in LA). The Herzog wines were fine but they were more like the supermodel in the back rather than the one strutting their stuff on the runway. I hope my notes will give some light on the varied wines and wineries that were present at the event. There were some new wineries presenting their ware that we have spoken about in previous postings, like Flam Winery, Tulip Winery, 1848 winery (high-end wines of Zion Winery), and Pacifica. There were also wineries showing wines in L.A. for the first time; Psagot and Shiloh.

As usual I never did make my way to the food – the tastings were far too interesting to me. I did grab some of the fish bowl and a bunch of the lamb sausage but I missed the fried quail, beef cheeks, lamb ribs, and other wonderful stuff. Thankfully, I did get some of the sugared lamb bacon – to die FOR, along with some of the sweetbread taurine and liver pate, both of which took courage for me to try, and were quite lovely.

I need to send shout outs to Joe Hurliman for always being the consummate gentleman, and now the consummate social bug, he is all over Twitter and Facebook! Also, my many thanks to David Whittemore, Gary Landsman and the rest of the Royal and Herzog crew for the countless hours spent to make the event as enjoyable and successful as it was.

You will be seeing the complete wine notes soon, but for now, here were some of my top wines of the show:

2009 Yatir Viognier – Score: A-
Nice petrol and floral notes all wrapped into a mouth coating honey, fig, nice mineral, and tropical fruit delight. The rich mineral, fig, tart lemon, and sweet notes make for a nice round finish.

2009 Shiloh Chardonnay – Score: A-
A nose that reminds me of Castel’s ‘C’, in ways, with rich burnt toasty oak, brioche, peach, all wrapped up in a mouth filling butterscotch and lemon treat. The nice apple, summer fruit, round out the mouth and show up again in the long and spicy finish with highlighting oak and citrus.

2010 Goose Bay Suavignon Blanc – Score: B++ to A-
Though not a top scorer, quite lovely so added here. The wine is expressive with bright lemon ripe grapefruit, mineral, spice, along with a mouth that is mineral and fruit based yet bright, tart, rich, and enjoyable with enough complexity to keep your attention.

2011 Castel Rose – Score: A-
The wine is unique a real nice kosher rose that has more than just strawberry and nice fruit. This wine has complexity and concentration that belies it obvious youth. Clearly not a wine for cellaring but one that should be fine for a year or two, which is saying something for a kosher rose. The nose starts off with rich mineral, heavy attack of citrus, strawberry, raspberry, and nice cherry. The mouth is filling with good mineral, slate, bramble, and ripe red fruit.

2009 Capcanes Peraj Petita – Score: A-
In many ways this wine is consistent and not just an entry-level wine that Capcanes would like you to believe. This is a wine that many wineries would dream to be a front line wine in their portfolios. A blend of Grenache, Samso and Temparanillo, all Spanish varietals that have had great success in the Montsant wine region. The nose starts off with plum, blackcurrant, and coffee. The mouth is filled with rich coffee, ripe black forest fruit, toasty almost burnt cedar, nice black fruit, rich mouth feel, along with mouth coating tannin. The finish is long with heavy spice, toast and bramble.

2010 Tulip Just Merlot – Score: Almost A-
This is the first year that the winery released a kosher version of this wine. The wine shows clear mineral and dirt expressions, along with light oak, blackcurrant, plum, and raspberry. The mouth is mouth coating with nice tannin, coffee, and good extraction, all wrapped in a spicy and fruity finish with citrus zest and raisin.

2010 Tulip Just Cabernet Sauvignon – A-
This is the second time we have tasted this wine, and the wine continues to show nicely. The nose on this wine explodes with ripe black fruit, blackberry, blackcurrant, roasted herb, loamy dirt, chocolate, and nice cedar. The mouth is rich and focused with nice and integrating tannin, raspberry, and good extraction. The finish ends with light leather, chocolate, and vanilla.

2006 1848 Special Reserve – Score: A-
This is one of the few wines imported from Israel without an OU or OK, because it is made with the famous Badatz supervision from Israel, which is accepted the world over. The wine is a blend of 78% Cabernet and 22% Petit Syrah (written here as shown on the bottle), a lovely and unique blend. The black colored wine has a heavy nose of blackberry, black plum, blueberry, blackcurrant, chocolate, and raspberry. The mouth is super rich, with mouth coating tannin, ripe almost sweet plum, date, and heavy extraction. This wine may not be everyone’s cup of tea – but a nice new-world wine none the less. The finish is long and spicy with lots of chocolate, more ripe black fruit, mounds of vanilla, and spice.

2007 1848 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve – score: A-
The wine is a blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 3% Petite Sirah, with each component being  aged in oak for 12 months before the final blend was made and then returned to oak for an additional 3 months. The nose on this richly purple wine starts off with heavy oak, massive plum aromas, date, tobacco, blackberry, with some anise, herb, and mint. The mouth is full but not overly sweet and not with too much oak or burnt toast. Rather the mouth is rich and mouth coating with ripe black fruit, some raspberry, currant, along with massive and not yet settled tannin. The finish is long with nice tannin, vanilla, chocolate, and plum.


2009 Shiloh Shor Barbera (Mevushal) – Score: B+ to A-
Barbera is one of those wines that can be massive or a medium bodied. It is a fruit that likes the Mediterranean environment and heat that wineries in Israel struggle with. I would not be surprised if we see more wineries in Israel using this varietal in more wines. Galil makes a lovely wine with this varietal as does a few boutique wineries in Israel. The nose on this light purple colored wine is filled with espresso coffee, currant, raspberry, crushed herb, prune, light hints of oak, chocolate, and vanilla. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich and spicy with red candied fruit, high alcohol, mouth coating tannin, nice yet restrained oak, and herb all coming into a mouth that feels coated. The finish is long and spicy with vanilla, red fruit, light leather, spice, prune, and chocolate.

2007 Shiloh Cabernet/Merlot, Shor – Score: A-
The nose on this classic Bordeaux blend starts off with chocolate, light oak, cranberry, and blackberry.  The mouth shows expressive ripe plum, raspberry, heavy spice, cassis, and mouth coating tannin. The finish is long and spicy with black fruit, mounds of cinnamon, eucalyptus, and vanilla.

2007 Shiloh Cabernet Sauvignon, Shor – Score: A-
The nose on this Cabernet runs true to its varietal with nice black cherry, blackberry, anise, graphite, chocolate, raspberry, and spice. The mouth is rich with black fruit and integrated tannins. The finish is mouth coating with ripe fruit, plum, spice, light green notes, and olives.

2009 Shiloh Legend – Score: A- to A
This wine is following a growing trend in Israel to create a blend that is truly unique to the Mediterranean climate in Israel. It is not easy to create a blend with varietals that have no real history together. The blend of 45% Shiraz, 40% Petit Sirah, 9% Petit Verdot, and 6% Merlot is complex because the fruits must match in many ways to allow the wine to balance and show the expressive qualities that lie within each of them. Quite a lovely wine that is almost as good as the 2007 Carmel Mediterranean and other new unique blends. The nose starts with heavy burnt oak, followed by raspberry, black plum, currant, and blackberry. The mouth is rich with ripe fruit, spice, graphite, mineral, and anise, along with mouth coating tannin to make a rich yet balanced wine. The finish is long with light tar notes, crushed herb, citrus zest, mineral, chocolate, vanilla, and tobacco. Quite a rich and focused wine with a whole bunch of stuff going on. One I am sure the late Daniel Rogov tasted but never shared with us because the wine had yet to be released before his passing.

2009 Shiloh Cabernet Secret Reserve – Score: A- to A
The nose on the secret reserve is richer and blacker than the 2007 Cabernet Shor wine, with blackberry, nice graphite, cassis, and crushed herbs. The mouth is rich and full with mouth coating tannin, spice, and oak. The finish is long and aromatic with heavy chocolate, vanilla, and mineral notes that linger.

2006 Shiloh Mosaic – Score: A- to A
Another lovely blend, though more Bordeaux than unique (excepting for the Petite Sirah of course), 60% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot. The nose starts off blackberry and super ripe fruit, then adds in heavy toasted oak and graphite. The mouth is layered and full bodied with mouth coating tannin, black plum, with a restrained use of oak on the mouth all coming together nicely. The finish is long and luscious with nice chocolate, leather, vanilla, and a final attack of more red and black fruit, and crushed herbs.

Posted on February 23, 2012, in Food and drink, Israeli Wine, Kosher Dessert Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Rose Wine, Kosher Sparkling Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

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