International Food & Wine Festival (IFWF) in Oxnard brings back great memories!

These past two weeks have been what the Jews call the 9 days that are rather famous for the infamous events that have occurred in this specific span of time. Thankfully, once they were passed Herzog Cellars and Royal Wines put on an encore event of the IFWF (International Food and Wine Festival), this time in the Herzog Winery itself, to celebrate the winery’s 25th year in the industry! What an event and celebration it was! It brought back memories of the old IFWF events that were held in Oxnard, since the inaugural IFWF event in 2008.

Sure there were some 200 or so in attendance, but with the fully expanded setup, including an enclosure in the back that housed the French wine table, dessert table, and room to hunker down, it felt spacious and very comfortable.

In many ways, this event felt like an almost exact replay of the first International Food and Wine Festival. The crowd size was perfect, there was room for you to hunker down and taste wines and there was room for you to huddle up and talk with friends or people of like or dislike opinions.

Besides the layout and crowds, the food was absolutely fantastic, just like in previous events here. Once again, Todd Aarons and Gabe Garcia created wondrous delights that were so wrong in all the right ways! Of course, I came to the food area too late to partake of all of the goodies, but I still got to taste many fantastic culinary treats, including the absolutely stunning puffed chicken nuggets topped with incredibly tasty barbecue sauce.

Unfortunately, I came a bit late to this event because of what I came to call parking lot A and B (405 and 101 respectively). Whenever, I watch the Dodgers or the Angels, I can now understand why the crowds are so empty for the first three innings, because everyone is parked on one or more highways! My guess to why they all leave by the 7th inning is that after the folks get so aggravated waiting in the traffic, they get tired and want to go home. Quite clearly getting to and from any event in LA adds a few hours to the overall time and that is aggravating and tiring. However, like I, once the guests arrived they had to almost physically throw us out. The place did start to peter out in the last hour, but the place was still humming and drinking until the last second.

Since many of the wines were a repeat from the event earlier in the year in LA, I concentrated on the French and US tables, where I was a bit light in February. There were new Herzog wines, including the coming out party for the 2010 Herzog Petite Sirah, Prince Vineyard wine. This wine blew me away! It may not be a Brobdingnagian like wine, but it is more like a lushly floral Dalton Petite Sirah. The wine is beautiful and may well deserve to be placed in jail for its sheer redolent entrapment! This wine is not only lovely it is also Herzog’s first ever “estate bottled” wine! It turns out that Herzog recently bought the very vineyard from which they sourced the grapes for both the Herzog Clarksburg Chenin Blanc and the Weinstock Petite Sirah (the Weinstock Petite Sirah is a 50/50 blend of Lodi and Prince Vineyard grapes). Herzog bought the Prince Vineyard that resides in the Clarksburg AVA when it became available for sale, but still does not allow them to place the words – estate bottled on their label.

Estate Bottled means simply that the winery controls the vineyard and therefore should be able to control the quality of the wine that is made from those grapes. Mind you, the laws around what you can and cannot place on a label are simple yet complicated! If you are bored and have nothing to do, check out the wine label laws here, that are defined by the TTB (Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau).

The Estate Bottled law is defined as:

“Estate Bottled” means that 100 percent of the wine came from grapes grown on land owned or controlled by the winery, which must be located in a viticultural area. The winery must crush and ferment the grapes and finish, age, and bottle the wine in a continuous process on their premises. The winery and the vineyard must be in the same viticultural area.

Meaning:

  1. The winery must crush the grapes and make the wine 100% sourced from the vineyard
  2. The winery MUST own 100% of the vineyard or controls it via a lease
  3. The winery must be in the same viticultural area as the vineyard

Almost all of the vineyards that Herzog sources its grapes from are under their control, either because they lease the vineyards or because they now own the vineyard. However, the fly in the ointment is the co-location of the vineyard and the winery! When people come and see the beautiful Herzog winery in Oxnard, CA, they think this place is in the middle of nowhere, they made a winery way outside any wine region or area. In fact they could not be more wrong! Herzog’s winery is located in the heart of the Ventura County Winery Association, which is at the edge of the South Coast AVA. However, not much in terms of top quality grapes grow in this region, so while Herzog may well lease or buy land in the top wine growing regions of California, they are not actually located in one. All this means is that while they may make and produce wines that are sourcing grapes from the best regions of California and make some fantastic wines, they are currently unable to put the magical words “estate bottled” on their labels, even though they care for and control both the winery and the vineyards that they source from. It is for this reason that Herzog placed the words “estate bottled” (with quotes) on the back of their label in the explanation of the wine and not on the label itself.

Another aspect of the new 2010 PS that one will find fascinating, other than the aromas and flavors is the front label itself. The label has a picture of grape picker putting the grapes into a basket that is strapped to the back of a man who will carry the grapes to the presser. The picture on the label is one of seven paintings that hangs in the Royal Wine tasting room. The story behind these paintings is part story and part lore, and according to the blog on Herzog cellars – it goes like this:

The year was 1968 – almost 40 years before Herzog Wine Cellars would open its doors in Oxnard, California. Our sister winery, Kedem, had been operating in upstate New York since 1948. Housed in what was once the local railroad station, the tasting room was steeped in history and nostalgia. One day, a traveler emerged from near the adjacent railroad tracks and wandered into the Kedem tasting room. He was a painter looking for work, and asked if he could paint some pictures for the tasting room. The late Ernest Herzog, who at that time ran the winery, agreed. Not only would he be helping out a stranger, but also gaining some artwork to adorn the weathered walls. The result was seven amazingly beautiful paintings, each one encompassing a different aspect of winemaking. To this day, we wonder about the traveler’s past – he captured the vineyard scenes and winemaking process with such accuracy and detail, it seems as if he himself might have once worked in the wine industry. The paintings truly seem to encompass the Herzog family’s rich history of winemaking – from the vineyards of Czechoslovakia in Europe, to New York, and finally, to California. Ernest was amazed by the works of art, and even more so when the stranger would only accept a mere $100 for his work. To this day, the paintings hang in the Kedem tasting room, having witnessed the last sixty years of daily life there. In honor of our history and family, we have decided to release a line of wine labels commemorating these paintings.

This is the second wine to be released using these paintings, the first one was the 2006 Herzog To-Kalon press wine, which we reviewed here. The other wine that was recently released and that I enjoyed at the winery event was the 2010 Herzog Chardonnay, Russian River, Reserve. The wine does show its classic oak and butter, but this one seemed a bit more controlled and tame in comparison to previous years and one that was actually quite nice. I also got to taste the new 2009 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Special Reserve, which was quite lovely and a bit green in nature which was quite yummy to me. However, the shocker to me was the 2008 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Edition, Warnecke Vineyard, Chalk Hill. The wine was showing so much better than in February, and was absolutely stunning at the Oxnard event, maybe one of the best since the epic 1997 and 2000 vintages.

I also had the chance to taste through some French wines and some were actually quite lovely, including the Pontet Canet, the 2004 Chateau Leoville Poyferre, and the always controversial Clos Vougeot, Chateau De La Tour, Grand Cru. The last few times we had the 2003 Clos Vougeot, Chateau De La Tour, Grand Cru – it was dead on arrival, and it happened again as well. The first bottle I enjoyed with Gary G. was beautiful and breathtaking, the second time I tasted the wine, at the end of the evening (not sure if it was a different bottle or not) the wine was horrible, astringent, and undrinkable. It was not only my opinion, it was also the opinion of a couple of folks who were around me when I tried it. The wine continues to confound me with its Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde presentation and one that I must continue to warn you all about, ignoring the fantastic potential of the wine when it is on.

There were a few good white wines that I wanted to tell you about, the Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc that I loved the last time we had it at The Kitchen Table, the 2007 Selection Bokobsa Sancerre, which we enjoyed in February, and the 2009 Chablis from Pascal Bouchard. The 2009 Pascal Bouchard Chablis is nice, but I am not sure if it is worth the 36 or so dollars that stores are charging for it. The Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc is reasonably priced at 16 or so dollars.

Finally, there was a Pouilly Fume, the 2007 Pouilly Fume, Domaine De Maltaverne which was way too astringent and had a lovely side of dirty socks. Not a wine that I would buy, but also one that will not break your bank account if you want to try it out, goes for about 30 or so dollars.

So there you go, the real winners were Israeli wines that I already had a few times this year, so I passed on them. The Herzog wines were very solid to awesome! The French wines were below average to great and the 2009 Flechas de los Andes Gran Malbec showed itself as being way over the top! The Gran Malbec was overly sweet with super ripe fruit and heavy oak and tannin. Clearly a wine that is not meant to be enjoyed by itself, rather it belongs with a chunk of meat, thick stew, or extra rich cheese.

Many thanks to the Herzog Winery folks for putting together another epic event! The wines were quite enjoyable, the food was insanely good, at least what I had the chance to taste, and the guests were all very nice and very talkative, which made the event for me all that more enjoyable. The wine notes follow below in the order they were enjoyed:

2009 Binyamina Chardonnay Reserve Galilee (Israel, Judean Hills) – Score: B++
The nose on this light gold colored wine has improved in ways from the last time we tasted this two years ago. 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.

2010 Herzog Chardonnay, Special Reserve, Russian River – Score: B++
Showing plenty of grapefruit, with an opening whiff of guava, melon, green apple, and petrol aromas. The mouth tastes slightly reduced with lovely brioche , creme bruelle, rich fig, and cedar notes clearly influenced by its 12 months of American and French oak. The finish is spicy with baskets of quince, butterscotch, buttery notes, and summer fruit.

2010 Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc – Score: B+
The wine is a kosher version of the Spencer Hill wine group out of New Zealand. The wine is a perfect accompaniment to the end of a hot summer day, or as a lovely aperitif given its deep mineral and acid backbone. The wine is expressive with bright lemon, gooseberry, freshly mowed grass, ripe grapefruit, slate, and mineral. The wine is round, ripe, and super tart, while also being mouth filling with sweet ripe summer fruit and tropical accents. The finish is long and mineral with good complexity to keep your attention while also being nicely balanced.

2011 Tulip White Tulip – Score: B++
This wine is a blend of 70% Gewürztraminer and 30% Sauvignon Blanc with the sweet and floral notes of the Gewürztraminer showing nicely with guava, and banana, while the green apple and bright lemon notes from the Sauvignon Blanc blend together in a unique manner, along with mineral, and bright lemon. The mouth is nice, almost viscous, and honeyed with light petrol, and tart citrus. The finish is long with both sweet lemon creme and bright lemon at the same time, along with fig, and tart notes. This is a great wine that would go well with fish or sushi.

2007 Pouilly Fume, Domaine De Maltaverne, Loire – Score: B
Poulliy Fume is a unique style of Sauvignon Blanc with egg-shaped berries in tight clusters resembling small eggs. When mature these berries are covered in a smoke-coloured, grey bloom, which explains why the Pouilly wine is often described as Blanc fumé (smoked white) to describe their wine. This wine shows nice tropical fruit, loamy dirt, mineral, and classic heavy smoke aromas, but the dirty socks take away from the nose. The mouth is medium in body with nice green fruit, peach, apple, quince, and fig, however, the mouth is too astringent to keep its balance. The finish is earthy with cut grass, dirt, charcoal, and more dirty socks.

2007 Sancerre, Bokobsa Selection, Loire – Score: B
It may be called Sancerre, but it is nothing more than dry Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is shockingly still quite alive with ripe lemon, grapefruit, quince, slate, along with an almost violet perfume. The mouth is bone dry with sweet fruit and tart citrus. The finish is long and has a nice bite of mineral and slate.

2009 Chablis, Pascal Bouchard – Score: B to B+
By far the best dry French white wine at the event, that shows with lovely mineral, roasted almonds, and a hint of dirty socks. The mouth shows nicely with quince, green apple, peach, along with a mouth of nice tart and ripe fruit – both at the same time. In many ways this wine reminds me of a Sauvignon Blanc more than a Chardonnay, which is what a Chablis is all about. This is a style of Chardonnay that many are trying to reinvent in Israel and Spain by making unoaked tart Chardonnay wines. The finish is long and tart with bright lemon, quince, grapefruit, and nice flinty mineral.

2003 Clos Vougeot, Chateau De La Tour, Grand Cru – Score: N/A
Once again this wine infuriated me showing beautifully in one bottle and the next bottle (or the same bottle – but an hour or so later) tasted horribly astringent and clearly DOA. How is that possible? I have no idea, but so is life. The first bottle I tasted was rich with heavy toast, nice menthol, cranberry, fresh roasted espresso, overly ripe fruit, almost raisin like, with raspberry, and dark black plum. The wine hits you with massive mouth coating tannin, along with big rich and ripe blackberry, and red fruit, along with nice cedar, heavy toast, and crazy ripe black fruit. The finish is long with tobacco, chocolate, and rich toast and tannin that lasts on the palate forever. The second wine was astringent and undrinkable. I guess you can call it Russian Roulette.

2004 Chateau Le Crock, Saint Estephe – Score: B++ to A-
This is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petite Verdot. The color on this deep and dark garnet colored wine is filled with cranberry, blackberry, blackcurrant, loamy dirt, rich toast, heavy charcoal, and mineral. The mouth on this full bodied wine is red and black in nature with flavors of ripe black fruit, raspberry, nice mouth coating tannin, and cedar that pulls the entire mouth together quite nicely. The finish is long and spicy with cloves, big black fruit, chocolate, and mineral, with tannin, blackberry, cassis, plum, tobacco, and chocolate lingering nicely.

2007 Chateau D’Arveyres, Bordeaux Superieur, Selection Bokobsa – Score: B+
This Merlot driven wine starts with toasty oak, crushed herbs, espresso coffee, and butterscotch on the nose while progressing to a mouth of raspberry, plum, heavy tannin, currant, boysenberry, and kirsch cherry. The wine finishes up with dirt, mineral, slate, really nice green notes, heavy charcoal, tobacco, herbal and light chocolate flavors. A uniquely flavored Merlot, but not one with enough complexity to keep your attention.

2004 Chateau Pontet Canet – Score: A-
The nose on this purple to black colored wine has a massive nose of rich and ripe blackberry, plum, blackcurrant, raspberry, smoke, heavy charcoal, 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, cassis, and spicy oak that brings the entire rich wine together. The wine is balanced, super long and spicy with more crazy and rich tannin, tobacco, mineral, chocolate, 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 Leoville Poyferre, Saint Julien – Score: A-
This is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot. The nose explodes with big and bold ripe black fruit, blackberry, cassis, plum, nice minerality, and loamy dirt. The mouth is mouth coating and layered with concentration of big black fruit, lovely cedar, and still gripping tannin that fills the mouth with a perfectly balanced fruit and tannin attack. The finish is long and spicy with beautiful cedar, rich chocolate that is almost mousse like, along with nice tobacco, along with good charcoal, and mineral. Another fantastic vintage of this wine that is always solid, but one that is outside of my own price range.

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 charcoal, cassis, mint, and plum. The mouth on this blockbuster full bodied wine is intense, structured, and concentrated with lovely and massive tannin, rich fruit, zesty strawberry, toast, cedar, lovely mouth coating tannin, and smokey oak. The finish is super long, spicy, and concentrated with bright fruit, acid, fat cigar tobacco, charcoal, mint, mineral that goes on and on, along with a slug of rich 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!

2009 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Reserve, Alexander Valley – Score: A-
The nose on this wine is rich with lovely green notes perfume, blackberry, cassis, raspberry, along with bell pepper, cloves, and cinnamon. The mouth on this big and lovely mouth hits you with layers upon layers of ripe black fruit, heavy spice, rich cedar, and lovely soft mouth coating tannin. The finish is long and heavily spiced with nice vanilla, chocolate, and green notes. This is one of my go to wines when I am at a restaurant as this is a wine that has never disappointment me, and this vintage continues on his solid and tasty history.

2010 Herzog Petite Sirah, Prince Vineyard – Score: A-
This wine was sourced from Herzog’s first vineyard that it has purchased, the Prince Vineyard located in the Clarksburg AVA. The wine is lovely with a violet perfume that is unique and absolutely stunning, along with raspberry, blackberry, coffee, green notes of bell pepper, and lovely passion fruit. The mouth is medium bodied and layered with nice black fruit, light cedar impact, lovely soft tannins, beautiful blueberry that winds through the mouth, and blackcurrant. The finish is long and spicy with white pepper, cloves, cinnamon, vanilla, and a hint of watermelon. This is a true winner and one that is worth hunting down, which will be hard as this is a wine that is sold only in the winery or to existing Herzog Cellar Club members.

2008 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Edition, Warnecke Vineyard, Chalk Hill – Score: A- to A
This wine was showing far more poorly in February at the first IFWF of the year, this Cabernet is now showing beautifully with a blend of lovely ripe and structured black fruit that is melded well with luscious and perfumed green bell pepper notes and heavy but light handed extraction. The nose explodes with perfumed bell pepper notes, blackberry, ripe black cherry, lovely charcoal, and spice. The mouth on this full bodied wine is layered and plush with big bold black fruit that hits you with layers upon layers of each more concentrated than the next. The wine continues with mouth coating tannin, heavy black fruit, rich cedar, nice green notes, and lovely balanced extraction. The finish is long and balanced with green notes, tons of cedar, tobacco, charcoal, and crazy black fruit. This is a wine that will drink well for the next 5 to 6 years but one that is enjoyable right now.

2009 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Single Vineyard, Mount Veeder, Napa Valley – Score: A-
This is the third incarnation of Herzog’s Single Vineyard line of wines, and one that Joe Hurliman is truly passionate about making, as that is the wine he presides over at the pourings since the 2010 IFWF, when it was the 2007 Haystack. The wine starts with lots of oak, followed by chocolate, blackberry, currant, and bramble. The mouth is massive, black, and full bodied with mouth coating tannin, crushed herb, raspberry, and graphite. The fruit is ripe and lies on a bed of date, mint, mineral, and vanilla. Quite a nice wine but this one may well have been a bit too overripe, but quite nice none the less.

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, nice floral notes, blackberry, black cherry, crushed herb, rich tobacco, almost raisin over the top sweetness, and plum. The mouth on this insanely full bodied wine is rich and toasty with mouth coating tannin, rich toasty oak, sweet cherry cough drops or liquor, and nice raspberry. The finish is long and spicy with massive tannin, chocolate, tobacco, and way too much sweetness that is almost clawingly so . This wine is super rich and focused but the complexity is what is missing and the wine is too overripe to make this a superior wine. This is a wine that should be enjoyed with meat and a meal and not tasted by itself.

2006 Chateau Piada Sauternes – Score: A-
The nose on this lovely wine screams with sweetness that is balanced and restrained but beautiful, with ripe peach, apricot goodness surrounded by layers of sweet aromas, heady floral notes, all tempered by good bright aromas and hints of green notes. The mouth on this massive, full bodied, and super ripe yet balanced mouth with good summer fruit, nice sweetness, along with balancing bright acidity, and green notes. The finish is long and spicy with a clearly sweet core, along with further summer fruit layers, all balanced by tart lemon and grapefruit, good minerality, fig and slight bitterness at the very end. Quite a solid Sauternes that is often worth the higher price that French sweet wines command.

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Posted on August 8, 2012, in Food and drink, Israeli Wine, Kosher Dessert Wine, Kosher French Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Rose Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting, Winery Visit and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

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