Top kosher Rose, White and Sparkling wines that I have tasted

A recent discussion over Twitter with a few people left me wondering why I had not already covered this topic in some sort of detail; namely – the best kosher white and sparkling wines out there. To be honest, the list of good to very good kosher red wines would be a very long one, which in and of itself is GREAT news. The list of A- to A or better red wines is rather short, and that should indeed be the next article to compose (but I am so very behind on other topics). However, the kosher market for top-line white wines is a market that was deeply intertwined in a catch-22. There were few really top-line kosher white wines while at the same time there were few takers for a really great or very good kosher white wine. Why? I have no idea! Why would you not want a great white wine for the hot summers in Israel, Europe, and the US?

For the longest time, Israelis were happy drinking beer on a hot summer day and the idea of a wine was very foreign indeed. Americans like white wine, but the kosher wine market does not! The kosher wine market for the longest time was dominated by big bold red wines and about not much else. If you were starting a winery, you were required to have the French Noble reds and not much else. A Cabernet, a Merlot, a blend of the two, and maybe a Syrah/Shiraz. Thank goodness with time that has changed. Israeli wine consumers are drastically changing their tastes, and producers are getting the message that the US kosher wine consumer has become more sophisticated as well. They are both craving both sweet and dry, with varying opinions of what dry is, white/rose/sparkling wines for the summer and even all times of the year! This desire is pushing producers to start creating truly very good white kosher wines and it is a godsend – in my humble opinion.

The next clear change has been the realization that Chardonnay is NOT the only white grape out there! There are now many white kosher wines that are not of original descent from Burgundy (Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc) or even Bordeaux (Sémillon, Sauvignon blanc), and yet doing wonderfully in the market. Viognier, Roussanne, White Riesling (AKA Johannisberg Riesling), Gewürztraminer (both “dry” and sweet/late harvest), Greanache Blanc, Chenin Blanc, maybe a Grigio (on a very good day), and of course the a fore mentioned Noble French white grapes as well.

Ten years ago, five years ago – these ideas were beyond foreign. To be fair, Ernie Weir and the Hagafen Winery have been on the forefront of this push along with the Herzog Winery, Royal Wines (the largest importer of Israeli wines), and others. Weir, to his credit has been producing white wines (beyond the Noble whites) for many years now, and blessedly he never gave up on us! Yarden was creating Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay in 1986, and thankfully helped push the desire to add in Viognier, Gewürztraminer, and other white varietals. Indeed, many companies, winemakers, and of course consumers have all been part of this new revolution in kosher white wines.

Now, there are many great white kosher wines out there, but unfortunately, many have stayed in Israel, and are not being shipped out here. Why? Because as the Israeli public has awoken to their desire for good sweet and dry white wines, for their Mediterranean climate, they are screaming for the wines, and that leaves nothing to export. The sad thing is that winemaking is a very slow process in many ways. By the time a wine fad or trend has been realized, it takes at least two years to meet that need from a winery perspective. First you need to figure out where to get these grapes or worse, you need to plant the vines – which in that case it is a five-year process, taking into account Orlah (not picking fruit for the first four years) and the year of production. Let alone convincing the owners and partners that it is a good idea. Then powering up the marketing and distribution – making and selling wine is not an easy task! It is for this reason, that I am amazed at the speed of which wineries added a fair amount of good white wines to their portfolios. Sure, white wine, for the most part, can be released quickly, but as explained it is getting to that point that takes the most work.

Now, You can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy! The kosher market still likes its sweet wine and a large portion of the white wines are “sweet” to varying degrees. Still, the size of the overall white wine market for the kosher consumer is growing and moving in the right direction, which is great to me!

Unfortunately, the Israel climate for 2009, 2010, and 2011 vintages were poor in many ways. However, white wines were not as adversely affected as the reds. White wines do not mind cooler temperatures. Another obvious point will be that I really liked Hagafen white wines. They have consistency, ripeness, control, and overall complexity that make for a wonderful wine. The only Hagafen wine that has never worked for me, is the Chardonnay, but there are many who like it all the same.

Finally, this list is a list of wines that I have personally tasted. There may well be many more wins that I have yet to taste, like the 2012 Castel Rose or the 2012 Carmel Riesling, both of which I hear are very good. That said, other than one or two below, the notes and recommendations are the wines that I liked. There are other whites that are not listed here for a reason, and there is the rub. Is the wine not listed because I did not care for it, or because I did not taste it. To that concern, if it exists at all, all I can say I am sorry and life has a way of getting away from me. I stress this, as these are the top white, rose, and sparkling wines that I have tasted, but there may well be better wines out there that have so far eluded me.

Also, the wines listed here are mostly 2011 or older, as that is what is available here in the United States. Most of the 2012 Israeli white releases have yet to make it here, so I have not noted them. From what I hear overall, 2012 is a really great vintage and will be a great equalizer for even average brands and labels. As the saying goes; High tide lifts all boats! So, please keep that in mind when you see an Israeli 2012 white wine, it may well surprise you given the vintage’s stellar success so far.

So, I thought I would group where the best kosher options exist for each varietal:

  1. Sparkling wines – right now stick with Hagafen, Yarden, and some French options
  2. Miscellaneous Varietals and Blends: Greanache Blanc and others varietals – stick with Israel and California
  3. Chardonnay – right now I would stick with California Chardonnay and a few Israeli options
  4. Sauvignon Blanc – 2012 Israeli and California
  5. Semillon – really only exists in Israel, stick with the 2012 vintage or anything from Midbar
  6. Viognier – really only exists in Israel, stick with the 2012 vintage
  7. Roussanne – California and 2012 Israel are working great!
  8. Rose – Spain and Israel are your best options here
  9. White Riesling – This is the rare exception! 2010, 2011, and 2012 in Israel and doing well in California as well
  10. Gewürztraminer – Really only exists in Israel and does well through most vintages, but 2012 is best since 2007
  11. Chenin Blanc – Israel is doing really well – especially for 2011 and 2012, California has a few, but none really excite me
  12. Pinot Grigio – If you MUST, New Zealand (AKA Goose Bay) and maybe Italy (but that is forced to say the least)
  13. Dessert wines – Israel has a few, but the best are the French Sauternes, even though they are much more expensive

So, without further ado, I will list many of the white and bubbly wines that I have found to be very good to excellent, or in my parlance, B++ to A- and up. Finally, this is my list of white favorites, I would really love to hear your favorite white wines, so please post comments below. The wine notes follow below:

Sparkling Wines:

NV Drappier Champagne Carte Blanche Brut – Score: A–
The nose light gold colored wine is explosive with rich toast, fluffy white chocolate, herb, grapefruit, bright green apple, malting yeast, and minerality. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is super rich with an energizer bunny small bubble mousse, more toast and brioche, nice yeast, rich herb, super bright and tart green apple that mellows down to a creamy apple sauce, and grapefruit. The mid palate has super bright acid, herb, grapefruit, white chocolate, and mineral. The finish is long and rich with more small bubble mousse, white chocolate, tart green apples, herb, more yeast, and mineral. This is a lovely and balanced wine that does like more time in the glass. Even better leave a few glasses of wine in the bottle, cap it with a normal cork and try it the next day – quite lovely!

NV Drappier Carte d’Or – Score: A-
This is the second of two Drappier wines that Royal is releasing. We tasted the other one – Carte Blance and liked that one very much. The wine is a blend of the traditional Champagne grapes: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. The nose on the light gold and salmon colored wine is starts off with yeast, nice mineral, bright lemon, apple, and toast. The mouth on the medium bodied wine starts off with white peach, cherry, brioche, and a lovely mousse of small bubbles. The finish is long and tart with toast lingering.

Laurent Perrier Champagne – Score: A- (and a bit more)
I have had this wine a few times and this time the wine showed so very well, that I almost anted to buy a few, but in the end, bought a bunch of Drappier and Yarden Blanc de Blanc, both of which have been far more dependable and far less money.
The nose starts off with lovely toast, followed by green apple, peach, and classic yeast. The mouth is rich and with a medium body, but backed with waves of small bubbled mousse, all wrapped in dense mineral notes, good tart fruit, peach, solid balanced acid from tart lemon, and grapefruit. The finish is long and yeasty with more mineral, slate, and rich herb that lingers long.

Laurent Perrier Champagne, Cuvee Rose – Score: B+
I listed this wine more about the fact that I did NOT care for it that much than how I liked it. This is not a bad wine, but it is a wine that is so not in the same league as the Drappier that it is not fair.

The wine gets is salmon rose color from macerating Pinot Noir grapes, the nose starts off with nice cherry, rose petals, ripe candied strawberry, and tart lemon. The mouth on this medium bodied wine lacked in its mousse attack, but had great tart candied red fruit, along with lemon pie, and fig. The finish is medium in length with walnut, apple and grapefruit.

2007 Yarden Blanc de Blancs – Score: A- to A
The Yarden Blanc de Blancs is made entirely from Chardonnay grapes grown in the northern Golan Heights, Israel’s coolest viticultural area. The wine is made strictly according to the traditional method (méthode champenoise) including hand harvesting, pressing of whole clusters to increase acidity and fruit flavors, and secondary fermentation in the bottle. Disgorging took place after five years of bottle aging on the tirage yeast.

Are u kidding me! A filthy wine with a nose of intense fruit, lemon curd, peach and apple cobbler, brioche, and nice toast that gives way to ripe green and yellow apple, and crazy insane ripe lemon curd. The medium mouth is wow in a single word. Thanks to Gabriel Geller for selling me the bottle, and sharing it all around. The mouth is insanely ripe and intense and ripe with ripe baked anjou pear, freakish assault vehicle of acidity and small mousse bubbles, with lovely yeast and brace for it – mouth coating tannin!! The finish is long and tart with insane grapefruit, bitter and rich grapefruit pith, and lemon zest. Bravo!!!

2005 Yarden Blanc de Blancs, Brut – Score: A-
We enjoyed the 2007 and 2005 at a tasting recently, the 2007 shows insane potential, and while 6 months ago the 2007 was awesome, right now it is more closed than ready. That said, the 2005 vintage was tasting lovely, not as sharp and focused as the 2007 was and will be again, but a very nice sparkler all the same.
The nose shows rich notes of toast, floral notes, and tropical fruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is lovely with small mousse bubbles, followed by bright acid, lovely yeast notes, rich fruit, lovely baked apple, along with white toasted brioche, and bracing acid that makes for a lovely dry, generous and elegant sparkling wine.

2007 Hagafen Brut Cuvée, Late Disgorged  – Score: A-
The 2007 Brut Cuvee Sparkling Wine is a blend of 78% Pinot Noir and 22% Chardonnay. The beautiful light salmon color really comes out in the glass, which is expressive with nice white chocolate, rich toast, apricot, peach, nice mineral, candied raspberry, and grapefruit. The full bodied mouth hits you with an attack of lovely small mouse bubbles that do not let up, along with brioche, strawberry, yeast, apple, citrus, and summer fruit. The finish is long and tantalizing, with good complexity, nice structure, great spice, rich toast, great slate, mineral, bracing acidity, light citrus pith, and herb that helps to keep the whole experience rich and bubbly!

2007 Hagafen Brut Cuvée – Score: A-
The 2007 Brut Cuvee Sparkling Wine is a blend of 78% Pinot Noir and 22% Chardonnay. The beautiful light salmon color really comes out in the glass, which is expressive with nice white chocolate, bright citrus, fig, cherry, and melon. The mouth hits you with an attack of lovely small mouse bubbles, along with brioche, apple, citrus, quince, and yeast. The finish is long and tantalizing, with good complexity, nice structure, and bracing acidity to keep the whole experience rich and bubbly!

N.V Pommery Brut Champagne – Score: B+ to A-
The nose is beautiful with clean lemony lines, green apple, nice toast, light yeast, and floral notes. The mouth is medium to full with clean and bright acidity, followed by peach, and a lovely mousse of small bubbles that seem to go on forever. The finish is crazy long and spicy with baked apple, lemon fraiche.

Miscellaneous Varietals and blends:

2012 Makom Grenache Blanc – Score: A-
This bottle is back!!! The last bottle we had was right after bottling, and it was not showing beautifully. This week, it was showing a lot more like what it did before bottling. The nose explodes with rich slate, followed by lovely floral aromas, ripe lime, lemon, grapefruit, jasmine, lovely cut grass, and herbal notes. The mouth is ripe and medium bodied, with nice lemon friache, good strong and balancing acid, and ripe peach. The finish is long and spicy, with hints of banana, ripe fig, and nice mineral. I am so happy this wine is back -be sure to enjoy!!!!

2011 Flam Blanc – Score: A-
This wine is a blend of 58% Sauvignon Blanc from the Shoresh vineyard and 42% Chardonnay from the Mata vineyard, both of which are in the Judean Hills wine region. The wine is minerally driven with good acid, fruit, and freshness.

The nose starts with bright kiwi, lemon, peach, apricot, along with cut grass, and fresh melon. The mouth of this medium bodied wine shows both cold summer fruit and warm summer fruit, a balance of quince, green apple, along with fresh warm summer fruit, all balanced with crazy acid, all wrapped in a cocoon of fresh ripe fruit, quite an enjoyable conundrum! The finish is long and spicy with clean grass, slate, mineral, fig, and lemon curd.

2011 Elvi Wines InVita – Score: B+
The wine is a blend of 40% Sauvignon Blanc and 60% Pansa Blanca – which is the grape used in making of Cava wines.
The nose starts off with a lovely floral attack, fresh cut grass, guava, followed by honey notes, Asian pear, lychee, bright citrus, honeysuckle, and white flowers. The mouth is nice, round, and ripe, with bracing acid, a fantastic dichotomy that plays out with bracing acid, citrus zest, honeyed background, along with green apple, baked apple, and quince. The finish is long and zesty with lemon/lime fraiche, tart fruit lingering, with slate, mineral, and grassy/straw notes.

2011 Gush Etzion Blessed Valley White – Score: B++ to A-
The nose starts off with a lovely garden of violets and jasmine, surrounded by a lush garden of honeysuckle and ripe melon, pear, and yellow apple, all enveloped with an impressive and intoxicating perfume. The mouth on this medium bodied mouth shows the 10 months that this wine sat in French oak, with brioche, baked apple pie, quince, and fresh compote. The finish is long and spicy with cloves, toast, butterscotch, and slate that all linger long.

2011 Gvaot Chardonnay/Cabernet Sauvignon, Gofna – Score: B++
This is a wine that does not grab me as maybe it should, but it has a very cult like following, though I am not one of them. The wine is a blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, giving the wine its more pink/salmon color than a pure yellow or gold colored Chardonnay, though the extra grape does not detract from the Chardonnay as much as it adds discontent to the blend. The nose is filled with rich butterscotch, caramel, caramelized banana topped with roasted almonds, and Asian pear. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is filled with fruit, tart lemon, melon, guava, tart and crazy kiwi, grapefruit, more butter and oak, and lovely creme brulee. The finish is long and spicy with good fruit, cloves, and nice mineral.

2010 Midbar White 44, Midbar Collection – Score: A- to A
The next wine was the 2010 Midbar White 44, a blend of Gewurztraminer 25%, Sauvignon Blanc 20%, Chardonnay 20%, Viognier 20%, Semillon 15%. Yeah, five grapes yet called the 44, who cares – the wine concentrate on the wine!!! This one blew me away, the aromas literally are in a cage match to the death, fighting each other tooth and nail until one becomes victorious. I did not stand around long enough to find out whom the winner would be, but in the end with a wine like this – we who enjoy it are the lucky winners indeed! Yaacov explained that Gewurztraminer is one of his hardest grapes to control, it has soapy or unwanted flavors and he does things with it to minimize the bad and accentuate the good. He does cold whole bunch press, and he blends it with all of these grapes to get the most out of all of them. The nose is redolent with super ripe summer fruit, crazy ripe orange, grapefruit, violet, rose, honeysuckle, and litchi. The mouth is rich, round, honeyed, and insane, with layers of complexity and flavors, starting with ripe nectarine, guava, green and yellow apple, all coming at you in waves. The oily texture and the summer fruit combine for a mouth captivating wine. The finish is long and spicy with nuts, almonds, marzipan, tart fruit, and earthy mineral notes – WOW and get some!!

2010 Midbar Orange, Midbar Collection – Score: A- to A
The final wine was the first kosher Orange wine I had ever tasted, the 2010 Midbar Orange 44. It is a blend of three grapes (yeah – get over it) 52% Chenin Blanc, 24% Chardonnay, and 24%, Viognier. This was unique and different to me, but to many it is becoming a lightening rod – why? I am not sure, but many are finding orange wines to be too much of a fad in the non-kosher world. For me, there is only one of them – so one a fad does not make. The wine is different – it is not a white wine and while it is not a red wine the long skin maceration, 14 days in this case, causes the wine to take on an orange hue. The idea here is that the grape skins gives the wine tannin and it gives the wine more body. The nose starts off with almond paste, oaked honeysuckle, ripe floral notes, and passion fruit. The mouth is ripe and medium in weight with nice mouth coating tannin, cherry, orange fruit, lemon, apple sauce, creme brulee, lovely sweet cedar, all melding together with brioche, yeast, and a creamy and balanced mouth feel. The finish is long and spicy with cloves, allspice, butterscotch, kiwi, apple, marzipan, tart fruit, and cinnamon, along with biter notes and tangerine. A unique wine and one that may not be for everybody – but it sure works for me!

Chardonnay:

I will break this list into two parts – oaked wines where oak is a predominant attribute, and Chardonnays (oaked and unoaked) where that oak is more subtle or non existent:

Chardonnay with controlled usage of oak or no oak at all:

2009 Four Gates Chardonnay – Score: B++ to A
The nose on this dark straw wine is unique. If I had been told it was a viognier, I would have believed them. The nose is rich with bright quince, fig, petrol, green apple, forest floor, slight honey, bright citrus, and floral aromas. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is rich and mouth filling with ripe melon, fruit from the nose, and oak that melds into a lovely mouthfeel. The finish is long and spicy with nice petrol, butterscotch, balancing honey, spice, summer fruit, citrus, and toasty oak. The wine is can power through most spicy foods, and roasted fowl. It is a unique wine that I hope to try again and watch evolve. Drink by 2015.

2011 Shiloh Chardonnay – Score: A-
This is the perfect Chardonnay for those oak haters, the ones who fly the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) flag loud and proud. What these people hate is boring and insipid and lifeless white wines that ruled the roost for far too long, only to be over oaked to “add complexity” with no extra work. This is one of those wines that is the antithesis to that mentality and could well be the go to Chardonnay for those that abhor all things oak. This Chardonnay clearly is oaked, but it is truly used for one thing only – to round and spice the wine – not define it!

The nose on this wine is not oak, but rather apple, lemon, grapefruit, and rich roasted herb. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is unique in so many ways with almost orange like flavors, nectarine, ripe orange notes, along with nice toast, peach, apricot, bright and ripe summer fruit, fig, and brioche. The finish is long and spicy with butterscotch, spice, cloves, and oregano – BRAVO!

2011 Adir Chardonnay – Score: A-
This Chardonnay is a great example of balancing oak and fruit. The wine used a fast moving trend of whole fruit press, which helps to limit the green notes and improve overall structure. The nose on this wine is perfumed with nice peach, apricot, pear, nectarine, melon, ripe fruit, and floral hints. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is lovely and ripe, showing its 10 months of oak aging with good restraint, showing nice butter notes, brioche, creamy structure, along with tart summer fruit. The finish is long with lovely mineral, slate, butterscotch, all coming together with clean but ripe and spicy lines. Impressive Chardonnay that is well balanced, clearly showing oak and its influence, but also a wine that is balanced and rich – BRAVO!

2010 Tzora Neve Ilan Chardonnay – Score: A-
A lovely controlled nose of green and yellow apple, ripe peach, and sweet notes. The mouth on the medium bodied wine shows great balance and controlled creaminess with concentrated fruit, ripe pear, melon, lemon curd, along with nice spicy oak and fresh baked brioche. The finish is long and spicy with nutmeg, cloves, toast, lovely brightness, and a nice dollop of lemon zest lingers on the rise.

2013 Terrenal Chardonnay, Chile (QPR) – Score: B++ (Mevushal)
The nose on this straw-colored wine is ripe with fresh tropical and stone fruit, peach, apricot, straw, and pineapple. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is round and ripe with good bracing acidity, quince, guava, and classic pink grapefruit. The finish is long with more good acid, citrus, mineral, orange pith, and slate. Quite a lovely wine, though with less complexity than previous years, but with better acid and ripe fruit. This is a wine that will pair well with fish and fowl, along with maybe even white pasta sauces, given its very good acidity.

2010 Midbar Chardonnay, Unoaked, Midbar Collection – Score: A-
The next wine blew me away, because I rarely like unoaked chardonnay – but this one was different. The nose and mouth are redolent with violet, orange, lemon, rich yeast and honeysuckle (see I told you). The mouth is viscous, ripe, round with kiwi, quince, red and green apple, lively mineral, and green notes. The finish is long and spicy with cloves, spice, honeysuckle, while living long on palate with tart lemony acid, and nice peach and apricot.

2011 Binyamina Chardonnay, Unoaked – Score: B++ to A-
Lovely lithe and bright nose with green apple, white peach, apricot, and lemon. This is a nice return for the wine, after a very disappointing 2010 showing. The mouth is ripe, bright, and medium plus bodied, with fresh ripe fruit that coats the mouth and makes for a fuller experience, showing fresh pink grapefruit and kiwi. The finish is long and fresh with a nice splash of bitters, along with quince, and orange pith.

Chardonnays that wear a thick oak cloak (AKA a Chardonnay with lots of oak)

2010 Covenant Chardonnay, Lavan – Score: A-
2010 marks the third vintage for Covenant Chardonnay Lavan. The 2008 was the best Lavan to me so far, but the 2010 is right behind it in quality. The wine is made from grapes grown in a small vineyard in the Russian River Valley. It was barrel-fermented with native yeasts, stirred on its lees for 1 year and bottled unfined and unfiltered.

The Lavan showed off lovely ripe fruit, lightly charred toast, ripe melon, grapefruit, green apple, brioche, and tart lemon. The mouth was nicely structured with rich toast, baked apple, caramel, oak, pear, and lovely tart fruit. The finish is long and spicy, with butterscotch, fig, summer fruit, pear, brioche, cloves, spices, mineral, and quince lingering long.

2011 Covenant Chardonnay, Lavan – Score: A-
While the 2010 vintage used grapes sourced from the Russian River area, the 2011 used grapes from the soon to be famous Scopus Vineyard, which is on the Sonoma Mountains. The nose is redolent with nice roasted toffee, vanilla, lemon fraiche, grapefruit, and kiwi. The mouth on this full bodied wine is a lovely wine for the very difficult 2011 vintage. The mouth is rich, round, and a bit more oak influenced than previous vintages, but still controlled with mounds of butterscotch, sweet peach, yellow apple, along with baked apple, and candied fruit. The finish is long and rich with more butterscotch, rich vanilla, oak, along with lovely spices, nutmeg, allspice, flint, and mineral. It will be very interesting to see how these new wines will age. The 2011 clearly shows the potential of this vineyard, but the 2012 (which we tasted from barrel is mind blowing), is indeed the wine to hold up as what this vineyard can create.

2011 Bazelet Hagolan Chardonnay – Score: A-
This is another of those Chardonnays that wears its 8 to 10 months of oak aging on its sleeve, but it is a wine that I was pleasantly surprised by. The wine is clearly oaky but it still has good control. The nose on this light golden colored wine is perfumed with rich oak, ripe butterscotch, peach, green apple, spice, and mineral. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is opulent and shows its oak upbringing with spicy oak, brioche, along with ripe apricot, grapefruit, and lemon. The finish is long and spicy, with rich toasty notes, brioche, yeast, marzipan, and almonds.

2011 Herzog Chardonnay, Special Reserve (Tasting Room Wine) – Score: A-
The 2011 vintage was really poor, yet this wine is really enjoyable and expressive wine. This is not the normal Russian River Special Reserve wine, this is instead a wine that was made uniquely for the Herzog Tasting Room. The nose on this straw colored wine shows ripen pineapple, melon, green and red apple, along with a lovely floral perfume, pear, and white peach. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is round and rich, layered and concentrated with waves of peach, kiwi, guava, along with brioche, butter notes, baked apple, and toasty oak and nice balancing acid that brings the wine together. The finish is long and spicy with white chocolate, cedar, cinnamon, cloves, and sweet butterscotch. This is one of those Chardonnays that is less about oak and butter and more about fruit and balance – BRAVO!

2009 Herzog Chardonnay, Special Reserve, Russian River – Score: A-
The nose starts off with a lovely floral perfume, followed by quince, rich funk, oak, all over layered with guava and green apple. The mouth is lovely for the first 4 or so hours, with a crazy viscous almost oily texture, coating the mouth with rich oak that is controlled along with baked apple, peach cobbler, and sweet herb. The finish is long and oaky with white chocolate, sweet cedar, more baked goods, fresh fruit, and lovely orange pith. This is a wine with great structure and body – but the body gives way with time, so drink this now and do not leave the wine open too long.

Sauvignon Blanc:

2012 Covenant Sauvignon Blanc, Red C (QPR) – Score: A-
What a lovely Sauvignon Blanc and one that is reasonably priced to boot! This is a lovely Sauvignon Blanc that is truly varietal in nature, but ripe and round as well, with bracing acid. A truly all around lovely Sauvignon Blanc.

The nose on this lovely wine is perfumed and intoxicating with ripe grapefruit, lovely cut grass, kiwi, lemon curd, cat pee, passion fruit, along with vibrant fruit! The mouth on this medium bodied wine is nice and round with ripe and bright fruit, perfectly balanced, melon, citrus, and lemon. The finish is long and ripe with lingering sweet notes, fig, and mineral.

2011 Ella Valley Sauvignon Blanc – Score: B++ to A-
The nose on this straw colored wine is a mix of soft creamy and bright aromas, with ripe soft lemon, peach, and lime. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is filled with tropical and summer fruit, showing great control and finesse, followed by kiwi, fresh cut grass, ripe fruit, and lovely balancing acid. The finish is long and sweet, with tart fruit, along with fresh lime zest, more nice acid, and tart lemon. The wine is a nice because it balances fresh ripe fruit with clean lines, no green notes, and all with nice acidity.

2011 O’dwyers Creek Sauvignon Blanc – Score: B+ to A-
I loved this Sauvignon Blanc – it may not be as rich and layered as the 2011 Teperberg Sauvignon Blanc or as balanced as the Covenant Sauvignon Blanc – but this wine is so insanely intense and so over the top acidic that it almost reminded me of the crazy 2012 Teperberg Sauvignon Blanc – that is lemon juice in a wine bottle. The nose explodes with crazy gooseberry, piss, kiwi, and crazy acidity, combined with ABSOLUTELY insane cut grass notes. The wine is medium in body with good tart and acidic attack of rich fruit, grapefruit, melon, bright acidity, and stone fruit that screams. The finish is long with green grass, slate, and hints of bitter notes. Quite a nice wine indeed.

2012 Teperberg 1870 Sauvignon Blanc, Terra (QPR) – Score: A-
When I tasted this with the winemaker some 9 months ago, this wine had screaming and bracing acid. Since bottling, the wine has lost some of its zing, but the lovely balance of sweet fruit, acid, straw and cut grass really makes for a nice wine.
The nose on this wine starts with grapefruit, orange, crazy citrus, lemon, fresh tropical fruit salad, cut grass and pineapple. The medium plus bodied wine is vibrant with fresh fruit, kiwi, guava, and mango, that captures your attention, along with nice acid that brings the mouth together. The finish is long and spicy, with what tastes like white chocolate, spice, more tropical fruit, a hint of honey, nectar, and a drop of pith on the long finish.

2011 Teperberg Sauvignon Blanc, Terra – Score: B+ to A- (QPR)
The nose screams with stone fruit, peach, mineral, kiwi, and ripe fruit. The mouth is rich and ripe with big bright fruit, no herbaceous notes, no bitterness, nice crazy grapefruit, ripe gooseberry, and ripe Meyer lemon, all wrapped in a big lush and rich mouth. The finish is long and lingering and lovely with crazy acid, nice mineral, ripe fig, lovely tropical fruit, and pineapple. This is a great bottle for a crazy good price – BRAVO! This is not the crazy acid bomb of the 2012 – but it is a ripe and lovely wine that is nicely balanced and well worth getting it.

2012 Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc – Score: B++
Another great bracing acidic Sauvignon Blanc from Goose Bay – drink this within a year.  The nose on this almost water colored wine is screaming with classic New Zealand notes, gooseberry, piss, fresh cut grass, herbal notes, insane vanilla, and lovely lemon curd. The mouth is rich and bright and sweet, with not perceived residual sugar, tons of bracing acid, great citrus notes, grapefruit, melon, kiwi, litchi, and stone fruit. The finish is long and grassy, with nice sweet herb, oregano, all wrapped up with great mineral and slate.

2012 Goose Bay Fume Blanc Reserve – Score: A-
This is a wine that was aged with oak and then left on its lees for eight months before being bottled. It is a classic fume blanc, but one that has not lost its tart fruit or acidity to hand of oak. There is clear oak influence, but controlled with good fruit showing.

The nose on this wine starts with nice oak notes, along with toasty notes, kiwi, and lovely gooseberry. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine shows lovely texture and structure with great acid, nice richness, along with mineral, slate, lemon curd, tart bright green apple, yellow pear, and grapefruit. The finish is long and spicy with herb, lemon, crazy tart fruit, fig and tons more acid. This is a wine that would make even the most ardent acid lovers happy!

2011 Hagafen Sauvignon Blanc, Prix, Reserve, Moskowite Ranch block 53 – Score: B++ to A-
This is a classic Fumé Blanc, with the rich oak and oily texture that makes for a lovely wine. The oak clearly damps down the bracing acid that is on the 2012 and previous vintages of the un-oaked Sauvignon Blanc, but the oak adds in complexity, richness, and still does a very good job of keeping most of the acid and fruit around.
The wine continues to impress with its unique nose of butterscotch, peach, green apple, and rich toasty oak. The mouth on this nice medium plus bodied wine continues it tradition of oily petrol notes and round body that adds to the body, along with nice tropical fruit, good acidity, and brioche. The finish is long and acidic with nice toasty notes, guava, and apple.

2010 Hagafen Sauvignon Blanc, Prix, Reserve, Moskowite Ranch block 53 – Score: A-
This is a classic Fumé Blanc, with the rich oak and oily texture that makes for a lovely wine. The oak clearly damps down the bracing acid that is on the 2012 and previous vintages of the un-oaked Sauvignon Blanc, but the oak adds in complexity, richness, and still does a very good job of keeping most of the acid and fruit around.

The nose on this wine is filled with nice creme brulee, citrus, and spice. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is layered with nice acid, rich citrus notes, lovely fruit, green notes, with fresh fruit, butterscotch, and sweet cedar. The finish is long and sweet with nice fruit that comes out from under the oak canopy, litchi, kiwi, peach, lovely acid, white chocolate, and spice! Bravo!

Semillon:

2010 Midbar Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc – Score: B+ to A-
The first wine we tasted was the 2010 Midbar Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc wine, it is a blend of 30% Sauvignon Blanc and 70% Semillon, co-fermented. The nose starts off with green grass, lemon curd, peach, light honey, gooseberry, white violet, and floral notes. The mouth is medium in body with nice acidity, kiwi, nectarine, and more tropical fruit. The finish is long and smooth with a hint of butter, along with a rounded mouth and a nice hint of toast.

2009 Midbar Semillon, Midbar Collection – Score: A–
The wine is unique to say the least. According to Yaacov these are wines that are picked early, like in the Hunter Valley of Australia, and it is a wine that need tons of time to fill out and become the creamy and rich monsters that will captivate your imagination. Until then, I will have to go by what I tasted and it is lovely now, but it will not be released until Yaacov feels it will be more fully appreciated for where it is, maybe 2014 or 2015. The nose on this wine is filled with spice, cloves, honeysuckle, violet, and floral notes (a common theme through the wines of Midbar) along with hints of cheese (that blow off over time) and gunpowder. The body is medium in weight with great acidity, nice peach, rich lime curd, lemon, and a crazy citrus garden. The finish is long and clean lined with great mineral, flint, green notes, and tart fruit that linger long.

2012 Dalton Semillon, Reserve (did not taste) – from what I hear it is good

Viognier:

2011 Teperberg Viognier, Terra – Score: A- (QPR in Israel, not available here in the US)
I say often that the best Viognier out there are the Midbar Viognier (for when Yaacov was the wine maker like 2010), Dalton Viognier, Teperberg Viognier, and Yatir Viognier, in that order. For the price the wine is a steal, though it is not available here in the US, this wine was schlepped back from Israel.

Like most Viognier and Chardonnay out there, the wine likes a bit of time in Oak, to round out the sweet notes and give it a heft and body. This wine was 50% oaked for 6 months, without malo lactic fermentation, keeping the butter flavors away from the wine’s fragile floral notes. The nose on this yellow colored wine starts off with rich honeysuckle, ripe grapefruit, candied lemon, fantastic floral notes, jasmine, rose, and ripe apple curd. The mouth is highly tropical with layers of Asian pear, pineapple, tangerine, honeysuckle, and red apple. The finish was long and mildly sweet, but well balanced with bracing acid that gives you a tart and sweet finish that is lovely with seafood, chicken, and tuna tartar (which is how we enjoyed this wine) – BRAVO!

2011 Yarden Viognier – Score: A-
The nose on this light gold colored wine explodes with rich honey, along with wonderful floral notes that expand the perfumed state of the wine, along with nice quince, and sweet guava. The mouth on this medium bodied wine has nice sweet notes, along with a richly oiled texture that makes for a wonderful structure that works well with a wide assortment of dishes. The finish is long and sweet with spicy notes, and nice pith. This is a very different Viognier than the Teperberg or the new or old Dalton. Still, the wine is not an oak bomb like I am used to from Yarden, it shows great control and one that is really fun.

2011 Tishbi Viognier Blanc – Score: B++
This is a lovely and semi-sweet wine consisting of 50% Viognier and 50% Riesling. The nose on this steel aged wine is clean and without oak impediments, allowing the bright and sweet fruit to have their time in the spotlight. The nose starts off with nice floral notes, along with great honey, guava, and petrol notes from the Riesling, along with green notes, violets, litchi, and tropical fruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is filled out by the sweet fruit, but also far more by the residual sugar, and also by the oily texture that is so typical with Riesling, and sometimes with Viognier as well. The mouth shows nice sweet notes, bright and clean lemon, lime, crazy and almost uncontrolled bracing acid, nice kiwi, melon, and an overall very nice structure. The finish is long and floral with more sweet notes, lemon zest, orange and tangerine take control of the long and zesty finish – quite enjoyable.

2012 Dalton Viognier, Reserve, Wild Yeast – Score: A-
This is a wine that continues it fantastic tradition, and for sometime, as I was tasting this wine, it had seemed to hit a bump in the road this year. Out of the bottle the wine tastes more oak driven than previous vintages, and in some ways, initially, lacks the complexity and richness that previous vintages showed. Still, this is a wine with a storied tradition that demanded patience and with more air – it paid off in spades! The wine, over time, opened to its old oily-self, rich with mineral, spice, now nice char, and solid fruit!

The wine starts off like it was just taken out of a smoke house, with almost kiln like notes of toast, char, smoky aromas, and honey. With time the wine opens to a lovely and sensual white flower perfume, honeysuckle, peach, apricot, along with oily notes, and cut grass, and mineral. The mouth is medium in weight and shows more oak, along with lovely bracing acidity, along with a lovely oily texture, along with toasted hay, kiwi, quince, and white pepper. The finish is long and spicy with more black pepper, cloves, slate, and lovely orange pith – BRAVO!!

2010 Yatir Viognier – Score: A-
As I have stated a few times now, this is definitely one of the top Viognier in Israel, but none touch the Midbar Viognier. Still, a wonderful Viognier from grapes sourced from their vineyards in the Yatir Forest. The nose starts off with classical Viognier green notes, peach, a huge and lovely perfume of honey joy, honeydew, along with crushed flower petals, and dried apricot. The mouth on this medium to full bodied Viognier wine explodes with rich layers of fruit, honey, mango, guava, green and yellow apple, all wrapped inside an oily and rich textured wine that is layered and rich, with good balancing acidity. The finish is long and mineral based, with bushels of summer fruit, awesome lemon/lime curd, with a touch of bitterness and herb on the long rise.

2010 Midbar Viognier, Midbar Collection – Score: A- to A
The next wine was the 2010 Midbar Viognier and this is where I lost it – it was at this point that I realized that Yaacov knew his way around white wines! Holy mackerel! The nose explodes with varietal true aromas of jasmine, rose, violet, pear, guava, honeysuckle, and green notes. The mouth is viscous like oil and textured with it as well, with ripe nectarine, peach, green and yellow apple, a body that goes forever and honey on top. The finish is long and spicy with great mineral, lemon/lime curd and tart notes on the long and green finish – BRAVO and WOW!

2012 Shirah Viognier is a wine to keep on your radar for when it becomes available! It tasted good from tank and is worth finding when it is released.

Roussanne:

2012 Don Ernesto Collage (Roussanne/Marssanne) (QPR) – Score: A-
The 2012 vintage of this wine changed with the Roussanne moving to the Don Ernesto label, but beyond that the 2012 vintage brings more controlled ripeness to the varietal and one that makes for a REAL winner! The blend is 85% Roussane and 15% Marssanne.

The nose on this wine is rich with sweet fruit, kiwi, light hay and straw, and apple. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is filled with fullness from ripe fruit, but balanced well with brightness and freshness, all showing rich tropical fruit, along with peach and fresh cut grass. The finish is long and spicy with nice dirt, more grass, and fresh fig. This is a wine that is bracing, fresh, and yet so green and fruity – with great spice – BRAVO!

2012 Tabor Roussanne Adama – Score: B+ to A-
The nose on this wine starts off very much like a Sauvignon Blanc with lemon, fresh cut grass, and dirt. With time, the wine opens to display honeyed edges, petrol like aromas, and vanilla. The mouth is bracing and acidic with lovely grapefruit, kiwi, litchi, lemon curd, nice spice, green notes, lime sorbet, and cloves. The finish is long and herbal, more grass, orange citrus, and spice. The wine’s bracing acid and weight will make this work with many a dish. The herbal characteristics make it accessible to heavier richer dishes, while still keeping up with medium cheeses and not overpowering them as well.

Rose:

2012 Flam Rose – Score: A-
WOW! What a lovely rose from the M. The wine is made with 100% Cabernet Franc grapes that were sourced from the Mata Vineyard in the Judean Hills of Israel. The nose is deeply floral, with strawberry, raspberry, nice peach, apricot, and kiwi, and lemon. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is round and ripe, with red and white fruit, tropical fruit, pink grapefruit, along with green notes, all of which pops from the bracing acid. The finish is long and lovely with acid, light notes of bitter herb, good spice, cloves, and bay leaf.

2012 Capcanes Rosat (Rose) – Score: B+ to A-
The nose on this dirty cherry colored wine is filled with lovely dirt, cherry, rose hips, and strawberry. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is filled with good acid, nice red fruit, along with peach, apple, tart cherry, and great spice that together coats the mouth nicely. The finish is long and lovely with Kirsch cherry, floral notes, passion fruit, and more good spice.

2011 Ella Valley Everred – Score: B+ to A-
This is a wine that was created solely under the control of the new head winemaker at Ella Valley, Lin Gold. Her Australian roots make a clear presence here with her desire to create a more fruity and sweet mouth, while still controlling it with good acid. It is a clear shift from the ways of Doron Ben Rav which craved acid and more controlled bright and maybe even bitter notes. Interesting, as this is the second wine I have tasted from Lin (the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc was the first), and both show a more sweet tooth, with enough acid to keep your interest. It will be interesting to see what her reds look like in the coming years as they are released from their oak control.

The nose on this lovely salmon colored wine starts off with rich notes of passion fruit, ripe almost sweet strawberry, lovely bracing and acidic pineapple, crazy kiwi, and lovely floral notes of jasmine and rose. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is a bit richer than the average rose out there, with nice heft but control, though lacking the complexity that would grab and shake you to the core. There is nice grapefruit, peach and lemon curd that does make the mouth pop. The finish is long and tart with nice mineral, slate, and good zesty fruit that lingers with hints of lemon and lime zest that lingers. This is one of the new breed Rose wines coming out of Israel that is controlled sweet without the harsh bitter after tones that sometimes add to the wine, but most of the time take away from the wine with its harshness. Time will tell where these rose blends are going, but for now enjoy this wine now, it has only a bit of time left before its acid core leaves it and takes away what makes this wine a bit special.

2012 Agur Rosa – Score: B+ to A-
This rose is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Cabernet Franc and 20% Mourvedre. The wine was fermented in oak that gives the wine its medium bodied weight, deep salmon color, and viscous mouthfeel. The nose on this bright salmon colored wine is perfumed with classic rose fruit; ripe strawberry, raspberry, kiwi, guava, passion fruit, pineapple, and floral notes. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich and viscous with an oily texture, hints of tannin, good backbone, nice acid, lemon, peach, cherry, and deep mineral notes. The finish is crazy long and mineral based with nice slate, rock, on a shelf of green olives, slight fruit pith, cinnamon, cloves, and lime/grapefruit notes. Truly a unique rose.

2011 Elvi Wines Ness Rosado (Rose) – Score: B++
This is clearly a wine that will elicit strong feelings one way or another. The wine is a rose made from 100% Syrah grapes, and the color is more pomegranate than rose. The nose is where things get interesting with clear red syrah leanings mixed together with Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc leanings. The nose is rich with roasted meat, many on the table picked that up, along with gooseberry, stone fruit, quince, kumquat, and cat pee. The mouth is all rose style with medium body, great acidity, and reduction notes, along with nice spice, peach, and great citrus pith. The finish is long and mineral laden with bitterness, and more good stone fruit.

2012 Gvaot Rose, Gofna – Score: B++
This is a truly unique rose, made of Merlot grapes that rested on their skins for 8 hours, and was not produced using the saignee process. The wine’s bubble gum color is quite shocking and the nose is filled with candied raspberry, strawberry jam, gunmetal mineral, and nice herb. The mouth on this medium bodied wine shows nice balance with good but not bracing acidity, along with dark cherry, bitter herb, and orange zest. The finish is long and zesty with solid minerality, hints of floral notes, and zesty ripe red fruit that lingers long.

2012 Recanati Rose – Score: B+ (QPR)
This is one of the nice rose wines out there that is really fun made of Barbera and merlot grapes. The nose starts off with nice white stone fruit, raspberry, bright notes, strawberry, and cranberry. The mouth on this wine shows a nice body of cherry, more acid, good white fruit, yellow apple, kiwi, and great acid that with grapefruit and lemon. The finish is long and tangy and tart with nice spice, good control, with good dirt and earth, slate, and mineral. A nice balanced wine that shows off no bitterness, good body, nice fruit, and nice mineral – good QPR.

2012 Vignobles David Tavel, Le Mourre de l’Isle, Rosé – Score: B+
This wine is a blend of 40% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Cinsault, and 10% Clairette Blance. The nose is filled with lovely strawberry, ripe raspberry, lemon, peach, flint, and mineral. The mouth is light to medium with OK acidity, but lacking bracing acidity, along with nice tart lemon fraiche, grapefruit, and lemon pith. The finish is long and herbal with a pique of bitterness and long lasting tartness.

2012 Shirah Rose is a wine to keep on your radar for when it becomes available! It tasted unbelievable from tank and is worth finding when it is released.

White Riesling:

2012 Hagafen Riesling, Devoto Vineyards (2% RS) – Score: A-
This wine continues to impress me and it is one that I never get tired of. It is a step beyond simple quaffer, with great balance of 2% residual sugar and great acidity, controlled with lovely tropical fruits. The nose starts off with sweet notes or tropical fruit, clear honeysuckle commands the nose, with pineapple, and candied grapefruit taking the side stage. The mouth is rich and layered and truly captivating with an almost oily texture from the sugar, along with banana, peach, more tropical fruits, along with tart white cherry. The finish is long and sweet with a great balance of tart to sweet fruit, sour red apple, and guava. Bravo!

2012 Hagafen Dry White Riesling, Rancho Wieruszowski (QPR)– Score: A-
Until now, Hagafen has been making 2%, 4%, and 6% residual sugar White Riesling wines for 30 years!! This is the first dry (with a hint of sweetness) Riesling and what a refreshing joy it is! The nose explodes with litchi, pink grapefruit, sweet white fruit, guava, and peach. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is rich, ripe, round, and layered, making you think sweetness – but that would be incorrect, along with more citrus, along with bracing acidity, kiwi, and melon. The finish is long and mouth drying with sweet notes, nice lime and meyer lemon curd.

2011 Hagafen White Riesling, Rancho Wieruszowski (4%) (QPR)– Score: A-
This is the 4% White Riesling that Hagafen sells, and clearly is more aperitif than it is dinner wine, but it is a wine that can be enjoyed with truly spicy Thai dishes. The nose explodes with honey sweet notes, guava, litchi, pineapple notes, spice, and floral aromas. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is enhanced by the extra residual sugar, but controlled nicely with citrus, grapefruit, great acid, along with tropical fruit, banana, all showing in a round, ripe, yet balanced rich mouth. The finish is long and spicy, with good acid, more tropical fruit, nutmeg, and cloves.

2009 Hagafen White Riesling, Prix, Rancho Wieruszowski Vineyard – Score: A-
I need to be honest I loved this wine! This is a classic example of where oak is not overpowering, well controlled, and yet adds so much richness that it comes at you in layers and balance that really impresses me. The wine’s nose hits you with awesome notes of petrol, oily notes, along with redolent honey, grapefruit, and spice. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is concentrated with layers of good petrol that adds so much lift to the mouth, along with a lovely ripe and round mouth that is deeply complex with soft edges but deep citrus, guava, lemon/lime shaved ices, and mineral. The finish is long and acidic with more great spice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and lovely banana on a long and impressive finish. Bravo!

2011 Carmel Riesling, Single Vineyard, Kayoumi Vineyard – Score: B++
The nose on this light gold colored wine screams with rich and vibrant floral notes, wild mineral, ripe peach, kiwi, vanilla, and grapefruit, and more citrus. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is drier than the 2010 yet crazy rich and gives you a sweet perception from the very ripe fruit, the floral notes flow well through and mingle beautifully with the bracing acidity, along with more sweet fruit, herbal notes, and good spice. The finish is long and spicy, with nice melon, great slate, and lemon fraiche.

2012 Katamon Riesling – Score: Barrel tasting but look for it at the winery
The wine is a classic Riesling with crazy aromatics of oil, petrol, rich floral notes, jasmine, sweet peach, mineral, slate, and lovely honey notes. The mouth on this full bodied wine has a lovely texture of oily goodness, along with a plethora of roasted nuts, more honey, but balanced nicely with citrus, lemon, crazy bracing acid, along with guava, and oak tannin. The finish is long and spicy with more tannin, sweet kiwi, spicy nutmeg, butterscotch, vanilla, candied banana, and zesty tart fruit that lingers long! BRAVO!

Gewurztraminer:

2012 Lueria Gewurztraminer – Score: A-
The nose on this off-dry wine is so nice with lovely candied grapefruit, richly aromatic floral notes, ripe kiwi, and peach. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is unique and lovely with good residual sugar, along with hints of tannin, orange flesh, and nice citrus pith. The finish is long and pithy with tart green apple, white cherry, and Asian pear – BRAVO!

2011 Gush Etzion Gewurztraminer – Score: B++
The nose on this semi-sweet wine is lovely and intoxicating with honey notes, papaya, jasmine, kiwi, ripe lemon, and herb. The mouth on this medium plus body is viscous and oily with great petrol notes, along with nice residual sugar, followed by quince, apple, fig, and clementine. The finish is long and mineral laced, with grab slate, good acidity to balance al the sweet notes, and orange rind that lingers long. Another one of those semi sweet wines that balance sweet notes with mineral and acid, but the star is the nose and the petrol/oily texture.

2012 Gvaot Gewurztraminer, Gofna – Score: A-
This wine explodes with classic petrol notes, jasmine, violet, litchi, pear, and green/yellow apple. The mouth is dry with a medium body, along with ripe notes of lemon curd, kiwi, grapefruit, cut grass, slate, mineral, nice green notes, but so well balanced with great bracing acid, and lovely attention getting complexity. The finish is long and mineraly, with nice sweet notes, tart lemon notes, and lovely floral notes and fig lingers long.

Chenin Blanc:

2011 Domaine Netofa White – Score: B++ to A-
This is one of the few kosher Chenin Blanc wines out there with complexity and depth. The nose on this lovely wine is redolent with quince, ripe peach, nectarine, light honey, along with insane floral notes, jasmine, all wrapped in earthy and mineral aromas. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is fresh and alive that is not a fruit bomb or an oak bomb, rather it is tart and ripe at the same time with green apple, fig, summer fruit, and bracing acid. The finish is long and spicy with fresh roasted herb, charcoal, slate, pear, and fig. A lovely wine that is far more “french” than Israeli, which is just what its creator, Pierre, is looking for.

2010 Domaine Netofa Latour White – Score: A-
This is also a wine made from Chenin Blanc grapes, but this was aged in Oak instead of steel. The controlled usage of oak shows in nuanced manners, but this is still an oaky wine that to me really shows the aging potential of Chenin Blanc. The nose on this wine is redolent with floral notes, perfumed with ripe pear, jasmine, and quince. The mouth on this medium bodied wine, follows much along the lines of its younger brother, but is more creamy and richly oiled, with peach and nectarine interplaying well together along with oak, honey, lemon creme fraiche, and saline. The finish is long and bright with balancing mineral, tart acid, along with cloves, all spice, white pepper, fig, and lovely slate. Honey, toast, fig, and fruit linger long – BRAVO!

Pinot Grigio:

2011 Goose Bay Pinot Grigio – Score: B+
I listed this here, as the only kosher PG that I would list as “good”. There are others, but they are wines that would qualify as a wine that one could quaff at the best!
The nose on this wine is tart with nice kiwi, gooseberry, and lemon. The mouth is light to medium with lemon fraiche, bright tart fig, white peach, and apple. The finish is long and tart with good acid, light sweetness, along with lime and flint/mineral.

Dessert Wines:

2001 Chateau Piada Sauterne – Score: A-
The nose on this rich and candied funk wine is filled with lovely Botrytis (noble rot), along with oily richness, peach, guava, and sheer joy, with honeysuckle, baked apple, and lovely creme brulee. The mouth on this full bodied wine is filled with oily texture that coats and mesmerizes you, with more honeyed sweetness, along with concentrated orange juice, along with a controlled sweet sugared mouth that lingers long with white chocolate. The finish is long with crazy brightness that balances the sweet mouth, with more sweetness, honeydew melon, and mind blowing guava and peach pie – BRAVO!!!

2001 Chateau Guiraud Sauterne – Score: A- and more
This wine may not be as good as the world famous kosher 1999 vintage, which may well be one of the best kosher wines I ever tasted, but this is no slouch in any way! This was enjoyed side by side with the 2001 Piada and though the Piada is lovely, this crushed it.

The nose on this golden and honeyed colored wine is ripe and sweet with quince, date, along with a round nose of perfumed funk inside a mushroom patch, along with honeydew melon, tangerino drink, and mad mango! The mouth on this insanely full bodied wine is filled with rich dried ripe apricot, peach, along with layers of concentrated, ripe, and dried fruit that hits you like waves of fruit, including candied pineapple, candied orange, lovely orange blossom, and vanilla! Mega Bravo!!!

2011 Gat Shomron Ice Viognier – Score: A- and a bit more
The nose on this golden colored wine with orange reflections, is insane and intoxicating with its perfume of sweet insane floral notes of jasmine, violets, along with grapefruit, melon, clear ripeness, and hints of green notes, yellow apples, and tangerine. The mouth on this full bodied sweet dessert wine, is oily and glycerol in texture, making for an insanely rich mouthfeel, filled with orange blossom, dripping candied honeycomb, all balanced with lovely acidity, and sweetness. The finish is long, oily, and mouth coating with white and yellow summer fruit, kiwi, honeydew melon, that lingers long with orange, and rose water! BRAVO!!

2008 Hagafen Sauvignon Blanc, Late Harvest – Score: A- (and a bit more)
The nose on this wine is filled with rich funk, lovely Botrytis (noble rot), along with oily richness, all wrapped up in a lovely bees nest filled with sweet dripping honey and tropical fruit. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich, layered, and concentrated with oak tannin and sweet fruit mingling together to make for a great experience, more honey, guava, bracing acid that helps cut through rich desserts, along with pineapple, mango, and rich sweet candied peach. The finish is long, sweet, and funky, with more candied fruit and sweetness that adds to the wines weight and joy. BRAVO!!!

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Posted on October 21, 2013, in Israel, Israeli Wine, Kosher Rose Wine, Kosher Semi Sweet Wine, Kosher Sparkling Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

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