To Asia and Back twice within a couple of weeks, all with no good kosher wine

WOW! That is what I can say, when I last blogged, I was just about to leave for India, and then I went to China and then Israel and now I am back. In a single sentence – there is very little to no good kosher wine in Asia, which is a shame! I was thinking of shlepping my own wine, but truly it would not have been worth it. In the end, I suffered a bit, drank beer and some absolutely undrinkable wine (which was all I needed for a blessing), while in India, the Rabbi made Kiddish on grape juice (which I refused to drink!). What can I say, it was a truly bad string of wine weeks, that culminated in a great wine weekend with a BUNCH of great Malbec wines and then a trip to Israel (yeah a snowed in Jerusalem – coming next).

To be honest, I was truly shaken by my experience in India, the people are really nice in Bangalore India, but the infrastructure – the very basic things we take for granted in the developed nations of this world, are so deeply lacking there. On the Shabbat I was terrified to walk the streets because there were no sidewalks, sewage ran under what was defined as a sidewalk – raw and honest – no pipes and no hiding the smell. Worse the roads are underdeveloped, made for a few cars and a few cows, not millions of cars. A road that can accommodate two cars, is traversed by three cars, two auto-rickshaw, and god only knows how many “Tasmanian devil” moped drivers shifting in and out of the melee called a street in India. Sure, many would find this invigorating, but I guess I have lost that mad-insane-loving gene, and now I do not mind a dollop of calmness in my life. If you are like me – pass on India, enough said.

The cool part is that I returned from India to go right back to China (you pass over China to go to India), the very next week! The trips were great, the flights were nice as well, but the sheer juxtaposition of the two trips were truly eye opening. Sure, Beijing is a smog ridden city, but the infrastructure, correctly channeled municipal energy, and overall cleanliness truly shocked me. Here you have two “developing countries” that when placed side-by-side are not even in the same timezone! China was so clean you could eat off the streets! The people, energy, positive focus, was intoxicating! I was on a high for three weeks after I got back, and that was with little to no wine! There is a very well established Chabad in Beijing with a kosher restaurant, and daily minyan. What can I say, it was a true joy. I bough a bottle of wine there for Shabbos, and yeah, I went cheap (30 dollars), and the bottle was essentially DOA, but it survived opening and Kiddish, which is all I could ask for! The notes for the 2008 Byblos Malbec cannot be found below, as the notes would read, drinkable for 3 minutes and then dead (not score-able).

The trip to China was awesome, we got to see the tourist highlights of Beijing, and I am sure that I would not think so highly of the country if I was forced into silence from the totalitarian regime, but from what we saw, the city is quite impressive, for a tourist.

Since then I have been in and out of the area, which all left me very little time to get back to the blog. However, that does not mean we did not enjoy some wines. The wines listed below are listed in reverse chronological order of their drinking (newest is first):

2006 Galil Mountain Winery Meron – Score: A-
The unique blend (in 2006) for Israeli wines, has been eclipsed and is now normal for Israeli wineries in 2013. However, it was one of the early innovators of this Australian style blend! The blend is 78% Syrah, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 11% Petit Verdot. The nose starts with insane date bomb, blackberry, cedar, along with loads on mineral, blueberry, ripe black cherry, smoke, and pepper. The mouth on this full bodied wine is layered and concentrated with rich ripe fruit at the attack on a bed of lush and integrated tannins. The mouth follows with layer after layer of more ripe blue and black fruit, date, plum, blue and black fruit, ripe plum, sweet cedar, rich earth, lovely extracted fruit, and mouth coating and still searing tannin. The finish is long and spicy with nicely extracted fruit, tobacco, date, mineral, leather, fig, chocolate, and rich mouth coating tannin.

2012 Eagles Landing Cellars Syrah (Paso Robles) – Score: B+ to A-
This is one of those few kosher Paso Robles wines out there. The Syrah started out really nice and then unfortunately just fell apart. It may be an issue with the wine’s youth and may well be an issue of it taking time to come together. So, I would not open the bottle for another year or two and see if it comes around by then.

The nose on this wine starts off with lovely ripe blueberry, black fruit, raspberry, along with smokey notes, and eucalyptus. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine starts off with concentrated blackberry, cassis, along with ribbons of blue fruit, spicy oak, insane herb, and spice. The finish is long with spikes of black pepper, tobacco, cloves, forest floor, and loamy dirt.
The wine unfortunately does not stay together and with an hour of air falls apart into a jumble of flavors and notes that I could not truly track or understand. I hope this was more about me and the time than the wine.

2011 Weinstock Cellars Alicante Bouschet – Score: B+
This is the second year of Herzog’s playful interests in the world of wine, by bottling Alicante Bouschet! I mean that in the highest of regard, how many large scale kosher wineries do you know going out on a limb with a very unique and not well known varietal, even for professionals!
The nose on this purple to black colored wine is a heady and addictive nose of dark cherry, floral notes, raspberry, spice, classic ripe blueberry, and lovely watermelon. The mouth on this medium bodied wine, is not as active as the nose shows, with lovely blue and red fruit, nice soft and integrated tannin, blackcurrant, and toasty oak notes. The finish is long and super spicy with chocolate, baking spices, nutmeg, sweet herb, boysenberry, and sweet black plum, that linger long. The more I think about this wine – the more I realize that this wine is lovely but against even the simplest of foods it does not stand up. A great sipping wine, but maybe not a great food wine.
Like I stated before, this is a truly unique wine, that reminds me more of a grenache, and one that you should try and decide for yourself if this is a wine that grabs you.

2007 Ella Valley Syrah – Score: A-
The nose on this dark purple colored wine explodes with rich bramble, tobacco, tar, licorice, spice, and roasted herb. The mouth on this full bodied wine is massive, rich, concentrated, and one of the more extracted Israeli wines I have tasted in a long time. Showing lovely blackberry, plum, dark tart cherry, though date notes are starting to show, along with crazy roasted herb, sweet cedar, and lovely tannin that are well integrated. The finish is long and spicy, with leather, black pepper, citrus pith, and tart black fruit on the long linger. However, this wine does not seem like it is long for this earth. I would drink within the next year, it needs no decanting, and is in drink up mode!

2012 Landsman Pinot Noir – USA, California, Napa Valley – Score: B+
What can I say, the 2011 Landsman Pinot Noir was truly intoxicating, this one did not do it for me, which is OK I guess! The nose starts off with distinct aromas of cherry pie baked in a wood burning stove, spiced with cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and mineral. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is conspicuous with copious amounts of sweet cedar, toast, raspberry, black fruit, and nice tannin. The finish is long and spicy with more clear oak influences, dark currant that lingers, along with spice, charcoal, and saline notes on the rise.

2010 Adir Winery A – Score: A-
THis wine is one of the new Israeli blends (really Australian blends) that is 60% Shiraz, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Cabernet Franc. The nose starts off with lovely notes of rich blueberry, followed by heavy graphite and mineral, all wrapped in a red and black fruit basket. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is mouth coating with layers of blackberry, cherry, currant, herb, sweet cedar, and mouth coating tannin. The finish is long and luscious with nice spice, sweet herb, licorice, black pepper, leather, coffee, and vanilla. This is a lovely wine that is devoid of green notes and dates – truly a wine that shows Israel’s potential when the grapes and wine are handled correctly.

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Posted on December 23, 2013, in Israel, Israeli Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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