The kosher wines I enjoyed this past Passover

Well, Passover has come and gone and while I will not bore you with the details, I did get to cook my brisket and drink some very lovely wines. I have to say, I was away for this Passover from our home, and I brought some wines with me, many of which were great. However, I also visited Hungarian Kosher in Skokie, IL, the original home of before they sold out to JWines.

When I was there I was happy to see that they were still selling lots of wine from all of the main distributors. The entire story of what happened to and why it moved over to JWines, is not a mystery and much as it is politics and stuff I do not get into. This blog again, to remind many, is really for me to keep track of my notes and my wines, something I also do on Cellar Tracker. Still, when massive chances like this happen to the kosher wine industry some think I need to talk about it. Well, I do not agree. I like to converse about the overall wine industry, and the things I find issue with, such as the high cost of kosher wine, French Wines, and the date juice coming out of Israel.

The story of is really not my business; it is between Dan and JWines and other people who I am friendly with, and something that is better left for table fodder.

Now, on to the wines. I was very happy to see a bottle of the 2002 Chateau Leoville Poyferre. WOW what a bottle! Another blockbuster wine that I enjoyed was the 2013 Harkham Shiraz, Aziza. We have spoken about the Harkham Winery and Richie Harkham here and here. The funny thing about this Aziza bottle is that the KA kosher supervision is not actually printed on the label! Mr. Harkham told me it was because of some glitch, and  he sent me a letter from the KA, which stated clearly that the wine is officially kosher.

The next blockbuster was the 2009 Four Gates Merlot and the 2011 Four Gates Chardonnay. Both of them were insane and rich and really opened some few days after they were opened. Finally, the rose and whites from Hajdu and Shirah are still rocking and rolling and so are their new ones! Bravo guys!

After the blockbuster wines – I was lucky to spend some time with friends and family and we each shared wines with each other. My uncle shared a lovely bottle of the 2012 Quinta da Aveleda Vinho Verde Kosher Grinalda! I have never had this wine before, it is a white blend of some crazy grapes, I never heard of that was made in Portugal. I was skeptical to start – but WOW what a great wine and it is DIRT cheap. Sadly, it is only sold in Illinois. So, go to Binny’s or Vineyard’s in Lincolnwood and buy some.

My other friends, GM and RM shared two bottles of wines that they were aging for some time, maybe a bit too long (wink). They were a 1994 Yarden Merlot and a 1999 Hagafen Pinot Noir! Wow, sadly, they were both over the hill for sometime, but what a joy, honor, and experience to enjoy then with my friends. I shared with them a bottle of the 2013 Goose Bay Fume Blanc. The trade was nowhere near fair, but they were just being kind and I was happy to share more, but they seemed happy with that option. Shockingly, the star was yet another wine – a 2003 Weinstock Cellar Select Cabernet Sauvignon! That puppy was insane, rich, layered, black and mouth coating – LOVELY! That was a wine that was opened at its peak and we all GREATLY enjoyed!

The other visit was to BC and CG, CG made some two wicked cool brisket and other tasty side dishes. I shared the left overs of the 2002 Leoville Poyferre, the 2013 Aziza and they shared with me a lovely bottle of the 2008 Ella Valley Vineyards Vineyard’s Choice Personal and the 2012 La Fenetre Red Blend. Many thanks guys and feel better soon CG!!!!

Please post what you had for Passover, or at least your favorites ones from Passover!!

The wine notes follow below:

2003 Weinstock Cabernet Sauvignon, Cellar Select – Score: A- (and more)
WOW! Bravo guys, this is a wine, that is stored well will pay you back in deep dividends! The nose on this wine is redolent with dark brooding fruit, with hints of green notes and lovely cedar. The mouth is full and rich with layers of black and red berry, along with lovely and very elegant mouth coating tannin – lovely! The finish is long with roasted herb, vanilla, tobacco, sweet dill, and chocolate galore!

1994 Yarden Merlot – Score: N/A
This was clearly a lovely wine in its heyday, a wine I never tasted till now. The nose was rich and black with lovely dark fruit, barnyard, and the clear whiff of oxidation. The mouth was nice with rich fruit, you could still taste the blackberry, plum, and green notes, but all of it was marred by the oxidation, which is understandable for a wine this old. The finish was still nice with tannins that linger, but the structure was falling apart quickly and then was dead within minutes. Sad, I wish I had tasted this before.

1999 Hagafen Pinot Noir – Score: N/A
This wine was in better shape than the 94 Yarden Merlot. The Pinot was very Pinot like in nature and structure, but it too was oxidized and on the other side. The nose was nice with rich earth and kirsch cherry fruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine was hopping with nice red fruit, raspberry, and licorice, but again this was also marred by the obvious flavors of oxidation. The wine was solid with good acid and fruit and survived for longer than a few minutes, but overall it was lacking for a score.

2009 Four Gates Merlot – Score: A- (and much more)
What can I say – way to go Benyo! This is a classic Benyo merlot nose, a brilliant purple colored wine, showing a lovely rich and redolent nose with great blue and black fruit, blueberry, blackberry, oriental spice, crazy rich roasted herb, sweet oak and pomegranate. This is a lovely rich and dark and full bodied wine with ripping acid, lovely saline, mineral, butterscotch, black fruit, green notes, all wrapped in rich layers of tannin, concentrated fruit and spice. The finish is long and spicy with chocolate and spice and cloves, nutmeg and vanilla. BRAVO!!!

2007 Recanati Special Reserve – Score: A-
This wine is a blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Merlot. This is a lovely wine but it does not reach the epic status of the 2006 RSR. The nose on this wine shows lovely barnyard, rich earth, dirt, and lovely red and black fruit. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is rich and layered with good green notes, blackberry, dark cherry, raspberry, all wrapped in sweet plum, sweet cedar, mouth coating and elegant tannins and more barnyard. The finish is long with hints of saline, Oriental spices, and roasted herb with leather and smoking tobacco. BRAVO!

2008 Elvi Wines EL26, Priorat – Score: A-
This wine is a beast with ripe fruit, leather, massive earth, tilled, and fresh fruit. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich with still searing tannin, along with layer after layer of rich chocolate, earth, spice, blackberry, spiced plum, blueberry, mad black fruit, and sweet cedar. The finish is long and spicy and rich with lovely mineral, saline, chunks of roasted meat, tobacco, leather, and more black fruit and searing tannin lingering. The wine is showing sweet fruit leanings, but the wine is a blockbuster.

2012 Recanati Petite Sirah Reserve – A- (MAD MAD QPR)
This is one of the first times that the PS is now 100% Petite Sirah, which is great for me, as I love PS!!! The nose on this ripe purple colored wine is rich with crazy ripe and fresh blueberry, mad root beer, beautiful licorice, white pepper, along with toasty notes and fresh black fruit. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich and layered with ripe and controlled fruit, with fresh tilled earth, sweet spices, raspberry, roasted meat, and lovely mouth coating tannin with sweet cedar backing and lovely unctuous notes that rush into the finish. The finish is long and continues with milk chocolate, coffee, lovely acidity, nutmeg, cloves, and sweet fig. Lovely! BRAVO!!! Crazy QPR!

2012 Quinta da Aveleda Grinalda, Vinho Verde – Score: A-
What can I say – BRAVO! This wine reminds me of a wine my friend Moises Cohen from Elvi Wines makes, called InVita. This wine is a blend of Trajadura, Loureiro, Arinto Azal, according to the importer.

The wine has an RS of less than 10ppm which is officially an off dry wine, but it does not taste that way with the ripping acid.

The nose on this wine is redolent with pineapple, ripping lemon curd, spiced lime, and lovely green apples, along with beautiful slate and mineral. The mouth on this medium bodied is almost oily and textured with sweet notes, followed by intense/insane ripping (truly ripping) acid, all wrapped in citrus bliss, nectarine, candied quince, and orange pith that lingers long. The wine is so spicy, acidic, and refreshing with sweet notes that linger long – LOVELY!

2013 Bat Shlomo Sauvignon Blanc, Old Vines – Score: A-
This is one old school Sauvignon Blanc kind of wine, it has a bit of tropical fruit, but this is clean and dry and more straw and earth than fruit, just the way I crave my whites! BRAVO!

Also, if you unwrap the bottle to not be shocked by the stopper – it is a glass stopper that can be reused many times on other bottles, so do not toss them!!!

The nose on this wine is ripping with citrus and acid, straw, asparagus, gooseberry, straw, hay, ripe peach, kiwi, and nice spice. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is ripping with lovely acid, more lovely spices, an almost oily and lovely textured mouth feel, nutmeg, followed by yellow grapefruit, green apple, with crazy lemon, lemon curd, and pith that goes forever. This is a wine that perplexes and delights, it tastes sweet from the ripe fruit, but bone dry from the earth, mineral, slate, and overall makeup. The finish is long and pithy with great nectarine, orange notes and more pith wrapped with mineral, slate, and earth. BRAVO!!!

2010 Weinstock Cellars Chardonnay Select – Score: B+
This is a classic Cali Chardonnay, it is nice but man is it oaky! The nose on this light gold colored wine shows rich oak, spiced apple cider, peach, and fresh herb. The mouth on medium bodied wine is nicely textured, almost oily with a buttery mouth, filled with butter notes, butterscotch, fresh baked apple pie and nice baking spices. The finish is long and buttery with more baked goods and warm spices, followed by almond pith and nectarine notes.

2012 Landsman Syrah – Score: A-
The second you pour this wine you hold your breath from the depth of its dark, impenetrable purple color. The wine is more a Rhone wine that a Cali Syrah, with deep rooted mineral, freshly turned earth, slate, rock, and graphite that seems to scream #2 pencil. This turns some wine lovers away, as they want fruit forward wines, but to me this wine screams control, depth, and style.

So, now this wine opens far faster than before. There was no need to decant this wine. With time the wine showed fresh licorice, fresh tilled earth, freshly smoked game, and fresh black and blue fruit. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich and layered with concentrated blackberry, boysenberry, lovely extraction, sweet cedar, and rich mouth coating tannin that linger long. The finish is long with great mineral, graphite, salty notes, crazy sweet spices, nutmeg, along with watermelon, root beer, intense smoking tobacco, and oriental spices – BRAVO!

2011 Four Gates Chardonnay – Score: A- (and much more)
The nose on this light gold wine is redolent with bright notes, peach, fresh baked apple jam, and cobbler, along with baking spices and toast. The mouth on this full bodied wine is a beast – to be nice, it is a burly beast that truly needs a few years to calm down. The mouth is rich and layered with searing acid and oak, followed by quince and green plum pie that keeps coming at you in layers of fruit, acid, and toast while keeping well balanced and concentrated. The finish is long and super spicy with nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves, with white chocolate, herbs, summer fruits, and spicy oak on the long finish. BRAVO! Maybe one of his best, but only time will tell. This wine will be best from 2015 to 2021.

2013 Harkham Shiraz, Aziza’s, Preservative Free – Score: A- to A
This is a 100% Shiraz wine from Hunter Valley with no added sulfites. There are of course sulfites in the wine, as they come naturally from the grape and its skins. Still, the wine is not bottled with any sulfites, so while this wine now is epic and lovely, I am not sure its long term cellaring ability, only time will tell! We have blogged before about the Aziza wines; this one may be the best so far!

The nose on this impenetrable purple colored wine shows ripe juicy blueberry, boysenberry, roasted meat, floral notes, rich earth, and tar. Wow what a wine, with great blue and black fruit, with awesome layers of mouth coating tannin, rich red and black fruit, with perfect and elegant balance of fruit and acid all wrapped in layers of blue fruit, raspberry, cherry, earth, and charcoal. The finish is long and tannic with coffee, loamy dirt, white pepper, ripe plum, floral notes, and licorice backed by sweet spices, warm pumpkin spices, root beer, and sweet herb. Bravo!!!!

With time the wine shows more earth, dirt, tar, candied fig, and candied blueberry. So elegant and expressive while also being mouth coating and rich. Impressive! This wine does have legs, but it did go through some funky state after I opened it and left it in the fridge. But it popped out of that and was lovely! This is a surprisingly fresh and ripe wine for no added sulfites. The acid pops so well that is really tastes like fresh fruit compote, bravo!

2008 Ella Valley Vineyards Vineyard’s Choice Personal – Score: A-
This wine is a blend of mostly Shiraz with some Cabernet Sauvignon thrown in. The nose on this purple colored wine, is redolent with barnyard, fresh picked and ripe blueberry, licorice, green notes, and chocolate. Wow what a wine, layers of rich dirt, loamy dirt, tar, extraction, with crazy full bodied blue and black fruit, that are both rich and elegant at the same time with dark brooding fruit, dense blackberry and forest berry, with sweet tannin, and cedar. The finish is long and milk chocolate, with great tenacity and attack, with sweet fruit, hints of orange, root beer and sweet spices and bitter but notes. I would drink this up NOW, as the wine was turning very sweet after a couple of hours. This is a shmitta wine!

2013 Makom Grenache Blanc – Score: A-
This is the second vintage of this lovely wine, but from a different vineyard than the previous year. The nose on this lovely wine showed floral notes, green fruit, green apple, mineral, ripe fruit, peach marmalade, and creme friache. The mouth on this wine is rich and balanced, with ripe fruit, great acid, crazy mineral notes, kiwi, grapefruit, and nectarine. The finish is long and spicy with great summer fruit, lovely pith that lingers long, slate, mineral, and cloves. Lovely!

2012 La Fenetre Red Blend – Score: B++
A lovely Bordeaux nose with red fruit, black forest berries, lovely herb, and Sweet cedar. The mouth on this full bodied is a bit tropical with almost sweet summer fruit, almost papaya, with ripe raspberry, Dragon fruit, and soft tannin with nice blueberry and lovely sheets of sweet fruit. The finish is long and sweet and nice with layers of fruit and sweet spices.

2002 Chateau Leoville Poyferre – Score: A- to A
What a lovely wine, the structure and nose are intoxicating and captivating, in that order. The nose grabs you with rich sweet cedar, black fruit, mad mineral, barnyard funk, dried tobacco leaves, and dark chocolate. The mouth on this full bodied wine comes at you in layers after layers of concentrated fruit, rich extraction, ripe fruit, all balanced perfectly with rich dirt, mineral, graphite, black and red berries, and lovely acid that brings it all together. The finish is long and earthy, with loamy dirt, charcoal, dark chocolate, ripe cherry, and green notes linger long. BRAVO! What a joy, this wine is well within its drinking window and has at least another 4-5 years left in its tank, start drinking.

2013 Hajdu Rose, Pinot Gris – Score: A- (and more)
This wine is NOT a bleed off or saignee, this is 100% Pinot Gris, it is rose from lying on the skins for a few hours. The nose on this lovely salmon colored wine is lovely and starts off with intense bubblegum and cotton candy, however, after 30 minutes the wine turns into a saline and mineral redolence with crazy floral notes. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is well structured with layers of saline, intense acid, grapefruit, cloves, and melon. The finish is long and balanced with candied orange, mineral, intensely tart fruit, candied strawberry, and more spice. This is a unique, one of a kind wine, that is serious and brooding wine – not for the faint of heart, but what a wine it is!!! I need to make something VERY clear – who ever is spreading rumors that this wine is in drink up mode, is dead wrong. This wine is lovely and saline – BRAVO AGAIN my man!!!!

2012 Shirah Vintage Whites – Score: A-
OK, to start this wine is unique, not so much that it is a Viognier/Roussane blend, there are a few folks doing that in the kosher world now (Recanati and others). The real unique aspect is that the Weiss brothers decided to let the bitter and earthy notes of the Roussane take a center stage for this wine, at least for part of the time. That is not a flaw to me as much as it is a shocking aspect that needs time for some to get used to. Once you are past this issue – this wine rocks my world, and at 25 bucks a pop, many could really appreciate this wine for almost any meal, other than a steak!

The nose on this straw to light gold colored wine is the clear and utter winner of the wine perfume competition! Are you kidding me, this nose is 100% certifiable, with rich and honeyed notes of dripping honeysuckle, lovely jasmine, impressive floral notes, all backed by very impressive earthy mineral components, and ripe melon. The mouth on this medium bodied wine was where some were shocked by the twin competing vertexes of saline and sweet fruit notes. With time this wine has mellowed and is now showing just sweet notes but old world in style – BRAVO GUY!!! The wine shows lovely layers of honey, spice, guava, ripe Asian pear, along with a mineral structure of this wine that exhibits a lovely oily texture, and good sweet apple sauce. The finish is where the shocker starts, crazy bitter citrus pith takes center stage with good almond notes, all finished above a bed of lovely slate/rock and richly mineral focus.
I must say time has been kind to this wine, it shows lovely ripe honey and citrus but not letting go of its mineral core and pith – BRAVO!!

2011 Domaine Netofa Tinto – Score: A-
The wine is a blend of Tempranillo and Touriga Nacional – classic Portuguese varietals that are showing well in Israel. The garnet colored wine opens on the nose with heavy notes of roasted animal and smoke, nice coffee, red berries, and licorice. The mouth on this medium bodied wine showed with blackberry, ripe plum, sweet summer fruit, sweet cedar, wonderful acid, and hints of green notes. The finish is long and earthy and rich with herb, cinnamon, and sweet spices! Lovely!

2011 Tabor Merlot, Adama, Bazelet – Score: A-
The wine is riper than the 2010, which to me was a masterpiece indeed. The 2011 is riper and more fruity, but it is not a date bomb or anything like the stuff I dislike and rail against. 2011 was a very cold year, and wineries had to leave the fruit on the vine longer, making for a wine that could be seen as out of balance. Still, the ripeness does calm with time, and earthy notes do show with dark fruit and spice. This is still a solid QPR wine and for 18 or so dollars it is a no brainer.

The nose on this wine is rich with dark fruit, blackberry, loamy dirt, mineral, and a hint of barnyard. The mouth on this medium bodied wine shows rich acid, nice tannin and good fruit structure with nice extraction, graphite, black fruit, raspberry, currant, and sweet oak. The finish is long and earthy, with roasted herb, fresh coffee, tobacco, and oriental spice, and more barnyard. Very nice.

2014 Shirah Rose – Score: A-
This is the second rose from the famous Wiess Brothers, AKA Shirah Winery. The last one was one of the best rose I ever had (along with Hajdu 13 Rose(see note above)), so sure this wine has a huge legacy to uphold, sadly it falls short, but it is still a lovely wine in its own right.

The nose on this wine is ripe and rich with bubblegum to start, along with life savers candy, mad citrus, grapefruit, and flint/rock. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich and acidic and lovely, with layers of dark and blue fruit, that are caressed by a rich core of zinberry notes, boysenberry, kiwi, followed by lovely tart pomegranate and bitter plum. The finish is long with nice spices, more tart fruit, crazy citrus pith, with zinberry/raspberry/blueberry lingering on the long tart and pith finish. Very Nice.

2014 Shirah Gruner Veltliner, John Sebastiano Vineyard – Score: A-
This is a lovely wine that comes from the Weiss brothers, AKA Shirah Winery, and it is so not Cali it is wonderful!!!! This may become my goto white when I am in the mood for cold fruit and mineral.

The nose on this wine starts with cold summer fruit, along with mounds of mineral and dirt. With time, the nose turns to vanilla, smoke, and flint along with floral notes of rose hip. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich with Alsace style approach, mineral, slate, rock, dirt, and some very cold fruit, mad quince bomb with some pepper/spice/smoke, along with green apple as well, herb and hints of nectarine. The finish is long and dirty with lovely dark fruit pith, more floral notes, straw/hay, and hints of sweet fig. Lovely and Bravo!

Posted on April 19, 2015, in Israeli Wine, Kosher French Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Rose Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. May I suggest you try the Abarbanel Unoaked Chardonnay and Canernet – both French. Anarbanel is relaunching the brand, this being the 23rd anniversary of the brand.

    Sent from my iPhone


    • I tried them both and they are baseline wines not for me, B to B+ scores. I was looking for solid to great wines for Passover!

  2. The Vinho Verde is available from Skyview, that’s where I got a bottle from… 🙂

  1. Pingback: Some great new kosher wines to enjoy! | Wine Musings Blog

  2. Pingback: Domaine Netofa Winery – a world-class shmita observant winery | Wine Musings Blog

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