Herzog Wine cellar’s 2018 lineup is sensational – beyond just the Cabernet Sauvignons

Herzog Wine Cellars (which now go by herzogwine.com not herzogwinecellars.com, no idea why they dropped that and emails bounce all over the place, a better idea would have been simple web/MX record routing/forwarding – but enough tech talk) has been in the wine business, in California, since 1984. The days of San Martin, when I met Josh Goodman and his wife (PSA – be careful with how you pronounce her name) when they were in the San Jose Jewish community. In those days, San Jose was the closest thing to a community for them, that was close enough to San Martin, for them to live a Jewish life and work as cellar rat/master at Herzog Wine cellars. With time, the Herzog moved to Santa Maria, which was closer to the L.A. area and then they finally moved to the location they are today, in Oxnard, in 2005.

In the start, the head winemaker was Peter Stern, mostly as a part-time winemaker. In 1998, Joe Hurliman joined as the full-time winemaker at Herzog Wine and they have not looked back, thankfully! In that time, Joseph Herzog took over running the winery and Tierra Sur, the wonderful restaurant attached to the winery. Soon after moving into the Oxnard winery/facility, Herzog undertook multiple manners to interact with their customers. The first approach was the winery’s tasting room, which is still highly pivotal in attracting all members and customers into tasting Herzog wines. They also started with many wine clubs, with the most influential one being Eagle’s Landing. It has become the area where Mr. Hurliman can truly experiment, at smaller scales, than even the Special Edition series and craft wines that he would love to see become mainstream. Things like Santa Rita Pinot Noir, Templeton Pass Zinfandel (we need more of that kind of Zin being made!!), and Paso Robles Syrah. These are not new to the kosher world as much as they are good to see at the scale and care that Herzog can bring to these varietals and wines.

One cannot talk about Herzog without talking about a few very poignant points:

  1. Mevushal
  2. Cabernet Sauvignon
  3. Vineyards
  4. Ageability
  5. L.A. KFWE/IFWF/Tierra Sur – Todd Aarons

Mevushal Program

Herzog did not invent the Mevushal methodology in the new era of kosher wine, which was done by Hagafen Winery, but Herzog has been equal or slightly better than Hagafen as time has progressed. When you ask who does the best with Mevushal in wines – the answer is Hagafen and Herzog, there is no one else in their league. Royal Wines Europe does a nice job as well, but they are two peas in the same pod. Rollan de By does a very good job as well.

The next question you will consistently get is – does the Mevushal process hurt wine? The answer is complex and like everything in this world, it depends. It depends on the process you use, the varietals you “boil”, and for how long you do the process, and at what temperature. Long ago, people have stopped boiling wine – they moved to Flash pasteurization or Flash Detente, both in the kosher wine world and outside of it. The length of time and the temperature of the flash is one that is hotly debated in the Rabbinic kosher world, which is why you will see many put the temperature the wine was flashed at, on the wine bottle itself. Few wineries will flash Pinot Noir or Grenache as these wines are delicate and will not gain from the flash process. Herzog does flash their Lineage Pinot and it is not a wine for long holding so that works with what they are shooting for. Hagafen, flashes everything and as such, they do flash the Pinot and Pinot Prix, but IMHO it has been hurting the wines in recent vintages. Doing the Mevushal process to Cabernet Sauvignon is one that works and may well be the most prevalent of the varietals out there that go through the Mevushal process.

Cabernet Sauvignon

This leads us to the standing joke, in regards to Herzog Wine Cellars, that Herzog makes more Cabernet Sauvignon, in a single vintage, than almost any winery makes wine, across all labels. They are the Cab Kings like Oryah is the Orange wine Factory. My last count was 27 Cabernet sauvignons across all labels, which is a crazy number, but to be fair, they know what their customers want. No matter the price, style, makeup, or focus of the Cabernet Sauvignon, Herzog has a Cab for you and that has been their motto for as long as they have been at Oxnard, and maybe even a bit before in Santa Maria.

Vineyards

Herzog has done a very good job in both managing leases/relationships with vineyards – dating back to the early days of the 1990s. Chalk Hill and Alex Reserve are both examples of vineyards they have managed to lease and continue to do so for decades. This is not anything new in any way, but it was for kosher California wines in the 1990s. Hagafen Winery has had vineyards that they have leased or owned for long stretches’ of time as well. It is just a very impressive thing to have done back then.

They have quietly been buying vineyards all around California. It started in 2010 when they were forced to buy the land or lose their longtime relationship with Clarksburg grapes. Then in 2017, they bought 2 plots of land in lake County. Then in 2018, they bought the Herzog Ridge Vineyard in Napa Valley. The new 2018/2019 Forebearer wines (listed below) are from that vineyard.

Ageability

There are not many wineries today, in the kosher market, that have wines dating backing to 1996 that still blow my mind. yes, I continue to have my mind blown by 1997 Four Gates Merlot or Pinot Noir, and Yarden made some wines back then that were pretty good as well. However, to have made wine continuously, minus a few years here and there, I would have to say, the only ones that come to mind are Capcanes (until 2015), Herzog, and Four Gates. That is quite an impressive feat and one that helps me to buy their wines on an almost yearly basis.

L.A. KFWE/IFWF/Tierra Sur – Todd Aarons

Tierra Sur was a smash hit years before IFWF came to Los Angeles in 2008. Todd Aarons was running the ship and he could well have been the first kosher Chef-Driven restaurant, at least in the USA. There were a few in Paris in the late 1990s that were quite the thing. Still, Chef Aarons brought that flair, focus on ingredients, and presentation to a far-flung location, outside of L.A., but within driving distance, that made Tierra Sur world-famous for kosher and non-kosher consumers alike.

The IFWF (International Food and Wine Festival), the west coast’s KFWE was Herzog’s way of showing off the food over the wine. The 2007 KFWE, and many after it, was more focused on the wine and good for them! What Herzog has done for so long with the IFWF or the KFWE is to showcase what Los Angeles has over the east coast, at least at that time for sure, which was the weather and great food!

2018 Wines

Now on to the wines! The 2017 vintage was not kind to much of California and sadly it affected Herzog wines as well. I did like the 2017 Lineage Chardonnay and the 2017 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Lake County, with the Clone Six showing some elegance from under the issues of the vintage. All of that is in the past and the 2018 vintage is another winner. These wines are rich and layered and truly a joy – I would not sit long on the sidelines, I would buy these ASAP before they all go away. So to those that ask me – why did you not warn me – you have been warned!

In the end, this vintage is a WINNER across the board. The Forebearers are nice wines but they are relatively expensive, in comparison to other Herzog options, from 2018. The Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lineage, Reserve, even the Baron Herzog line have great deals and lovely wines. Overall, if I was standing in front of Joe Hurliman at KFWE, I would have said what I am oft to say – Bravo my good sir – BRAVO!

I will keep this short, so my many thanks to Joseph Herzog, David Whittemore, Joe Hurliman, and Alicia Wilbur for answering my many emails and calls. Be well to you all, California is getting even crazier – stay safe guys! The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:

2018 and 2019 Forebearers Wines

2018 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Forebearers, Napa Valley (M) – Score: 92+ (QPR: POOR)
The wine is very slow to open, this wine needs time, so give it the respect it deserves. The nose on this wine is lovely, not one of those “Brilliance” fruit bombs, this is a lovely earthy, anise filled joy, with smoke, tar, fruit galore, but well-controlled, with loam, candied ginger, and more fruit. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is oaky, it starts off with a clear focus of oak, and has a bit of a hole, but with time, as I said, this needs it, the hold fills in well, with a rich coat of mouth-draping tannin, earth, sweet dill, oak, blackberry, dark cherry, hints of plum, and currants, all wrapped in tannin and oak, very nice. The finish is plush, and tart, with good acidity, earth, more dill, sweet smoking tobacco, dark chocolate, and anise. Really nice, a wine to get and store away. Bravo!
With loads of time, this wine really starts to shine and I highly underestimated it, this wine is super young and needs time. I would wait 3 years to play with this again. Let this beast lie. Drink from 2024 until 2028 maybe longer. (tasted Nov 2020)

2018 Herzog Zinfandel, Forebearers, Napa Valley (M) – Score: 89 (QPR: BAD)
This is classic Napa Zin, big, bold, in your face, and no, not controlled. This thing weighs in at 16.5 ABV, so yeah, you have a good idea of what you are up against!
The nose on this wine is fruity, ripe, and juicy, with classic notes of juicy ripe strawberry, blueberry, plum, smoke, with sweet spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, sat anise, and bold black pepper. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is ripe and is a bit too pushed for my tastes, with bramble, blackberry, dark plum, boysenberry, strawberry, and loads of earth, cinnamon, smoke, pepper, and dirt. The finish is long, with bold tannin structure, draping your palate, but the fruit is front and center, and commands all your attention, with bacon notes, and more bramble, along with a strong sense of vanilla, gingerbread, and toast/oak. Drink until 2025. (tasted Nov 2020)

2019 Herzog Late Harvest Chardonnay, Forebearers (M) – Score: 88 (QPR: POOR)
The nose on this wine is lovely, showing classic notes of apple, sweet yellow peach, Asian pear, and brown sugar, with orange blossom, and hints of mango, honey, and honey blossom. Where the nose is lovely the mouth skips a beat, it lacks the acidity I crave, the acid is nowhere to be found at opening but with time a bit more appears, along with all of the fruit in the nose, along with white peach, flint, a bit of tannin, and overall a nice sweet but not overall clawing mouthfeel. What is missing is a balance of acidity with the brown sugar and honey sweetness that is missing. The finish is long, sweet, and without the acidity, it feels clawing at this point, the mouth is filled with sweet fruit and no freshness to bind it all together. Overall, a nice first pass I hope the next vintage will bring this wine to the next level. Drink until 2024. (tasted Nov 2020)

————————- rest of the 2018 wines ————————-

2018 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Clone Six, Special Edition, Chalk Hill – Score: 93+ (QPR: EVEN)
The nose on this wine, at the start, is dominated by the sweet dill, sweet oak, roasted herb, and black fruit and milk chocolate. Thankfully, with time, a few hours of air, the nose loses that milk chocolate and we get what we want, rich mineral, lovely black fruit, stone, rock, mineral, graphite, and smoke galore, more toast, with rich foliage, and green notes in the background. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is layered, elegant, extracted, rich, concentrated, and green, with loads of dark blackberry, cassis, green notes, all wrapped in elegance and plushness that is a step ahead of the Chalk, with an acid core that is at the center of this wine, with a mineral core that is clearer and more profound than the Alex or the Chalk, with charcoal, rock, and graphite, all showing a profound fruit-focus, with the power to go far, yet with the elegance to be ready a year before the others, not that I would do that AT ALL. The finish is green, balanced, rich, layered, and elegant, with dark chocolate (the milk chocolate that the wine opens to is long gone), crazy mineral, incredible acidity and olives, tart fruit, notes of juicy and crazy tart raspberry/cherry, scrapping graphite, and steel, with rock, vanilla, earth, garrigue, foliage, and smoke, all giving way to more green notes and more mineral, but all backed by the depth of fruit and acid – INCREDIBLE!
Still, I must say that this wine scared me a bit, the fruit recedes with time and the milk chocolate takes center stage, I think this wine is not as good as the Chalk Hill, IMHO. Time will tell Drink from 2025 (DO NOT) until 2032. WOW!  (tasted Jan 2021)

2018 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Edition, Chalk Hill (M) – Score: 94 (QPR: GOOD)
The wine starts off with that classic Hershey milk chocolate note which freaked me out for a wine of 13.5% ABV. After some time, those notes fall off and you are left with elegance and power – the perfect balance.
The nose, once it calms down, is sheer elegance, with classic Chalk hill notes of rich mineral, roasted herb, smoke, loads of black licorice, anise, green notes, foliage, black fruit, and more black fruit, all wrapped in forest floor notes, and wet dirt and loam, WOW! The mouth on this full-bodied wine is richly extracted, with more elegance than the Alexander (which I tasted side-by-side-by-side the Alex/Chalk/Clone 6), with equally crazy mouth-draping tannin, extraction, and plushness, but with less ripeness, more control, excellent acidity, equal fruit-focus, showing blacker fruit than the Alexander Valley, no blue fruit, with rich blackberry, classic cassis, black cherry, dark currant, all wrapped in more mouth draping and elegant tannin, scrapping minerals, graphite, earth, loam, and smoke, wow! The finish is long, green herbal, foliage, smoke, with tar, with black fruit, more mineral, smoking tobacco, cumin, cinnamon, and steel, lingering long. Incredible, just WOW! Bravo guys! Drink from 2027 until 2038. (tasted Jan 2021)

2018 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Reserve, Alexander Valley (M) – Score: 93 (QPR: WINNER)
OMG, Alex is back baby!! OK, let me be clear, this wine is ripe, the ABV on it is 14.5%, but if it said 15%, I would believe it. The difference here is that it is perfectly balanced. I tasted this with the 2018 Chateau Malmaison, and that is also really ripe to start, with time, that also balances out, but when it does it loses some steam, the Alex, loses NOTHING, it is a beast and will stay that way for some time indeed!After an hour of air/decanting, the nose on this Cabernet Sauvignon is classic, absolutely classic, with notes of ripe black and blue fruit, followed by loads of licorice, smoke, tar, earth, black pepper, tobacco, and nice green foliage. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is beautifully extracted, with rich acidity, lovely mouth-draping tannin, incredible fruit-focus, with blackberry, cherry, earth, ripe blueberry, with green notes, tobacco, forest floor, hints of mushroom, and lovely concentration and plushness. The finish is super-long, with more green notes, cigar smoke, green foliage, tobacco, vanilla, dark chocolate, and more green notes that linger FOREVER! WOW! BRAVO guys!!! Drink from 2026 until 2034. (tasted Jan 2021)

2018 Herzog Eagle’s Landing Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills – Score: 93 (QPR: WINNER)
Let me start by saying buy this wine, buy lots of this wine, I mean a LOT! OK, now this wine is a bigger and richer version of the 2013 Eagle’s Landing Pinot Noir, in other words, this wine is a beast, a winner, and yes – get this wine! My only comment is that this wine is not a classically styled Pinot Noir. This wine is full-bodied and not so much about cherry and raspberry and more about blackberry and spice, I would not have initially guessed this was a Pinot Noir, still this a wonderful wine. My only real complaint is the strangely small cork used as its closure, when the Cabernet Franc has a much longer cork, just not sure why. Anyway, I do not care about corks, as long as they last long enough to meet the drinking window.
The nose on this wine is pure heaven, coffee and chocolate, and fruit madness, with dirt, mushroom, loam, and spice, all wrapped in dark and brooding fruit, showing control, spice, earth, and sheer umami notes, wow!! The mouth on this full-bodied wine is wow! the mouth starts very softly, almost like a leopard crouching before it pounces upon its prey, this wine is beautifully structured to last, and so well made it is almost difficult to get all the thoughts out of my head, layers of fruit, acid, tannin, salinity (that is incredible), black olives, with epic fruit structure and concentration, with clear and bold and jammy blackberry, raspberry, dark cherry, with intense saline, forest floor, searing acidity, and layers of dark jammy brooding but well-controlled fruit. With time the cherry and raspberry fall behind the intense black and intense brooding fruit. The finish is equally impressive with layers of chocolate, coffee, leather, spices, nutmeg, cloves, rich earth, lovely smoking tobacco leaves, sweet and jammy fruit, all wrapped in mineral, spice, and earth. Bravo!!! Drink from 2024 until 2033 or longer. (tasted Nov 2020)

2018 Herzog Pinot Noir, Reserve – Score: 91+ (QPR: GOOD)
This wine starts off a bit different than the Capcanes with less heat but sadly, with time the 14.5% ABV wine does show its stripes with clear heat, followed by crazy garrigue, roasted herb, with loads of toast and smoke, followed by roasted mint, menthol galore, and hints of Chicka Cherry Cola. The mouth on this medium-bodied Pinot Noir is layered, reminds me of a Benyo Four Gates Pinot, with layers of rich dark cherry, nice complexity, with roasted herb, menthol, the heat does show her in the mouth, with nice acidity, good tannin structure, great fruit focus, overall a very good wine, with lovely earth and dirt. At this point, the finish is a bit short, the tannin and acidity cover it very well, but there is a missing component, with some nice coffee, but this is all about red fruit, loads of green notes, menthol, cola, and cherry. Those were the notes of this wine when I opened it and when I tasted it the next day. However, it improved with more time, meaning to me this wine is very young and not yet ready.
Here are the notes after a day, or with some 6 hours of decanting. The nose on this 14.5% ABV wine, after a day of being opened finally loses its very hot and alcoholic edge, with clear notes of crazy garrigue, roasted herb, with loads of toast and smoke, followed by roasted mint, menthol galore, nice raspberry, impressive black pepper, and now loads of Chicka Cherry Cola, and black notes of tar and fruit. The mouth on this medium-bodied Pinot Noir is layered, reminds me of a Benyo Four Gates Pinot, with layers of rich dark cherry, nice complexity, with roasted herb, menthol, the heat is now gone, showing nice acidity, good tannin structure, great fruit focus, with pomegranate, black fruit, and cherry, overall a very good wine, with lovely earth and dirt. Now, thankfully, the finish fills out, with some nice coffee, but this is all about red fruit, lovely rose, and violet, with black tea, loads of green notes, menthol, cola, and cherry. Nice! Drink from 2023 until 2028. (tasted May 2020)

2018 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Lineage, Paso Robles, California (M) – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER)
Another clean, pretty, and well-controlled Cabernet Sauvignon, wow what a difference a year makes. The 2017 vintage was not the best for California, but the 2018 vintage was massive, with huge yields, and nice fruit, overall, well balanced yet Cali.
The nose on this Paso Cab is more refined and elegant than the Baron, but also with a fruit focus that is quite nice, showing a refinement of the black and red fruit, with nice green notes, followed by tar, mineral, floral notes, and licorice. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is truly showing its feminine side, but also very fruity, with an intense fruit focus, with blackberry, cassis, raspberry, but what hits you first is the feminine cherry and raspberry, then a hint of vanilla and oak, and then the draping and elegant tannin structure attacks you, followed by the big and bold black fruit. A very fun expression and crazy QPR for the price. The finish is dark and fruity, but well-controlled, fear not, with a leaning towards fruity, but so well managed with the toast, smoke, tar, and dirt, all coming together with the graphite and dark fruit that linger long, with hints of elegant oak in the far background, with ground nutmeg, oregano, and roasted herbs lingering long. Bravo!!! Drink until 2024. (tasted August 2020)

2018 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Variation Four (M) – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER)
After the ripe 2017 vintage, it is great to see the Herzog wines back to where I expect them to be. This is another winner, showing lovely fruit and control again, this time, more black – less red than the previous wines we have had, almost nothing red to smell or taste.
The nose on this wine is different than what we have had until now, showing a bit more black fruit than the previous two, with lots of green and red fruit in the background, along with loads more smoke, oak, toast, and mineral. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is even more elegant than the Lineage, but still very fruity, and yes it is controlled, with rich minerality, dirt, earth, more smoke, tar, but backed well by loads of rosehip and violet, with blackberry, cassis, and hints of red in the far background. The finish is long, green, floral, and black, with smoke, vanilla, earth, foliage (more than in the other 2), and vanilla, with tar and graphite coming together with mouth draping and light extraction lingering long. Bravo guys!! Drink until 2026. (tasted August 2020)

2018 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Variation Five (M) – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER)
This wine is a bit better than the Variations Four, but also a bit bulkier and fatter, and richer while staying true to its core. The nose on this wine is beautiful, with loads of mineral, tar, licorice, and floral notes, with black and red fruit, and smoke, nice. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is nice, well-balanced, fruity, but controlled, with nice acidity, blackberry, raspberry, cassis, and rich saline, with green olives, earth, smoke, and nice chocolate, with good extraction, sweet oak, and green foliage. The finish is a bit shorter than I would like, green, sweet, and showing more oak than #4, and it shows worse as it opens/ages, also showing more extraction and richness, but still well balanced, with smoke, toast, green notes, slightly less elegance more brut, earth, graphite, and black tea. Very nice. Drink until 2024. (tasted August 2020)

2018 Baron Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon (M) – Score: 90 (QPR: GREAT)
Another year and another winner, in regards to QPR wines, this one is better than I remember, in a few years. The nose on this Cab is smoky, dirty, and a bit musty/mushroom, with loads of good fruit, black and red fruit backed by forest floor and loads of roasted herb/foliage, and spice.
The mouth on this medium-plus bodied wine is as well better than I remember, with a good balance, with crazy acidity and good gripping tannin, mouth draping, and yet rich with fruit, cassis, blueberry, raspberry, with some cherry thrown in. The finish is super long, tart, green and sweet, with great balance and fun fruit, nice vanilla, tar, more roasted herb, oregano, cloves, red fruit, and earth linger long. Bravo! Drink until 2023. (tasted August 2020)

2018 Baron Herzog Zinfandel (M) – Score: 90 (QPR: GREAT)
This wine reminded me of the good-old-days of 2009/2010 Zinfandel when the fruit was controlled, and the acid was crazy fun. The nose on this wine is well balanced and what I would like from Zinfandel with clean lines, blue and red fruit, nice dirt, earth, smoke, roasted meat, and just enough toast. With time, the famous black and white pepper emerge, with sweet spices. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine starts with great acidity, followed by lovely boysenberry, strawberry, red fruit, nice oak and tannin, and an overall solid fruit-focus with screaming acid, and good dirt. The finish is long, fruity, green, earthy, dirty, with roasted meat, and nice control. Bravo!!! Drink until 2025. (tasted Jan 2021)

2018 Herzog Chardonnay, Special Reserve, Russian River (M) – Score: 90 (QPR: GREAT)
Having recently had the chance to taste the 2017 vintage of this wine, this vintage is better but it is not as good as the 2015 or 2016 vintages. The nose on this ripe but really oaky Chardonnay is well oak, loads of oak, followed by sweet dill, mango, guava, sweet melon, loads of oak impact, and toast. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is rich, layered, and expressive, with a good fruit-focus, but the oak is truly overbearing, something I guess is a passing effect that will pass, still, for now, this is a tough wine to like, with loads of sweet oak, creme Brulee, intense smoked peach cobbler, with a dresser full of oak chips, followed by a basket of butterscotch candy, smoke, and oak tannin. The finish is long, sweet, with, yes, more oak, more candies, more fruit, hints of lemongrass, citrus, and tea. Maybe this wine will turn for the better soon. Indeed, with time, the oak mellowed and integrated, the acidity fell back a bit, but overall the wine improved. Drink from 2022 until 2026. (tasted June 2020)

2018 Herzog Albarino, Special Reserve (M) (QPR: EVEN) – Score: 90
The nose on this wine is far improved to the 2017 vintage, with hints of canned pear, white fruits, with green notes, candied white cherry, and mineral. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is much brighter than 2017, with a fuller body than the 2017 vintage, with nice lemon/lime curd, with tart pear, acid core, with green apple, and nice extraction. The finish is long, green tart, dry, and nice. Bravo! Drink now. (tasted Feb 2020)

2018 Herzog Pinot Noir, Lineage, Clarksburg (M) – Score: 88 (QPR: GREAT)
The nose on this wine has become a massive oak attack, with loads of toast, spice, and roasted meat, but there is some fruit behind that attack, I cannot smell it. The mouth on this wine is quite nice for a Pinot Noir at this price and it is well made, with loads of oak, but also nice Kirche Cherry, raspberry, plum, and loads of roasted herb, and blue notes as well. The finish is long, green, and tannic, with nice control, with nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and good herbs, mint, and oregano. Drink now! (tasted May 2020)

2018 Weinstock Cabernet Sauvignon, Cellar Select (M) – Score: 87 (QPR: EVEN)
The labels are all new and I kind of like them, just confused why the varietal is not front and center on the label as much as the others. Tasting this Paso Robles wine next to the Lineage, also a Paso Cab and you can see they were treated very differently. I am not saying they are the same fruit, I am simply saying the outcome is vastly different.
The nose on this wine is oaky, but not from a classic oak-bomb profile, but rather from the dense impact and effect it has on the fruit, showing a creamy and smoky aroma profile it has, with not much fruit coming out from under that haze. The mouth continues with that overly oaked profile, with a far riper fruit profile than the others until now, with much riper cassis and blackberry, followed by loads of milk Hershey chocolate, with some nice tannin, ripe plum, and more dark and brooding fruit. The finish is over the top, for me, with crazy chocolate, fig, and good balance with acid and nice tannin. Sadly, this is too much for me. Drink until 2024. (tasted August 2020)

2018 Baron Herzog Merlot (M) – Score: 85 (QPR: POOR)
While I did not taste this side-by-side the 2018 Baron Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, this is another very nice smoky/toasty quaff. The nose on this wine is clearly Merlot, the fruit, spice, and smoke really shows, with time, that calms and then notes turn to violet and rosehip, the oak is a bit much for me, a bit less would have been better, with loads of smoke, toast, blue and black fruit, hints of seaweed, and more fruit. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is oaky, the oak hits you first, the heat follows, the blackberry, boysenberry, earth, smoke, oak, and alcohol are a bit much, the acid tries to help, but overall the mouth feels pushed. The finish is long, fruity, black, and green fruit, with more smoke and chocolate. Drink by 2024. (tasted Jan 2021)

Posted on January 7, 2021, in Kosher Dessert Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Thanks for all your great work!
    As a frame of reference, how do the 2018 Alex/Chalk/Clone 6 compare to the 2016 and 2014?

  2. Will be be reviewing Shira’s new vintages?

  3. I posted this already. They are expensive and I am not as much of a fan as I was in the past. So, I buy what I like, I guess.

  1. Pingback: My top 25 kosher wines of 2020 including Wine of the Year, Winery of the Year, and the best Wine of the Year awards | Wine Musings Blog

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