A wonderful, unique, and exciting tasting of white and Orange wines with EIGHT QPR WINNERS and a few serious duds

This past week I was tasting through the rose wines to get them tasted in time before Passover. This is a super short post – really just hey like, looks at these QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) wines – and please ignore rose wine for 2021, there is nothing to see there, in that kosher wine segment.

I want to highlight some of the great white and orange wines – that I had over the past tastings – with the last tasting Friday before Shabbat – just a great way to rid my mind and taste buds of the roses I had to suffer through to get to these wines!

A total aside, partial happy rant – THANK YOU! Thank you all for finally getting rid of corks and using DIAM or amalgamated corks – thank you all very much! Keep up the great work, on all wines in the simple wine category – please!! I am talking to you Ramon Cardova Albarino! Please everyone use DIAM or some amalgamated cork – thanks – I am done with my rant!

As always, nothing I post here gets me anything from those who make the wines. If they send me wines or if I buy them, if I like it I will say so, if I dislike it – I will say so, look at all those roses I did not like. Enough said I need to remind people of this every so often.

Michael Kaye makes a few wines and the one he sent me was the 2019 Kaye Dry Muscat and what a wine it is! It needs a bit of time to open, and it has a drop of reduction, but that is almost like the Tel Qasser in style, meaning the reduction is additive, not subtractive! What a wine it is, with time the acid appears and the wine is incredibly layered and expressive – get some! His website is not up yet but email him at michaelkaye@fastmail.com or find him on Facebook and messenger him there, again Michael Kaye is his name.

Shiran wines made a lovely 2020 Riesling, the price is insane, but it is a solid wine and that makes me happy. All we need to do now is find a way to make the price meet the value.

The QPR superstar of the past, the Ramon Cardova Albarino, fell off a bit with the 2019 vintage. Still a nice wine, but it lacks the punch and richness of the 2018 vintage. Still a QPR WINNER and a wine to enjoy.

In comparison, Yaffo made a lovely white wine from 2020 that is a QPR WINNER and one that you should find at kosherwine.com

Talking about kosherwine.com, they brought in more of the 2018 Binyamina Orange Wine, it is a wine that needs to be handled with care – the wine starts closed, but with an hour or so, it opens nicely, but then it falls off a bit after many hours. So, I would open, give it time, and finish it. Just a PSA.

The 2019 Vitkin Gewurztraminer has the same issue, it threads the needle as well. It needs time to show its great style, but then it loses a bit of the finish. So, the theme continues here. Open it, give it some air, then finish it and enjoy! To have created anything good in that horrible 2019 vintage from Israel is EPIC! Still, the best 2019 from Israel is the 2019 Netofa Latour white – just WOW!

The same issue appeared with the 2020 Matar Sauvignon-Blanc and Semillon, a lovely wine another QPR WINNER, but it too threads the needle, so I recommend that you open, wait a bit, and then finish it.

Finally, the 2018 Netofa Tel Qasser white is INSANE it is that simple, just 100% INSANE! Best wine of the tasting, followed by the Kaye (from a style and profile, and score). The Tel Qasser white is classic Roussanne and one you would love to sit and watch evolve. This wine can be enjoyed now or in 6 years or anywhere in between. Yes, I have the window for it starting in 2 years, but with a decant you can enjoy this wine now as well.

PSA: I fear that while 2019 Israeli white and rose wine vintage was a total disaster, with a few outliers, 2020 is looking much better. Still, they do not feel like wines that will last long, so open and enjoy them!

PSA 2 – I have now had two wines from the winery called La Foret Blanche (the rose and now the white), they were both oxidized bottles of mess. I would be careful before buying. Try it somewhere else or ask if you can return it before buying.

The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:

2018 Netofa Tel Qasser, White – Score: 92+ (QPR: WINNER)
The 2018 vintage shows far more of the classic Roussanne reductive aspects than 2017 does today, but it is also far richer, deeper in intensity, and approachable, but I would let this lie. The nose on this wine, like 2017 starts closed, yes, it is open, but please there is so much more here, it is just covered in marzipan, almonds, walnuts, oak, smoke, orange, orange blossom, with rich salinity, big bold and bright fruit hiding, and lovely spice. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is incredible, just WOW, and that is with 10 minutes of air, this wine will improve with a couple of years, but I do see how approachable this wine can feel, and if you want to go ahead, but it will be better in a few years, with layers upon layers of smoke, ripe controlled fruit, with ripe peach, apricot, melon, incredible nutty notes, lovely tannin, green olives, wrapped in an unctuous and oily mouthfeel that feels like being wrapped in a sushi roll of oak, smoke, fruit, and nori – WOW! The finish is so long, I AM VERY HAPPY it was my last wine of the tasting, this is crazy, so incredible, with lingering notes that last forever of almonds, walnuts, nuts, smoke, grip, orange blossom, orange, tannin, acid, rock, hay, and more acid, incredible! BRAVO!! BRAVO to the master! Drink from 2023 until 2027. (tasted March 2021)

2019 Kaye Invei Muscat Canelli, Dry – Score: 91+ (QPR: WINNER)
The nose on this wine is dry-ish with intense floral notes of Jasmine, rose petals, guava, melon, and lovely funk, with straw, fresh dry nuts, and hints of reduction. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine shows potential, the acid was slow to come out, but with time the acid is lovely, with intense floral notes, followed by more guava, melon, tart quince, mandarin Orange, ripe peach, yellow plum, and lychee. The finish is pure heaven with intense spice, smoke, funk, lychee, floral notes, all wrapped in intense layers of acid, dry nuts, walnut, pith, tannin, orange, and nectarines, with intense spices of cumin, cloves, cinnamon, and sage – truly fun! Very unique! Bravo! Drink until 2023. As this wine opens and gets going the funk comes out more, the reduction recedes, and what takes center stage is nuts, spice, orange, and lovely funk! Bravo! Email him at michaelkaye@fastmail.com (tasted March 2021)

2020 Hagafen Riesling, Dry (M) – Score: 91+ (QPR: WINNER)
Let me start this note with the simple truth, GREAT Rieslings may have that Petrol and tertiary notes to boot, think Von Hovel, but the USA and Israeli greats we have had take time. EVEN STILL, this wine, as it is, is awesome! PLEASE do not drink it now! It is like drinking a 2016 Larcis now – BAD MOVE! This wine needs time, but if you need a crazy acid and mineral jolt – sure open a bottle. This one may well be better than 2016! Stock up!! Right now this wine is a solid 91 but in a couple of years, it will be a 92+ IMHO! The nose on this wine is muted and that is where the wine is still in incubation, with sweet notes of guava, honeysuckle, sweet peach, ripe Asian apple, and pear. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is where this wine comes to play – WOW! first comes the acid, the incredible, integrated, lively, and rich acidity, followed by saline, more honeysuckle, honeydew melon, with rich mouthfeel (this will get so much better with time), followed by mineral notes, intense yellow grapefruit, hints of a sweeter pomelo, with BRACING honeyed passionfruit, kiwi, and smoke galore! The finish is long, green, ripe, balanced, smoky, and saline joy, WOW! This will get even better! it is too young! Drink from 2022+ until 2026. BRAVO!!! (tasted March 2021)

2019 Vitkin Gewurztraminer, Collector’s Edition – Score: 91 (QPR: EVEN)
Look, I will say this over and over, Vitkin knows how to make GREAT white wines and roses but the prices are too high for the value, sadly, still a LOVELY wine from a HORRIFIC vintage for Israel. Also, this is riper than the 2018 vintage and not as good. The nose on this dry Gewürztraminer is beautiful, the floral notes take over the wine to start with lilac, jasmine, lavender, followed by peach, Lychee, and lovely funk. The mouth on this medium-bodied and dry wine is fantastic, just fantastic for a 2019 vintage wine and overall as well, with intense acid, rich saline, mineral, rock, slate, followed by more funk, straw, less tropical on the mouth, with peach, more passion fruit, lychee, tart Rambutan, but also tropical with hints of pineapple. The finish is incredibly long, green, ripe, balanced with intense acid, tart grapefruit, olives/saline, and a pile of mineral rock. Bravo! WOW! Drink now! The wine falls off quickly after some hours – this is not for long holding. Drink bt 2023 (tasted March 2021)

2020 Shiran Riesling – Score: 91 (QPR: POOR)
I have been saying this for a long time now and I have received a fair amount of flack for it and I am 100% fine with repeating it here, this is an OK wine, but for $40 – this is wrong! Sure, you can buy this or you can buy 2+ Pacifica Riesling, and almost 2 Carmel, Hagafen, or Sheldrake Point Riesling for the same price and they are all better, I am done with this aspect of the notes. The nose is lovely, more flint than Riesling, but nice, with notes of rich mineral, lovely lilac, floral notes, with peach, more stone fruit, with time it opens to lovely notes of honeysuckle, flint, peach, and more floral notes. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine starts with intense acidity, and while that is fun, along with dry quince, more peach, apricot, tart Asian Pear, and Meyer lemon, there is nothing else to grab you. The Meyer lemon and the acid that comes with it is so intense it overpowers whatever else may be there. To be fair, with time, the mouth rounds out very nicely and comes around with more honeysuckle, lemon, lime, pear, and very nice acidity. The finish is long, really good, with more lemon, slate, rock, and flint. Nice! Drink until 2023. This wine may improve and maybe it will bring along some Petrol, for now, I am at my score. (tasted March 2021)

2020 Matar Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER)
This wine is one of those maddening wines that starts slow, then hits its stride, and then falls off the cliff, all in a matter of 20 hours. This wine starts with a great nose but the mouth has a hollow to start. Then it hits its stride, within an hour from opening but then a few hours later it is dead. If you want to taste this wine, open it for 30 min, enjoy and finish it then and there. This is NOT a wine for holding! I scored this a 91 but the window for that score is very small – beware! This vintage picks up where 2019 left off, showing lovely fruit, salinity, acidity, and mineral. The nose on this wine is joyous, with notes of fresh hay/straw, with dry quince, gooseberry, orange blossom, honeysuckle, and bright notes. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine starts nicely, with good weight, nice acidity, saline, gooseberry, fresh grapefruit, orange cutie pulp, and rind, with a freshness and tightness that is refreshing and exciting, while also having just enough complexity to make it all work. The finish is long, green, with passion fruit, citrus, acid, saline, slate, and mineral. Sadly, this as well dies quickly. Drink soon! (tasted March 2021)

2020 Yaffo White – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER)
This is a wine imported by kosherwine.com and is exclusive to them. I was not expecting this after tasting the rose, BRAVO! This wine is a blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Viognier, not a classic marriage, as there is no appellation where this is a common game, but this blend is solid, it marries the old with the new, very refreshing while also having funk and dirt, impressive! FYI, like the Matar this changes from funk to acid in a few hours, it is still a fun wine, but I am starting to think that Israeli 2020 whites wines have a longevity issue. Open this one and drink it ALL! The nose on this wine brings you in, it starts with old-school funk, followed by rich straw, if I tasted this blend, I would have said Chenin Blanc or Roussanne, followed by jasmine, quince, hay, and dirt, like I said, wow! The mouth is slow to open but it has different highlights than the nose with intense gooseberry, kiwi, tart grapefruit, passionfruit, with incredible acidity, followed by saline, green notes, grass, and wet earth – nice!! The finish is long, green, tart, acidic, with gooseberry dominating, followed by passionfruit, peach, and kiwi. WOW! Get some and try! Drink now! (tasted March 2021)

2019 Ramon Cardova Albarino – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER)
People keep not loving Albarino and instead, they like boring Sauvignon Blanc or other average wines for crazy prices. Ramon Cardova may not make great Rioja but they make GREAT Albarino! FACT! Also, a fact, people do not appreciate this wine nearly as much as they should. The wine is balanced, has great acid, expressive, and works with far more food than a boring, lifeless, Sauvignon Blanc. Wake up, people! This wine works!
The 2019 vintage of this Albarino, in its third vintage, shows less tropical and ripe than the first vintage, 2017. The wine is also lither than the 2018 but sadly it lacks a step and is not as good as 2018, though it is still a nice wine, indeed. This bottle also had the thermal active label, and it shows up when the bottle is at the proper drinking temperature. My only REAL and serious complaint is the cork, why would Royal waste the money and my money on a real cork? Use a Diam or any other amalgamated cork, like almost everyone else is. I hope I do not hit a bad cork for the wines I have.
The nose on this wine is better than the 2018 vintage, Lovely nose of rich mineral, with loads of straw, with which salinity, and lovely peach and dry pear, with less honeysuckle than in 2018, the gooseberry is more vibrant than 2018, along with green notes galore. Lovely! The mouth on this lovely green and acid-driven wine has less of an oily or dense mouthfeel than the 2017 or 2018 vintages, showing rich salinity, green olives, with lovely dry quince, green apples, peach, but also with lovely lime and yellow grapefruit, with a bit more honeysuckle and honeydew melon. The finish is long, green, with gooseberry, tart fruit, with an incredible freshness, and grapefruit pith, slate, rock, and incredible acidity lingering long. Incredible!! Bravo!! Drink until 2024. (tasted March 2021)

2020 Sheldrake Point Riesling, Dry – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER)
This is the first year that Ari Wines has made this wine and it is a true joy! First, I love the fact that he makes clear what dryness the wine has. The wine label shows an RS (Residual Sugar of 0.7 which is a bit more than I would have liked but still not within the average person’s opinion of what is “dry”. Officially, 0.5% is off-dry, but that is crazy precise, to most people below .10% you are dry, but everyone has their opinions.
The nose on this wine is lovely, showing notes I crave with intense honeysuckle, peach, tart citrus, honeyed notes of apple and pear, with more floral notes, spices, and great minerality! The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is where this wine goes into solid WINNER status, it starts with a wave of acid, followed by a wave of balanced mouthfeel, with a weight that is lovely, not oily, but lovely, with ripe peach, tart tangerine, crab-apple like nectarine, and intense acidity. The finish is long, ripe, yet layered and expressive, with an acidic backbone, mineral, flint, rock, and intensity of mineral that makes this wine a true joy! Bravo! Drink now! (tasted March 2021)

2018 Binyamina Orange Roussanne – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER)
This is imported by kosherwine.com. So, this is the third time I have had this wine, and by now I know the story, but if someone sees this bottle, they will think Kosherwine sold them a line/story. The bottle says white wine, and the wine color is clear, not golden or the such from other Orange wines. However, after tasting it, the wine is an Orange wine, it has that lovely oxidized and nutty notes. Thankfully, the wine is a TRUE winner and a GREAT QPR WINNER as well! Now on to the notes, which is good news!!
This is the new shipment of this wine and it is still great! PSA: This wine needs time to open – at the start, it smells and tastes like a white wine. With time it opens very nicely! Once the wine is open, the nose on this wine screams Orange wine all the way and this wine is made from 100% Roussanne grapes which is a great variety to do Orange wine with! Please NOTE, that unlike other Orange wines this wine likes to be drunk ICE cold like a white or rose. The nose on this wine is FUN, really fun, you can tell the brightness from a mile away, the nose shows classic notes of Orange wine with roasted nuts, almonds, walnuts, followed by a slight amount of oxidation, which I love, followed by lovely yellow flowers, yellow plum fruit, hints of mandarins, loads of mineral, saline, and honeysuckle. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is lovely, tart, acidic, with pith and slate, followed by a lovely oily and textured mouthfeel that gives way to orange notes, grapefruit, lovely freshness and refreshing feeling, followed by tannin, and just NOT enough complexity to get my attention, still fun as I said, with lemongrass, tart yet bruised apple, honeyed notes of apple and more nuts, with dried apple grapefruit rind, and more oxidation. The finish, once open, is lovely now, with nutty notes, quince galore, floral notes, mineral, slate, and juniper. This is a fun wine, but it is a wine that needs to be, let to rest for 20/30 min, and then enjoy. Enjoy! Bravo!! (tasted March 2021)

2020 Hajdu Vermentino – Score: 89 (QPR: EVEN)
Again, I will premise my thoughts with the fact that 2020 was a horrible vintage in California. The nose on this wine is ripe, at 14.5% ABV, that is obvious, with yellow and white fruit, ripe peach and apricot, nice floral notes of yellow flower, tropical notes of tart pineapple, guava, and sweet pear. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is ripe, and it starts with a clear short finish, with a bit of time, the wine opens to show a plush mouthfeel, ripe pear, pineapple, more ripe peach, sweet yellow apple, with a good enough balance of acidity, with grapefruit, almonds, walnuts, and minerality. The finish is long, showing nice enough acidity, saline, slate, and more ripe fruit. Drink now! (tasted March 2021)

2020 Sforno Sauvignon Blanc (M) – Score: 84 (QPR: BAD)
The nose on this wine is a bit ripe for my interests. The nose on this wine shows notes of ripe peach, apricot, guava, apple, and not much else. The mouth starts a bit better with some acid but then it drops off hard, orange, nectarines, and green notes. The finish starts a bit short, with a bit of acid, and citrus. Drink now! (tasted March 2021)

2019 Binah Stella – Score: 80 (QPR: NA)
This wine is a blend of Seyval Blanc, Chardonel and Vignoles. The varietals are not commonly known. The nose on this wine is old already, the nose shows notes of oxidation that are starting to set in, the notes of cooked apple, along with intermingling notes of tropical fruit makes me wonder what happened here, with apricot, and hints of pineapple – very strange. The mouth on this light-bodied wine has weight but it is also oxidized, with straw, and sweet peach fruit, not fun. The finish is long, and its best part, with the oxidation, messing it up. Drink now! (tasted March 2021)

2020 La Foret Blanche Talpiot White – Score: 50 (QPR: NA)
Once again the La Foret Blanche is oxidized and once again it has a Diam cork that was not defective, mangled, or deformed in any manner that I can see. Move on! (tasted March 2021)

Posted on March 21, 2021, in Israeli Wine, Kosher Orange Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, QPR Post, Wine, Wine Tasting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Aharon Szajowitz

    Do you know the “legal” reason why it cannot be marketed as an Orange Wine here in the USA? Just picked up two bottles and was very curious to that detail.

    • I do not know – Kosherwine said there was an issue and so they list it as orange but could not label it as such. Very strange!

  2. Have you tried the new 2018 Herzog Gen IX Stags Leap? What do you think?

  1. Pingback: Another round of QPR (Quality to Price ratio) Hits and Misses | Wine Musings Blog

  2. Pingback: A tasting of M & M Importers’ latest imports – March 2022 | Wine Musings Blog

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