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A lovely and expansive vertical tasting at Elvi Wines Clos Mesorah in Montsant – Nov 2021

So, a quick recap of my life over the past 45 days. I was in Paris in November along with Avi Davidowitz of Kosher Wine Unfiltered. Avi and I tasted lots of wines and more posts about those wines are forthcoming. Avi left a few days after he arrived to return to his family in Israel for Shabbat and I stayed Shabbat in France. On Sunday I flew to Spain to taste wines with Moises and Anne, which I will be posting here. Then I flew back to Paris, hung out with family, and then flew home.

Two weeks later, I was back on a plane to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro. During the 2 weeks I was home I was training or working the entire time, so I barely got the Royal Wine tasting post up! Thankfully I climbed it safely and returned home. The 7 days on that mountain was the longest stretch of my adult life away from a computer, totally surreal for me! Anyway, I am now home and I will be working on my posts, God willing!

So, now back to wine, this post is about Elvi Wines, I have written many times about Elvi Wines, the first post I wrote about Moises and ElviWines is this. Truthfully, nothing has changed about that post, in regards to Elvi Wines, other than the labels and a few wines being dropped to streamline the marketing of the wines. My next main post on Elvi Wines was when I visited the winery with my wife. Before, in between, and after, I have been consistently posting their wines in my QPR posts, wines of the year, and so on. Why? Because they make exceptional wines at reasonable prices and they make a great selection of them under many labels. The labels have evolved, some wines dropped, but overall, since I met Moises one day in San Francisco, tasting through the wines, I heard the story, the dream, and we have all been blessed to watch the trajectory of the winery. It continues to evolve, creating wonderful wines for a reasonable price while proving that Cabernet Sauvignon is not the only red wine that you can sell to the kosher wine buyer.

It is still harder to sell wines as diverse and different as Elvi does. There is no Cabernet, there is no Merlot, sure they find their ways into the EL26 blend, but overall, Elvi is an expression of Spain – not an expression of the kosher wine palate. Elvi typifies Spain to the kosher buyer more than any other option and it has continued to excel in doing it. Sadly, we have seen Capcanes, which is a 5-minute drive from Clos Mesorah, take a large step backward. They too showed the potential of Spain, as a new-world wine in old-world clothing. Sadly, they have drunk from the same fountain of fruit, that so many Israeli wineries have, and they have lost their way. Thankfully, Elvi Wines, Clos Mesorah, and Vina Encina continue to not only execute with great wines they also are improving and growing with new vineyards and winery plans.

I arrived a few hours late because the train systems in Spain are massively antiquated and stopped running for a few hours. Once I arrived, we had the opportunity to start tasting through many a wine. The plan was simple, taste through the wines of Elvi, in a few verticals. A Vertical tasting, in this example, is when you taste the same wine across many vintages. After some tasting, we would have dinner and then go to sleep. The next day we would taste more, go out and see some lovely architecture, then swing by the new vineyards in Priorat, and then finish the tasting, get dinner, and then sleep early as the flight back to Paris is early.

As stated, eventually I got to the winery and the first vertical we did was all the Clos Mesorah wines from 2009 through 2019, except for the 2011 and 2012 vintages that do not exist. That was followed by a partial vertical of Herenza White (AKA InVita) wines. I appreciate tart and acidic wines like the Invita and they showed well, including some with age on them.

The tastings were really fun because tasting through Clos Mesorah is an opportunity to taste through the years of Priorat. Some vintages were very unique, while others were much akin to each other. Each one spoke of the vintage in their own ways, really inspiring. The one constant is acidity, deeply rooted, much akin to Four Gates and Chateau Malartic. Of course, Clos Mesorah is not as old-world as Chateau Malartic, but it has the acidity from its old-world terroir to balance some of its new-world fruit structure. Four Gates Merlot has the same staying power because of the acid that is so deeply core to its very being.

Tasting with Moises Cohen and Anne was a real joy. I have tasted with them before but this time the lineup was far more extensive and that gave me a chance to see what they look for in wine as they described what they thought they liked about the wines and what stood out in each of them, from their perspective. My notes are always what I taste, but my blog will attempt, at times, to emote some of what I hear from the winemaker or the host. In this case, Anne is very clearly passionate about the wine, it shows from the conversations and the notes she describes. Moises is equally passionate, but you can see him defer to Anne when it comes to the wine. Moises cut his teeth in the wine world on the vines and the terroir but eventually, that comes to the wine. The saying goes; wine is made in the vineyard. Together they make a dynamic duo that comes out in many ways. The artistry of the wine, the labels, the overall style they want – that is a duality between Anne and Moises, but Anne seems to take the lead there. In regards to the vineyards, the plushness of the wine, the weight, the overall mouthfeel, there Moises tends to lead, though Anne is side by side as well. The dance is fascinating to watch, explore, and just stand to the side and let happen. Overall, this tasting left me super happy for many reasons. First of all, Clos Mesorah is one of the most consistently great wines out there, even if the track record is a bit short. However, what stood out is the dance between Moises and Anne and the mutual respect they have for each other. Fun times indeed.

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Two new vintages from Chateau Cantenac and Elvi Wines EL26 that are near the top of the High-End red wines for 2020

I just posted my mid-tier wines ranked by score and QPR scoring as well. We are working our way through the QPR 2.1 and 2.0 wine categories and so far, outside of simple white wines, there has not been a lot of love or WINNERS to talk about. However, things changed for the better in the mid-tier red wine range.

The Mid-tier QPR (Quality to Price Range) wine category was vastly improved over the previous simple red wine category, where we found few gems, sadly. The Mid-tier is where, as I stated in that post, you can indeed find many gems, but also, the main purpose is to find wines you can enjoy now and in 5 years and to save your cellar from your raiding tendencies!

Well, these two wines are not going to help you AT ALL for at least 10 to 15 years, but who cares! These are great wines to buy now and enjoy in a decade. The 2018 Chateau Cantenac Brown, Margaux, is a wine I would not want to try for at least 15 years and then, just to see how it is doing.

The 2018 Chateau Cantenac Brown, Margaux is not cheap, it is at the same price, essentially, as the renowned, and elevated Chateau Leoville Poyferre! The ElviWines El26 is a wine that is far more reasonable, but still not “cheap” – though that word is different for each of us, which is why I made sure that QPR was NOT price-driven, but rather quality driven.

Elvi wines have been around for a long time, thankfully, and it is a family affair with Moises Cohen, his lovely wife Anne, and David their son (now in marketing), and their daughter is studying to become a winemaker! Wine and vines are truly a family affair with the Cohens! You can read about the origins of Elvi Wines here in my original post about Elvi Wines.

The 2018 Chateau Cantenac Brown, Margaux is the second kosher release by Pierre Miodownick (who also is the head winemaker of Netofa Wines) from this esteemed winery in Margaux. Pierre is the one doing the wines and thankfully, Royal Wines is importing them to the USA.

As I have stated in a previous post, the 2018 vintage in Bordeaux is ripe and may well be an issue with some wines, but this Cantenac Brown is not ripe at all, it is sup[er well balanced and will last for a very long time. The same can be said for the 2018 Elvi EL26, this wine is perfectly balanced and will also last a long time. Enjoy!

So, without too much more delay – let’s get to it! The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:

2018 Elvi Wines EL26, Elite, Priorat – Score: 93 (QPR: WINNER)
This wine is a blend of 80% Garnacha (Grenache) and 20% Carignan. This wine is pure heaven, dirt, smoke, roasted animal, saline, mineral, juicy tart red, and blue fruit, with incredible precision and fruit focus – Bravo!
The nose on this wine is pure fun, showing tart red fruit, incredible fresh loam, and dirt, hints of mushroom, licorice, roasted animal, a whiff of oak, sage, rosemary, with dirt, and green notes. This wine is currently far more Bordeaux in style than that of a Spanish Priorat! The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is not overly extracted, but it is well extracted, with good mouth and fruit texture, with incredible acid, good fruit focus, showing dark cherry, plum, ripe and tart raspberry, strawberry, oak, vanilla, and garrigue, with green notes, and lovely mouth-draping tannin. The finish is long, green, yet ripe, with great control and precision, with lovely graphite, more roasted meat, scraping minerality, saline, rich smoking tobacco, and smoke, lots of char and smoke. Bravo! With time the wine opens more and shows its riper side, still very controlled, but the fun red and blue fruit become a bit fuller and richer in the mouth – quite an impressive wine! Drink from 2026 until 2036.

2018 Chateau Cantenac Brown, Margaux – Score: 94+ (QPR: EVEN)
This wine is a classically built elegant lady of the night, but not for the first 24 hours upon opening. To start it is an oak and dill bomb, but with time, the wine shows its true inner beauty. This wine is absurdly young and I have no HONEST idea if I will even be alive to fully enjoy this wine when it reaches its peak and beyond. This is one of those wines that people ask me all the time about – is there a wine for my new born’s wedding? YES! THIS WINE!
I am not an ABV snob, I had loads of 2018 13% wines, and they all stunk, this is about terroir and control, but sure, it is a baby, it is NOT a fruity wine, but it has the power and elegance to go toe for toe with the other big kosher Margaux wines and beyond. This wine smells and tastes just like A Benyo wine in so many ways!
The nose on this wine is ripe, yet perfectly controlled, with crazy sweet dill, oak, red and darker fruit, with garrigue, roasted green herbs, lovely floral notes of rosehip, smoke, and sage. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is really elegant on the mouth, with ripe cherry, plum, hints of cassis, rich graphite, smoke, tar, all wrapped in a mouth-draping tannin and fruit structure, with ripe and juicy strawberry, sweet cranberry, sweet green herbs, roasted mushrooms, hints of truffle, with menthol, foliage, and loam. The finish is long, ripe, red, green, and smoky, with tar, earth, mushroom, juicy red fruit, cigar smoke, tobacco, and leather lingering long. WOW! This wine is a baby it needs loads of time. With time the oak recedes, the smoke comes out, even more, the red and black fruit emerges, but my main “issue” with the wine was the elegance was too elegant and that has stayed, meaning that wine is less aggressive and more laid back, not something I was expecting from a Margaux in 2018. It is a lovely wine, just thought 2018 was the vintage for heat and more fruit and this wine is all about elegance and less about power. Awesome! Drink from 2030 until 2040.

2018 Elvi Wines Invita – OOPS! I mean 2018 Elvi Wines Herenza White – the first white wine QPR WINNER of 2020

So, I just posted my amendment to the QPR methodology, by adding a new value called WINNER. The first deserving recipient of the WINNER QPR score is the 2018 Elvi Wines Herenza White (A.K.A. Invita of old).

I love the new label, and no that does not go into either score. I guess the new name is good for marketing, but to me, it will always be the Invita!

The wine is lovely, a bit less acidic at the attack than when I had it Feb 2019 when we tasted a vertical of 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 Invita wines on the party bus, but still a very lovely wine indeed! Also, this wine does age well, but it is right on the line of ageable and non-ageable white wines, with a 2025 drinking window. Either way, it gets the score of WINNER by 10 dollars or by 25 or so dollars (I have not calculated the ageable wine median price yet).

Bravo to Elvi Wines for making lovely wines that are really great and that are reasonably priced! This is what we need much more of! Bravo, my friends! There are truly very few new wines that will get the QPR score of WINNER in the white wine category, this year. Last year we had many more white wines that both received a 91 score and were below the median price. Bravo!!

You guys are so well deserving of the WINNER QPR score! To be 100% fair, the FIRST WINNER of 2020 was the 2018 Terra di Seta Chianti Classico wine that I reviewed here, but I did not amend the WINNER value until after I posted it. Still, both are well deserving! Also, the Chianti is red wine and this Herenza white is the first white wine with the WINNER QPR score. I have warned you, buy it now, do not blame me when it sells out.

The wine note follows below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here and the explanation for QPR scores can be found here:

2018 Elvi Wines Herenza White, Alella – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER)
This wine is in the 2nd quintile of quality scoring and it is well below the median price line, so this wine SHOULD get a score of GREAT for QPR. However, it is ALSO one of the few white wines that score at least a 91, and that has a price that is below the median price line, so this wine gets the coveted score of WINNER for QPR. Bravo!!!
The wine is a blend of something like 60% Pansa Blanca and 40% Sauvignon Blanc. The nose on this wine is closed, with time it opens to show beautiful tart fruit, really nice mineral, with mango galore, lovely impressive funk, white peach, with loads of hay and mineral, with citrus and mad orange blossom. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is oily and richer in mouthfeel, but sadly, not as acidic as I remember it from last year, still nice and balanced, with tart pink grapefruit, followed by orange fruit, yellow plum, and beautiful orange blossom. The finish is super long, tart, and juicy, super well balanced, showing more acidity on the finish than on the front of the wine, with fun mineral, more funk lingering long, along with flint, and pith. WOW! Drink from 2020 until 2025.

Vertical tasting of Elvi Wines Clos Mesorah, Invita, and more in Miami

eli-wines-2009-herenza-reserva-2010-herenza-reserva-2009-clos-mesorah-2010-clos-mesorah-2013-clos-mesorah-2014-clos-mesorah-2005-elvi-wines-el26-2008-elvi-wines-el26Over the past week, I have been posting on winery’s that I visited while in Israel and the new 2014 French wines, that I tasted in Paris. Well, the funny thing is that I did not need to leave the United States to taste all of the newest releases of Elvi Wines (or current releases if you live or visit Europe, yeah we are always last to get Elvi wines here in the USA), along with an epic vertical of the Clos Mesorah wines.

Elvi Wines

I have been a fan of Elvi Wines for a long time, ever since I posted my first in-depth article on their wines, in 2012. Dr. Moises Cohen, the owner and the head winemaker of Elvi Wines, continues to create masterpieces that grace my top 25 wines of the year, every year running.

A year after I wrote my article, I was honored to meet Moises’s entire family, first at the KFWE in NYC in 2013, and then two years after that, when my wife and I stayed at Clos Mesorah just two hours by train outside of Barcelona, Spain.

One of the biggest issues I think that has held back this lovely winery, has been the labels. I am really happy to see that they are being streamlined under six major labels, though more streamlining would be better still, and is coming soon, as you read on. The major issue is that Dr. Cohen makes a lot of wines from all around Spain. Starting in Rioja, where he makes his epic Herenza wines. Next we move on to Priorat, where he makes the lovely EL26 wines. Then on a 20 minute ride east to the Montsant region, which is really a sub-region of Priorat, where he makes his world-famous Clos Mesorah wines. Moving south to the center of Spain, you will come upon, the La Mancha wine regions, where the Adar red comes from, along with Invita, and the Vina Encina wines. Finally, there is the Cava region, where the lovely Cava is made.

With all these DOC, wine regions, the labels were hard to manage. You see, by law you could not have a single label, that included multiple wine regions, under the Spanish wine laws, until recently! So until now, even if you wanted to have three total labels, it would not be legally possible in Spain, and you cannot sell wines in the USA with illegal Spanish labels. Unless, you made all the wine labels, with the all-inclusive – table wine moniker! Which is a horrible and stupid idea, because the meaning, life, and reality of Elvi Wines and the ship as its logo, is that they are all sourced from different regions throughout Spain! EL26 does not taste like Clos Mesorah at all, and the vineyards are only a 15 minute drive away from each other. Sure, they have some different varietals in the blends, but the point of wine regions is the differing soil, climate, and environment that makes for vastly different wines.

This is still taking shape, but I look forward to the seeing what Elvi will turn out now that they can legally keep the distinct wine regions on the label, while merging the marketing angles down to fewer overall labels.

If you look at all of the wines that Elvi makes – they do fall into three overarching categories. There are the upper level wines, the middle ones, and the lower level labels.

The upper level wines, include the EL26, Adar red, Clos Mesorah, and Herenza Reserva. The El26 has been made in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. The Adar red has been made in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2012. The Clos Mesorah has been made in 2009, 2010, 2013, and 2014. Finally, the Herenza Reserva has been made in 2009 and 2010. All of these are up to the current releases, there are more vintages not yet released. Read the rest of this entry

Elvi Wines – Winery Visit to see Moises and Anne Cohen in Montsant Spain

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It always starts the same way, a blank page, you can look at it as a blank slate/canvas, or you can look at it as yet another post that feels at time like you are bearing your soul and feelings for all to ponder. Still, when it comes to writing about stuff you love, the fear of a blank page turns into a flowing river of text, the hard part is cutting it down to something manageable!

When it comes to Elvi Winery – I can only let my fingers do the talking, much like Moises Cohen’s wines do for themselves. It was our first day in Barcelona, and it saw my wife and I making our way to Clos Mesorah, a lovely vineyard 2 hours out of Barcelona, by train. Of course, things do not always go as planned, Moises the epitome of a host sent us detailed instructions for how we are to get from BCN to his lovely home. Sadly, time and luck were not on our side, two times on our travels to the lush vineyards of Montsant, we ran into Murph. First the train from BCN to the main train station of Barcelona was just pulling out as we walked from the ticket handler, a minute faster and we were on that one. Well, then the next domino fell, the next train would get us to the train station after the first of two trains to Clos Mesorah was pulling out, of course! So, a minute delay cost us two plus hours, such is life when traveling in a country that is foreign and complex like Spain.

But I am digressing, if anyone has read this blog before, you will know my appreciation for all things Spanish, when it comes to wine. To me they are the best kept secret in the world of kosher wine. Sure, Royal Wines has jacked the prices up on Capcanes – ever since taking over the distribution in the US from Solomon Wines. The prices are almost double for the Peraj Habib and Flor du Flor, and they almost double the Clos Mesorah prices in the US, as well. Still, if you go for the lower priced wines, there is nothing close in terms of QPR, and that is what makes kosher Spanish wines so special.

The best part of Spanish wines is that over ripe and unbalanced flavors do not find their way into the kosher Spanish offerings. Do not get me wrong, they are new-world wines of course, but they are balanced and controlled, something I think Israel could emulate, if they wanted to move to the next level. Read the rest of this entry

2012 Shirah Vintage Whites, 2008 Elvi Wines Herenza, and 2007 Yarden Yonatan Syrah

This past week we enjoyed a few wines and the wine I was most curious about was the wine I liked the least. The 2007 Yarden Yonatan Syrah was a wine that the late Daniel Rogov, wrote was one of the best Syrah to ever be made in Israel. We made kiddush on it and it was structurally a fantastic wine, but so swet and over the top ripe that I could not come to love it as much. Again, Yarden created a wonderful wine that was stylistically true to their core, a ripe and new world wine that has the structure and makeup to make many a wine and winemaker jealous,  but not a wine that would make me happy fruit wise. With a bit more restraint, IMHO, this wine may have well been a killer wine.

I worried that the wine may be a bit over the top, so we had a backup of the 2008 Elvi Wines Herenza, a wine I loved before and still do! The wine has a medium body but with an hour of air, the wine fills out nicely with mouth coating tannin and richly tart and bright red and black fruit.

Finally, I got the chance to taste the new 2012 Shirah Winery Vintage Whites and it rocked. The nose was the true seductress, while the mouth was rich and layered, the flaw, to some extent for me, was the biting citrus pith that lingered long. Not sure if that was from the Viognier or more a straw/earthy bitterness from the Roussanne. Still, it is a unique blend that is rocking and a great QPR for 25 dollars.

The wine notes follow below:

2012 Shirah Vintage Whites – Score: A- (and a bit)
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 (Reccanati 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 is where some will be shocked and some will love, quite a polarizing context that is well worth enjoying, with lovely layers of honey, spice, guava, ripe Asian pear, along with an intense salty quality, that backs the 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.
This is a wine that will vex you, sometimes the wine is sweet, sometimes bitter, sometimes minerally focused, but always enjoyable, IMHO.

2008 Elvi Wines Rioja Herenza, Crianza – Score: A-
The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine is rich and oaky with chocolate, dark cherry, bright mineral, and rich loamy dirt. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich, expressive, mouth coating, and lightly extracted with good concentration of dark plum, raspberry, and cranberry, with good mouth coating tannin to bring the whole thing together. The finish is long and balanced with good acidity, rich espresso coffee, and earthy goodness. The wine is rich with a mouth of espresso coffee, dark cherry, and red fruit linger long after this wine is gone, which is quite quick!

2007 Yarden Syrah, Yonatan Vineyard – Score: B+ (Sweet / New World wine)
This wine was rated as the best Syrah from Israel by the late Daniel Rogov, and I must sadly disagree. Structurally, this wine starts off so hot and sweet that I really could not enjoy it. Even after many hours the wine starts to calm down on the sweetness and becomes somewhat accessible, but it is an overall disappointment for me.
The nose on this black colored wines is super ripe and rich with kirsch cherry liquor, crazy date expressionism, lovely oriental spices, and rich layers of dark black fruit. The mouth on this full bodied wine is nicely extracted and layered, but the fruit concentration is solely focused on ripe and overripe berry, dark ripe plum compote, lovely integrating tannin, along with great smokey and roasted meat, and spicy oak. The finish is long, spicy and ripe with rich layers of chocolate, leather, good earth and dirt tones, and more spice. This is a wine that some will like, but for me a wine that is far too ripe to appreciate, even though it is well made.

Herzog Generation 8, Teal Lake Moscato D’Aussie vs. Sara Bee Moscato, Elvi Wines Brut Cava

This past weekend we were honored to be eating with friends who were celebrating being first time grand parents! Their friends came up from LA, and brought some wonderful wines, cakes, and cookies. We partook from two of their wines, and we added in a bubbly as well.

I must state that the 2002 Herzog Generation 8 was truly the winner of the evening. It is a massive wine with a rich and layered mouthfeel that still has a year of kick left in it. We used to make fun of it, because essentially it was nothing more than the Herzog Special Edition, with more oak on it. Well, I recant all of my previous jokes about it. To be honest, I would never buy one of these bottles, as it is far too expensive for my tastes, but I am more than honest enough to state that the wine is impressive.

The other wine that our friend’s friends brought over was a lovely Moscato from Teal Lake. The name, Moscato D’Aussie, is a humorous take on the Italian blue bottle – Moscato D’Asti. The first thing that hit me when I smelled this wine was gooseberry! Now gooseberry is famous in Australian Sauvignon Blanc, but I did not expect it in Moscato!

As an aside, Royal Wines has declared war on Trader Joe’s Sara Bee Moscato! All over the Internet, you can find this pleasant tasting Moscato for $6.75 or lower. That is right in the wheelhouse of Trader Joe’s Sara Bee, which retails for $5.99. A dollar is a dollar, but it is clear, that Royal went out and looked for a bottle that they could play ball with. This Moscato D’Aussie is undercutting one of their cash cows, the Bartenura Blue Bottle. This has always been an age-old question in marketing and war, how do you fight the little guy that has lower overhead and equal quality product, who can out price you? Answer; undercut yourself, by building the same product in a location that woks for you. The old saying is true, “if you cannot beat them – join them”. I personally like the Sara Bee Moscato more, but Royal has declared open season on Sara Bee, and the winners are all of us! Read the rest of this entry

Kudos to the Cohens (of Elvi Wines) for this remarkable array of Kosher wines…

Those are not my words, though I echo them as well, they are the words of Jay Miller, a wine writer and critic for Robert Parker‘s highly influential Wine Advocate newsletter, when tasting the 2005 Elvi Wines El26 Dolc . In April, 2010 Mr. Miller had the opportunity to taste 11 of Elvi Wine’s newest wines, and he gave a score of 90 or above to 5 of them, while the rest garnered scores of 86 or higher. As a side note, while Mr. Miller tasted the wines in April 2010, along with 172 other Spanish wines, he decided to split the publishing of the scores between the April and December editions of WA (Wine Advocate). The WA scores and notes were quite impressive, but equally impressive were the scores that almost mimicked Mr. Miller’s scores by another esteemed wine critic, Grupo Peñín, one of the world’s leading authorities on Spanish wines. Mr. Peñín scored the elite wines very much in line with the scores of Mr. Miller. To be even handed, clearly the Wine Spectator did not love the wines nearly as much as Mr. Miller. Dr. Rogov has yet to publish his notes for the entire line, but I am sure, we will be seeing those scores and notes as soon as he has a moment to breathe on his forum. Of the wines that Rogov has tasted, he also does not see things like Penin and Miller do, but he is far more in line with the scores that we have given Elvi on their wines. We have yet to taste many of these wines, but they will be at the Oxnard International Food and Wine Festival in February, so keep your eyes open for more articles on Elvi Wines in the near future.

Peñin, Spain Wine Advocate,
USA
Daniel Rogov,
Israel
Wine Spectator,
USA
Utiel-Requena
2003 Makor 91 87 83
2004 Makor 90
2007 Makor 88 88 85
Ribera Del Jucar
2004 Adar 90 81
2005 Adar 87 88 81
2007 Adar 90 90
2004 Vino Encina 88 86
2007 Vino Encina 87 88 88
2008 Matiz 89 88
2007 Classico 84 86
2008 Classico 86
2008 Ness Blanco 86 90
Cava Adar 88 87 86
2007 Ness 87
2008 Ness 88 88
Elite Wines
2004 EL 26 89 87
2005 EL 26 92 91+ 88
2006 EL 26 92 91 88
2004 EL 26 (sweet) 91
2005 EL 26 (sweet) 91 92
2006 EL 26 (sweet) 88
2009 Mati 91
2008 Herenza 94
(Best Rijoa Crianza)

It all started some 10 years ago, when Mr. Moises Cohen started a family run winery whose premise was to show the world the potential greatness that lies in the heart of Spain’s wine regions. The winery’s first release was in 2003, and since then they have slowly been growing the business. slowly but surely the Cohens have added unique and wonderful wines to their portfolio, that show the true vibrancy of the region, all the while making sure that they control the quality of the wines that they produce. If you have ever looked at any Elvi Wine bottle you would hard pressed to miss the Mediterranean boat, which is the company’s logo. The logo was chosen as a way to express the mission statement of Elvi Wines; to travel across Spain to harvest and bottle the best of what Spain has to offer. The winery’s imports its wine to the USA with Royal Wines, and they compete with Capcanes and other up and coming Spanish kosher wines, which are also brought in by Royal. This must make for some interesting conversations when discussing the yearly allocation of wine for export through Royal. Still, the winery is growing from strength to strength with the export ability of Royal’s and the controlled growth that the Cohens have shown, in expanding their wine portfolio. It is always a hard balance between not expanding fast enough and expanding too much so that you are stuck with more inventory than there is demand. Luckily, Elvi has shown the ability to grow their portfolio from value wines, to upper tier wines, all the way to elite wines, while all the while keeping the costs in line and the quality even higher.

From what we have had the privilege to taste in the past, all we can say is; congratulations to the Cohens for keeping true to your faith and wine traditions of high quality, virtuous wines, while all the while making sure that they are accessible to the common man.

Many thanks to Mr. Cohen for taking the time to converse with us throughout his varied travels, and we look forward to tasting these many wines in the near future. The scores listed below are from previous wine tastings – but brought together here in context of this posting:

2005 Elvi Wines Ribera del Júcar Adar – Score: A-
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine, with slight browning on the edges, is hopping with coffee, licorice, black cherry, black plum, blackberry, rich oak, loamy dirt, and dates. The mouth on this full bodied wine is concentrated out of the bottle, that dissipates a bit over time, coffee, black cherry, black plum, and clear oak influence. The mid palate carries the concentrated flavors, and adds in lovely not yet integrated tannins, balanced acidity, and more oak. The finish is super long and a bit firm, which too softens in the glass, with tight and concentrated black cherry, oak, coffee, and dates. The wine is clearly at its peak or a bit over it. The wine is throwing sediment, browning on the edges, and showing date flavors that are not from the fruit but from age. That said, the wine is holding up quite fine with serious flavors, concentration, and oak influence. The wine does soften up a bit with time in the glass but never comes to a soft mouth palate that feels full in the mouth. rather this is a wine that is best enjoyed out of the bottle with little airing and watch how the wine evolves in the glass. It is a wine that is concentrated and will show that way. Enjoy with hearty Ragù, grilled meat, and/or hard cheese.

2007 Elvi Wines Classico, Ribera del Jucar – Score: B+
The nose on this garnet colored wine, which is a blended wine of 87% Tempranillo and 13% Merlot, is ripe with plum, cherry, raspberry, and spice.  The mouth of this medium bodied wine is soft with raspberry, cherry, and plum.  The mid palate is bright with core acidity and a hint of coffee.  The finish is medium long and spicy with more acid, soft tannins, coffee, and pepper/spice. This winery keeps delivering.

PLEASE NOTE – This is the ONLY Mevushal wine from the Elvi Wines group. All other wines from them are not Mevushal.

2008 Elvi Wines Rioja Matiz – Score: B+
The nose on this dark garnet to purple colored wine has raspberry, black cherry, rich plum, stone mineral, oak, herbs, and kirsch. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich and mouth coating with black cherry, kirsch, tart cherry, and raspberry. The mid palate is bright with heavy acid and not yet integrated tannins. The finish is spicy and long-lasting with black cherry, coffee, and nice tannins. NOTE: This wine has sediment, not sure why such a young wine has so much sediment, so keep the wine upright for a couple of days and make sure not to pour the wine till the last drop, as the last poor person, may get a slushy or chunky glass of wine.

Elvi Wines Adar Cava Brut N.V. – Score: B+
The nose on this bubbly and effervescent light pink colored wine, is hopping with strawberry, lemon, and cherry.  The mouth on this light to medium bodied wine is packed with small bubbles that are active and alive, they mingle well with the strawberry and cherry.  The mid palate is alive with bracing acidity.  The finish is medium long with core acidity, strawberry, bubbles, and a lemon burst at the very tail end.  Drink UP!

2004 Elvi Wines Ness (50% Tempranillo, 20% Bobal, 20% Syrah and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon) – Score: B+
The nose on this dark garnet to purple colored wine starts off with Syrah characteristics, it is really powerful with roasted herb, fig, vanilla, blackberry, plum, dark chocolate, tar extraction, and oak.  The mouth on this full bodied wine is concentrated with blackberry, red plum, and herbs.  The mid palate is bright with acidity, tar, and oak.  The finish is spicy and long with pepper, oak, dark fruit, tar, and chocolate.  The wine is clearly showing its Syrah components, with its extracted and peppery flavors – quite nice!

Elvi Wines Vina Encina 2004 – Score: B to B+
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine has aromas of coffee, blackberry, blueberry, cranberry, plum, and cloves. The mouth of this somewhat complex and medium bodied wine starts with cherry, plum, and cranberry. The mid palate of this enjoyable and tannin rich wine, has oak, allspice, and a good amount of not yet integrated tannins. The finish is long with oak, coffee, nice tannin, and acidity.

Elvi Wines Classico, Yatir Blend, and Eagles Landing Sauvignon Blanc

Last week I was invited by my friend to his house to taste a wine I do not have access to, as it is only available to Herzog Wine Club members. The wine is the 2008 Eagles Landing Sauvignon Blanc. Please DO NOT confuse Herzog’s Eagles Landing wines with the Iowan Eagle’s Landing Winery – that is NOT kosher!

Disclaimer – I do NOT work for Herzog, but this question keeps coming up on Daniel Rogov’s forum.

So start of tangent.

What are the Eagles Landing and Waterford Lismore Reserve wines that are popping up here and there? They are wines crafted by Herzog and Joe Hurliman to showcase the winery and give the wine club an air of exclusiveness, as these wines are not available in any other way, other than through the wine club.  The wines are made in limited supply, and according to Jay Buchsbaum of Royal Wines/Herzog:

“Eagles landing is similar to Herzog reserve and Weinstocks cellar select (reserve) wines. Meaning same winemaking (and attention to grape selection) care with perhaps a slight difference and oak treatments etc than the Herzog reserve, without the ‘kosher’ recognizable brand labels. It was created as a direct request of one of our largest distributors, who recognized the, ‘Herzog reserve quality but wanted something that was not recognized as kosher, for non kosher restaurants’ (paraphrasing their words not ours). Voila, Eagles landing was born”.

In full disclosure, the Sauvignon Blanc bottle I tasted had a clear and present OU certification on the back label. I admit this is a bit different from all other Herzog bottles, which have the OU on the front and back. However, the Chardonnay bottle that my friend also received from the wine club, had ZERO kosher certification on the labels, but one was added to the bottle after the labeling was complete. A friend that I respect told me that the most recent Eagles Landing Cabernet Sauvignon was less than exciting, while the Chardonnay was nice. I tasted the Sauvignon Blanc and that was OK, but a bit funky. It is an interesting marketing idea and one that I hope gains some sea legs, as it is about time for Kosher to lose its stigma. The Waterford Lismore Reserve wines were received with a far more warm reception from my friends. I hope to taste these wines one day. Till then I will rely on my friends to keep you all up to date.

End of tangent

We were invited for Friday night to a different friend’s house, so no recipes or other designs. That said, we brought a fun bottle of ELVI Wines Classico from Spain to our friends and they shared an interesting bottle with us as well. Finally (one more), some friends of mine swung by the house and I cracked open a wonderful bottle of the 2004 Yatir Blend. We had this bottle for a fleeting moment at the Carlebach Shabbaton. This time I had more time with the wine. There is no change to report about the initial blush of this wine, but some more data about how it acts after a few more hours. So, it was a nice wine filled weekend and one that I am happy to share with you all.

The wine notes follow below in order they were tasted:

2008 Eagles Landing Sauvignon Blanc – Score: B++
The nose on this straw colored wine starts off with a nasty damp and almost petrol smelling “aroma” that dominates the nose and takes forever to blow off. Once the nose clears up, it has displays kiwi, tart lemon, slight oak, nice butterscotch (from the oak), and a balancing orange peel.  The mouth on this medium bodied wine starts off tart and acidic but rounds out over time. This is not a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, and is not a bottle that will ever travel there. The mouth starts with lemon and kiwi. The mid palate flows into a round-like acidic core with orange peel peeking out from under the acid haze. The finish is long, spicy, and tart with orange peel and slight custard notes. As this wine opens, it shows far more oak extraction. The wine fleshes out with a nice bright, round, spicy, and butterscotch persona. This is not your classic Sauvignon Blanc, but then, this is not a wine that everyone gets to taste, so why not shake it up a bit. Cool.

2007 Elvi Wines Classico, Ribera del Jucar – Score: B+
The nose on this garnet colored wine, which is a blended wine of 87% Tempranillo and 13% Merlot, is ripe with plum, cherry, raspberry, and spice.  The mouth of this medium bodied wine is soft with raspberry, cherry, and plum.  The mid palate is bright with core acidity and a hint of coffee.  The finish is medium long and spicy with more acid, soft tannins, coffee, and pepper/spice. This winery keeps delivering.

PLEASE NOTE – This is the ONLY Mevushal wine from the Elvi Wines group. All other wines from them are not Mevushal.

2003 Kiddush Hashem Syrah – Score: B to B+
This wine has a fair amount of lore, much of it not true. That said, it was a lovely wine some time ago. It is also a wine that the wine maker was still selling on his web site a few months ago. Recently he starting liquidating his stock, and it was a good idea. The bottles are hit and miss. I tasted this wine years ago and it was OK. Three weeks ago I tasted it again, while visiting a friend of mine, and it was felshy, black with ripe blackberry, nice tar, pepper, and licorice. This past week, it was not as good, though the fruit, tar and licorice were present. Still, the wine was unbalanced, off kilter, and trying too hard to make me like it.

2004 Yatir Blend (40% Cabernet, 40% Merlot, 20% Shiraz) – Score: A-
The nose on this dark purple to black colored wine is hopping with coffee to start, mint, dates, crushed herbs, rich oak, blackberry, ripe black plums, and tobacco. The mouth on this full bodied wine is concentrated with fruit that follows the nose, blackberry, ripe black plum, rich oak, along with nicely integrated tannins. The mid palate flows off the mouth with bracing acid, oak, tannin, rich tobacco, and licorice. The finish is long and spicy with ripe plum, oak, and a cloud of tobacco. This is a nice full bodied wine.

Weekend off with friends, great food and wine, Elvi Wines Ribera del Júcar Adar, Tishbi Emerald Riesling, and Sol De Chile Cabernet Sauvignon

This past week saw us hanging with friends and so no recipes this week.  Benyo from Four Gates Winery was there so we got to taste two wines that are very close to release, which I think will be nice wines.  Our friends made some unbelievable food, including a lovely vegetable soup (no cans here), fantastic challah, tons of salads, along with a main course of  Beef bourguignon, rice, and a few more side dishes that I lost track of!  Absolutely awesome food and great company to boot!  The following day for lunch we had fish, many more salads, roasted chicken, cholent, and gobs of side dishes.

The only thing we did was show up and bring a few bottles of wine, the wine notes are found below.  I begged Benyo to bring another of those wonderful old 1996 non-sulfite Chardonnay.  Once again it was a crowd pleaser with even more concentrated butterscotch!

Thanks so much to our friends for hosting us, feeding us, and allowing us to stay in their wonderful home, and making us feel at home as always!

2009 Tishbi Emerald Riesling Zichron Yaakov and Kfar Tavor – Score: B to B+
The nose on this light straw colored wine is exploding with apple, ripe peach, ripe melon, lychee, perfume, and apricot. The mouth on this light bodied wine follows the nose with apple, strong lemon showing, ripe melon, peach, and apricot. The mid palate is balanced with bracing acidity that calms down over time, perfume, and tart lemon. The finish is long and refreshing with a slight sweetness, tart lemon, melon, perfume, and bit oily texture. A wonderful quaffer that is goes great with spicy fare, light fish dishes, and soft cheese.

2005 Elvi Wines Ribera del Júcar Adar – Score: A-
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine, with slight browning on the edges, is hopping with coffee, licorice, black cherry, black plum, blackberry, rich oak, loamy dirt, and dates. The mouth on this full bodied wine is concentrated out of the bottle, that dissipates a bit over time, coffee, black cherry, black plum, and clear oak influence. The mid palate carries the concentrated flavors, and adds in lovely not yet integrated tannins, balanced acidity, and more oak. The finish is super long and a bit firm, which too softens in the glass, with tight and concentrated black cherry, oak, coffee, and dates. The wine is clearly at its peak or a bit over it. The wine is throwing sediment, browning on the edges, and showing date flavors that are not from the fruit but from age. That said, the wine is holding up quite fine with serious flavors, concentration, and oak influence. The wine does soften up a bit with time in the glass but never comes to a soft mouth palate that feels full in the mouth. rather this is a wine that is best enjoyed out of the bottle with little airing and watch how the wine evolves in the glass. It is a wine that is concentrated and will show that way. Enjoy with hearty Ragù, grilled meat, and/or hard cheese.

2008 Sol de Chile Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: B to B+
We have had this wine before, but this time we drank from the bottle, leaving little time for the wine to air and show its best stuff. The nose on this dark ruby colored wine starts off hot, with some mineral and loamy notes, along with cherry, cranberry, and coffee. The mouth on this medium bodied wine has cranberry, cherry, and a soft mouth. The mid palate has integrating tannins, acid, and coffee. The finish is long and spicy, with a dollop of vanilla and a long and pleasing finish.  This is NOT an admonishment of the wine as much as it is an admonishment to me for not properly managing this bottle.  This wine needs time to open and allow itself to be shown in its best light, which we never let happen, so give this bottle a chance, but please open it a few hours in advance, taste at opening and then a few hours later to see the difference.

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