It is officially Spring (though it snowed in Chicago for Passover – so I will hold judgment on that fact for a bit), which means it is Rose time! Rose wine in the non-kosher market is exploding – especially Rose wine from Provence; a wine region of France. Sadly, in the kosher wine market – that is not quite the case. I did not stress my previous statement with a suffix of AT ALL, even though I am not allowed to open a bottle of rose on my Shabbos table with guests – why? Well, that is simple – no one will drink it!!
Even worse, is that wine manufacturers may well have jumped the shark! There will be some 50 dry-ish kosher roses available in the USA this year! That may not sound like a lot, but when all you had was Herzog White Zinfandel 10 years ago – it is insane. The first high-end rose was Castel’s 2009 rose and that was only 9 years ago. Back then, there were few to no real Rose wine options, other than a handful of Israeli wines and almost no French Rose made it here. Now we will have tons of Rose, and I really think the real question here is will people drink it all?
What is a rose wine? Well, simply said, a rose is a wine that can best be defined as the wine world’s chameleon. Where white wine is a pretty simple concept – take white grapes squeeze them and you get clear to green colored juice. Yes, the white grape juice is clear – well so is red grape juice, but more on that in a bit.
White wine is not about color – almost all color in a white wine comes from some oak influence of some sort. So, an unoaked Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris can sometimes look almost clear, depending on the region and how the wine was handled. Now oaked Chardonnay, of course, is what most people use as an example of a dark white wine. As the Wine Folly linked above states, different wine regions oak their Chardonnay differently and as such, they are sold with different hues from the start. With age, the wine changes color and the light gold moves to darker gold shades.
The only real exception to the stated rule above – that white grape juice without the influence of oak is somewhere in the clear to green color spectrum, is – orange wines. We have spoken about orange wines – mostly thanks to Yaacov Oryah. Outside of Yaacov’s work there really is no orange wine in the kosher world to speak about. Orange wine is made exactly like red wine, which means that the clear grape juice is left to sit on the yellowish to dark yellow grape skins (depending upon what varietal is used to make the orange wine).
Red wine juice – straight from the grape comes out the same color as white grapes. You see the juice from grapes is mostly clear to greenish in color. The red wine color comes from macerating the juice on the grape skins. The longer the juice sits on the grape skins (wine must) the redder in color the wine becomes until it reaches its maximum red color potential.
The only real exception to the rule of a grape’s juice color is the Teinturier varieties. The grapes are called Teinturier, a French language term meaning to dye or stain. The list of grapes whose juice is actually red colored is long – but the list of kosher wine options that is a wine made from these grapes – is the Herzog Alicante Bouschet. The Gamay de Bouze is not a normal Gamay grape, it is one of those grape mutations that are very red in nature. Read the rest of this entry
This past weekend we were laying low and were recouping from the crazy Passover that was. I was in for some basic comfort food and so I made a batch of my usual tomato braised meatballs, though without a panade this time. I find that most kosher ground meat, from beef, comes very solid and requires the need to soften the mixture – not harden it. So, while panade is useful for more than just firming up a meatball recipe, its main outcome is still the firming up of meat, which in this case would have ben bad. I threw in a bunch of shredded (and then squeezed) vegetables and 2 eggs and the mixture was still very stiff. I decided that adding in a panade at this time – would have meant cement meatballs – so I passed.
Other than the meatballs, we had simple rice and a green salad. Nothing earthshaking, but a nice comfort meal all the same.
I chose a wine that I was looking at for sometime to enjoy with this meal – the 2007 Carmel Petite Sirah. We last wrote-up about Petite Sirah here and here, a few months ago, and as I continue to drink through my PS, I always am sure to update the situation. This time, I really liked what Carmel had to offer – a wine that was ripe yet controlled. I have had the opportunity to try the 2009 vintage a few times and I still have not come to appreciate it – solely because of all of the overripe and sweet fruit, the date and raisin flavors continue to throw me. The 2009 vintage for Israel, on the whole, is overly sweet and overripe, because it was a crazy hot summer, but many great wineries have find ways to manage the vintage and create lovely wines. The Carmel appellation wines, of that vintage, have not shown well in the past few tastings, but who knows.
The previous vintages of the Carmel Appellation Petite Sirah – have always been very fun and bold wines, so I was really happy to enjoy this 2007 vintage as well. It is clearly on its way down, and it is a wine that is throwing a bit of sediment, but nothing that is out of control. Be careful with the wine and open it when you are ready to enjoy it and drink it up within the hour. This is a bottle I bought directly from the wine store and enjoyed within the month or so. Read the rest of this entry
As Passover approaches we are looking to clear up space in the freezer. One of the largest inhabitants of our freezer is kosher meat and so we looked for a way to start thinning out the crowd. The chosen one was a 2lb package of flanken, which is also called English cut, all of this is explained in a previous posting. As explained in the post the idea is to cook the ribs slowly in a cup or so of whiskey or scotch, we used Canadian Whiskey, some brown sugar, tomato sauce, and a drop of water. I coated the ribs liberally, before hand, with paprika and cumin. Then I dropped them into the crock-pot that had the whiskey braising liquid, and went to sleep. The next morning I removed the sauce from the crock-pot and cooked it down some more until it was thicker and devoid of any alcohol flavor.
We also made some mushroom and sweet potato risotto, which once again was a major hit. We threw together a quick bowl of fresh green salad and that was the meal. I have to say that I always find making risotto to be a pain initially, because of all the pans it requires, three, but in the end, the flavors are well worth the cleanup 🙂
I opened a bottle that I feared was on its way to the other side, being that I did not like it the last time I had it. This time I was very happy to find that the bottle was really quite enjoyable. This is a classical version of Petite Sirah but lacking in blueberry and black pepper. We recently tasted the Herzog Petite Sirah Second Edition, and it was as classical as PS is described. This wine is rich but not as massive and inky as other PS we have tasted in the past. This was a nice wine, but it is always good to make sure you keep quality in perspective. The tobacco and chocolate along with the ripe rich fruit is really nice, just not a classical PS.
The wine not follows below:
2006 Carmel Appellation Petite Sirah – Score: B++ to A-
The nose on this bright dark garnet to black colored wine starts off screaming with cedar, tobacco, light floral notes, currant, raspberry, blackberry, ripe plum, dark chocolate, and mineral notes. The mouth on this rich and full bodied wine starts off with mouth coating while still unyielding tannins, blackberry, plum, raspberry, currant, and cedar. The mid palate is balanced with acid, tobacco, cedar, mounds of chocolate, and still massive tannins. The finish is long, spicy, and chocolaty with cedar, tobacco, black fruit, nice leather, mineral, and tannin. Tobacco, cedar, tannin, leather, and black fruit linger nicely.
Over time the tannin calms down and the fruit is more exposed, but the wine does lose its vibrancy and shows more minerality. So I would recommend drinking this soon. Open the bottle and watch it change. The time is now or within a few more months.
This week we had some people over so the selection was larger. In the order they were drank….
Chateau Yon-Figeac 1995 – Score: B-
The nose was nice and opened over time, but this was way over its life. The color was still Bordeaux red, and the mouth was a bit tannic still, but the wine was oxidized and worse – it had an almost cooked flavor to it. Shame really, as a few years earlier and it may have been fun.
Recanati Cabernet Franc Reserve 2004 – Score: A-
Not a fan favorite – which I believe has far more to do with the fact that we had people over who are particular about their Franc :-). This is not a classical Franc. Not much has changed from the previous note I made on this wine. Open early and it will be enjoyed. But just remember this is not a Cab Franc – this is a Cabernet is a Franc’s clothing.
Carmel Cabernet Franc Appellation 2002 – Score: A-
Again – not a fan Favorite. If this was renamed Cabernet it would have been a smash hit. Huge wine (like the Recanati). Bold and spicy with a very long and generous finish. The mouth on this medium – full bodied wine is chuck full of red fruits and a large dollop of tannins. Open early and drink soon.
Herzog Syrah Special Reserve 2001 – Score: B+
This one was a bit more what people expected – but an interesting split down the middle some liked some did not. Mainly I think because of the wines aggressive nature. It has a beautiful purple color. The nose is filled with dark fruit and a ton of black pepper. The mouth first hits you with tannin, pencil shavings, and mineral flavors that are not so appealing. They give way to nice fruit, a touch of tar, and a long and peppery finish. Drink up.
Herzog Syrah Special Reserve 2002 – Score: A-
This one was a bit more what people expected – and liked by everyone at the table. Again a deep purple color, and a nose of pepper, dark fruits, and tobacco. The mouth is much smooth, balanced and really a nice fullness that gives this full bodied wine a good showing. The mouth gives way to a fair amount of dark fruit, and then again to a long and peppery finish. Showing well, but drink up.
Hagafen Syrah 2000 – Score: B+
Another winner of the evening. This wine is still going strong. Again the color was a nice purple. The nose was not peppery like the Herzog wines. This one was more red with a tinge of green. The mouth on this medium – full bodied wine was smooth with a fair amount of red fruit and almost no tannins to perceive. The oak is still present and almost sweet. The fruits give way to a long and fruity finish. Not my cup of Syrah – but others may disagree.
Yarden Syrah 2002 – A-
In my humble eyes – the winner of the night by FAR! This wine is still brooding and will be a huge winner for years to come. In retrospect – 2002 was a bad year for Israeli wines, but a good year for the bottles we opened this evening. The wine’s color is a deep red to purple. The nose is still teeming with red fruit, oak, and tobacco. The mouth on this full bodied wine is still a bit tannic, though integrating nicely. The mouth gives way to a nice amount of fruit, but the star is the chocolate and tobacco that come along for a nice and long finish. This wine should hold out a bit more.