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QPR Kosher wine options that I have been enjoying recently

In my state of kosher wine industry post – I lamented at the lack of QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) options in the kosher wine world. Now that is not to say that the options do not exist, as you can see by the number of QPR options on my top wines for Passover last year. Still, given the sheer number of wines in a kosher wine store (many hundreds) and the number of kosher wines on the open market (many thousands), we are left with a very small minority – sadly.

So, I thought I would list the most recent QPR wines I have enjoyed over the past 6 months. I wanted to catch up with wines I had not had till later last year and place them in a single easy to find place.

My hope is that people will enjoy the wines and demand more of them. For instance, the lack of many of the QPR wines from Elvi Wines on the open market. I can find them on Royal’s website and on Elvi’s website, but sadly I cannot find them at many wine stores. Thankfully, Kosherwine has gotten the Elvi Cava back along with the Gilgal Brut, but they have older vintages or no vintages of the Elvi options. Onlinekosherwine.com, also has many of the older Elvi wines. I have spoken with Moises and he says they exist here somewhere in the USA – only God knows where though!!! Sadly, the exact same can be said for Netofa wines – another QPR superstar! Where are the wines? I taste them at KFWE – but they are not at stores, online or at shops!

I hope to one day write a post about wine cellaring, but till I do, understand that certain wines are made to enjoy early, like Cava, most 2014 white wines, and lighter reds. The richer and tannic reds can use time in the cellar and that is normal. This list is not a list of wines that are meant for cellaring, though many can withstand a few years. The idea here is to enjoy these wines now while you let the long-term wines cellar and age. We all have that interest to drink interesting wines and while I agree with that, that is NO excuse to raid the cellar when u have a hunkering for a complex note or flavor. Many of these wines will scratch the itch while the beasts’ lie and settle.

Finally, some of these wines are hard to find and they may have different siblings – I will point out when an older one will be an issue or a newer vintage would not be on the list (like the 2011 Ella Valley Cabernet Franc versus the 2012). The 2012 Ella Valley Cabernet Franc would never be on this list. The 2011 is a fine wine for another year, after that I fear it will turn to date juice.

Also, many of the white/rose/bubbly wines will be repeats from the various posts I made, as most of the 2015 whites and rose are not coming to the USA as they are shmita in Israel. I tried to keep these wines under 30 dollars or so, some are more most are less and that is the point of this list. Of course, that means that for some wineries there will be one or no options, like Matar or Four Gates Winery. Though I could have thrown in the Four Gates Chard – which is a lovely wine, it is still far from my goal to add into this bucket. The same can be said for many more wineries. Also, 2015 Israeli wines are not on this list, actually no 2015 wines are on this list, though Hagafen Winery, has released their 2015, but I have yet to taste them and the 2014 Hagafen wines are the ones on the market anyway. Finally, wines that can only be found in Israel like the epic Tabor Rose of 2014 and the 2014 Reca Gris du Marselan and the yatir rose and the new 2014 Yatir Viognier – and so on. All of these wines are not on this list because they are hard to find, but they are on previous lists I have posted.

So, without further ado – here is my list of kosher QPR winners so far and if you have any more please tell me!! They are listed below without any real order.

2014 Domaine Netofa White – Score: A- (Crazy QPR)
I must say this is clearly the best Netofa white so far, and I hope they continue to impress! The wine is 100% Chenin Blanc sourced from the slopes of Mount Tabor. The nose is redolent with rich and bright quince, straw, mineral, lemongrass, and wet grass. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is lovely and rich mineral bomb, with more hay, spiced quince, now dry fresh cut grass, green apple, Asian pear, along with a crazy dry and insanely tart crab apple. The finish is long – spicy, dirty, and mineral based, with dry fruit, rich ripping acid, cloves, and nutmeg – BRAVO!!!

2013 Domaine Netofa Red – Score: A- (and more) (QPR!)
This wine is a clear step up from the 2012 Netofa Red, that is not putting the 2012 down in any way, it is just that this wine is even better! This wine is a blend of 65% Syrah and 35% Mourvedre. The nose on this wine is redolent and packed with mineral, lovely smoke, flint, ripe plum, lovely blueberry, with currants in the background. The mouth on this full bodied wine is attacks you first with lovely currants, followed by layers of blueberry, floral notes, richer and more extracted than the 2012, with great mineral, dried strawberry, all wrapped in ripping acid, and lovely tannin. The finish is long, extracted, and richly mineral in style, with blackcurrant, draping tannin, while being spiced with cloves, black pepper, sweet her, and hints of pith and lovely acid. BRAVO!!!

2012 Weinstock Cabernet Franc, Cellar Select – Score: A- (Mevushal) (QPR!)
This is not the same wine as the 2011 vintage, which was crazy and great this vintage started off closed and disjointed, but is now showing far better. The nose on this wine is mad green with red fruit notes, and herb. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is nice and round, with green notes, well balanced with good acid, raspberry, plum, earth, more bell pepper, crazy sweet dill, mouth coating tannin, and green foliage. The finish is long with nice enough acid, forest floor, nice butterscotch, good sweet tobacco, cedar, with tannin adding weight. Read the rest of this entry

The new 2014 Trader Joe’s Kosher Terrenal Wines

Well it has been a few months and it is time to post about the new wines from Terrenal – which can be found at Trader Joe’s markets. I have been writing about these wines for sometime now, and some are hits and some are misses, but for the most part they are solid wines at a very reasonable price.

I wrote about the very impressive 2014 Terrenal Cabernet Sauvignon already earlier this year, and now the Banero Prosecco is back on the shelves again along with a new 2014 Terrenal Chardonnay, that may well be their best ever. Sadly, the 2014 Terrenal Tempranillo is not as good as past vintages, like the 2012. But with the very impressive Chard, Cab, and Banero, the Tempranillo is not such a loss. The Malbec is better than in past vintages but not the homerun that the 2012 was at initial release.

My previous post about the 2014 Cabernet was a side rant about the prices of kosher wines and why they continue to go up instead of coming down. I am happy to say that the prices of the Terrenal wines have stayed the same – even as the value goes up in this past vintage.

Sadly, there is a new wine – a reserve wine that is only available in the NY and NJ area called: Terrenal Seleccionado it goes for 6.99 (the same price as the Banero Prosecco). Can you guys please try it out and post here – I would really love to hear what people are saying about it. Also, is it mevushal? Thanks!

So, here are my notes about the new Trader Joe Kosher Terrenal wines and enjoy!

2014 Terrenal Chardonnay, Curico Valley – Score: A- (QPR WINNER) (mevushal)
Another crazy hit for Terrenal and yes, it is the 5 buck kosher Chard from Trader Joe’s and it is mevushal. The nose on this lovely Chilian Chard is crazy tropical, with screaming pineapple, goose berry, grapefruit, and fresh tart summer fruit and herb. The mouth in this medium bodied wine is very ripe and round with an almost plush feeling to it, followed by tart white cherry, peach, dried apple, and almond. The finish is long and sweet with nutty notes, a nice ribbon of pith, and green tea. Bravo!

2014 Terrenal Malbec, I.P. Mendoza – Score: B+ (mevushal)
For the past two years this wine has let me down, it had turned far too floral for my tastes and lacked the blue and black punch it had early on in 12 and 11. Well, so far it is back! The nose is redolent with dark fruit, fresh black and blue berries, with hints of roasted meat and cherry. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is nice with soft mouth coating tannin, but it shows it is showing it mevushal process , with hints of cooked fruit, but overall the core blackberry, blueberry, and cranberry carry the day. Still, the floral notes are starting to show, which is great, I just hope it stays there, rather than taking over the entire mouth like it did in past vintages. Very nice.

2014 Terrenal Tempranillo Yecla – Score: B to B+ (NOT mevushal)
After the very good 2014 Terrenal Cabernet Sauvignon, a crazy QPR winner, I had high hopes for the 2014 Terrenal Tempranillo, sadly it is nice – but not the Cab.

The nose on this wine is vibrant with black cherry, strawberry, raspberry, earthy aromas, herb, and spice. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is a nice quaffer, but lacks any attention grabbing notes, with spicy fruit, blackberry, nice round and searing tannin, earth, and an overall mouth feel that spicy and enjoyable. The finish is round with nice spice, great balancing acid, along with a dollop of herb and vanilla on the long finish. This is a fine wine, but I wish it had more to show.

2014 Terrenal Cabernet Sauvignon Yecla – Score: B+ to A-  (QPR) (NOT mevushal)
Bravo!! Very impressive wine. Insane QPR and very lovely mouth feel, plush and tannic with good structure and fruit. Again BRAVO!

The nose on this purple robed wine is redolent with crazy blackcurrant, followed by lovely roasted herb, licorice, red fruit, and bramble. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is impressive with good concentration of blackberry, ripe and juicy raspberry, followed by cocoa, searing tannin, mouth coating plush fruit, and lovely tobacco. The finish is long with chocolate, vanilla, spice, and green notes, all wrapped in blue and black fruit, with garrigue, menthol, and graphite lingering long – IMPRESSIVE for 5 bucks to say the least.

NV Banero Prosecco, Veneto IGT – Score: B++ (mevushal) (QPR)
Well, I am happy to say I am wrong! The wine I had in the past must have been a poor bottle, as this wine is now really enjoyable. Sadly, I cannot track vintages or bottlings, that I can see, but this bottle and the other one I opened recently were both much better.
The nose on this wine is ripping with sweet kiwi, honey, along with a orange blossom perfume, orange rind, toast, rose water, and guava. The mouth on this rich medium bodied wine starts off with a hit of bitterness, but is then dominated by the sweet notes of candied fig, honeysuckle, sweet melon, dried apple, prolonged medium mousse bubbles, and toast. The finish is long with more bubbles, acidity that balance the wine very nicely, along with orange peel, tangerine, and dried pear. I would love it to be even more dry, but this is a lovely wine, and even better knowing that the wine is mevushal and only 8 dollars. Very Nice!!

New vintages of Trader Joe Terrenal kosher wines

It has been only a few months since we last posted about the kosher wines at Trader Joe’s. The Banero is still only available on the east coast, but it remains in stock there. The Sara Bee is also back in stock on the east and west coasts, and doing really well. The prices have now stabilized, even though Moscato is going crazy in the wine world.

Sara Bee continues to taste as wonderful as always, but I cannot get the Banero Prosecco here on the west coast 😦 There are now two new Terrenal wines; one from Chile and one from Argentina that are both mevushal. I say this because the Spanish wines from February are not mevushal. The two new Terrenal wines continue the tradition of good kosher wine, for a reasonable price.

I am posting the previous notes as a reference, so that you do not need to go back to the older posting:

2011 Terrenal Chardonnay (Curico Valley, Chile) – Score: B++ (close to A-)
This wine is a lovely expression of unoaked Chardonnay and one that I am happy to buy often. Sure the price is also right (4.99 a pop), but price has ZERO bearings on how I score a wine. The nose screams with lemon fresche, apricot, guava, with ripe and almost sweet fruit. The mouth is really nice with sweet lemon, fig, Asian pear, apple, along with lovely and almost mouth-coating mouth. The finish is long with melon, good balanced acidity, a bit of sweet citrus zest (without the pith), along with a bit of vanilla and floral notes to close out the party.

2010 Terrenal Malbec (Mendoza, Malbec) – Score: B to B+
This wine is nice with a unique initial attack of butterscotch, along with blackcurrant, plum, and crushed herb. The mouth is soft and rich with a bit of raisin and blackberry, along with nicely integrated tannin. The finish is long and spicy along with good acidity, inky structure, sweet black cherry, spice, and vanilla on the rise. Read the rest of this entry

The new vintages of Trader Joe kosher wines

It has been a year since we last posted about the kosher wines at Trader Joe’s. The Banero is now only available on the east coast, but at least it is back in stock. The Sara Bee is also back in stock and doing really well. The prices have risen a bit, but I guess that is par for the course, with Moscato going crazy in the wine world.

Still, the Sara Bee tastes as wonderful as always, but I cannot get the Banero Prosecco here on the west coast 😦 There are also two new Terrenal wines from Spain that are still not mevushal. I say this because the rest of the wines are mevushal, excepting for these two. The two reds continue the tradition of good kosher wine, for a reasonable price.

I am posting the Sara Bee and Banero notes as a reference, so that you do not need to go back to the older posting:

2010 Terrenal Cabernet Sauvignon (Yecla, Spain) (not-mevushal) – Score: B+
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is rich and vibrant with black cherry, an almost perfumed nose of blackberry, and raspberry, along with black currant, rich earth, and herb. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is a nice quaffer with enough complexity to grab your attention, with spicy fruit, almost mouth coating tannin, rich earth, and an overall mouth feel that is nothing short of quite nice. The wine’s core acidity really elevates it and the richness and spice of the finish goes a long way to making you rethink entry-level wines. I could care less what this wine costs, this is a fine wine that is tasted blind would make you do a double take, and in the end, it is quite enjoyable.

2010 Terrenal Tempranillo (Yecla, Spain) (not-mevushal) – Score: B+
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is rich and vibrant with black cherry, strawberry, an almost perfumed nose of blackcurrant, and raspberry, earthy aromas, herb, and spice. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is a nice quaffer with enough complexity to grab your attention, with spicy fruit, nice round tannin, rich earth, and an overall mouth feel that spicy and enjoyable. The wine’s core acidity really elevates it and the round mouthed tannin, along with nice spice add to the cherry focused wine that adds a dollop of herb and vanilla on the long finish. I could care less what this wine costs, this is a fine wine that is tasted blind would make you do a double take, and in the end, it is quite enjoyable.

N.V. Sara Bee Moscato ((Italy, Puglia) – Score: B++
The nose on this effervescent light gold colored wine starts off with a powerful hit of honey and a touch of yeast. After a small bit of time, the wine explodes with summer and tropical fruits, peach, apricot, mango, pear, lychee, and papaya. This wine has a wonderful effervescence and fruity nose. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is lovely with nice effervescence, sweet honey, papaya, lychee, and pear. The mid palate is balanced nicely with acid and light toast, and effervescence. The finish is long and tasty with papaya, honey, and caramel, with the honey and caramel lingering long on the palate.
This is a more balanced, fuller, effervescent wine than the usual kosher blue-bottle Bartenura Moscato. Nothing against the Bartenura Moscato, but it does not compare and it is at least double to triple the price of this wonderful wine. Get a bottle or two and try it out. The Sara Bee Moscato is available at Trader Joe. Finally, as usual my score NEVER includes the price. This wine is scored what it is scored solely on its merit – irrelevant to its price, availability, or its kosher status.

N.V. Banero Prosecco – Score B+
The nose on this straw-colored Prosecco is screaming with a lovely bubble fest, along with a nice muscat nose, perfume, orange rind, yeast, toast, and honey. The mouth on this rich medium bodied wine starts off with a hit of bitterness, apple, honey, prolonged small mousse bubbles, and toast. The mid palate is core with acidity, toast, and drop of yeast, and orange peel. The finish is long and mousse-y with honey, slight bitterness, and toast. This is a wine that has a bit of beer bitterness at the start, which fades a bit, but lingers with a nice balance of perceived sweetness from the honey notes. The mouth is rich with small mousse bubbles that lie on your palate for a very long time, long after the wine is gone.

Seniorio de Aldaz Tempranillo, N.V. Banero Prosecco, Rosemary & Lemon Roasted Chicken, and Cholent

This past week saw us taking it a bit easier and that led us to thinking about our usual Rosemary & Lemon Roasted Chicken. We paired it with brown Basmati rice and fresh green salad. I looked for a lovely wine to pair with our meal, and thought I came up with a nice option – the 2009 Seniorio de Aldaz Tempranillo. The nose was killer! It was rich and powerful, but the mouth was out of whack, very unbalanced, and missing the point. I had to stop drinking the wine and went to find another bottle, and came up with the Trader Joe N.V. Banero Prosecco.

For lunch we had a nice cholent, but it is far from perfected to write it down yet – keep glued to this blog for the final version.

The Seniorio de Aldaz Tempranillo was the real shame. It opens to a powerful nose but that fades with time. The mouth starts very tannic, which does not bother me, and then goes scary. I have now tasted the Banero a few more times since our last tasting, and I think that the original notes are a bit off – as there is less or no muscat flavors than I remember from the original tasting.

The notes are listed below in the order they were tasted:

2009 Senorio De Aldaz Tempranillo (Spain, Navarra) – Score: B- to B
The nose on this bright garnet to purple colored wine is hopping with raspberry, crushed herbs, kirsch cherry, ripe plum, mineral/rock/gravel, bramble, blueberry, and tons of floral notes. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is unfortunately its downfall; it is far too out of balance with strong floral, blueberry, and cherry notes up front, without enough characteristics balancing it out. The mouth follows with plum, raspberry, and not yet integrated tannins. The mid palate is acidic with unbalanced tannin, mineral, and more floral notes. The finish is long and rocky (pun intended) with gripping tannin, more unbalanced fruit, and floral notes. The floral notes, cherry, and blueberry linger on the palate.

N.V. Banero Prosecco – Score B+
The nose on this straw colored Prosecco is screaming with a lovely bubble fest, along with a nice muscat nose, perfume, orange rind, yeast, toast, and honey. The mouth on this rich medium bodied wine starts off with a hit of bitterness, apple, honey, prolonged small mousse bubbles, and toast. The mid palate is core with acidity, toast, and drop of yeast, and orange peel. The finish is long and mousse-y with honey, slight bitterness, and toast. This is a wine that has a bit of beer bitterness at the start, which fades a bit, but lingers with a nice balance of perceived sweetness from the honey notes. The mouth is rich with small mousse bubbles that lie on your palate for a very long time, long after the wine is gone.

N.V. Banero Prosecco and Cholent

On the week of October 22nd we enjoyed a simple meal of Parve Cholent and a bottle of the new Trader Joe kosher wine – Banero Prosecco. Prosecco is the Italian version of Champagne, except that it is not. Champagne is a term used ONLY for wine made in the Champagne area of France. Of course, the term has been used recently to mean bubbly or sparkling wine in general, and that of course annoys the French greatly, as it diminishes the special aspects of Champagne. So, they have trademarked the term, so that wine made outside of Champagne cannot use the Champagne moniker. Prosecco is a bubbly and sparkling wine, but it is made with the less expensive method of secondary fermentation known as Charmat.

To start grapes used in sparkling wines are commonly picked early to minimize the sugars in them. This also causes the grapes to be higher in acid, as the sugar is grapes are in inverse proportion the acid in grapes, as the grapes ripen and increase their sugar, the grapes acid goes down. The higher the sugar and ripeness of the grapes the higher the alcohol content of the wine will be. Which is OK (sometimes), for bold red wines, but for bubbly wine which is consumed at a higher rate, it would be a bad night for most after two glasses. To allow for pleasant drinking without a massive buzz, sparkling wine makers pick the grapes early, thereby having lower sugar content, which means lower alcohol. However, with lower sugar and higher acid, the wine maker must do wonders to make it palatable.

When you enjoy a bottle of sparkling wine, no matter the version, what you are enjoying is a wine that has, in one or another, undergone two sugar fermentation(s). The first is the usual one which happens when the grapes are crushed and pressed and then yeast is added to ferment the wine. What is happening is that the yeast is eating the sugar in the wine juice and creating alcohol as its byproduct. Then the wine is aged in steel or wood and then is bottled. The wine at this point may not be so stellar in nature, as we explained because of its higher acid and lower sweetness. Then the wine is then ready for bottling and the start of the second fermentation, yeast and sugar are reintroduced to each bottle, and then they are closed with a beer cap. The wines go through a second fermentation and can be aged there for as many as 8 years. The wine sits on its lees, the byproduct of acid and sugar being consumed by yeast. More alcohol is added to the mix as well by this second fermentation, but there is so little sugar added that the alcohol change is barely noticeable. This second fermentation and the aging help to improve the wine and of course add bubbles!

Finally, after the requisite second fermentation is deemed complete, the lees are convinced to move to the neck of the bottle, the bottle neck is frozen, the cap is removed, and the frozen lees shoot out. To make up for the lost space, the wine maker adds in brandy, port, sugar, or some other special ingredient and of course a bit of sulfur dioxide as a last bit of preservative.

Well this weekend we wanted to pair our cholent with a not so obvious wine choice – Prosecco. Sparkling wine was a lovely pairing with our vegetarian cholent and one that I really enjoyed to boot. This wine turned out to be really nice and one worth looking into. As we spoke about last week, Trader Joe is selling a few Kosher wines for a nice price. We will be tasting them throughout the next few weeks so keep watching. This is the second wine of the group that we will be tasting.

N.V. Banero Prosecco – Score B+
The nose on this straw colored Prosecco is screaming with a lovely bubble fest, along with a nice muscat nose, perfume, orange rind, yeast, toast, and honey. The mouth on this rich medium bodied wine starts off with a hit of bitterness, apple, muscat perfume, honey, prolonged small mousse bubbles, and toast. The mid palate is core with acidity, toast, and drop of yeast, and orange peel. The finish is long and mousse-y with honey, slight bitterness, and toast. This is a wine that has a bit of beer bitterness at the start, but quickly leads into the muscat and perfume infused mouth which is rich with small mousse bubbles that lie on your palate for a very long time, long after the wine is gone.

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