Herzog Wine Cellars (which now go by herzogwine.com not herzogwinecellars.com, no idea why they dropped that and emails bounce all over the place, a better idea would have been simple web/MX record routing/forwarding – but enough tech talk) has been in the wine business, in California, since 1984. The days of San Martin, when I met Josh Goodman and his wife (PSA – be careful with how you pronounce her name) when they were in the San Jose Jewish community. In those days, San Jose was the closest thing to a community for them, that was close enough to San Martin, for them to live a Jewish life and work as cellar rat/master at Herzog Wine cellars. With time, the Herzog moved to Santa Maria, which was closer to the L.A. area and then they finally moved to the location they are today, in Oxnard, in 2005.
In the start, the head winemaker was Peter Stern, mostly as a part-time winemaker. In 1998, Joe Hurliman joined as the full-time winemaker at Herzog Wine and they have not looked back, thankfully! In that time, Joseph Herzog took over running the winery and Tierra Sur, the wonderful restaurant attached to the winery. Soon after moving into the Oxnard winery/facility, Herzog undertook multiple manners to interact with their customers. The first approach was the winery’s tasting room, which is still highly pivotal in attracting all members and customers into tasting Herzog wines. They also started with many wine clubs, with the most influential one being Eagle’s Landing. It has become the area where Mr. Hurliman can truly experiment, at smaller scales, than even the Special Edition series and craft wines that he would love to see become mainstream. Things like Santa Rita Pinot Noir, Templeton Pass Zinfandel (we need more of that kind of Zin being made!!), and Paso Robles Syrah. These are not new to the kosher world as much as they are good to see at the scale and care that Herzog can bring to these varietals and wines.
One cannot talk about Herzog without talking about a few very poignant points:
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- L.A. KFWE/IFWF/Tierra Sur – Todd Aarons
Herzog did not invent the Mevushal methodology in the new era of kosher wine, which was done by Hagafen Winery, but Herzog has been equal or slightly better than Hagafen as time has progressed. When you ask who does the best with Mevushal in wines – the answer is Hagafen and Herzog, there is no one else in their league. Royal Wines Europe does a nice job as well, but they are two peas in the same pod. Rollan de By does a very good job as well.
The next question you will consistently get is – does the Mevushal process hurt wine? The answer is complex and like everything in this world, it depends. It depends on the process you use, the varietals you “boil”, and for how long you do the process, and at what temperature. Long ago, people have stopped boiling wine – they moved to Flash pasteurization or Flash Detente, both in the kosher wine world and outside of it. The length of time and the temperature of the flash is one that is hotly debated in the Rabbinic kosher world, which is why you will see many put the temperature the wine was flashed at, on the wine bottle itself. Few wineries will flash Pinot Noir or Grenache as these wines are delicate and will not gain from the flash process. Herzog does flash their Lineage Pinot and it is not a wine for long holding so that works with what they are shooting for. Hagafen, flashes everything and as such, they do flash the Pinot and Pinot Prix, but IMHO it has been hurting the wines in recent vintages. Doing the Mevushal process to Cabernet Sauvignon is one that works and may well be the most prevalent of the varietals out there that go through the Mevushal process.
This leads us to the standing joke, in regards to Herzog Wine Cellars, that Herzog makes more Cabernet Sauvignon, in a single vintage, than almost any winery makes wine, across all labels. They are the Cab Kings like Oryah is the Orange wine Factory. My last count was 27 Cabernet sauvignons across all labels, which is a crazy number, but to be fair, they know what their customers want. No matter the price, style, makeup, or focus of the Cabernet Sauvignon, Herzog has a Cab for you and that has been their motto for as long as they have been at Oxnard, and maybe even a bit before in Santa Maria.
Herzog has done a very good job in both managing leases/relationships with vineyards – dating back to the early days of the 1990s. Chalk Hill and Alex Reserve are both examples of vineyards they have managed to lease and continue to do so for decades. This is not anything new in any way, but it was for kosher California wines in the 1990s. Hagafen Winery has had vineyards that they have leased or owned for long stretches’ of time as well. It is just a very impressive thing to have done back then.
They have quietly been buying vineyards all around California. It started in 2010 when they were forced to buy the land or lose their longtime relationship with Clarksburg grapes. Then in 2017, they bought 2 plots of land in lake County. Then in 2018, they bought the Herzog Ridge Vineyard in Napa Valley. The new 2018/2019 Forebearer wines (listed below) are from that vineyard.
There are not many wineries today, in the kosher market, that have wines dating backing to 1996 that still blow my mind. yes, I continue to have my mind blown by 1997 Four Gates Merlot or Pinot Noir, and Yarden made some wines back then that were pretty good as well. However, to have made wine continuously, minus a few years here and there, I would have to say, the only ones that come to mind are Capcanes (until 2015), Herzog, and Four Gates. That is quite an impressive feat and one that helps me to buy their wines on an almost yearly basis.
L.A. KFWE/IFWF/Tierra Sur – Todd Aarons
Tierra Sur was a smash hit years before IFWF came to Los Angeles in 2008. Todd Aarons was running the ship and he could well have been the first kosher Chef-Driven restaurant, at least in the USA. There were a few in Paris in the late 1990s that were quite the thing. Still, Chef Aarons brought that flair, focus on ingredients, and presentation to a far-flung location, outside of L.A., but within driving distance, that made Tierra Sur world-famous for kosher and non-kosher consumers alike.
The IFWF (International Food and Wine Festival), the west coast’s KFWE was Herzog’s way of showing off the food over the wine. The 2007 KFWE, and many after it, was more focused on the wine and good for them! What Herzog has done for so long with the IFWF or the KFWE is to showcase what Los Angeles has over the east coast, at least at that time for sure, which was the weather and great food!
Now on to the wines! The 2017 vintage was not kind to much of California and sadly it affected Herzog wines as well. I did like the 2017 Lineage Chardonnay and the 2017 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Lake County, with the Clone Six showing some elegance from under the issues of the vintage. All of that is in the past and the 2018 vintage is another winner. These wines are rich and layered and truly a joy – I would not sit long on the sidelines, I would buy these ASAP before they all go away. So to those that ask me – why did you not warn me – you have been warned!
In the end, this vintage is a WINNER across the board. The Forebearers are nice wines but they are relatively expensive, in comparison to other Herzog options, from 2018. The Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lineage, Reserve, even the Baron Herzog line have great deals and lovely wines. Overall, if I was standing in front of Joe Hurliman at KFWE, I would have said what I am oft to say – Bravo my good sir – BRAVO!
I will keep this short, so my many thanks to Joseph Herzog, David Whittemore, Joe Hurliman, and Alicia Wilbur for answering my many emails and calls. Be well to you all, California is getting even crazier – stay safe guys! The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:
2018 and 2019 Forebearers Wines
2018 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Forebearers, Napa Valley (M) – Score: 92+ (QPR: POOR)
The wine is very slow to open, this wine needs time, so give it the respect it deserves. The nose on this wine is lovely, not one of those “Brilliance” fruit bombs, this is a lovely earthy, anise filled joy, with smoke, tar, fruit galore, but well-controlled, with loam, candied ginger, and more fruit. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is oaky, it starts off with a clear focus of oak, and has a bit of a hole, but with time, as I said, this needs it, the hold fills in well, with a rich coat of mouth-draping tannin, earth, sweet dill, oak, blackberry, dark cherry, hints of plum, and currants, all wrapped in tannin and oak, very nice. The finish is plush, and tart, with good acidity, earth, more dill, sweet smoking tobacco, dark chocolate, and anise. Really nice, a wine to get and store away. Bravo!
With loads of time, this wine really starts to shine and I highly underestimated it, this wine is super young and needs time. I would wait 3 years to play with this again. Let this beast lie. Drink from 2024 until 2028 maybe longer. (tasted Nov 2020)
It is not yet summer but here in NorCal, it feels more like summer than spring, and the weather is making shipments really hard at this time of year. Normally, I would have been in Israel by now, one way or the other, and I would have at least had two tastings with the gang. Sadly, with the times we live in now, neither of those wonderful ideas is possible. Sad and strange days we live in. Also, this is round 1, there will be another 15 roses I will get through over the next week or so.
While rose wine in the non-kosher market is exploding – especially Rose wine from Provence; a wine region of France, the kosher market this year will be more subdued. In the past, distributors brought in as much as 60+ kosher rose wines, this year with the issues I brought up in my previous post – there is less of an appetite for all those wines.
QPR and Price
I have been having more discussions around my QPR score with a few people and their contention, which is fair, in that they see wine at a certain price, and they are not going to go above that. So, instead of having a true methodology behind their ideas, they go with what can only be described as a gut feeling. The approaches are either a wine punches above its weight class so it deserves a good QPR score. Or, this other wine has a good score and is less than 40 dollars so that makes it a good QPR wine.
While I appreciate those ideals, they do not work for everyone and they do NOT work for all wine categories. It does NOT work for roses. Look, rose prices are 100% ABSURD – PERIOD! The median rose price has gone up this year and it is around 22 bucks – that is NUTS! Worse, is that the prices are for online places like kosherwine.com or onlinekosherwine.com, with free or good shipping options and great pricing, definitely not retail pricing.
As you will see in the scores below, QPR is all over the place and there will be good QPR scores for wines I would not buy while there are POOR to BAD QPR scores for wines I would think about buying, based upon the scores, but in reality, I would never buy another bottle because the pricing is ABSURDLY high.
Also, remember that the QPR methodology is based upon the 4 quintiles! Meaning, that there is a Median, but there are also quintiles above and below that median. So a wine that is at the top price point is by definition in the upper quintile. The same goes for scores. Each step above and below the median is a point in the system. So a wine that is in the most expensive quintile but is also the best wine of the group gets an EVEN. Remember folks math wins!
Still, many of the wines have a QPR of great and I would not buy them, why? Well, again, QPR is based NOT on quality primarily, it is based upon price. The quality is secondary to the price. So, wines that are drinkable with an 88 or 89 score, though wines that I would not buy, have a low enough price to get a GOOD or GREAT score. Does that mean that I would buy them because they have a GREAT QPR? No, I would not! However, for those that really want roses, then those are solid options.
Please remember, a wine score and the notes are the primary reason why I would buy a wine – PERIOD. The QPR score is there to mediate, secondarily, which of those wines that I wish to buy, are a better value. ONLY, the qualitative score can live on its own, in regards to what I buy. The QPR score defines, within the wine category, which of its peers are better or worse than the wine in question.
Finally, I can, and I have, cut and paste the rest of this post from last year’s rose post and it plays 100% the same as it did last year. Why? Because rose again is horrible. There is almost no Israeli rose, that I have tasted so far, that I would buy – no way! Now, I have not tasted the wines that many think are good in Israel, the Netofa, Vitkin, and Recanati roses. Yes, there is ONE rose I would “buy” by my qualitative scoring approach, which is why I used the word almost above. That wine would be the 2019 Bat Shlomo Rose, but at some 28 or more dollars a bottle, it is highway robbery for that score. Read the rest of this entry
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
I will keep this one short, as I want to get to my top wines of the year post. However, my wife and I spent the first part of Saturday night prepping, breaking down, and rolling 60 sushi rolls filled with Hamachi, Salmon, Tuna, and julienned vegetables. All I will say is that there was little to none of it left before the evening was over.
We enjoyed some lovely still and sparkling wines, along with some very not so great wines as well. The wine notes are iffy, as I was not taking serious notes, except for one wine that was the clear winner of the evening.
The wine notes follow below:
NV Yarden Brut – Score: B+ to B++
The first interesting thing to note about this sparkler is that it was produced in 2001 and not produced again, so we are talking about a 10 to 11 year old wine made from equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The nose on this straw to pink colored wine is rich with citrus notes, peach, tart green apples, fresh flowers, and brioche. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is effervescent with a lovely mousse of many small bubbles, creamy and delicate attack of tart green apple, citrus, and acid backbone that is definitely not dead in any way. The finish is long, creamy, and moussy with brioche, toast, tart apples and lemony goodness. Fun stuff that works great with sushi.
2007 Segal Rechasim Dishon Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: A–
The nose on this black colored wine is super rich with rich cedar, tobacco, cassis, rich ripe plum, licorice, raspberry, and chocolate. The mouth on this rich and medium bodied wine is mouth coating with lovely tannin, raspberry, rich ripe plum, cassis, integrated tannin, and cedar. The mid palate is rich and lovely with good acid, tobacco, cassis, chocolate, tobacco, and cedar. The finish is long and rich with sweet cedar, tobacco, cassis, ripe plum, chocolate, and tobacco. This is a rich and concentrated wine that has just enough to grab your attention but is also a bit played out with its not so unique flavor profile. Still a fun and rich wine that has two or so years left in its legs.
Baron Herzog Brut Champagne – Score: B-
Sorry this wine did not make the mental cut for me – the flavors do not meld in any way that makes sense to me.
2006 Rotheberg Cellars Pinotage – Score: N/A
DOA, OK but really not that interesting.
For full disclosure I love what Herzog Winery and Royal have done for kosher wine. Still, come in now Herzog! I know you produce an obscene number of White Zinfandel bottles, and that it is created for the absolute lowest common denominator, in terms of your target market. Still, can you PLEASE FREAKING update your wine note on the back label!! Are you kidding me! Cotton candy. First of all that was a wine note that was perpetrated MANY YEARS ago by someone, if the lore is true, that does not work at the winery any longer, or just started (at that time), or may have returned, whichever version is correct
Further, it IS NOT EVEN TRUE!!!! Sorry, yeah I drank some of this wine, get over it guys. For those who have been spared from reading the back label, or could not give a darn, it reads as such. Disclaimer, I bought the bottle, please do NOT send lawyers my way for replicating the incorrect and useless data from the back!
Aromas of strawberry and cotton candy make this wine remarkably versatile.
I will stop there, there is other text that talks about its crispness, which to be fair is somewhat true, though with all that perceived or maybe actual residual sugar, it is hard to see through the sweetness to the feel crispness. I could see how folks could think the wine has strawberry but in my opinion that is not strawberry but rather grapefruit and high sugar, but heck, that is my 2 cents!!
Now, originally, I placed this post on Daniel Rogov’s forum. I stated that I would replicate the posting on this blog tonight, God willing, and may the Wrath of Kahn keep far away from me!! Seriously, I know I am dating myself and what was Ricardo Montalban thinking! That movie does NOT age well!!!
2009 Herzog White Zinfandel – Score: B-
The nose on this light pink colored wine is its only true redeeming feature, with nice citrus, ripe and crisp grapefruit, lychee, over the top orange sugar drops, and slight floral characteristics. The mouth on this semi-sweet and light bodied wine has grapefruit, sugar drop, and lychee on the mouth. The mid palate has enough acidity to balance, along with more grapefruit and sugar drops. The finish is short with citrus, sugar drops, nice acidity, and lychee. Yeah, it works and that is what matters. Still, sorry, no cotton candy to be found. Maybe there was cotton candy or strawberry in previous vintages, but not on this one.
P.S. Yeah I have donned a firefighter’s suit in advance for God only knows what is in store for me, from all sides!!
This past Friday night saw us lying low after a long Holiday (Sukkot and Simchat Torah) and as such we made a nice and simple meal that hit the spot. It is called Macarona Maknekesh – which is a Tunisian pasta recipe that hails from their earlier Italian roots. The recipe is really quite simple. It is essentially a macaroni/pasta and lentil concoction that is served hot. It melds classic Italian styling with a nice dose of Mediterranean flavors and textures.
1 oz of olive oil
2 diced onions
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 lb of lentils
28 oz of tomato sauce
1 lb macaroni or pasta of your choice
Fry the diced onion in the olive oil until browned. Throw in a bit of salt to help the onions release their liquid. Then throw in the mushrooms and brown them as well, with a bit of salt as well. Once browned, throw in the lentils and sauté them until all the liquid has been soaked in. Cover with water and bring to boil. Once the lentils are totally cooked (some 45 minutes), place the tomato sauce in the pot and let simmer until the flavors meld. Once the sauce and lentils look right, throw in the pasta/macaroni and add water or wine if necessary. It takes some tries to get the water content correct, but it is worth the effort.
I had hoped the wine would pair well with the dinner, but it was an unfortunate disappointment. The wine felt unbalanced and almost muted, with the nose being the shining star of the wine.
The wine note follows below:
2006 Baron Herzog Zin Gris Lodi – Score: B
The nose on this bright rose colored wine is the best part of the wine. It starts with cranberry, raspberry, strawberry, floral notes, and bright acidity. The mouth on this light to medium bodied wine is soft with raspberry, strawberry, and tart unbalanced fruit. The mid palate has a bit of acidity and more tart fruit that do not help to balance the wine. The finish is medium long with tart fruit that lingers on the palate. There is also a bit of almost green tea on the finish that really throws the wine. Quite a shame, as the nose starts off so promising.
2005 Baron Herzog Zinfandel, 2006 Goose Bay Chardonnay, N.V. Herzog Selection Blanc De Blanc Brut Champagne, 2005 Hagafen Napa Zinfandel, 2003 Barkan Cabernet Sauvignon Superieur, Baked Gefilte Fish Loaf, Pot Roast, Roasted Orange Peel Veal
This past Saturday night saw us partying with friends and family for the second night of Rosh Hashanah. The meal started with the requisite tradition called simanim. Simanim are a play on words and are a very basic Jewish tradition of using word play to bring out symbolism and actual changes or good tidings. Our friends brought over two of the simanim, and we took care of the rest. The simanim are a yearly rite of passage, and one of my favorite Jewish traditions. Many of the recipes have been changed to protect the innocent. My ancestral recipes call for 4 basic ingredients, oil, oil, oil, and some vegetable or fruit and one cooking style – frying. We decided that this tradition was awesome, but that it needed to be toned down such that it could be enjoyed for years to come, and not just for the few where we are vertical. So it called for some baking and less oil. We ordered the symbolic food in the order of Sephardic Jewry, and here they are:
- Dates or Figs (Tamar in Hebrew)
- The symbolism here is that God should end our enemies
- Broad Beans coated with a mixture of olive oil, cumin, and garlic (Rubya in Aramaic)
- The symbolism here is that God should increase our merits
- Leeks – prepared masterfully by our friends, sautéed in oil and spiced Italian (Karti in Aramaic)
- The symbolism here is that God should cut down our enemies
- Creamed Spinach – prepared masterfully by our friends, creamed with soy yogurt (Salka in Aramaic)
- The symbolism here is that God should remove our enemies
- Sweet Butternut Squash – sliced butternut squash, sprayed with oil and covered with honey, then baked in an oven set to 400 degrees (Kra in Aramaic)
- The symbolism here is that God should tear up our evil decrees and read before him our merits
- Pomegranate seeds (Rimon in Hebrew)
- The symbolism here is that our mitzvot (observance of the Jewish laws) be as plentiful as the pomegranate seeds
- Sweet apples dipped in honey
- The symbolism here is that God should grant us a New Year as sweet as honey
- Fish head – Rock Cod head baked at 350 degrees.
- The symbolism here is that in this New year we should be at the head of the class and not at the tail
We always joke that we should try to bring out a head of a lamb instead of a fish head and freak out everyone there. It would be totally epic, but while it is the preferred manner of implementing the head symbolism, it would fly in the face of “behaving”.
After the fish head was eaten, we moved on to our patented baked herb fish loaf, which we sliced into three-quarter inch servings, and served with the accompanying baked onions, and guacamole. We paired the dish with a 2006 Goose Bay Chardonnay and followed it with an N.V. Herzog Selection Blanc De Blanc Brut Champagne. The Chardonnay was solid as good as I remember it from the last time I had. The Champagne was a logical alcoholic beverage to share with the guys, but the deliver was flawed – maybe literally. I am not sure, but the wine was clearly flat, fruitless, and acidic. It’s only saving grace were the few bubbles that we left in the bottle, quite a shame.
The fish was followed by a menu of; Veal with orange peel and stuffed with mushroom and onions, Shoulder pot roast with festive vegetables on the side, spinach Soufflé/kugel, and fresh vegetable salad. The festive vegetables were cooked with the roast, but at different stages of course. The shoulder roast was initially seared on all sides and nicely caramelized and then removed. Diced onions and garlic were then placed in the hot dutch oven and were caramelized until nice and brown. The meat was returned to the pot, along with half a bottle of wine. After the meat and wine turned into a nice piece of meat, the potatoes and carrots were added. Twenty minutes later peas and green beans were added and cooked for a few minutes and then all of this was poured into a shallow pan to cool off and sleep overnight in the chill chest. After some 24 hours, the meat was removed and sliced, and then placed back in the pan with all of the juice and vegetables, where it would lie until it was warmed up the next day.
To pair with the meats and vegetables we started with a 2005 Herzog Zinfandel – which was a failure, and pulled quickly from the table, but not before it was inflicted upon one of my guests – AHH! It was followed by a 2005 Hagafen Zinfandel, which was not much better out of the bottle, but after many hours of airing, and long after the guys left the house, it became quite nice actually. It was a shame as by now three bottles had fallen to the way side, and thankfully, I had a lovely bottle already opened and airing nicely. This was the 2003 Barkan Cabernet Sauvignon Superieur, as I told the crowd that night, it was at its peak (the last time we had it, it was not nearly as good). While it was now soft, it was still plush and lush with fruit and the wood and tannins had integrated quite nicely into an impressive presentation of wood, mouth coating tannins, rich fruit, tobacco smoke, and some really nice chocolate.
Two out of five wines, is not a record I am proud of, but the food was solid, and the two wines were enjoyable. What can I say, you win some and you lose some. If you grade the evening on the bottle hit count, clearly a subpar performance. If however, you grade the evening based upon on the friends around the table, the Holy Day that it was, the camaraderie, and food, I think it was downright awesome. We will always strive to make it better though – next time 🙂
The wine notes follow below (in the order they were consumed):
2006 Goose Bay Chardonnay – Score: B+
I must say that this chardonnay is not your run of the mill chard. The fruit on this chardonnay is almost perfumed because of its intensity and the wine is nicely balanced. The nose on this bright straw colored wine is perfumed with rich peach and tropical fruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine carried the perfumed qualities from the nose along with apple, peach, and lemon. The mid palate is acidic with a touch of minerals. The finish is long with a hint of oak and more tropical fruit acidity. The oak helps to round out the mouth, while the acidity helps to brace the fruit defined mouth. The oak is showing more now and the fruit is slightly fading with the acidity still bracing. Based on my conversation with the wine maker; Philip Jones, the wines never lack from acidity, so this wine will last another year, but start drinking up.
2005 Baron Herzog Zinfandel – Score: B (maybe B-)
Close to undrinkable, at least that was the opinion of many on the table. The boysenberry, and crushed rose petals were over the top and demanded the drinker’s attention, which is a shame. The blackberry, pepper, and oak that lies in the back are nice, but not with that much noise in the foreground and on the lingering finish. The nose is nice with blackberry, boysenberry, rose petals, and oak. The mouth is wrecked with the over the top floral presentation that is followed by enough boysenberry to suffocate a horse. The mid palate is balanced with acidity and oak, but the finish is downhill with more of the same ills. This wine did not improve with time or air. The wine was not corked or spoiled, but clearly either in a real dumb period or highly flawed.
N.V. Herzog Selection Blanc De Blanc Brut Champagne – Score: B-
Not really impressed. The nose was flat and was actually the best part, with toast, almonds, citrus, and a drop of yeast. That was all they wrote about this wine. The table barely drank it. The mouth was filled with nothing – which was the problem. The best thing that could be said was that it had some acidity, but almost no fruit, and the bubbles were almost flat. Man, a mostly flat Champagne! Anyway, a loser and one that should be drunk quickly. Thankfully there were other wines to take this failure off our minds!
2005 Hagafen Napa Zinfandel – Score: A-
WOW! this wine turned face SLOWLY! This opens in a dull mode, this wine is clearly in a dumb state right now. The nose was flat, the mouth was redolent with boysenberry and oak, but no black fruit to be found. However, after a fair amount of time, like a day or so, the wine opened up to show its true self. The tannins popped out of their coma, the mouth filled out, the nose became redolent with chocolate and tons of fun stuff. Please make sure to open this puppy early and try it every few hours, you will see it change in phases – until it reaches its climax, it was a fun experience, but unfortunate for my guests who never had the chance to taste the real Hagafen Zinfandel.
Once awake and free of its dumb and slumbering state – the nose on this purple to black colored wine is black with ripe fruit, blackberry, mounds of chocolate, spice, sweet oak, and vanilla. The mouth on this full bodied wine fills out with mouth coating tannins that are integrating, but still present. The absurd boysenberry flavors have finally faded and the wine shows a rich, black, and full mouth with blackberry, nice tannins, and semi-sweet oak with raisins. The mid palate shows more integrated tannins vanilla, rich and sweet oak, and balanced acidity. The finish is long and supports the wine’s full mouth with more rich oak, vanilla, and bright acid that carries the black fruit, acting like a bow around this lovely package. It is one crazy wine that is clearly in a dumb state and needs a bit more time to pop out of its state.
2003 Barkan Cabernet Sauvignon Superieur – Score: A
They are all gone, and that is about the only thing “bad” I can say about this wine. We drank it at its peak, and for that I am thankful. If you have one or more lying around — drink up and enjoy, it’s time has come and it is now – RIGHT now!
The nose on this almost pure black colored wine explodes with rich sweet oak, blackberry, plum, dates, and a fantastic impression of effervescent Belgian dark chocolate. The mouth on this full bodied wine is like those wonderful large chairs you see in the movies, plush, soft, enveloping, but still ever present and firm – quite a showing. This was the clear winner of the evening. The mouth follows the nose with blackberry and plum. The mid palate delivers a powerful presentation of rich and concentrated sweet oak, integrated but present tannins, and just enough acidity that plays with the enveloping tannins and fruit, almost like an orchestra. The finish is long and wonderful with more black fruit carried by the sweet oak and tannins, tobacco smoke, and a replay of the chocolate. This is not a beast or a wine that has a statement out loud. Rather this is a concentrated and plush wine, with a quiet demeanor rich black fruit, chocolate, tobacco, all wrapped up in a nice oak box. Quite a wine! I am torn in ways, I am sad I have no more, but happy that I tasted it at its peak, and not on its way down.