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Kosher Rose wines of 2017 – final take

After all the tastings I have had for rose wines this year – I can say for now, that I am as far along as I can go without being in Israel, or asking people to schlep wines for me from Israel. I am still missing the new 2016 Elvi Wines Rose, the 2016 Terra de Seta Rose, the 2016 Matar Rose, and the 2016 Gvaot Rose. I guess that will have to be. When I get to Israel soon enough I will post again, but just on those wines.

In the end, my overall take on Israeli roses this year has been a huge and utter letdown. To me, there are few roses that I would waste my time drinking. In the end, the Netofa, Vitkin, Psagot, and Castel Roses are the only roses that I would buy this year, other than the untasted wines listed above (Matar and Gvaot), which may well be good.

The real saviors for us have indeed been Spain and USA. France has thrown in the La Vie Roubine, but it is not as good as the Ramon Cardova rose.

So, in closing, I will repeat what I listed the last posting. These wines are the best for each category, nothing I tasted in the last tasting has changed much around them, other than the sweet rose entry, which I would never buy, but is useful for those that like rose that way.

So, here are my recommendations based upon the wines I have tasted:

  1. 2016 Ramon Cardova Rose, is the best rose so far, but it is not a Provence style wine, it is more of a tweener.
  2. The 2016 Chateau Dubois is the best French rose I have tasted so far, but it is a clear non-Provence style rose.
  3. 2016 Chateau Roubine la Vie, is the best French classic Provence style rose.
  4. 2016 Ramon Cardova Rose is the best Spanish rose (that I have had the chance to taste so far, sadly I have yet to taste the new 2016 Elvi Rose)
  5. The 2016 Shirah Rose is the best USA rose. It is not a Provence style wine, it is a massive wine but a really fun one.
  6. The 2016 Netofa Rose is the best rose from Israel, it is as close to a Provence style wine I have found so far in Israel. Vitkin is right behind, along with Castel (but it is really expensive for the wine), and Psagot in the bigger/fuller rose category for Israel.
  7. The 2016 Psagot Rose (when it is on) is the best full bodied rose wine from Israel.
  8. The best sweet rose that is drinkable is the 2016 Contessa Annalisa Rose. Hopefully, a gateway rose to the drier and better options above.

Rose winemaking approaches

If you read the previous article, you would have read that there are classically three ways to make Rose; Maceration, Saignée, and blend.

The interesting thing we are seeing is a slight variation to the rose making – that is after they make the rose, using any of the aforementioned approaches, they are adding in some white wine! This is straight up genius! Why? Because as explained in the previous post, red grape juice has very few phenolics in it! The real phenolic powerhouse – for red wines, are the skins! White wine does not need skins to give it their phenolics, they have it innately from the juice alone. So, when you take red grapes and essentially crush them and bottle them, with minimal grape contact, what you get is a fun wine, that has very few phenolics in it. So, you have a few options, either let the liquid sit longer on the grape skins, thereby improving the phenolics, but that takes away from the classic rose look, as skin contact turns the juice darker. So, if you want more phenolics and less grape skin contact to keep the classic rose color, you can add in white wine!

The Ramon Cardova is a perfect example of this. As is the Elvi Rose (a wine I have not tasted), and the Jezreel Rose (see below). These three wines all added in different white wines, and it is a clear bump in the correct direction, but to the purists, it is not cool! I cannot speak to the purist’s issues, and yes, I can see that the Cardova is not a classic Provence wine, but it is a very enjoyable summer wine, and in the end, that is what rose to me, is all about!

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Kosher Rose wines of 2017 – take 2

2016 Covenant Red C Rose, Twin Suns, Psagot Rose, Bat Shlomo, Chateau L'oasis, Tabor Adama, Chateau Dubois, Ramon Cardova Rose, Kos Yeshuos, Chateau Laurier Rothschild, Vitkin, Borgo Rea

This post is an update to my previous article on the kosher rose wines of 2017. Sadly, not much has changed, yes a few more options have been released, but shockingly some are still not here, even as the official summer season has begun! Come on, guys! The good news is that we have a new winner for 2017, though it falls apart very quickly, so open it and drink it all up ASAP! As I have stated below, I have yet to find a single rose from the 2016 vintage, that I could think would last through the summer months.

Also, there are still another seven Rose wines I would love to taste, but some are not here and some are actually here, but not yet being released. Those are the 2016 Jezreel Rose (Finally in the SA, but not yet available at kosherwine.com, the online store I buy almost all my wines now because of free shipping). Along with the Galil Rose (It is here in the USA – but need to get my hands on it – but it is available at kosherwine.com), The 2016 Elvi Wines Rose, the Terra de Seta Rose, the 2016 Matar Rose, the 2016 Gvaot Rose, and the 2016 Kadesh Barnea Rose.

I thought about repeating the text from my previous post on Rose wine, but I decided against it. So, please read that before continuing on here. I will be reposting all of the wine notes, here along with the five new wines roses that I tasted as well.

However, what I did want to talk about here, beyond the five new Rose wines, is rose wine styles, and examples of each from the wine notes below.

Rose Wine Styles

When I think Rose or Sauvignon Blanc, I think classic Provence and New Zealand. I think lithe, ethereal, but packed with acid, mineral, fruit, and lovely terroir. That is what I like in Rose, but there is another style, it is the fuller bodied rose, NO not those disastrous red wines that want to be a rose, those are just horrible – Beaujolais want-to-be.

No, this is more like the 2016 Psagot Rose, that wine is a full bodied acid core wine, but it is not the classic Provence style rose. That is is no way an affront to this wonderful wine, when the bottle is good, no it is more a description of what the wine is like.

If you are looking for a wine that you can enjoy with a steak or a burger than you would be a wine like the Psagot, though to me the best rose out right now of that style is the newly released 2016 Shirah Rose. It reminds me so much of the 2013 Rose, which was a true joy.

So, here are my recommendations based upon the wines I have tasted:

  1. 2016 Ramon Cardova Rose, is the best rose so far, but it is not a Provence style wine, it is more of a tweener.
  2. The 2016 Chateau Dubois is the best French rose I have tasted so far, but it is a clear non-Provence style rose.
  3. 2016 Chateau Roubine la Vie, is the best French classic Provence style rose.
  4. 2016 Ramon Cardova Rose is the best Spanish rose (that I have had the chance to taste so far, sadly I have yet to taste the new 2016 Elvi Rose)
  5. The 2016 Shirah Rose is the best USA rose. It is not a Provence style wine, it is a massive wine but a really fun one.
  6. The 2016 Netofa Rose is the best rose from Israel, it is as close to a Provence style wine I have found so far in Israel.
  7. The 2016 Psagot Rose (when it is on) is the best full bodied rose wine from Israel.

Rose winemaking approaches

If you read the previous article, you would have read that there are classically three ways to make Rose; Maceration, Saignée, and blend.

The interesting thing we are seeing is a slight variation to the rose making – that is after they make the rose, using any of the aforementioned approaches, they are adding in some white wine! This is straight up genius! Why? Because as explained in the previous post, red grape juice has very few phenolics in it! The real phenolic powerhouse – for red wines, are the skins! White wine does not need skins to give it their phenolics, they have it innately from the juice alone. So, when you take red grapes and essentially crush them and bottle them, with minimal grape contact, what you get is a fun wine, that has very few phenolics in it. So, you have a few options, either let the liquid sit longer on the grape skins, thereby improving the phenolics, but that takes away from the classic rose look, as skin contact turns the juice darker. So, if you want more phenolics and less grape skin contact to keep the classic rose color, you can add in white wine! Read the rest of this entry

The kosher roses – so far – of 2017

It is almost Shavuoth, which means it is almost Summer, so that 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 7 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?

Wine Color

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 out comes clear to green colored juice. Yes, 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).

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2013 Jewish Week kosher wine tasting at the City Winery in New York City

City Winery PictureAs I stated in my previous post, my heart was in the Shabbos but my mind was on my trip that I was taking to New York. All the thinking did not help make the trip any less miserable. Once again I have proven to myself that flying to New York is hard enough, doing a stop in between is miserable and downright idiotic. Lets take a step back here and explain the situation. The Jewish Week holds a wine tasting every year, showing of the top kosher wines they thought made an impression to the wine judges. This past year, they tasted through some 400+ wines and came up with a long list of wines, many of which I like and some I did not like. Anyway, the tasting was this past Sunday, the 3rd of March, 2013, at 1 PM. To get there from the west coast, it would mean either sleeping in NY for Shabbos (not an option), or flying out Saturday Night.

I LOVE Jet Blue, but they canceled flying out Saturday night from San Jose airport, and now only fly out Saturday night from SFO – AHHH!!! So, the only other option was Delta, which I should never have done, because it meant a stopover in Atlanta. The idea was to fly out by 10:45 PM, have an hour in Atlanta and hop on the 9 AM flight to NY. That all sounded OK, no storms in the forecasts, no crazy storm trackers or watcher on the news – so it looked like I was in the clear! Not so fat, turns out that there may not be Godly reasons to not fly – but Delta is more than capable of creating man-made disasters – all by itself!

I arrived to the airport with an hour to go, and by the time we took off, I was in the airport for some 3 and a half hours! AHH!! Yep, you guessed it Delta screwed up and lost a tire on landing so the plane could not take us to Atlanta. By the time they fixed the plane, the man fixing it broke another part and we had to deplane and get on another plane – a gate over. By the time that plane was fueled and had everyone’s bags repacked – we were two+ hours behind. I slept like a baby on the plane, but by the time we arrived in Atlanta – I knew I was cooked. The connecting flight was 5 terminals over and the “plane train” could not get me there in time to save my bacon. So here comes the best part – I arrive at the gate and the plane was not departed, but the man would not let me on – no matter how much I screamed and begged. However, he gave me a printed ticket (I have not sen one of those in years) and told me to run to the next terminal where the Laguardia flight was boarding. I ran like a mad man, and in the interim broke my hand luggage! One thing after another – I know! Anyway, as I get to the gate the lady tells me that there is no such flight, I say what – the man told me there was a plane boarding now! She says – oh sure – that is one gate over, the dude gave me the incorrect gate number! Anyway, she walks me over and I start talking to the gate agent who tells me – once again – sorry the gate is closed and the plane is leaving. This is when the other gate woman turns into SuperWoman! She says – OH NO – this poor man has been through enough. She swipes her card, opens the gate door, walks me down the jetway – and bangs on the plane door! Seriously! She screams – open this door!

Now – let me please recap, I have a ticket – printed ticket, for JFK. I am trying to board a plane for which I have NO TICKET – none whatsoever! Actually I have a ticket for a totally different airport! Think of me as one of those lost souls dropped on a plane. That was me! Of course, I have no checked luggage – for two days, but still, this is COOL! The unflappable stewardess, behind a massive closed door replies; the door is closed. The gate attendant is equally unflappable, and she fires back (sorry bad use of verbage) open the door, you forgot this guy! Will you believe – the stewardess blinked and opened the door! Heck these folks were half way through the security demonstration! I was told grab any seat – we need to move. I grabbed the first window seat I could find, and promptly went back to sleep! WOW!! By the time I land in Laguardia, I had two hours to go and once I finished davening, I hopped in a taxi and found my way to the City Winery. Read the rest of this entry

French, Italian, and California red kosher wines

This past week was Shavuot and though we had no friends over we did get to enjoy some lovely kosher wines from around the world. Along the way, we had some delicious meals at friends homes and ours as well. We made some tasty beef tongue, using a very simple and basic recipe, and we had some great braised meatballs. To complement these lovely dishes my wife made her killer spinach kugel and we had some fresh green salad and quinoa.

Wine wise we had some very interesting wines from around the world, wines that many would belittle but ones that I liked, though none were anything to write home about. Still these are all reasonably priced wines that are also mevushal and taste fine. Some are plain quaff wines and one was a bit above that level.

We had a bottle of the 2010 Weinstock Cellars Alicante Bouschet, a wine we enjoyed some six months ago and my how the wine has changed! Gone are the violet and heady spice and in their place – rich cedar and forest berries demand your attention. The wine showed itself quite well and is one that will live well till 2015. Read the rest of this entry

Purim Wines – a mix of the good and the ugly

Purim came and went and with it we had the opportunity to taste many a wine. Some of the wines were mevushal and some were not. On the whole, the mevushal wines did the worst, but hey that is not an iron clad rule, as described on my blog of what is kosher wine.

Also a slight disclaimer, it was Purim after all, and I did drink these wines – so the notes many be a bit light or off, but I would not print it if I did not believe it.

Some of these were mine and some were wines that others brought. In the end, we tasted three Pinot Noir, and the other two could not even hold the Four Gate Pinot Noir’s jockstrap. Instead, the Eagle’s Landing and Barkan Classic just stood around and were not even finished – we are talking about purim! With many people coming over to our table for wine – none could finish those bottles.

The wine notes follow below:

2010 Barkan Pinor Noir – (mevushal) Score: N/A
This tasting was even worse than the previous one – sorry, this is not a wine I could possible serve to my guests. It has a basic nose, but the mouth tastes of stewed fruit – no hope to be enjoyed. Mevushal wine at times really does bite! Not a single person, drunk or even tipsy could like this wine. I started with it and it failed on all accounts. Read the rest of this entry

Wines enjoyed during the past month

To say that life has been hectic would be an understatement, so while wine was enjoyed the real joy of writing about them had to be put on hold. Well, things are still hectic, but we now have enough time to sit down and write these up. Over the past month I have had the opportunity to taste some very experimental wine (not written about here), some really wonderful and standout wines that will be available soon, and some wines that are still not available, but was given the chance to enjoy it early on. Of course, we enjoyed some bottles that really impressed us, while others were just – ok.

So I hope these notes bring you some insight into what wines are coming soon, what wines are out there that are enjoyable, and which ones you should really start drinking up soon.

The wine notes follow below:

2009 Borgo Reale Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie Score: B
The 2009 Borgo Reale Pinot Grigio is a nice simple white wine that is clearly a wine built for enjoyment with our without food. The nose on this straw-colored wine is striking with rich peach, intense lemon, apricot, grapefruit, light floral notes, green apple, lemon rind, and mineral. The mouth on this light to medium-bodied wine is nice and bright, with lemon, green apple, and peach. The mid palate is packed with bright acidity, lemon, something that can only be explained as vanilla, lemon rind, and floral notes. The finish is spicy and medium long with more rich lemon, apple, mineral, peach, and lemon rind. Green apple, lemon, floral notes, and mineral linger long.

2006 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon Red C (Kosher) –  Score: A-
I must admit that the last time we had this bottle it was down right DOA, this one differs greatly, and it was a much appreciated surprise.

The nose on this purple to black colored wine is smoky and screams with tobacco, chocolate, tar, alcohol (to start), graphite, rich cedar, blackberry, ripe plum, raspberry, fig, mint, and herbs. The mouth on the medium to full-bodied wine is rich and layered with mouth coating integrated tannins, blackberry, plum, raspberry, fig, mint, and cedar. The mid palate follows the mouth with balanced acidity, chocolate, tobacco, tar, more cedar, and black pepper. The finish is super long and spicy with rich blackberry, plum, vanilla, herbs, chocolate, tar, tobacco, black pepper, and salty celery. The tar, tobacco, plum, black pepper, and salt rise on the finish and linger long.

N.V. Four Gates Pinot Noir Kosher – Score: B++ to A-
The nose on this dark ruby colored wine explodes with cloves, spice, dirt, celery, chicken cherry cola, raspberry, plum, herbs, coffee, and menthol. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich and layered nice chicken cherry cola, plum, and raspberry, along with heavy spice, and mouth coating tannin. The mid palate, like all four gates wine is balanced with bracing acidity, more dirt, nice tannin, crushed herbs, eucalyptus, and oak. The finish is long with chicken cherry cola, crushed herbs, dirt, celery, spice, raspberry, oak, coffee, and vanilla. Chicken Cherry Cola, crushed herbs, and vanilla rise on the finish.


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Lentil Rice Pilaf, Lemon & Pepper Roasted Chicken, and Borgo Reale Chianti Classico Vespertino

On the week of 5/28/2010 we were again staying low, after having had a previously hectic week.  So when lying low, we always go for lemon roasted chicken and rice.  However, like I stated in my previous post, I had bought some pilaf mixture at a spice store in the famous Jerusalem shuk of Mahane Yehuda.  The mixture (from what I can tell) was made up of olive oil, raw lentils, dehydrated raw onions, and a couple of spices.  The spices were not initially obvious, but the ones I could pick out were curry, cumin, paprika, and maybe cloves or ginger, though I could not be sure.

This time I poured the rest of what I had (a cup or two) of the pilaf mixture and two cups of brown rice into a pan.  I let the lentils and rice soak up the oil that was in the pan, and then hit it with a cup of white wine, and three cups of water.  The rice came out nicely, and we had a fresh green salad to go along with it.

I was in the mood of a red wine, so we went with the Borgo Reale Chianti.  I must say that when looking for kosher Italian wines there are really only two options; Borgo Reale and Cantina Gabriella.  They are both fine wine procurers and are almost always have a high QPR (Quality to Price Ratio).  The wine was a bit weird I must say out of the bottle, but with time it got better.  I would recommend opening the bottle and trying it, and then making sure to have drunk enough to lower the level below the shoulder (wide part of the bottle), let it air for a few hours or more and try it again.

The wine note follows below:

2007 Borgo Reale Chianti Classico Vespertino – Score: B+
The nose on this dark ruby to light garnet colored wine starts off closed and inaccessible. As it gains some air it starts to show tart cherry, plum, coffee, dirt and loam, along with cranberry. The mouth on this medium bodied wine has not yet integrated tannins that softens with more air, and lends to a fuller mouthfeel, but out of the bottle, the wine is unbalanced with acid, fruit, and bracing tannins that are like a bunch of kindergarten kids, who refuse to play nicely together. Once the wine opens, after 4 or so hours, the mouth opens with date, cranberry, crushed herbs, dark plum, along with a soft and round mouth, that is spicy and smoky. The mid palate is unbalanced, acidic and tannic, but after air, it gets balanced with acid, oak, and coffee. The finish is long and fascinating, with tannin, coffee, lingering acid, along with dark tart cherry that lingers long on the palate after the wine is gone. This is a nice wine that lives up to its Chianti name, after you give it enough time and air. Drinks well with tomato sauces or stews.

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca, and a nice bottle of Borgo Reale Sangiovese Puglia

This past weekend saw us fall back into an old favorite; Puttanesca.  We have posted here many times before about our enjoyment of the unique flavors and textures that Puttanesca has to offer.  The saltiness of the olives and the body of the anchovies mingle together so well, that it almost feels surreal.  Well this time was no different, and we paired it with a combination of whole wheat spaghetti and Quinoa, thereby leaving us with many options of how we would enjoy this wonderful sauce.  As usual we added in fake soy meat and some thick sliced mushrooms, which add even more textures to the party.  We enjoyed the Spaghetti alla Puttanesca, along with the aforementioned grains/pasta, and a fresh green salad.

To pair with this wonderful dinner, I went for a bottle with a fair amount of acidity, and enough body to keep up with the Puttanesca.  The first thing that came to mind was the classical pairing of pasta sauce; a Chianti.  Luck had it that we had a nice 2004 Borgo Reale Sangiovese Puglia, which turned out to be fine, for the evening.  By the next day, it had fallen on its face, and was just a shadow of its former self.  Clearly the acidity has kept this player in the game far longer than it deserves to be, but that is the joy of a low PH.  Drink this bottle now, and enjoy it.

The wine note follows below:

2004 Borgo Reale Sangiovese Puglia – Score: B – B+
The nose on this dull ruby colored wine, with a hint of orange is oaky with tart cherry, loamy dirt, raspberry, and a nice dollop of spice and pepper. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is soft and follows the nose with tart cherry, loamy dirt, and raspberry that almost feels velvety and full in the mouth. The tannins are all but gone, and were probably perfect 6 months ago. The mid palate is balanced with acidity, oak and spice. The finish is nice and long with bracing acidity, soft to almost nonexistent tannins, tons of spice, and tart cherry. This is quite a nice bottle that has clearly survived because of its low PH, and needs to be drunk NOW.  It should have been drunk 6 or so months ago, when it was probably better.

Hanukkah Cheese and Wine party with Zinfandel, Viognier, and Bordeaux

This past Hanukkah saw my friends and family gathering around for an evening of cheese, latkes, and wine.  The main issue revolves around finding kosher cheese.  There are many issues that revolve around cheese for observant Jews, as listed in the link.  For some time we observant Jews were left with things like Muenster cheese and American cheese – AHHH!!  I am so glad to say that we now have real cheese my kosher friends!  For our party we used cheese from many manufacturers.  The first one hails from the state of Oregon – Tillamook Medium Cheddar Cheese. It is a nice cheddar cheese that does not taste like water.  The second cheese we had was a lovely and simple Brie from the company called Les Petites Fermieres.  The brie was nice and simple and not very complex or stinky, but interesting enough.  The interesting part was that we had a chunk of the brie lying around in the refrigerator after the party and man did the brie turn into a nice, soft, stinky, and nutty flavored brie!  So if you want the brie to get real interesting – all you need to do is unwrap the package, and leave it lying around in your fridge for a couple of weeks, and man will it turn into what I am used to when I think of brie.  The third cheese we had was a simple but fun Les Petites Fermieres Monterey Jack.  The Monterey Jack tastes creamy with a mild flavor, and matches well with soft wines.  The rest of the cheeses we had on the table were a nice Blue Cheese and a couple of goat cheeses.  I was not a huge fan of the Blue Cheese as it wrecked my palate and the goat cheeses were OK, but a bit too mild, to say the least.

For latkes we punted and served potato pancakes from Trader Joe.  They were pretty good and that is all one can ask.  Finally, we went with many wines – five to be exact.  Three disappeared quickly, the Bordeaux was awesome a few hours after the party, and the Italian Zinfandel (Primitivo di Manduria) was quite nice as well, after it finished opening up and smoothing out later that night.

So many thanks for all the folks who came by and the wine notes can be found below:

2007 Château Haut Philippon – Score: B+
The nose on this garnet colored wine is a rich and enveloping nose of loamy soil, cherry, raspberry, cassis, and fig. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is a nice soft wine with an enveloping mouth that is not complex in any way, but after many hours of air, the wine fills out nicely. The tannins are soft but are ever present, along with cassis, and raspberry that mingle nicely. The mid palate is balanced with core acidity and integrating tannins. The finish is long with more cassis and raspberry, rich loamy soil, and soft tannins that linger long on your palate after the wine is gone.  The wine fills out with nice mouth coating tannins.  This is a nice wine for the price and nice as well because it is Mevushal!

2004 Borgo Reale Primitivo di Manduria – Score: B++
The nose on this light garnet to garnet colored wine is hopping with cherry, cola, raspberry, plum, pepper, mineral, and bramble/earth/dirt. The mouth on this medium bodied wine has integrated tannins, sweet core, ripe fruit, cherry, raspberry, and plum. The mid palate is balanced with core acidity, earth and dirt, along with cola. The finish is a long earthy/dirty finish with red fruit, dirt, and nice intense pepper. A nice Zinfandel wine, that works well.  It is not a wine that will fill out, drink up and enjoy.

2005 Hagafen Zinfandel – Score: A-
This wine is now close to its peak and it is opening nicely now, it was the clear winner of the evening. The nose on this purple to black colored wine is black with ripe fruit, blackberry, plum, 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 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 rich and ripe black fruit, acting like a bow around this lovely package.

2005 Herzog Zinfandel Special Reserve – Score: A-
OK, as an honest human I must admit I hated this wine a year ago! WOW, what a difference a year makes. Man, this wine needs a ton of air, but the wine cleans up really nicely with oxygen. The nose on this light garnet to garnet colored wine has a huge and rich nose that starts with rich oak, ripe Napa fruit, chocolate, plum, raspberry, fig, intense spice, and pepper. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich and extracted, classic ripe red berry along with rich mouth coating sweet oak tannins that are now well integrated. The mouth softens with air and becomes rich and enveloping, nice. The mid palate is soft with ever present tannins that are going to stay for a couple of years, more sweet oak, and balancing acidity. The finish is super rich and long with sweet oak, ripe fruit layered on top a few shakes of pepper, along with chocolate that is balanced by nice tannins, and more rich ripe fruit. Get a bottle within the next few months and open it and taste it, and then leave it open for a couple of hours and come back and finish it with a table of friends!

2007 Goose Bay Viognier – Score: A-
The nose of this light yet bright straw colored wine was filled with classic Viognier perfume, grapefruit, apricot and citrus aromas. The mouth of this medium bodied wine is strikingly fruity while also being infused with the perfume quality. The mid palate is strongly acidic and laced with grapefruit, lemon, and green flavors. The finish is acidic in an almost puckering way. I must say, that a nice perfumed nose and mouth while still dry, is great with heavy foods like roasted duck or turkey. But because it is so dry, it fails to stand up to spicy foods.  Personally, this wine felt a bit lighter than it did before, and maybe it is coming up against the wall.  So, if you have a few bottles lying around, drink one now and check out where it is for you.

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