Blog Archives

Kosher wine blends tasting from around the world

Two weeks ago we enjoyed a lovely meal with friends and family and it was centered around meat lasagna and kosher wine blends from around the world. We had some vegetarians over, so I made lasagna with soy instead of meat, and in the end both pans of food disappeared, so I think it came out OK.

The lasagna dishes used the same recipe as I have here, but one used trader joe’s soy meat and the other used plain old beef chuck ground up.

I am cutting it short today – so this is the wine list and thanks to everyone for coming by and making the meal that it was:

2010 Don Ernesto Clarinet – Score: B+
2010 Don Ernesto ClarinetThe nose opens with lovely blueberry, the blend is undocumented but is quite nice for Hagafen’s entry-level wine, along with raspberry, ripe black and blue fruit, along with butterscotch. The mouth has nice toast, chocolate, mouth coating tannin, along with espresso coffee, and black cherry. The finish is long and spicy, with graphite, toast, boysenberry, and more cinnamon.

2009 Karmei Yosef Winery Bravdo Coupage – Score: B+ to A-
2009 Bravdo CoupgaeThe wine is one of my favorites and a wine that needs time to open, but I also think this wine is in a bit of a funk and needs more time to find itself, such is the way of wine – time to time. For now the score is lower than in previous tastings as it was in a funky mood.

The nose on this deep black colored wine is rich with mineral, herbaceous, black cherry, raspberry, and rich plum. The mouth on this full bodied wine is lovely but closed for now, with blackberry, heavy not integrated tannins that coat the mouth, and cedar. The finish is super long and rich with ripe fruit, heavy tannin, lovely vanilla, tobacco, and rich chocolate. Give this wine 6 months and it should start showing its real self.

2006 Elvi Wines Priorat EL26 – Score: A-
2006 Elvi Wines EL26I know this wine continues to have its polarizing following, with passionate lovers and haters, given its unique and clearly earthy qualities, I love it. The earth and mineral almost accentuate every flavor in the mouth and add so much complexity to it – that I think the mouth will explode.

This wine is a lovely blend of 35% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. It starts with an aromatic nose of anise, ripe blackberry, black pepper, raspberry, and plum. The mouth is full and concentrated with mouth coating tannin, nice dirt, graphite, black cherry, ripe fruit, with spicy wood all coming together into a nice mouth. Finish is long with spice, mineral, herb, eucalyptus, tobacco, and chocolate. This is a massive and extracted wine with ripe fruit and one that balances well with the oak and spice. Read the rest of this entry

Bravdo Winery – Round 2 with the new 2010 and 2011 wines

Unless you have been living under a rock for some time, you would know that I am a huge fan of the Bravdo winery! The winery is a family affair, with Professor Bravdo making the wine and his daughter, Hadar managing the winery. I really enjoyed visiting the winery, late last year, and re-tasting the 2010 red wines, that I tasted at the Gotham event in 2011. Well, recently at the 2012 Gotham Wine Extravaganza, I had the chance to meet Hadar again and taste through the new vintages of the wonderful wines!

Bravdo is imported into the United States by Happy Hearts Wine Importers, who has kept the prices on these wonderful wines at a reasonable level, while also continuing to make the newest vintages available, and not bringing in old wines. While, I was talking with Hadar, which is always a joy, Benyamin, manager of Happy Hearts, swung by and proudly stated that Happy Hearts had suggested they make a blend – and the output was Coupage! WOW! That is quite synergistic, if I say so myself, the importer suggesting a different wine, and the Professor delivering, with what I think is the best bottle, along with the Shiraz, that Bravdo makes.

There was one slightly under performing wine and that was the 2011 Bravdo Chardonnay, but given the trouble that 2011 presented, in Israel and the US, the wine is just fine thank you.

I must excuse myself for the lack of pictures, but I seem to have forgotten to take pictures of the 2010 wines! I am very sorry. The bottles look the same as the 2009 vintages just of course with a different year. You can find those, along with the wine notes here.

So many thanks to Hadar, The Bravdo Family, Happy Hearts, and of course Costas for the wonderful opportunity to taste through these fantastic wines. I hope to be tasting through these wines again soon, at a shabbos table, where I can have a bit more time to enjoy them and actually drink them. Read the rest of this entry

Bravdo Karmei Yosef Winery – A World Class Laboratory for Two Renowned Viticulture Professors

Israel’s wine industry may well be 100+ or a few thousand years old, depending upon how old you are or how deep your convictions run. Carmel winery made a wine, simply called #1, as in those days that was how they labeled their wines. In 1900, at the Paris Fair, it was rated as a gold label wine! A few thousand years before that, wine was made for the temple, wine made in the Judean Hills. Still, the existing rebirth of the Israeli wine Industry, that seemed to go to sleep for some seventy to eighty years, was reborn on the backs of professors like Professor Ben Ami Bravdo, the head wine maker and co-founder of the Bravdo Winery. I think it was Adam Montefiore who stated that the true genius behind the success of the Golan Heights Winery (Yarden), was not only its fine grapes, but the fact that they were smart enough to follow Carmel, in 1983, and hire only wine makers with a degree from renowned universities, like U.C. Davis and Hebrew University. It may sound obvious now, but 30 or more years ago that was not always the case.

Around that very same time, Ben Ami Bravdo was inaugurated with his now synonymous professor title from Hebrew University. Though even before his official title, he was already teaching students for 16 years on the intricacies of agriculture and viticulture. It is not hard to see how this man is a truly influential figure in the Israeli wine industry, if you do a bit of digging. For some 35 years Professor Bravdo trained hundreds or even thousands of aspiring agriculturalists, including many of Israel’s leading winemakers. Of the four or more existing universities in Israel focusing on agriculture, Hebrew University is the oldest and the most famous.

When people call a person by their old or past title, such as Senator or Congressman, I always laugh because sure they worked to get that title and rise to the fame that it bestows upon its holder. Still, once they are out of office or power, the title does not fit the holder. With Professor Bravdo, nothing could be further from the truth. For some 40 years, from 1962 till 2001, he trained and studied the effects of viticulture in regards to both the final product; wine, and in regards to the ecology and environment. Bravdo was one of the many scientists who early on spearheaded the usage of drip irrigation in both Israel and abroad for a multitude of applications, including many New World wineries. In 2001 he left the University and was bestowed the Professor Emeritus title, one very befitting his time at the University, and still in the industry.

It was during his tenure at Hebrew University that he met and later advised, his now wine laboratory partner, Oded Shoseyov. It was Shoseyov’s PhD thesis that fascinated Bravdo, the biochemistry of grape and wine flavor evolution. Together they quenched the thirst of the starving minds that passed through their lecture halls, the very same minds that lead wineries and agricultural powerhouses the world around. Shortly after Shoseyov’s PhD they collaborated on improving and developing viticulture methods for optimizing the grape aromas, as well as experimenting with the chemical properties of the wine must and wine to improve wine and aroma qualities.

Read the rest of this entry

2010 Dalton Rose, 2010 Golan Moscato, 2009 Bravdo Coupage

This past week was the last week in Israel, and we swung by the Bravdo Winery on Friday. I picked up a bottle of the 2009 Bravdo Coupage, which is a melange of 40% Cabernet Franc, 33% Shiraz, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon. When I was talking about this lovely wine with friends, I compared it to one of my favorite dishes, Puttanesca. There are many non-sequitur ingredients in Puttanesca that if ignored or left out ruin the dish. For example, the anchovies; add to much, and it ruins the dish, put in too little or non at all, and the dish is flat, but in the correct proportions, it is magic. It adds depth and richness to the dish, without overpowering it. Same goes for the 2009 Bravdo Coupage, the Cabernet is nice and somewhat noticeable, but it real purpose is to hold the entire, non-sequitur blend together. Cabernet Franc and Shiraz are not common bed fellows, but with the Cabernet, it all becomes a fantastic harmonious whole!

Also, we did get a chance to re-taste the 2010 Dalton Rose, and it did show better than in the previous tasting. The main difference was the finish, it was still shallow, but the tart acid lingered long. The 2010 Moscato was lovely again, with nice honey, pear, rich mouthfeel from nice residual sweetness, and slight bubbles, all of which caused the bottle to disappear quickly.

This was not the first time we tasted the Bravdo Coupage, we tasted it in April, at the Gotham Wine Event. Some of the times I wonder about wine tasting, my abilities and what we sense in wines. It is really great to taste a wine a second time, and without looking at previous notes, make new ones. I am happy to state that the wines notes once again are pretty good, and this wine is truly a monster and one that should be ready for true drinking in 6 months or a year. Stock up on the four red Bravdo wines Cabernet, Shiraz, Merlot, and Coupage), they are great, and wines that will be here for at least four or more years.

The wine notes follow below, thanks so much to my hosts and dear friends:

2010 Dalton Rose – Score: B+
The nose on this rose colored wine starts off nicely with peach, yellow apple, plum, strawberry, floral notes, lemon, and ripe and sweet kiwi. The mouth on this medium bodied wine starts off nicely but ends with a slightly deficient finish. The mouth starts with more yellow apple, plum, peach, kiwis, flowers, and strawberry. The mid palate is balanced with nice acid and a bit of orange peel. The finish is a bit shallow, but ends fully with a lovely tart, strawberry, and orange peel finish. I am happy we tried another bottle.

2009 Bravdo Coupage – Score: A- to A
The nose on this deep black colored wine is rich with mineral, herbaceous, lovely floral, black cherry, and raspberry from the Cabernet Franc, heavy date, tar, and rich plum from the Shiraz, along with blackberry, alcohol, and rich chocolate. The mouth on this full bodied, rich, and layered wine is concentrated with mint, floral notes, ripe plum, raspberry, dates, and massive rich tannins that coat the mouth and make the wine feel even bigger. The mid palate is rich and follows the mouth with nice balanced acidity, chocolate, mint, raspberry, dates, vanilla, cedar, tobacco, and rich tannin. The finish is super long and rich with cedar, tar, raspberry, plum, heavy tannin, lovely vanilla, tobacco, and rich chocolate.

Over time the nose changes to expose rich cedar, tar, chocolate, crushed herbs, blackberry, and dates. The mouthfeel is still rich with softer tannins, ripe date, blackberry, tar, and crazy inky structure, along with nice plum. The finish is super long and rich with black olives, dates, blackberry, vanilla, cedar, chocolate, all the while taking a long stroll with a fat stogie in its mouth and a rich lather coat. This is a lovely wine – enjoy it for the next 4 or so years, but you can wait another 6 months till you can really start to enjoy it.

Golan 2010 Moscato – No Score – enjoyable
I again did not have the ability to note down the particulars about this wine, but it is a lovely and rich wine with nice honey, pear, rich mouthfeel from nice residual sweetness, and slight bubbles, all of which caused the bottle to disappear quickly.

Family, Gotham Wine Extravaganza, Restaurants, a Wedding, and some lovely wines

This past weekend I spent time with some family in NY, as I was attending the 8th Annual Gotham Wine Extravaganza, which I MUST say was the best one so far. Both the VIP tasting, and the wines and ambiance at the normal tasting, were really fun and enjoyable. Kudos to Costas and the entire Gotham staff. On another aside, I helped to open bottles this year, which was really cool, because it will probably be the one and ONLY time I get to open a 2007 Yarden Rom bottle, at 170 bucks a pop, it is a safe bet that I had my onetime fun in the sun!

My entire time spent in NY was just lovely, and spending a lovely shabbos with my family and then going to a wedding of friends of ours on Sunday capped it off. All in all a great trip that was punctuated by a rather large number of dud restaurants in the larger NY metropolitan area. The only really good “restaurant” was a pizza place, that made a lovely whole wheat and vegetable pizza, but the fries and onion rings were deplorable.

So that is my quick recap of the past few days. The wines I enjoyed over shabbos were quite nice and highly enjoyable.

The wines notes follow below in the order that they were consumed:

2008 Terra Di Seta Chianti Classico – Score: B++ to A-
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is hopping with rich espresso coffee, nice dirt, raspberry, cranberry, and cherry. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is rich and silky with more espresso, ripe raspberry, dark cherry, and lovely tannin. The mid palate is balanced with dirt, acid, tart fruit, oak, and tannin. The finish is long with nice red fruit, acid, tart raspberry, cherry, and espresso. On a side note, this is a wine made by the only full time kosher winery in Italy!

2009 Bravdo Coupage (40% Cabernet Franc, 33% Shiraz and 27% Cabernet – Score: A- to A
In case you are wondering what a Coupage is? It is loosely translated from the French as “cutting”, which is another way of saying a blend. The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine is exploding with spicy black pepper, crushed herbs and green notes, dark black fruit, blackberry, black cherry, plum, cedar, slight floral nose, more cedar, mineral, and tar. The mouth on this massive full-bodied wine has yet to even start to settle down, the tannins and extraction are intense and nothing has yet melded to give the wine what is expected, a rich full mouth. For now, the wine is massive, intense, inky and showing its extracted structure with blackberry, black cherry, plum, and huge tannin. The mid palate is rich and oaky with raisin, black fruit, cedar, balancing acid, tannin, and vanilla. The finish is super long and super spicy, with cedar, vanilla, spice, blackberry, cassis, tannin, raisin, tar, more extraction, leather and vanilla. This is an exciting wine to keep your eye out for and one that will do well to wait to be enjoyed. Also, kudos to Happy Hearts for importing this wine and not jacking the price up upon realizing what a crazy winner this wine is and will be for some years to come!!!

2008 Elvi Wines Herenza, Rioja, Crianza – Score: A-
The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine is rich an oaky with chocolate, dark cherry, bright mineral, cedar, raspberry, cranberry, and rich espresso coffee. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is rich and expressive with raspberry, integrating tannin, cranberry, mineral, and bright fruit. The mid palate is balanced with acid, coffee, chocolate, and vanilla. The finish is super long, spicy, and rich with dark cherry, spice, vanilla, coffee, and chocolate. Rich mouth of chocolate, coffee, dark cherry, and coffee linger long after this wine is gone, which is quite quick!

%d bloggers like this: