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2008 Yarden Mount Hermon White and the 2009 Golan Cabernet Sauvignon

This past week I was relegated to a pair of wines that I was not overly excited about, but needed to taste, for information purposes (though I did not drink much of it). To be honest I have never been a big fan of the Hermon whites or reds, or most of the Golan wines. They have always been B to B++ wines, and for the price, not very exciting or worthwhile. I bought a couple of these wines, a few weeks back, because I thought I was going to bring them to the family get together, but I brought some better ones instead. So, I was left with these wines, and it was definitely time to drink up or cook with them. Personally, I would have cooked with them, if I had known what they tasted like in advance, but hey, this is all about information gathering, so gather I did.

Please note that the Mount Hermon label, is to Yarden what the White Zinfandel label is to Herzog. That being, they are both the main cash cows for the wineries. Why? Most wine drinkers are not interested in drinking an El Rom or a Generation 8 To Kalon Cabernet. Instead, they want easy drinking, quaffing wines. The Mount Hermon and White Zinfandel are exactly that, wines meant to be enjoyed now. Wines that do not need age on them to make them accessible. That said, I have already stated my opinion on the Herzog’s White Zinfandel, and now I can add Mount Hermon to that list of wines. Again, they are fine wines, but not ones I would spend my money on. Yes, I am a happy card-carrying member of the wine snob association, and I hope one day to be its president!

The wine notes follow below:

2008 Yarden Mount Hermon White (Israel, Galilee, Golan Heights) – Score: B
The nose on this straw colored wine is mineral and off to start, after time it opens to rich lichee, grapefruit, guava, sweet lemonade, mineral, slight oil notes, floral hints, honey, and mineral. The mouth on this light to medium bodied wine is floral, with honey, lichee, guava, lemon apple, and wet grass. The mid palate is balanced with nice acid, lichee, lemon rind, mineral, and floral notes. The finish is long and spicy with honey, lichee, mineral, floral, lemon rind, wet grass, bright acid, guava. An OK quaffer.

2009 Golan Cabernet Sauvignon (Israel, Golan) – Score: B
The nose on this purple to black colored wine is rich with oak, chocolate, vanilla, cherry berry, currant, blackberry, crushed herbs, spice, black pepper, and graphite. The mouth on this medium bodied wine starts off with a very and almost unbalanced fruit forward cherry berry slush, along with currant, and spice in the background. The mouth feel is smooth and plush, but the fruit forward mouth bugs me. Over time as the wine softens, with nice tannin and plush style, but the fruit starts to fall off with cherry, currant, and blackberry showing lightly, making it more of a smooth oak and black fruit mouth. The mid palate is balanced with oak, acid, crushed herbs, vanilla. The finish is long but unbalanced with more cherry berry and oak. Again, over time, the finish softens with nice oak, chocolate, crushed herbs and a hint of black fruit. Drink up, but not a wine for quaffing, this is wine to be drunk with food or just cooked with.

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.

2010 Tulip Just Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010 Dalton Rose, and 2010 Golan Moscato

We were hanging with friends this weekend and we brought over a few wines and they were so kind to host us for the Shabbos. These are the wines we enjoyed. The wines were all from the 2010 vintage, which was a total accident, but funny. Also, there was a wine that is all new to the kosher world, Tulip Winery. Tulip is a winery that has long been one of Israel’s top wineries. On an aside, the 2010 Dalton Rose had no finish, and was somewhat of a dud. I am not sure if it was the bottle or me, but clearly others like this bottle and I did not have the same wonderful experience. I will try this bottle again soon, so that I can either corroborate or change my tasting notes.

In 2003, the Yitzhaki family fulfilled a special dream of theirs and established a boutique winery that combines top quality wine production, alongside contribution to the community. The family chose to locate the winery on a hillside, in the northern edge of the Carmel Mountain, in a small pastoral village, Kfar Tikva, overlooking the magnificent views of the Jezreel Valley.

Kfar Tikva – “Village of Hope”, is a community settlement for people with special needs, which strives to allow the disabled community to develop and realize their potential. The wonderful combination of the village’s vision and the family’s desire to make wine, resulted in an exciting wine industry model that employs members of the village and provides them with a business platform that integrates them in the labor force, just like any other person.

Tulip Winery produces about 100,000 bottles of wine per year, sold all over Israel, and in several countries around the world.

There was a very long conversation on Rogov’s forum about Tulip going kosher, you can find that here.

Thanks so much to our wonderful friends for hosting us over this past Shabbat, my wines notes follow below:

2010 Tulip Just Cabernet Sauvignon – A-
The nose on the dark garnet colored wine saris off closed but quickly explodes with chocolate, cedar, tobacco, black currant, raspberry, plum, and vanilla. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is rich in the mouth with almost mouth coating tannins, nicely integrating tannins, raspberry, black currant, almost tar flavors that remind me of netofa’s blend, and plum. The mid palate flows off the mouth with lovely acid, more tannin, cedar, chocolate, tobacco, and tar. The finish is super long and spicy with lovely acid, chocolate, plum, black currant, and vanilla.

2010 Dalton Rose – Score: B to B+
The nose on this rose colored wine starts off nicely with peach, quince, plum, strawberry, floral notes, and ripe and sweet kiwi. The mouth on this medium bodied wine starts off nicely but ends with a complete dud. The mouth starts with more quince, plum, peach, kiwis, flowers, and strawberry. The mid palate is balanced with nice acid and a bit of orange peel. The finish is a nowhere to be found. There was no real outward sign of impact for this bottle, but I will try another bottle soon.

Golan 2010 Moscato – No Score – Just to say it was nice and pleasant, and a fine Moscato!

Herb encrusted Gefilte Loaf, Sweet and Sour Brisket, Quinoa, Kugel, and lovely wines

This past weekend was still Passover and we invited friends and family to hang out and join us for a lovely meal. Passover is a time meant to represent rejuvenation, freedom, and the need for each of us to spark the embers of possibility that lie deep within us all. The combination of Passover and the Sabbath meant we needed to dig deep and make some really fun stuff, so that is exactly what we did. We made my favorite cut of meat, a brisket in the manner that we always do, with help from friends of ours that were hanging out with us for Passover. We also made other Passover favorites this year, including our Herb Encrusted Gefilte Fish Loaf, and a new vegetable kugel, that was killer. Most kugel has some kind of binding agent in it, and on Passover that is either Potato Starch or Matzah Meal. However, this recipe has neither! This is a slightly modified recipe from an insert we saw in a magazine created by the folks at the Pomegranate Supermarket in Brooklyn, NY.

Passover Vegetable Kugel Recipe

4 red potatoes (unpeeled)
4 yellow zucchinis (unpeeled)
6 carrots (unpeeled)
2 onions
6 eggs
3/4 cup of oil
Salt, pepper, and garlic to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grate all the vegetables in your food processor. Mix in the eggs, oil, salt, pepper, and garlic, and then pour into either a single 9″ x 13″ pan or two 9″ round pans. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another hour. The kugel should be slightly charred on the top and sides but cooked thoroughly within, which is easy to check with a toothpick or fork.

The recipes for the brisket and the Gefilte Loaf can be found here.  We changed the brisket recipe only slightly, by NOT using ketchup, and using tomato sauce instead.

To pair with this feast we had a few wines, some that people brought over, and some that we took out of the cellar. One of them is a rather unique wine, a blend of Moscato and Sauvignon Blanc. This is not a common blend and one that many dislike, but one that we really liked and one we spoke about previously, when we wrote an article about Elvi Wines. Jay Miller, a wine writer and critic for Robert Parker‘s highly influential Wine Advocate newsletter, echoed the words “Kudos to the Cohens (of Elvi Wines) for this remarkable array of Kosher wines…” when tasting the Elvi’s wines. We have now tasted the wine in question a few times, the 2008 Elvi Ness Blanco, and each time it has put a smile on my face. Some critics did not like it, but Mr. Miller and I seem to like it just fine. This time around the wine is showing more Alsatian in nature, with rich honeyed styling and good minerality to boot. The wine went perfectly with the herb encrusted fish, the honey pairing well against the herb and the mineral notes pairing nicely with the fish’s slight sweetness and weight.

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Kalamata Olive and White Bean Soup, Yellow Tail Sushi, Yarden Viognier, and some assorted Purim Wines

This past weekend we had a lovely and enjoyable double whammy! A Shabbos on Saturday and the Purim holiday on Sunday. The festivities started with a lovely bowl of Kalamata olive and white bean soup, followed by a bunch of Yellow tail, avocado, cucumber Sushi rolls. The funny thing about sushi rolls is that even if you eat a bunch of them, you end of being hungry. To meet that concern, we eat a bunch of fresh green salad topped with some Italian Vinaigrette. The fish did taste a bit metallic and that was unfortunate, almost to the point where I was not enjoying it that much. We bought the fish at 5 or so PM and ate it at 7:30 PM, so it was really not cool, that the fish was not perfect. Personally, the next time we make sushi rolls and go to the store to buy the fish, I will ask to taste the fish before I buy it. The soup was a killer hit again and one I really think it is a recipe that you MUST find and make a batch.

To pair with these dishes I chose a fun and vibrant white wine; the 2006 Yarden Viognier. It is a lovely wine that is showing more honey notes than earlier and clearly a wine that needs to be drunk up very soon. It is not actually showing age or faults; rather it is showing weaker fruit, more honey, oak, and butterscotch.

On Sunday Purim arrived and with it some chances to taste more wines that were quite nice and some that were OK. I did not take serious notes after a while, but at least some heads up are in order.

2008 Golan Heights Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Golan Kosher (Israel, Golan) – Score: B to B+
This is an OK wine but not one that really grabs you. The nose on this dark garnet colored wine has dark cherry, blackberry, vanilla, and oak. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is soft with integrated tannin, blackberry, and cherry. The mid palate is balanced with acid, soft tannin, and light hints of oak. The finish is long and spicy with more black fruit, vanilla, and some crushed herbs.

2006 Casa Da Corca Douro Reserva (Portugal, Douro) – Score B+
I drank this wine again recently and the notes are holding well. The nose on this dark ruby to garnet colored wine is screaming with coffee, smoky notes, black cherry, raspberry, blackberry, fig, crushed herbs, mint, and oak. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine turns full in the mouth after a bit of time, along with blackberry, plum, and dark cherry. The mid palate transition has a quick note of what I can only call a combination of green bean/fig/mint, along with acid, oak, nice tannin, and coffee. The finish is long and spicy with plum, nice oak, tannins that linger along with vanilla. This is a nice wine that should be bought once to open your mind to what the heat of Spain can bring you with its unique fruit and terroir.

N.V. Elvi Wines Adar Brut Cava (Spain) – Score: B+
The notes on this wine are consistent with my last tasting. The nose on this bubbly and effervescent light pink colored wine, is hopping with strawberry, lemon, and cherry. The mouth on this light to medium bodied wine is packed with small bubbles that are active and alive; they mingle well with the strawberry and cherry. The mid palate is alive with bracing acidity. The finish is medium long with core acidity, strawberry, bubbles, and a lemon burst at the very tail end. Drink UP!

2006 Yarden Viognier (Israel, Galilee, Golan Heights) – Score: B++
This wine has lost a step or two and is now on its way down. It does not taste like a lost puppy, but clearly one that is looking for its owner. The nose on this dark gold colored wine is filled with floral notes, along with petrol/gasoline flavors, toast, honey, butterscotch, melon, pear, peach, and oak. The mouth on this full bodied wine is oily in nature with almost glycerol viscosity, showing rich honey, melon, pear, and peach flavors. The mid palate is nicely balanced with acid, oak, and floral notes. The finish is long and tenacious with more floral characteristics, oak, a hint of butterscotch, and a heavy dose of honeyed mead like flavors and pear.

2006 Herzog Merlot, Special Reserve, Alexander Valley (Mevushal) – Score B++ to A-
The nose on this dark garnet to purple colored wine is packed with black fruit, blackberry, raspberry, currant, oak, cherry, chocolate, and tobacco. The mouth on this full bodied wine is soft, rich, and mouth coating from lovely integrated tannin, along with blackberry, currant, and cherry. The mid palate is balanced with acid, rich oak, lovely tannin, and tobacco. The finish is long and spicy with black fruit, raspberry, oak, and tobacco. Drink up.

2006 Rothberg Cellars Pinotage – DEAD! Drink up or cook with. The wine was not oxidized or faulty, just showing insane cooked flavors that essentially make it undrinkable.
2009 Binyamina Cabernet Sauvignon – Petit Verdot, Yogev (Israel) – Score: B to B+
I have a couple of these and will taste them again soon. For now, the wine tasted OK with clear and strong upfront black currant fruit along with cherry, crushed herbs, and raspberry. I hope to taste this again and give more data.
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