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2017 Bokobsa Wine Tasting in Paris

mbokobsa-tasting-in-parisWell, if you read my previously posted notes of my one day at Sommelier in Israel, you may be wondering why I am posting about Paris France? The apropos answer to that question can be summed up with this beautiful pasuk from Psalms “Shomer petaim Hashem,” literally “God protects the foolish,”.

So, let’s start from the beginning. As I posted here, about the coming wine events of 2017, there were many options for you to get out and taste great wines almost across the globe. Well, this year I finally wanted to put more focus on France, so I was in Bordeaux later last year, and now I wanted to get to Paris again to taste through the new 2014 wines. My desire was to get to one day at Sommelier, and the Bokobsa wine tasting in Paris, but skip the epic Zur wine tasting this year, the first time since its inception 😦

Thankfully the plans worked out, and for that I thank God and my wife. Last year I was in Israel a total of 6 times, including a stop over in Bordeaux, where I tasted some of the best wines from the 2015/2016 vintage, thanks to Royal Europe. So, this year, we had to keep the number of round trips to Israel to a more reasonable number, and staying home a bit more was also on the table. That meant doing crazy things to get an elephant of activity, squeezed into a thimble sized amount of time. A total of five days, including travel both ways, to squeeze in a trip to Israel, a Monday in Israel for Sommelier, then a day trip to paris for the Bokobsa tasting (Tuesday), returning at 4AM on Wednesday back to Israel. Then going north to visit 5 wineries (Kishor, Matar, Adir, Lueria, and then Netofa part 1 of 2017). Then return back to sleep (preferably not in the car while driving). Get up Thursday, drive to a bris, then to my beloved sister (GREAT hanging with her), then to Tzora, Flam, and then flying home. So yeah, I have lots of posts coming soon, but for now, this is about Paris and France’s wines!

It started Saturday night, with a dash out the door to catch the 8PM direct flight to Israel. Thank God the plane was not packed and I arrived in time. We landed in Israel, and found my way to the hotel, where I would stay for two days. The next day was Sommelier, then dinner with friends, and then a half attempted night’s sleep. Then Tuesday, go to the airport and take the El Al flight to paris France for the Bokobsa tasting at the Intercontinental Hotel. By the way, charging 8 Euro at the hotel bar, for a cup of coffee is crazy, just an aside! Read the rest of this entry

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Top Kosher Malbec wines from around the world

2009 Teperberg Malbec, TerraBefore I left for China and India I had the chance to hang with friends and go through many of the best kosher Malbec wines on the market. Since then a few new ones have popped up, which I have yet to taste, so I will add those to my next tasting run of Malbec wines hopefully.

As you know if you read my blog, I like wines that are blue in nature and I have no problem saying that out loud! The blueberry and boysenberry fruit are so rare and unique in wine that I am always overjoyed to taste them. That said, in a Merlot or a Cabernet Sauvignon they taste downright weird. So what about Malbec? Is Malbec a blue fruit wine or a black fruit wine? Well that depends, in the very same vein that can be asked about Syrah, is it a blue or black fruit wine? While were at it what about Zinfandel or Petite Sirah?

To the Petite Sirah question, until Israel, I had not tasted a PS without blue fruit, but I think the extreme heat in Israel kills the blue fruit, much like it does to the Syrah fruit (this is not a scientific statement – just my experience). Case in point, the Ellla Valley PS is black and earthy, but no blue fruit to be found. Same goes for the 2010 Yarden Malbec, black and earthy, just like in France. What can I say, it is interesting that these four varietals have the possibility of displaying blue fruit, but when grown in Israel there is less of an option. Now to be fair, the Dalton PS is full of blue fruit, as is the Teperberg Malbec.

There is a reason why Petite Sirah and Zinfandel go so well together, like in the Recanati Petite Sirah/Zinfandel blend, or the Hajdu NV Besomim wine. Either way, the fruit compliment each other, as does the spicy notes, the earthy components and the bramble. Same can be said for some of the insane blends that Tzora, Ella Valley, and others are perfecting in Israel. The Ella Valley 35/25 wine, a blend of Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Merlot (in 2008) is such a wine that is full of blue and black fruit (from what I hear I have not personally tasted it). Same goes for the wonderful Misty Hills or Shoresh wies from Tzora which take the Australian blends to the max, mixing Cabernet or Merlot with Syrah. Read the rest of this entry

International Food & Wine Festival (IFWF) in Oxnard brings back great memories!

These past two weeks have been what the Jews call the 9 days that are rather famous for the infamous events that have occurred in this specific span of time. Thankfully, once they were passed Herzog Cellars and Royal Wines put on an encore event of the IFWF (International Food and Wine Festival), this time in the Herzog Winery itself, to celebrate the winery’s 25th year in the industry! What an event and celebration it was! It brought back memories of the old IFWF events that were held in Oxnard, since the inaugural IFWF event in 2008.

Sure there were some 200 or so in attendance, but with the fully expanded setup, including an enclosure in the back that housed the French wine table, dessert table, and room to hunker down, it felt spacious and very comfortable.

In many ways, this event felt like an almost exact replay of the first International Food and Wine Festival. The crowd size was perfect, there was room for you to hunker down and taste wines and there was room for you to huddle up and talk with friends or people of like or dislike opinions.

Besides the layout and crowds, the food was absolutely fantastic, just like in previous events here. Once again, Todd Aarons and Gabe Garcia created wondrous delights that were so wrong in all the right ways! Of course, I came to the food area too late to partake of all of the goodies, but I still got to taste many fantastic culinary treats, including the absolutely stunning puffed chicken nuggets topped with incredibly tasty barbecue sauce.

Unfortunately, I came a bit late to this event because of what I came to call parking lot A and B (405 and 101 respectively). Whenever, I watch the Dodgers or the Angels, I can now understand why the crowds are so empty for the first three innings, because everyone is parked on one or more highways! My guess to why they all leave by the 7th inning is that after the folks get so aggravated waiting in the traffic, they get tired and want to go home. Quite clearly getting to and from any event in LA adds a few hours to the overall time and that is aggravating and tiring. However, like I, once the guests arrived they had to almost physically throw us out. The place did start to peter out in the last hour, but the place was still humming and drinking until the last second. Read the rest of this entry

2007 Bodega Flechas de Los Andes Gran Malbec, whiskey braised short ribs, and rice pilaf

This past weekend saw us digging into the cooler chest (AKA Freezer), for some down home slow braised ribs.  We have spoken before about how we braise ribs.  Ribs are a cut of meat with a fair amount of connective tissue, and so it needs a long simmer.  With that in mind, I powered up my Le Creuset want to be, and started to brown the ribs three at a time.  A heads up, NEVER overcrowd the pan, because if you stuff the pan with meat, so that you get the browning done faster, you will have stewed meat – not browned meat.  Stewed meat looks flabby and almost boiled, instead of crisp and brown.  Once done with the three rounds of browning, I had to clean up the mess.  Another aside, I always make a mess when I am browning meat.  When the meat browns, I leave the pot open (again to minimize the potential for stewing), and that inevitably leads to some fat existing the pot.  So, after cleaning up the mess, I dropped in three large sliced onions and I let them brown in the leftover fat (which I strained out of course ahead of time).  Once the onions were nice and brown, I dropped in 6 or so ounces of tomato paste, and let them get brown, to enrich the flavor.  Once the paste turned brown, I gave the whole pot a nice mix and dropped in two cups of whiskey.

<Slight diversion again> :-).  Whiskey is not Whisky which is not Mash.  Yep, Whisky is not a simple term.  In the 1870s, Scottish Whisky was flooding the market, and most of them were poor quality, while American Whisky was better quality (wow what a 100 years does).  So American and Irish distilleries, threw in an extra e to make it Whiskey, and something different from the inferior Scottish distillers.  Well, to keep with tradition, Scottish whisky is still called Whisky, while American grain spirit, is called Whiskey.  American Mash is a spirit that is made of either corn or rye, while the grain is still called Whiskey.  Anyway, I happen to have used Canadian Whisky, but any grain whisky would have worked.  Sweet mash Whiskey would have wrecked the dish, so keep away from the sweet stuff.  </end of second diversion>

Anyway, once the onions and tomato paste are browned, I threw in two cups of Canadian Whisky (maybe a bit more), and then returned the browned ribs to the pot.  The whisky took the liquid level to a bit less than half way up.  I added water until I covered 50% of the meat.  Braising is NOT boiling, so please leave a fair amount of space for the meat to breathe and take in moisture, while releasing its own fat, while also allowing for its juices to intermingle with the whisky.

What comes out, if left to cook in an oven for a couple of hours at 350, is meat that falls off the bone and a sauce that could be thickened with a Roux of some sort, but we passed, as the liquid was thick enough for our interests.

With such nice fatty meat in a heavy sauce as our main course, I reached for a wine that could go stroke for stroke with its depth and flavor.  I was sent a bottle of 2007 Bodega Flechas de Los Andes Gran Malbec, and I thought that now would be a good time to try it out.

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The stunning Arrows of the Andes Winery at the base of the Andes mountains

The last time I tried this bottle, it was at the 2009 International Food & Wine Festival.  I semi-panned the wine because of its extreme extraction and tannic flavors.  Well, that is one of the cons of tasting wine at a wine tasting where the wine being served is not in a controlled environment.  So when I opened this bottle I knew what to expect, and I was not surprised by the extracted and tannic nature of the wine.  However, I am happy to say that the wine does have a second life, and after the wine has sucked in enough air, the wine’s extraction calms a bit, the tannins integrate – leaving just enough to bite back, and the fruit finally comes through out of the cloud cigar smoke to give you a feeling of the wine’s true potential.  This is definitely a young wine, and one that will smooth out over time, but not one that really works for me, as it is a bit unbalanced to start and one that is still “over the top” when all is said and done.  Still a fun wine to try with a gang of friends, and be sure to open this at the beginning of the meal, take a taste, then decant it, and try it again at the end of the meal.

The wine note follows below:

2007 Bodega Flechas de Los Andes Gran Malbec – Score: B+
This is one of those wines that takes a long time to become ready. This is a young wine that clearly in need of time and/or air. The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine is screaming hot initially, after the heat dissipates, ripe plum, cherry, and cranberry fruit comes through, along with spice and pepper. The mouth on this medium bodied wine starts off over tannic, unbalanced, without direction, and all around super extracted. Those comments are very much in line with what I felt the last time I tasted this during the Herzog Wine Event in Oxnard. However, once it gulps in enough air, like an oxygen starved diver, the wine turns into a balanced and mouth coating wine with cranberry, plum, and cherry flavors. The mid palate is still tannic, but not over the top, with balanced acidity, and mounds of spice. The finish is long and lingers on the palate after the wine is gone, with a cloud of dense cigar smoke, residual tannins, ripe plums, and distinct spice notes. Please, please open the bottle, take a quick taste to mostly get the wine under the bottle’ shoulders (which are tapered in this heavy and upscale looking bottle), and allow this wine to breathe for a good many hours. Otherwise, decant it and enjoy in a couple of hours. Either way, this wine can handle about anything you throw at it. This wine will not win an award for elegance or style. It is more of a leather bound brute, with an initial harsh attitude, that turns into a sweet smile. It carries an alcoholic breath, extracted/Hollywood exterior, all while chomping down on a massive and lit cigar. It is an acquired taste, but a fun wine with a group of folks.

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