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The 2018 Kosher rose season is open

It is officially Spring (though it snowed in Chicago for Passover – so I will hold judgment on that fact for a bit), which 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 9 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 all?

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 you get clear to green colored juice. Yes, the 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).

Red wine juice – straight from the grape comes out the same color as white grapes. You see the juice from grapes is mostly clear to greenish in color. The red wine color comes from macerating the juice on the grape skins. The longer the juice sits on the grape skins (wine must) the redder in color the wine becomes until it reaches its maximum red color potential.

The only real exception to the rule of a grape’s juice color is the Teinturier varieties. The grapes are called Teinturier, a French language term meaning to dye or stain. The list of grapes whose juice is actually red colored is long – but the list of kosher wine options that is a wine made from these grapes – is the Herzog Alicante Bouschet. The Gamay de Bouze is not a normal Gamay grape, it is one of those grape mutations that are very red in nature. Read the rest of this entry


Adir Winery – Latest releases

adir-winery-and-dairy-2I have been visiting Adir Winery for years now, and it finally dawned on me that I have not yet made a proper post on the winery. I did post about the winery in passing two times, here and here, but it was high time to take a little more time to talk about this winery and to post wines notes for the current releases.

This was my third winery that I visited on my trip to the north, on my last visit to Israel. I had already been Kishor in the early morning, followed by Matar by Pelter after that, and then on to Adir Winery after Matar.

Adir winery started long before it was a winery, long before they thought of a winery. It started with the Rosenberg and Ashkenazi families. The Rosenberg family came to Israel in the late 1940s, leaving war-torn Poland for a new life. The Ashkenazi family immigrated to Israel in the early 1950s from Turkey. Eventually, they both found themselves in the Upper Galilee, near Moshav Ben Zimra. The Rosenbergs started planting vines in the 1980s, and then again in the 1990s, essentially planting much of the vines on the now famous Kerem Ben Zimra slopes and plateaus. In the meantime, the Ashkenazi family raised the largest flock of goats in the north, producing milk and cheese.

In 2003, the families got together and built what to many did not seem obvious from the start, a dairy and a winery in one. The dairy serves lovely cheeses and ice cream to the masses that come to the winery, while the wine is served on the other side of the building.

The winery has three main lines of wines. The first is their Kerem Ben Zimra wines, which has Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Then there is the A wines, which are blends, and have a white and red. Finally, there is the Plato and now a 10th Anniversary wine.

As I was visiting this time, Adir is in the midst of its biggest ever expansion, moving from two large building to 3 even larger buildings. The current wine cellar will move to another building, while the current tasting room will expand into another building as well. It will all be state of the art, and from what I could see very cool, with audio and visual sensory technology, along with lots of space to serve more cheese and wine than before. Read the rest of this entry

This past week’s wines…

Well we went out Friday night and I brought two bottles with me:

2002 Carmel Mizrachi Cabernet Sauvignon Kerem Ben Zimra – Score: A-
This wine is currently at its peak (or just missed it). The color is a beautiful deep red – purple wine. The nose is filled with dark fruits, strong oak flavors, mint, and hints of vanilla. The mouth on this full bodied wine was super smooth. Wonderfully balanced. The slight amount of tannins were absolutely in perfect harmony with the strong cassis, blackberries, and eucalyptus flavors. It is heavy and velvety in the mouth yet smooth with just the right touch of vanilla. The finish is filled with toasty wood in a light chocolate backdrop

2003 Carmel Mizrachi Syrah Single Vineyard Kosher Kerem Ramat Arad – Score: B+
This bottle was opened some 3 hours in advance and it was still not there when we finally got to drink it later in the evening. It was just throwing off its evening shawl and getting ready to hit the dance floor when we had its last drops. A shame, but I cannot talk to what there were hints of, I can only talk to what we had.

The wine has a deep and brooding purple color. The nose is filled with strong aromas of sweet oak and green grass. The mouth of the medium bodied wine was light on the tannins – though not fully integrated. The fruit was not so prominent but the sweet oak and green flavors almost dominated the mouth. The finish was long with hints of red fruits that were almost too scared to come out.

For lunch – we opened this for ourselves:

2004 Borgo Reale Primitivo di Manduria – Score: B++
For lunch we opened this bottle. At first it showed strong Zinfandel characteristics (of course because it is a Zinfandel wine). There were STRONG notes of mint and rose characteristics. They turned me off so much, that I wanted to toss the wine. Good news – I relented and drank more! The wine opened in the glass and balanced itself out quite nicely. Being used to a California Zin, I expected the pepper or the spice (of which there is none), but in its place is this wonderful smoky flavor. It permeates the wine and gives it a special Aura and uplift. The nose is filled with red fruit, tobacco, and mint. The mouth of the lively and balanced medium – full bodied wine starts with flavors of dates, cherries, raspberries, and finishes with a medium long finish that is wrapped in smoky flavors and has a fat stogie tucked between its teeth.

I know the wine has a lower score then the Carmel Cab 02 and that it has a very funny score of B++ – but I could not shake the fact that it was really good. It did not have the stature of the Carmel Cab, but the Primitivo was so lively, playful, a wine almost daring you to ignore it – without beating you over the head, that I had to denote it in some way. If you can find one – I would recommend it – though drink up – they are meant to be drunk young.

At night we also had the chance to drink a bottle of Baron Herzog Zinfandel Old Vines 2006, that had been open for quite a while.  I am not scoring it because I did not drink it in a controlled manner.  However, it had many of the characteristics of the Primitivo before it opened up and became playful.  I must admit, that I am not a fan of the Baron Herzog Zin since 2003.  It has become FAR TOO floral and green.  There is less ripe fruit and there is a ton of pepper that throws the whole wine off.  I prefer the Zins of old, that were lively, oaky, with just enough pepper to round the wine out, but not take it over.  We hope that the next incarnation will return to those Zins of old.

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