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The last round of winners and some more losers for 2019

So, I tasted a bunch of these at the KFWE in Miami and I spent my entire time there tasting through wines that made me cry. I mean they were so painful, all I could write was NO. Some I wrote nice and some I wrote good stuff. Overall, the Israeli wines were undrinkable and so painful that I had to go back to the French table just to clean my palate. It continues to make me sad to see such potential thrown out to meet the absolute lowest common denominator – fruity, loud, and brash wines.

Sadly, Cellar Capcanes continues its downward spiral. The 2018 Capcanes Peraj Petita is not very good at all. Far better than 2017 or 2016, but that is not saying much. So sad, to see such a storied franchise being thrown away for what I can only guess is the need for a new winemaker to make her mark.

Domaine Netofa continues to crush it and thank goodness it is selling well here in the USA, so that means I can stop schlepping Netofa from Israel! The 2015 Chateau Tour Seran was also lovely while the Chateau Rollan de By was OK, while the 2015 Chateau Haut Condissas showed far better than it did in France. The 2018 Pacifica Riesling, Evan’s Collection was nice but it was less of a WOW than the 2017 vintage, at least so far anyway.

At the tasting, the 2017 whites and 2018 roses were all dead, please stop buying them. Heck, even many of the simpler 2018 whites were painful.

So, here are my last notes before the year-end roundup and best of posts that I will hopefully post soon! These wines are a mix of wines I tasted at the KFWE Miami and other wines I tasted over the past month or so since my return from France. I wanted to keep this simple, so the wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:

2018 Capcanes Peraj Petita – Score: 87
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 20% Tempranillo, 15% Merlot, and 15% Syrah. This wine is ripe really ripe, with dark blackberry, with loads of dark brooding fruit, floral notes, and herb, and heather. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is sweet, ripe, and date-like, with dark cherry, sweet candied raspberry, smoke, candied black fruit, and sweet notes galore. The toast, earth, sweet fruit, and smoke finish long. Move on.

2018 Capcanes Peraj Petita – Score: 89 (Mevushal)
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 20% Tempranillo, 15% Merlot, and 15% Syrah. This wine is far better than the not-Mevushal version. This wine is actually showing less ripe, with dark blackberry, with loads of red fruit, floral notes, and herb, and oak. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is much less sweet, with dark cherry, sweet raspberry, smoke, candied black fruit, with nice tannin, and good acidity. The finish is long, slightly green, smoky, and herbal, with toast and red fruit. Very interesting how the mevushal is less ripe, go figure. Drink now.

2018 Domaine Netofa Latour, White – Score: 92+ (Super QPR)
Wow, what a lovely wine, this wine is 100% Chenin Blanc aged 10 months in oak barrels. The nose on this wine is pure heaven, but it is slow to open, once it does, the wine is lovely with loads of floral notes, yellow flowers, orange blossom, rosehip, and lovely white fruit, pear, peach, and smoke/toast. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is lovely, with great acidity, clear and present, with layers of sweet and dry fruit, with candied and toasted almonds, hazelnuts, with hay and straw, followed by floral notes, tart melon, lemongrass, citrus galore, yellow apple, quince, baked apple, and dry grass and earth, lovely! The finish is long, dry, tart, and butterscotch-laden, with toast, smoke, ginger, and marzipan, Bravo!! Drink from 2021 until 2025.

2018 Pacifica Riesling, Evan’s Collection – Score: 90 (QPR)
This is a drier wine than the 2017 vintage but it lacks the petrol level and funk of 2017, still a nice wine.The nose on this wine is almost dry, with lovely notes of floral notes and loads of melon, sweet fruits, and stone fruit. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is nice with lovely pith, hints of saline, with hints of petrol, dry flowers, with lovely peach, guava, and loads of citrus and mineral. The finish is long, dry, with hints of sweet notes, funk, and pith that is fun. Nice. Drink by 2022. Read the rest of this entry

2019 Bokobsa Sieva Wine tasting just outside of Paris

So, let’s start from the beginning. As I posted here, about the coming wine events of 2019, there were many options for you to get out and taste great wines almost across the globe. Well, recently, as you know well I have been focusing more on Europe, so I was in Paris later last year again to taste the new 2016 Bordeaux, and now I wanted to return to Bokobsa’s tasting, which is not officially part of the KFWE franchise. Avi Davidowitz, of kosher wine unfiltered, did every KFWE this year, Tel Aviv on the 4th of February, London on the 6th of February, and then on to NYC and L.A. I decided that I did not need to go to Sommelier this year and instead just focused on Bokobsa’s tasting which was on the same day as the KFWE Tel Aviv in Israel.

As I return home, Paris and London KFWE, NYC KFWE, and L.A.’s KFWE are in the rearview mirror. I will be posting on them separately, so I start with Bokobsa Paris.

To start the Bokobsa Tasting, from the company known in France as Sieva, happened in Paris (well not exactly Paris, more on the very outskirts of Paris to be exact) on Monday, Feb 4th, on the stunning grounds of the Pavillon des Princes in the 16th district. I arrived early and after taking a bunch of pictures I just relaxed and waited for the event to start. One of the issues from the tasting in past years was the wine glasses, but this year, Bokobsa had lovely glasses to truly appreciate the wines.

The ambiance and space were both far improved from the previous location, which was the basement of the Intercontinental Hotel in Paris. The table layout was far improved, it was truly a lovely event. The food was a bit mediocre, with it being essentially cold food, like Sushi and elegant salads on crackers, though they had warm chicken further along into the event.

The wines and the setting were the clear stars of the event, and with the lovely glasses, the wines did shine. My main issue with that some of the wines were the old and not showing well, which degrades the very purpose of a show/tasting like this. For example, they poured a 2013 Covenant Sauvignon Blanc and a myriad of older roses that were far over the hill and not showing well. Though at the same time, they poured some lovely Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon and Lavan, along with many of the top Royal Wines from France and Spain, and the new Champagne from Rothschild. There were a few older vintages of the French Royal wines that I do not remember now that were out of place, but they were still showing well. Read the rest of this entry

Domaine du Castel Winery latest releases


2016 Domaine du Castel Rose, 2016 LaVie Blanc du Castel, 2014 & 2016 Blanc du Castel C, 2015 & 2016 lave Rouge du Castel, 2012 & 2015 & 2016 Petit Castel, 2015 & 2016 Grand Vin du CastelAs I have been posting so far, I enjoyed my last trip to Israel and Europe, and I am almost done with my Israeli winery posts. Last we left off, we had just had our second kosher wine tasting at DD’s house. The actual winery visit to Domaine du Castel Winery came before the 2nd tasting, but as I stated already, I wanted to cover the tastings first.

Shmita Effect

This was my latest visit to Domaine du Castel Winery, and as I have stated many times already, the reds were still from the 2015 vintage, with a couple of reds being released now from the 2016 vintage. The 2015 vintage was tough as I explained here, it was one of the worst Shmita years that I can remember, but I do not remember was the 1994 vintage in Israel was like. The 2001 and 2008 vintages were epic years for Israel, while the 2015 vintage was not quite the same.

More than the poor quality of the 2015 vintage is the 2015 Shmita overhang – forcing wineries to sell all their wines locally, as most locales like the USA and others do not buy the 2015 wines.

Castel grows and expands facilities

We arrived a bit early and hung around walking around the new winery that Castel put up a year ago, in Yad HaShmona, after a 23-year run in Ramat Raziel. The winery is stunning plain and simple. The winery is stunning and the tasting room is gorgeous, with massive logs, exposed beams, making for a cozy ski chalet feel. The barrel room below the winery is even more beautiful than the one they had in Ramat Raziel, and again is an ode to the barrel room of Chateau Mouton Rothschild in Pauillac. With a beautiful hearth, fireplace and of course wines all around you. The tasting room a perfect melding of the beautiful mountain and hills surrounding it that are visible from the massive windows

This is not my first visit to the winery, but my last full-scale post of the winery is old, so it needed a refresh. Besides the expansion of facilities, the winery also expanded its wines as well. This all came together in 2015 when the new winery and new wines were brought together. The winery in Ramat Raziel is still in operation, but it will slowly be phased out over time. Until then it continues to be a dual winery arrangement.

With the expanded facilities the winery scaled up from 140K bottles in 2014 to 250K bottles in 2016. With that large change in bottles came three new wines, two that are already released and one new one that is or will be soon released. The two known wines are the La Vie wines, with a white and a red. They are meant to be easier drinking wines, wines that do not need waiting like the Petit Castel requires some vintages.

Read the rest of this entry

QPR Kosher wine options that I have been enjoying recently

In my state of kosher wine industry post – I lamented at the lack of QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) options in the kosher wine world. Now that is not to say that the options do not exist, as you can see by the number of QPR options on my top wines for Passover last year. Still, given the sheer number of wines in a kosher wine store (many hundreds) and the number of kosher wines on the open market (many thousands), we are left with a very small minority – sadly.

So, I thought I would list the most recent QPR wines I have enjoyed over the past 6 months. I wanted to catch up with wines I had not had till later last year and place them in a single easy to find place.

My hope is that people will enjoy the wines and demand more of them. For instance, the lack of many of the QPR wines from Elvi Wines on the open market. I can find them on Royal’s website and on Elvi’s website, but sadly I cannot find them at many wine stores. Thankfully, Kosherwine has gotten the Elvi Cava back along with the Gilgal Brut, but they have older vintages or no vintages of the Elvi options., also has many of the older Elvi wines. I have spoken with Moises and he says they exist here somewhere in the USA – only God knows where though!!! Sadly, the exact same can be said for Netofa wines – another QPR superstar! Where are the wines? I taste them at KFWE – but they are not at stores, online or at shops!

I hope to one day write a post about wine cellaring, but till I do, understand that certain wines are made to enjoy early, like Cava, most 2014 white wines, and lighter reds. The richer and tannic reds can use time in the cellar and that is normal. This list is not a list of wines that are meant for cellaring, though many can withstand a few years. The idea here is to enjoy these wines now while you let the long-term wines cellar and age. We all have that interest to drink interesting wines and while I agree with that, that is NO excuse to raid the cellar when u have a hunkering for a complex note or flavor. Many of these wines will scratch the itch while the beasts’ lie and settle.

Finally, some of these wines are hard to find and they may have different siblings – I will point out when an older one will be an issue or a newer vintage would not be on the list (like the 2011 Ella Valley Cabernet Franc versus the 2012). The 2012 Ella Valley Cabernet Franc would never be on this list. The 2011 is a fine wine for another year, after that I fear it will turn to date juice.

Also, many of the white/rose/bubbly wines will be repeats from the various posts I made, as most of the 2015 whites and rose are not coming to the USA as they are shmita in Israel. I tried to keep these wines under 30 dollars or so, some are more most are less and that is the point of this list. Of course, that means that for some wineries there will be one or no options, like Matar or Four Gates Winery. Though I could have thrown in the Four Gates Chard – which is a lovely wine, it is still far from my goal to add into this bucket. The same can be said for many more wineries. Also, 2015 Israeli wines are not on this list, actually no 2015 wines are on this list, though Hagafen Winery, has released their 2015, but I have yet to taste them and the 2014 Hagafen wines are the ones on the market anyway. Finally, wines that can only be found in Israel like the epic Tabor Rose of 2014 and the 2014 Reca Gris du Marselan and the yatir rose and the new 2014 Yatir Viognier – and so on. All of these wines are not on this list because they are hard to find, but they are on previous lists I have posted.

So, without further ado – here is my list of kosher QPR winners so far and if you have any more please tell me!! They are listed below without any real order.

2014 Domaine Netofa White – Score: A- (Crazy QPR)
I must say this is clearly the best Netofa white so far, and I hope they continue to impress! The wine is 100% Chenin Blanc sourced from the slopes of Mount Tabor. The nose is redolent with rich and bright quince, straw, mineral, lemongrass, and wet grass. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is lovely and rich mineral bomb, with more hay, spiced quince, now dry fresh cut grass, green apple, Asian pear, along with a crazy dry and insanely tart crab apple. The finish is long – spicy, dirty, and mineral based, with dry fruit, rich ripping acid, cloves, and nutmeg – BRAVO!!!

2013 Domaine Netofa Red – Score: A- (and more) (QPR!)
This wine is a clear step up from the 2012 Netofa Red, that is not putting the 2012 down in any way, it is just that this wine is even better! This wine is a blend of 65% Syrah and 35% Mourvedre. The nose on this wine is redolent and packed with mineral, lovely smoke, flint, ripe plum, lovely blueberry, with currants in the background. The mouth on this full bodied wine is attacks you first with lovely currants, followed by layers of blueberry, floral notes, richer and more extracted than the 2012, with great mineral, dried strawberry, all wrapped in ripping acid, and lovely tannin. The finish is long, extracted, and richly mineral in style, with blackcurrant, draping tannin, while being spiced with cloves, black pepper, sweet her, and hints of pith and lovely acid. BRAVO!!!

2012 Weinstock Cabernet Franc, Cellar Select – Score: A- (Mevushal) (QPR!)
This is not the same wine as the 2011 vintage, which was crazy and great this vintage started off closed and disjointed, but is now showing far better. The nose on this wine is mad green with red fruit notes, and herb. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is nice and round, with green notes, well balanced with good acid, raspberry, plum, earth, more bell pepper, crazy sweet dill, mouth coating tannin, and green foliage. The finish is long with nice enough acid, forest floor, nice butterscotch, good sweet tobacco, cedar, with tannin adding weight. Read the rest of this entry

Wine Spectator scores a gaggle of kosher Israeli Wines

In the June 30th edition of the Wine Spectator, Kim Marcus reviewed some 21 wines from Israel and many scored above 85 point. The highest scored wines were:

  1. 2009 Bazelet HaGolan Cabernet Sauvignon – 90
  2. 2007 Binyamina Cave – 90
  3. 2009 Yarden Chardonnay – 89
  4. 2008 Yarden Pinot Noir – 89
  5. 2009 Domaine du Castel Petite Castel – 89
  6. 2009 Segal Chardonnay, Special Reserve – 89
  7. 2007 Barkan Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve – 88
  8. 2007 Barkan Merlot, Reserve – 88
  9. 2009 Binyamina Cabernet Sauvignon/Petite Verdot, Yogev – 88
  10. 2009 Dalton Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc Alma – 88
  11. 2009 Segal Merlot, Special Reserve – 87
  12. 2009 Galil Yiron – 87
  13. 2010 Teperberg Meritage – 86
  14. 2007 Binyamina Merlot, Reserve – 85
  15. 2010 Barkan Merlot/Argaman, Classic – 85
  16. 2009 Binyamina Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, Yogev – 85
  17. 2010 Segal Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon, Fusion- 85
  18. 2009 Binyamina Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay, Yogev – 84
  19. 2010 Barkan Pinot Noir, Classic – 83
  20. 2009 Binyamina Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz, Yogev – 83
  21. 2007 Binyamina Zinfandel, Reserve – 82

Personally, I have a few things to comment here. First of all I am so very happy to see Israel again being taken seriously and having their wines scored, whether for the good or the bad.

Secondly, these scores are VERY much in line with expectations, though there are a few shockers in there as well, more on that soon. The wines that were tasted were not blockbuster superstars, on the contrary these were second tier wines, for the most part, and many of which we have scored in the very same manner. In other words, the reason why these “low” scores are such good news is that they are VERY legitimate scores for the wines reviewed.
Read the rest of this entry

Minute Steak, Roasted Potatoes, Garlic Green beans, and Domaine du Castel Petit Castel

This past week I went spelunking into my freezer and I found two pounds of minute steak, or what the meat world calls chuck blade steak. The steaks are kind of that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde meat. It wants to be braised but it also can work with a grill. Say what? Actually, the meat has a large amount of connective tissue with a thick gristle running down the middle. The best way to manage this cut of meat is to grill it after you marinade it for a few hours, or braise it. Well, I had no time to marinade the meat ahead of time, so I coated the meat with paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper. I then put them on the grill and used a bit of barbecue sauce as well. Finally, I placed the grilled steaks into a shallow pan, added in some more barbecue sauce into the pan, and then covered it with aluminum foil and placed the meat into a warm oven.

For a side dish, I whipped up two very simple dishes. One was roasted sweet potatoes, potatoes, and onions. The other was garlic green beans with onions and mushrooms. Here are the recipes:

Roasted Potatoes and Onions Recipe

  1. 1 pound of potatoes – cut into large cubes
  2. 1 pound of yams (orange sweet potatoes) – cut into large cubes
  3. 2 sweet onions – cut into large cubes
  4. 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  5. 2 tablespoons of garlic powder and paprika
  6. 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper

Cut up the vegetables into large cubes 1 inch or more cubes. Then place them in a large bowl and fill the bowl with water to cover, and let them sit there for an hour of so. This is VERY important. It helps to accelerate the roasting process. Then pour out the water, and pat the vegetables dry. Next mix the spices together so that they are combined well. Next spread out the vegetable cubes into a large shallow roasting pan and cover with oil and then sprinkle the spice mixture over the vegetables. Then flip the vegetables around and add more spice mixture until coated very well. Finally, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and roast for 30 or so minutes, or until the vegetables start to caramelize.

Garlic Green beans, with mushroom and onions Recipe:

  1. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 2 large onions coarsely diced
  3. 16 oz. of mushrooms thickly sliced
  4. 7 cloves of garlic
  5. 1 teaspoon of salt, or more to taste
  6. 1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed

Heat up the oil in a large skillet till it starts to smoke. Then drop in the coarsely diced onions and saute them till nicely browned. Then add in the thickly sliced mushrooms and saute them till they have sweated out half their size. Then add in the garlic till they start to bloom, then add salt and pepper to taste. Finally add in the green beans, and mix everything up, so that the hot vegetables coat the green beans, and take it off the fire when the green beans just start to soften.

The meal was absolutely killer! Sorry if I and tooting my own horn, but the pairings were just perfect. The meat was soft on the indie, yet crispy on the outside, the green beans were nicely wilted yet slightly crisp, and the roasted vegetables were lovely with the meat!

To pair with the meat we went looking for a rich red wine and pulled out a bottle of 2006 Petit Castel. I was really looking forward to a rich wine, but the wine’s lack of core acid made the wine feel flabbier and flat. The mouth was rich, but the date and sweet cedar flavors also turned me off. This is a bottle you really should be drinking up!!

The wine note follows below:

2006 Domaine du Castel Petit Castel – Score: B++
The nose on this black colored wine with brown tinge is rich with sweet cedar, chocolate, tobacco, herbs, date, very apparent green beans, ripe plum, blackberry, and currant. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is still rich and concentrated with green notes, ripe fruit from the nose, rich black cherry, mouth coating tannin, and sweet cedar all coming together. The wine is missing the bright acidity of old, which makes it feel a bit underpowered. The finish is long and super spicy, with rich black pepper, herbs in the background, and heavy sweet cedar and vanilla to round it out. DRINK UP!!!

Parve French Onion Soup, Meat Lasagna, Roasted Green Beans, Spinach Kugel, and Many Kosher Red Wines

Some five weeks ago found my wife and I gathered around the table with our dear friends, good food and wine.  Wow, the blog has been in the basement for a bunch of weeks, but hopefully we will get back into the swing of things soon.  So now on to the food!  We wanted to have some friends over that we did not see for sometime, and they brought over a guest from the east coast.  The funny thing is that the guest did not eat certain foods, which foods – the VERY ingredients that we were using to make the courses that would grace our table.  Thank goodness we had other menu items that met her food needs.

Anyway, the meal started with a Parve French Onion Soup.  The core of this recipe came from a cookbook called Spice and Spirit, but the recipe in the cookbook called for too few onions, brown sugar, and no wine!  So instead, I modified the recipe so that it looks more like what is found below.  The recipe used to be a serious pain in the neck, because of the need to thinly slice the onions.  Well that is easy now!  How Because my wife bought me this wonderful contraption called a mandolin.  The device is a God send!  It easily makes quick work of 8-10 onions, which used to make me cry, and not just because of Syn-Propanethial-S-oxide.  With the ability to easily slice onions, recipes like French Onion Soup, vegetable additives for you lox & bagel or burger, become a joy and almost a game, to see how thin and how nicely you can slice the onions! Thank you so much Oxo!  Not only does the mandolin, it was cheap and stores away easily.  The only con is that it does not slice tomatoes so well, and it cannot handle very large items, which should be avoided anyway, as on the average, the larger a vegetable gets, the less flavorful it becomes.  A quick note, if you are sick of peeling and crushing garlic, get some of this stuff!  It tastes great and is always waiting for you in your freezer, as long as you buy some!  Trader Joes has some along with other supermarkets.  Another note, this is an obvious twist on the classic French Onion Soup, but there is no animal product to be found, so no Gruyère cheese.  However, in an attempt to mimic the cheese like consistency, we throw in rice, which when it swells up thickens the soup and gives it that sticky and gelatinous like structure.

Parve French Onion Soup
3 tbsp oil
8-10 thinly sliced white or sweet onions
3 tbsp agave nectar
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried Oregano
2 tsp dried parsley
3 or 4 bay leaves
4 or more cloves of garlic (frozen is easiest)
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
2 cups of red wine
4 cups of vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 to 1/2 a cup of brown rice

Put the oil in a Dutch oven and heat it up till the oil starts to shimmer.  Then throw the sliced onions into the pot and sauté them till golden brown.  One they are truly brown, add in the nectar and spices, and sauté for another 10 or so minutes, or until all the liquid is gone.  Toss in the rest of the ingredients (except for the rice), and simmer for 30 or so minutes until the soup reduces by 20% or so.  Then toss in the rice and cook for another 15 or so minutes or until the soup looks and moves semi-gelatinous.

The meal started off with a bottle of the 2006 Ella Valley Ever Red.  A nice bottle, and one that is ready to drink up.  It was followed by my wife’s not-classic (and THANK GOD for that) whole wheat challah.  The challah did not survive past the soup course, which is par for the course, and totally appreciated by the table.  We paired the 2008 Elvi Wines Matiz with the soup.  The extreme acid base of the wine paired nicely with the tomato note high acid) soup.  Normally, when pairing one wants to not fight fire with fire.  However, that rule is only for extreme cases.  For instance, when pairing spicy food with wine, I recommend you use a nice sweet yet acidic wine, like Hagafen White Riesling, which has enough acid and sweetness in harmonious balance to counteract hot peppers.  However, when the flavor in the food is not as extreme as hot pepper or chocolate soufflé sweet, the correct course of action is to fight fire with a bit more or at least the same amount of fire.  So, when enjoying a tomato based food like Tomato soup, that has no animal products in it (that help to balance the flavors), you are left with a tart/acidic soup whose best bet is to balance the flavors with a bit of sugar and starch.  Still, the soup is still acid in nature, and is best paired with an acidic core wine, like almost any estate bottled red from Four Gates Winery (whose wines always have a natural acidity to them), or an Italian  Chianti, or a lovely Tempranillo like the Matiz, which packs more than enough acid and tannins to keep up with the tomato soup.

For the second course we served meat lasagna, parve spinach quiche/kugel, roasted green beans, and a fresh green salad.  The guest could not eat the lasagna or the spinach kugel, but she brought some chicken over for herself before shabbos.  Some of our friends who joined us that evening do not eat meat, so we also made a lovely Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf – recipe below.  To pair with this menu we opened two other bottles, a 2003 Château Labégorce-Zédé and a 2006 Castel Petite Castel, the wine notes are found below.  making the meal was a blast as was the company.

Quinoa Onion Mushroom Pilaf
Sauté onions until golden brown and then sauté mushrooms until they have released most (but not all of their liquid).  The excess liquid will be appreciated by the quinoa.  Throw in salt, garlic, and some basil.  Throw in 2 cups of quinoa, and let the quinoa soak up all the liquid and just start to toast.  Then throw in a cup of white wine and then three cups of water, and let the quinoa cook till fluffy.  Then let cool, and add oil, toasted almonds, and optionally some craisins to boot.

Wines notes follow below (listed in the order they were tasted):

2008 Elvi Wines Rioja Matiz – Score: B+

The nose on this dark garnet to purple colored wine has raspberry, black cherry, rich plum, stone mineral, oak, herbs, and kirsch. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich and mouth coating with black cherry, kirsch, tart cherry, and raspberry. The mid palate is bright with heavy acid and not yet integrated tannins. The finish is spicy and long-lasting with black cherry, coffee, and nice tannins. NOTE: This wine has sediment, not sure why such a young wine has so much sediment, so keep the wine upright for a couple of days and make sure not to pour the wine till the last drop, as the last poor person, may get a slushy or chunky glass of wine.

2006 Ella Valley Cabernet-Merlot Ever Red – Score: B+ to A-
The nose on this dark garnet to mahogany colored wine starts with some blackberry that over time blows off, along with ripe raspberry, plum, oak, cherry, crushed spices, tobacco, and smoke. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is ripe with soft caressing tannins that give the wine a fuller mouth, along with ripe raspberry, plum, and cherry. The mid palate is a bit fat though balanced with just enough acid and oak. The finish is long and smoky with ripe red fruit, tobacco, soft tannins, and oak. Drink up as this one is ready if not already on its way down, if only from its color and length of life in the glass.

2003 Château Labégorce-Zédé – Score: A-
The nose of this garnet colored wine is hopping with rich oak, truly lovely ripe and rich raspberry, blackberry, ripe black plum, lovely blueberry, tobacco smoke, herbs, and slight stone minerality. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is super rich and layered with lovely tannins that gives you a full mouth with ripe and rich raspberry, plum, and blackberry. The mid palate is balanced with rich oak, tannin that shows nicely, tobacco, and chocolate. The finish is long with oak, tobacco, herbs, mineral, and blueberry. A really lovely wine that is at its peak and worthy of drinking.

2006 Domaine du Castel Petit Castel – Score: A-
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is a beautiful and rich experience with rich tobacco, ripe and rich plum, rich cedar oak, crushed/roasted herbs, blackberry, and chocolate. The mouth of this full-bodied wine has a rich full mouth that has lovely mouth coating tannins, rich oak, ripe plum, and blackberry. The mid palate is balanced with rich oak, integrated tannins, and tobacco. The finish is long and luscious with tobacco, black plum, rich oak, chocolate, and herbs.

Second Day Passover Meals and Wines

To celebrate the end of Passover, we had guests and family over for meals on the last days. We spent the entire Sunday cooking, and while it was crazy work, it was a ton of fun.

Sunday Night Menu (with family):
Chicken soup with matzo balls (my Father-in-law was not feeling well)
Roasted chicken
Carrot kugel (secret recipe) which I LOVE
Cranberry/Pineapple/Orange Relish
Fresh Salad

Wine Menu:
2007 Yarden Mount Hermon Red
– Score: B+
The nose on this garnet colored wine is filled with raspberry, cranberry, cherry, and blackberry. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is soft with raspberry and cranberry. The mid palate is balanced with integrated tannin, acid, and slight concentration, along with a bit of roundness, without extreme oak presence. The finish is long and soft with nice dark fruit, full mouth, and acid. A nice wine that is ready to drink.

Monday Day Menu (Friends and Family):

Baked Gefilte Fish Loaf
Eggplant salad
Stuffed Vegetables
Vegetable Chunks
Fresh Green Salad

Eggplant Salad Recipe
2 Tablespoon of olive oil
Three onions cubed
1 lb of mushroom cubed
Two Eggplant cubed
1 16 or so ounce can of tomato sauce
Garlic Powder

Sauté the cubed onions in the olive oil, until brown.  Once browned, add the cubed mushrooms and wait for them to wither and brown as well.  Then add the cubed eggplant and wait for them to release their water.  Once the vegetables are soft, add in the tomato sauce, the spices, and wait for the mixture to firm up.

Vegetable Chunks (Feeds 24 or so folks)
4 large sweet potatoes cut into 1 inch wedges
6 red potatoes cut into 1 inch wedges
4 russet potatoes cut into 1 inch wedges
6 zucchini cut into 1 inch wedges
2-3 onions cut into 1 inch wedges
Olive Oil coated roasting pan
Garlic Powder

Place the vegetables in water for 30 or so minutes.  Then drain the water and lay them in a large oiled roasting pan.  After each layer of vegetables cover them with garlic powder and paprika.  It is fine to have at most three layers of vegetables, but two is better.  Roast in oven covered at 350 degrees, for 30 minutes, then mix the vegetables around, cover with spices again, and place back in the oven till just tender, but with a bit of bite still left.

Wine Menu:
2004 Four Gates Chardonnay
– Score: A-
This bottle is quite different from the previous one we had. Instead of intense toasted oak, the wine showed characteristics very much in line with our tasting from 2008, except without the green flavors. The nose on this light gold to gold colored wine is filled with ripe fruit, peach, lemon, melon, butterscotch, and oak. The mouth on this medium to full bodied and very rich Chardonnay is powered by some residual sugar, peach, melon, and citrus flavors. The mid palate is a strong crisp acid core mixed with some sweetness, and nice toasty (but not over the top) oak. The finish is a long crisp and refreshing stroll with toasty wood as a partner, along with butterscotch, and ripe melon. The wine is crisp yet has weight at the same time, a real joy.

2006 Tzuba Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: B+ to A-
This bottle turned out to be more red than our previous tasting of this wine, but it was still a concentrated mouth which was nice.  The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is filled with raspberry, cranberry, plum, toasty oak, and coffee.  The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is concentrated and focused with raspberry, cranberry, plum, tight and spicy.  The mid palate is bracing with acidity, toasty oak, and still not yet integrated tannins.  The finish is long and toasty with coffee, red berry, spicy oak, vanilla, and spice.  I guess I will chalk this one up to bottle variation.

Monday Night Menu (Family)
Chicken soup with matzo balls (my Father-in-law was not feeling well)
Roasted chicken
Stuffed Vegetables (leftovers)
Carrot kugel (secret recipe) which I LOVE
Cranberry/Pineapple/Orange Relish
Fresh Salad

Wine Menu:
Leftovers of FG Chardonnay and Yarden Mount Hermon Red

Tuesday Day Menu (Friends and Family):
Baked Gefilte Fish Loaf
Eggplant salad
Stuffed Vegetables
Kielbasa Stew
Vegetable Chunks
Sweet and Sour Brisket
Fresh Green Salad

We normally go with one or at most two dishes, but this time things worked out better for us to make the Kielbasa Stew that we have had pretty good success with recently.  Our guests brought two bottles of wine and they were really great, and they went very well with the dishes we had on the menu.

Wine Menu:
2006 Yarden Chardonnay, Odem Organic Vineyard
– Score: A-
The nose on this light gold colored wine is hopping with ripe melon, fig, kiwi, apples, sweet oak, honeydew, and floral notes.  The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is toasty and spicy with oak, peach, melon, and apple.  The mid palate is bracing with core acidity, orange peel, spicy oak, and butter.  The finish is super long with butter, toasty oak, lemon, ripe melon, and good acidity.  Finally, the flavors of oak, butter, and lemony acidity linger forever on the palate after the wine is long gone.

2006 Domaine du Castel, Petit Castel – Score: A-
This wine starts off slow but explodes with a crazy rich nose and mouth as it airs out.  The nose on this dark purple to black colored wine explodes with a rich voluminous oak, rich dark chocolate, plum, jammy cassis, and blackberry.  The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is soft, supple, and rich with a full/velvety mouth from lovely soft tannins that still coat the mouth, along with ripe blackberry, cassis, chocolate, and black plum.  The mid palate is filled with oak, integrated tannins, and still good acid.  The finish is super long with chocolate, blackberry, oak, lovely tannins, rich/ripe plum on a bed of chocolate and tobacco.

Passover Seder Wines

This past week, saw us enjoying two wines that we brought, and two wines that others brought to our hosts homes.  Mine were not as good as the others brought, but good to try and drink.  We of course brought these wines to two Passover Seder for the four cups (arba kosos).  We decided this year to not host the passover seder, like we did last year, and so, we went to our friends for the two evening meals.

The notes for the wines we enjoyed can found below:

2004 Recanati Cabernet Franc – Score: B
The nose on this garnet colored wine has cranberry, raspberry, plum, oak, and mint. The mouth on this full bodied wine is still expressive with red fruit, crushed herbs, and a touch of mint. The mid palate is still bracing with acid, soft tannins, and oak. The finish is still strong with coffee, acid, red fruit, and oak. Drink UP, or use it for a nice cholent for the next few months.

2006 Tzuba Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: A-
The nose of this almost jet black colored wine is packed with rich and spicy oak, blackberry, cassis, raspberry, and spice.  The mouth on this full bodied wine is super concentrated and super extracted with blackberry, cassis, and oak extraction.  The mid palate is bracing with bright acidity, toasty oak, and still biting tannins, that will smooth out soon.  The finish is very long with bright acidity, toasty oak, and big black fruit.  A nice concentrated Cabernet that will evolve a bit still.

On the second night we enjoyed these wines…

2004 Domaine du Castel Petit Castel – Score: B+
The nose on this purple colored wine was crazy nice with blackberry, chocolate, sweet oak, bright berry, and pepper. The mouth on this very soft medium bodied wine was not as bracing and complex as I remember it to have been. The mouth is soft and almost tannic free, with nice black fruit, black berry and plum. The mid palate is soft and not bracing, with oak, and not much more. The finish is very nice with more black fruit, chocolate, and a bit of oak. Nice, but soft and ready to drink NOW!

2003 Yarden Merlot – Score: A- to A
The nose on this black colored wine screams with black cherry, raspberry, berry, crushed herbs, and rich and toasty oak.  The mouth on this massive full bodied wine is rich with concentrated black cherry, berry, and toasty oak.  The mid palate is acidic with rich oak, and integrating tannins.  The finish is long and rich, with more black fruit, oak, and green notes.  The wine is super fun, extracted, and rich.

Baked Gefilte Fish Loaf, Veal Roast, Roasted Root Vegetables, Galil Barbera, Red Fern Chardonnay, Petit Castel, and Goose Bay Viognier

With our family still with us, I thought it would be cool to try a Veal Roast.  The roast was pretty simple, except that I decided to make it complex, which was kind of yummy and complex.  I whipped up a batch of caramelized thinly sliced white onions and browned mushrooms.  My mother-in-law peeled the veal roast apart and laid the onion and mushroom mixture into the cavity.  She then wrapped it and placed the roast’s netting back on it so that the roast stayed together.  We roasted it at 350 until it was done.  The roast was a hit and so were the baked gefilte fish, eggplant mixture, and roasted vegetables, the recipe for the rest of the stuff is here.

Veal roast is a light weight meat and so, I wanted to try it with a nice Viognier.  I have spoken a few times about how much I love the Goose Bay Viognier and I must say that the Viognier is still going strong.  I am so proud of myself for opening it a couple of hours ahead of time, and it could have still used more air – crazy.  It paired crazy well with the Veal roast, but could have been colder.  A friend brought over the Petit Castel, so we popped it open and it too was a joy.  The Red Fern Chardonnay and Galil Barbera wines were opened prior to the meal for a wine tasting, and were enjoyed with the meal.

The wine notes follow below:

2007 Goose Bay Viognier – Score: A (no change from previous notes)
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.

2006 Galil Mountain Barbera – Score: B+
The nose on this ruby to garnet-colored wine is hot out of the bottle, and has cranberry, cassis, plum, leather and oak.  The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine follows the nose, and is filled with cranberry, cassis, and plum.  The mid palate is mouth coating with soft tannins, bright acidity and nice rich oak.  The finish is long… with oak, leather, and chocolate.  The wine is quite enjoyable, and shows that Barbera can be made successfully in Israel.

2005 Red Fern Chardonnay – Score: B+
The nose on this light straw-colored wine is green with vegetal notes, along with citrus and apple.  The mouth on this medium bodied wine is green with bright acidity, citrus and apple.  The mid palate is creamy with oak, while staying crisp with nice acidity.  The finish is medium long, creamy, with custard and acidity.  The folks at Red Fern have done a good job of not trying to do more with the grapes than nature has given them

2004 Petit Castel – Score: A-
This wine was awesome and totally overpowered the poor veal roast.  Still, the wine was awesome.  The nose on this deep and dark garnet colored wine is popping with blackberry, cassis, currant, oak, and chocolate – lots of chocolate.  The mouth of this full bodied wine carries over from the nose with more black fruit and chocolate.  The mouth is full and velvety and complex with layers of fruit and chocolate.  The mid palate is balanced with just enough acidity to keep it all together.  The finish is long with fruit, pepper, and more chocolate.  Quite a nice wine, but drink up as it is at its peak.

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