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Another round of QPR (Quality to Price ratio) Hits and Misses

It has been a few months since my last QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) post and 10 or more people have been emailing me about the EPIC 2019 terra di Seta Chianti, that I said, I had to pump out another post ASAP!

Thankfully, no matter how garbage and pain I subject myself to, we are still blessed with quite a few wonderful QPR wines out there. This post includes superstars like Elvi Wines’s new 2017 Clos Mesorah and many others. It goes to show that when wineries reasonably price wines, even 70 dollar wines can be a QPR winner!

We have quite a lovely set of QPR WINNERS:

  1. 2017 Elvi Wines Clos Mesorah
  2. 2019 Terra di Seta Chianti Classico
  3. 2019 Cantina del Redi Pleos Toscana Sangiovese
  4. 2019 Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib Pinot Noir
  5. 2019 Chateau D’Arveyres Bordeaux Superieur
  6. 2016 Chateau La Clare Grand Vin de Bordeaux
  7. 2018 Vieux Chateau Chambeau Reserve
  8. 2018 Hagafen Cabernet Franc
  9. 2018 Hagafen Cabernet Sauvignon
  10. 2019 Hagafen Riesling, Off-Dry

There were also a few wines that are a slight step behind with a GREAT or GOOD QPR score:

  1. 2016 La Chenaie du Bourdieu Grand Vin de Bordeaux
  2. 2018 Secret des Chevaliers Grand Reserve
  3. 2020 Bartenura Prosecco Rose
  4. 2019 Golan Heights Winery Riesling
  5. 2020 Sheldrake Point Gewurztraminer
  6. 2020 Unorthodox Sauvignon Blanc
  7. 2016 Hagafen Merlot, Prix, Reserve
  8. 2016 Hagafen Cabernet Sauvignon, Prix, Reserve, MJT
  9. 2018 Hagafen Merlot

There are a few wines that got a QPR Score of EVEN – meaning expensive or average:

  1. 2019 Hajdu Montepulciano – a nice wine but very expensive
  2. 2019 Domaine du Castel Petit Castel – nice enough but very expensive
  3. 2019 Golan Heights Winery Pinot Noir, Gilgal (Gamla) – not interesting but cheap
  4. 2020 Gendraud Patrice Chablis – nice enough and expensive
  5. 2020 Vitkin Israeli Journey
    2020 Gush Etzion Sauvignon Blanc
    2020 Domaine De Panquelaine Coteaux Du Giennois
    2020 Bat Shlomo Sauvignon Blanc – OK or even nice enough but expensive

The others are essentially either OK wines that are too expensive, duds or total failures:

  1. 2016 Hagafen Pinot Noir, Prix, Reserve
  2. 2017 Chateau de By, Grand Vin de Bordeaux
  3. 2019 Hajdu Grenache
  4. 2019 Hagafen Don Ernesto’s Ah-Ha!
  5. 2016 Hagafen Melange, Prix, Reserve
  6. 2017 Herzog Quartet
  7. 2019 Flam Classico
  8. 2019 Twin Suns Pinot Noir
  9. 2019 Vanita Nero d’Avola
  10. 2018 Tabor Eco, Red
  11. 2017 Segal Cabernet Sauvignon, Dishon
  12. 2016 Tabor Merlot, Adama
  13. 2017 Tabor Shiraz, Adama
  14. 2018 Matar Startus
  15. 2018 Matar Cumulus
  16. 2018 Celler de Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib (Mevushal version)
  17. 2020 Shiran Chardonnay
  18. 2017 Hagafen Chardonnay, Prix
  19. 2018 Tabor Eco, White
  20. 2019 Covenant Lavan Chardonnay
  21. 2020 Domaine De Panquelaine Sancerre
  22. 2018 Pascal Bouchard Chablis, Le Classique
  23. 2018 Binyamina Chardonnay, The Chosen
  24. 2019 Chateau le Petit Chaban
  25. 2019 Chateau Mayne Guyon Grand Vin
  26. 2019 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon

Some things that made me stand up and take notice (AKA QPR WINNERS):

The first BIG takeaway for me, was that Hagafen Wine Cellars is back, at least in regards to red wine! I was there to taste some wines with Gabriel Geller and I was impressed by the 2016 and 2018 red wines. There were some misses as well but overall, 2 QPR WINNERS and 3 QPR GOOD to GREAT scores – that is good stuff!!! There is also the very nice, but expensive, 2018 Hagafen Sauvignon Blanc, Prix. It is really fun and while it is oak-driven, it is a nice wine and it just needs some time.

Terra di Seta Continues to CRUSH it! Two more EPIC wines at QPR WINNER status, we need a super QPR WINNER status! Fear not I am joking. Anyway, the 2019 Terra di Seta Chianti Classico is beautiful, more elegant than previous vintages, but without the sheer power of the 2018 vintage. The 2016 Terra di Seta Chianti Classico, Riserva, is a sheer powerhouse, but one that is far more accessible than previous vintages, this may well be the best in some time!

Royal has another Italian QPR WINNER with the 2019 Cantina del Redi Pleos Toscana Sangiovese, yes another Sangiovese, and no, it is not better than the TDS and it is a bit more expensive, and it is not Mevushal, so I am not sure how it fits into the Royal portfolio puzzle, but hey, that is not my job to worry about!

The 2019 Capcanes Pinot Noir is on point a very nice wine – the 2019 vintage, from all over the world, has given us a bounty of choices for Pinot Noir!

Finally, there are more French QPR WINNERS, like the 2019 Chateau D’Arveyres Bordeaux Superieur. The previous vintages were bad to horrible, but this one returns to its old form. The 2016 Chateau La Clare, Grand Vin de Bordeaux also is very nice, it continues its theme of well-priced Bordeaux wine for a reasonable price, and it is Mevushal. I would happily drink this or 2015 at a restaurant – no questions asked. Finally, the 2018 Vieux Chateau Chambeau Reserve is a nice wine for the price, though it is harder to find, it may be worth the effort.

Other wines worth of note (AKA QPR GREAT or GOOD):

I am happy to say there are other solid wines – and many are European. I found some of these at NYC stores (not online) and others online.

The 2016 La Chenaie du Bourdieu Grand Vin de Bordeaux, is not a new wine for me, I had it at Taieb in 2019 and I was happy to see it here in the USA. Another nice wine was a new one for me, the 2018 Secret des Chevaliers Grand Reserve, a simple enough wine but at the price, it has a SOLID QPR.

I was shocked to finally find a Prosecco I could taste without physically making me ill. I have had a few in the past, but this one is the best of the bunch, for now. I am talking about the 2020 Bartenura Prosecco Rose, solid if this is your kind of wine. For me, there is no better QPR WINNER or bubbly, for the price, than the Yarden and Gilgal (AKA Gamla) wines.

Talking about Yarden, the 2019 Golan Heights Winery Riesling is nice, not my cup of tea, but for those with a sweeter tooth than mine – BUY THIS or the Pacifica Riesling.


The same can be said for the 2020 Sheldrake Point Gewurztraminer. I liked the 2020 Sheldrake Point Riesling and scored it a WINNER, the Gewurztraminer is not as good, but that is fine, this is another wine made for those with a sweeter tooth.

The shocker for me, in my previous tastings at home, was the 2020 Unorthodox Sauvignon Blanc! Look, I have had their wines for years, and they have all made me unhappy. This is, honestly, the first Unorthodox wines, of any sort, that I have liked. Solid deal.

The rest of the good to great QPR wines are all Cali. There were three more wines from 2016 and 2018 at Hagafen that I liked but not as much as the ones above. The 2016 Hagafen Merlot, Prix, Reserve, 2016 Hagafen Cabernet Sauvignon, Prix, Reserve, MJT, and 2018 Hagafen Merlot, are nice enough wines. They lack complexity and tug to make me more interested.

Wines that are either good but too expensive or average (AKA EVEN):

The only wine I wanted to highlight is the 2019 Hajdu Montepulciano. It is a lovely wine that while I enjoyed it is just too expensive for the value.

Wines that are either OK but far too expensive or bad wines (AKA BAD):

I wanted to highlight the 2019 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2019 Covenant Chardonnay, Lavan. They are nice enough wines but not like the days of old, and expensive. The same idea can be said for the 2017 Hagafen Chardonnay, Prix.

There are also, many duds to losers and I will just leave you to peruse the names and scores down below.

The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:

2017 Elvi Wines Clos Mesorah – Score: 94 (QPR: WINNER)
This is a super elegant, floral, and feminine wine, bravo!! The nose on this wine is beautiful, showing floral notes of violet, white flowers, with blueberry, black fruit, smoke, roasted duck, earth, and loads of smoke, dirt, and loam. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is so elegant, layered, concentrated, earthy, fruity, smoky, and richly extracted, with boysenberry, blackberry, dark cherry, plum, smoke, earth, loam, and lovely sweet cedar, with green notes, sweet tobacco, sweet basil, and lovely acid. The finish is long, green, with draping elegant tannin, sweet smoking tobacco, dark chocolate, white pepper, and anise. Bravo!! Drink from 2025 until 2035. (tasted April 2021)

2019 Terra di Seta Chianti Classico – Score: 92+ (QPR: WINNER)
The nose on this wine is lovely, with ripe notes, which is classic for a Chianti so young, with classic notes of burnt rubber, balsamic vinegar, rich smoke, incredible mineral, dark red fruit, menthol, and roasted animal, with loads of roasted herbs. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is lovely, richly extracted ripe, and layered, with incredible acidity, this has to be the highest acid we have ever tasted on Terra di Seta wines, the body is lighter than previous vintages, with incredibly ripe fruit, at the start, but the crazy acidity makes it work, with dark plum, rich ripe cherry, menthol galore, with incredible minerality, showing saline, rocks, charcoal, with light tannins, showing beautiful mouthfeel but after a short time the mouthfeel goes thin and the fruit-focus is gone, this is a strange wine indeed! The finish is a bit short, with lovely smoke, mineral, dark chocolate-covered espresso, with more dried herbs, oregano, and dried mint. Drink by 2027. I am surprised by this wine, I will need to see where this goes, for now, I like it, and I will buy more, but it may not be for long holding.
OK, so that was the notes after opening the bottle and tasting. The next day – the wine evolved into the classic wine we all take for granted! Now the nose is intoxicating, the ripeness has calmed down greatly, as I expected, but now the nose is dominated by lovely dried porcini mushrooms, dense fruit, menthol, smoke, roasted duck, and soya sauce galore, wow what a nose!! The mouth has evolved beautifully, and while the tannins are still gentler than in previous vintages the wine is lush, plush, and mouth-filling, the hole or shortness is gone, and now it is everything I want in a wine, though the weight has not filled out and I think this is just a lighter wine but the tannins are draping and mouth-filling, elegance is clear and the wine is lovely. This is a wine that can be enjoyed earlier than previous vintages, the minerality on this one is off the charts! 2018 is richer and fuller, while 2019 is more elegant, simply stated. Bravo!! Drink from 2022 until 2029, if you want it now, decant for 5 hours or take a glass, close it and enjoy it the next day. (tasted April 2021)

2019 Cantina del Redi Pleos Toscana Sangiovese – Score: 91+ (QPR: WINNER)
The nose on this wine is classic, dirty, earthy, smoky, with controlled ripe fruit, nice structure and loads of earth, lovely floral notes of rose and violet, and dark fruit in the background. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is ripe, and concentrated with nice extraction, showing nice acidity, rich fruit-focus, with black plum, strawberry, dark raspberry, hints of blackberry, with an intense acid and mineral core, showing richness, with layers of fruit, dirt, earth, charcoal, rosehip, mouth-draping tannin, and lovely structure. The finish is long, dark, with hints of green, mushroom, red and dark fruit, tannin, more floral notes, and earth lingering long, with coffee, and leather. Nice!! Drink until 2026. (tasted March 2021)

Read the rest of this entry

The new 2014 Trader Joe’s Kosher Terrenal Wines

Well it has been a few months and it is time to post about the new wines from Terrenal – which can be found at Trader Joe’s markets. I have been writing about these wines for sometime now, and some are hits and some are misses, but for the most part they are solid wines at a very reasonable price.

I wrote about the very impressive 2014 Terrenal Cabernet Sauvignon already earlier this year, and now the Banero Prosecco is back on the shelves again along with a new 2014 Terrenal Chardonnay, that may well be their best ever. Sadly, the 2014 Terrenal Tempranillo is not as good as past vintages, like the 2012. But with the very impressive Chard, Cab, and Banero, the Tempranillo is not such a loss. The Malbec is better than in past vintages but not the homerun that the 2012 was at initial release.

My previous post about the 2014 Cabernet was a side rant about the prices of kosher wines and why they continue to go up instead of coming down. I am happy to say that the prices of the Terrenal wines have stayed the same – even as the value goes up in this past vintage.

Sadly, there is a new wine – a reserve wine that is only available in the NY and NJ area called: Terrenal Seleccionado it goes for 6.99 (the same price as the Banero Prosecco). Can you guys please try it out and post here – I would really love to hear what people are saying about it. Also, is it mevushal? Thanks!

So, here are my notes about the new Trader Joe Kosher Terrenal wines and enjoy!

2014 Terrenal Chardonnay, Curico Valley – Score: A- (QPR WINNER) (mevushal)
Another crazy hit for Terrenal and yes, it is the 5 buck kosher Chard from Trader Joe’s and it is mevushal. The nose on this lovely Chilian Chard is crazy tropical, with screaming pineapple, goose berry, grapefruit, and fresh tart summer fruit and herb. The mouth in this medium bodied wine is very ripe and round with an almost plush feeling to it, followed by tart white cherry, peach, dried apple, and almond. The finish is long and sweet with nutty notes, a nice ribbon of pith, and green tea. Bravo!

2014 Terrenal Malbec, I.P. Mendoza – Score: B+ (mevushal)
For the past two years this wine has let me down, it had turned far too floral for my tastes and lacked the blue and black punch it had early on in 12 and 11. Well, so far it is back! The nose is redolent with dark fruit, fresh black and blue berries, with hints of roasted meat and cherry. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is nice with soft mouth coating tannin, but it shows it is showing it mevushal process , with hints of cooked fruit, but overall the core blackberry, blueberry, and cranberry carry the day. Still, the floral notes are starting to show, which is great, I just hope it stays there, rather than taking over the entire mouth like it did in past vintages. Very nice.

2014 Terrenal Tempranillo Yecla – Score: B to B+ (NOT mevushal)
After the very good 2014 Terrenal Cabernet Sauvignon, a crazy QPR winner, I had high hopes for the 2014 Terrenal Tempranillo, sadly it is nice – but not the Cab.

The nose on this wine is vibrant with black cherry, strawberry, raspberry, earthy aromas, herb, and spice. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is a nice quaffer, but lacks any attention grabbing notes, with spicy fruit, blackberry, nice round and searing tannin, earth, and an overall mouth feel that spicy and enjoyable. The finish is round with nice spice, great balancing acid, along with a dollop of herb and vanilla on the long finish. This is a fine wine, but I wish it had more to show.

2014 Terrenal Cabernet Sauvignon Yecla – Score: B+ to A-  (QPR) (NOT mevushal)
Bravo!! Very impressive wine. Insane QPR and very lovely mouth feel, plush and tannic with good structure and fruit. Again BRAVO!

The nose on this purple robed wine is redolent with crazy blackcurrant, followed by lovely roasted herb, licorice, red fruit, and bramble. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is impressive with good concentration of blackberry, ripe and juicy raspberry, followed by cocoa, searing tannin, mouth coating plush fruit, and lovely tobacco. The finish is long with chocolate, vanilla, spice, and green notes, all wrapped in blue and black fruit, with garrigue, menthol, and graphite lingering long – IMPRESSIVE for 5 bucks to say the least.

NV Banero Prosecco, Veneto IGT – Score: B++ (mevushal) (QPR)
Well, I am happy to say I am wrong! The wine I had in the past must have been a poor bottle, as this wine is now really enjoyable. Sadly, I cannot track vintages or bottlings, that I can see, but this bottle and the other one I opened recently were both much better.
The nose on this wine is ripping with sweet kiwi, honey, along with a orange blossom perfume, orange rind, toast, rose water, and guava. The mouth on this rich medium bodied wine starts off with a hit of bitterness, but is then dominated by the sweet notes of candied fig, honeysuckle, sweet melon, dried apple, prolonged medium mousse bubbles, and toast. The finish is long with more bubbles, acidity that balance the wine very nicely, along with orange peel, tangerine, and dried pear. I would love it to be even more dry, but this is a lovely wine, and even better knowing that the wine is mevushal and only 8 dollars. Very Nice!!

Kosher wines available at major US supermarkets; Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Costco

Deccolio ProssecoWell, I am far behind on my blog and I have many posts to put up, but let me get this quick post up and then I will try to get the rest up soon. Roni emailed me and asked if I had tasted the

, and indeed I had twice now in the past two weeks. In short (notes below) the wine was very nice. So, I thought I would take a moment to list a few of the wines I know about around supermarkets around the United States.

Of them all (other than in NY or maybe LA), the best kosher wine supermarket is clearly Trader Joe’s and their Terrenal and Banero lines. As of now, they have the three best wines out there, with the 2012 Terrenal Tempranillo, 2013 Terrenal Chardonnay, and 2012 Terrenal Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2013 Terrenal Malbec from Argentina, just did not work for long and from what I have heard there will be more of it coming to TJ in a slightly different blend, but for now it is not at TJ. I will post here when I get a chance to taste it. On the east coast I hear you can still get Banero Prosecco, which is still going well. Of course, for the sweet tooth, the Sara Bee is a fine Moscato.

PLEASE be careful, for those who care, NOT all Tarder Joe’s wines are mevushal – this is just an FYI and a PSA!

Of course to be fair, they also stock a bunch of Herzog wines, including the new and VERY good 2012 Baron Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, PLEASE do not laugh! I liked it so much I listed it on the Passover wine list! The whites are all a no brainer there as well, including Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc.

The next would be Costco! Yes Costco! I keep seeing and hearing from my friends that they are stocking kosher wine. Here in Sunnyvale, CA the Costco stocks Yarden and Capcanes. In Miami they also stock Capcanes for a very reasonable price. Mind you anything from Capcanes in the 2012 vintage is insane – as I listed here!

The next and newest to the list would be Deccolio Prosecco, which is actually quite delicious (I think it is a play on words – but who knows), must have been one of those marketing things. Anyway, ignoring the name, the wine is solid, with good acid, nice bubbles, and really good fruit!

So there you have it – please comment here on wines you find at other supermarkets I would love to hear from you all, like I heard from Roni – keep the comments/questions coming in!

NV Deccolio Prosecco – Score: B++ (QPR)

As I stare into the glass of bubbles I cannot help but conjure up the classic war between love and hate, the perennial battle that takes us to the brink and then lets us barely catch our breath before once again going into the breach! I speak of course about the conflict of wine brothers, acid and bubbles versus fruit and toast. In this lovely wine there is no conflict, there is just harmonious brotherly love, a focus of purity and tart fruit that forces you to raises the glass and proclaim – BRAVO!

The nose on this wine is filled with green apple, lithe notes, lovely white flowers, honeysuckle, and summer fruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine starts with lovely honey, followed by layers of light mousse, green apple, litchi, and spice. The finish is long and rich with wonderful acid, great penetrating fruit and mineral that lingers long with slate and pith – BRAVO!!!

New vintages of Trader Joe Terrenal kosher wines

It has been only a few months since we last posted about the kosher wines at Trader Joe’s. The Banero is still only available on the east coast, but it remains in stock there. The Sara Bee is also back in stock on the east and west coasts, and doing really well. The prices have now stabilized, even though Moscato is going crazy in the wine world.

Sara Bee continues to taste as wonderful as always, but I cannot get the Banero Prosecco here on the west coast 😦 There are now two new Terrenal wines; one from Chile and one from Argentina that are both mevushal. I say this because the Spanish wines from February are not mevushal. The two new Terrenal wines continue the tradition of good kosher wine, for a reasonable price.

I am posting the previous notes as a reference, so that you do not need to go back to the older posting:

2011 Terrenal Chardonnay (Curico Valley, Chile) – Score: B++ (close to A-)
This wine is a lovely expression of unoaked Chardonnay and one that I am happy to buy often. Sure the price is also right (4.99 a pop), but price has ZERO bearings on how I score a wine. The nose screams with lemon fresche, apricot, guava, with ripe and almost sweet fruit. The mouth is really nice with sweet lemon, fig, Asian pear, apple, along with lovely and almost mouth-coating mouth. The finish is long with melon, good balanced acidity, a bit of sweet citrus zest (without the pith), along with a bit of vanilla and floral notes to close out the party.

2010 Terrenal Malbec (Mendoza, Malbec) – Score: B to B+
This wine is nice with a unique initial attack of butterscotch, along with blackcurrant, plum, and crushed herb. The mouth is soft and rich with a bit of raisin and blackberry, along with nicely integrated tannin. The finish is long and spicy along with good acidity, inky structure, sweet black cherry, spice, and vanilla on the rise. Read the rest of this entry

The new vintages of Trader Joe kosher wines

It has been a year since we last posted about the kosher wines at Trader Joe’s. The Banero is now only available on the east coast, but at least it is back in stock. The Sara Bee is also back in stock and doing really well. The prices have risen a bit, but I guess that is par for the course, with Moscato going crazy in the wine world.

Still, the Sara Bee tastes as wonderful as always, but I cannot get the Banero Prosecco here on the west coast 😦 There are also two new Terrenal wines from Spain that are still not mevushal. I say this because the rest of the wines are mevushal, excepting for these two. The two reds continue the tradition of good kosher wine, for a reasonable price.

I am posting the Sara Bee and Banero notes as a reference, so that you do not need to go back to the older posting:

2010 Terrenal Cabernet Sauvignon (Yecla, Spain) (not-mevushal) – Score: B+
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is rich and vibrant with black cherry, an almost perfumed nose of blackberry, and raspberry, along with black currant, rich earth, and herb. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is a nice quaffer with enough complexity to grab your attention, with spicy fruit, almost mouth coating tannin, rich earth, and an overall mouth feel that is nothing short of quite nice. The wine’s core acidity really elevates it and the richness and spice of the finish goes a long way to making you rethink entry-level wines. I could care less what this wine costs, this is a fine wine that is tasted blind would make you do a double take, and in the end, it is quite enjoyable.

2010 Terrenal Tempranillo (Yecla, Spain) (not-mevushal) – Score: B+
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is rich and vibrant with black cherry, strawberry, an almost perfumed nose of blackcurrant, and raspberry, earthy aromas, herb, and spice. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is a nice quaffer with enough complexity to grab your attention, with spicy fruit, nice round tannin, rich earth, and an overall mouth feel that spicy and enjoyable. The wine’s core acidity really elevates it and the round mouthed tannin, along with nice spice add to the cherry focused wine that adds a dollop of herb and vanilla on the long finish. I could care less what this wine costs, this is a fine wine that is tasted blind would make you do a double take, and in the end, it is quite enjoyable.

N.V. Sara Bee Moscato ((Italy, Puglia) – Score: B++
The nose on this effervescent light gold colored wine starts off with a powerful hit of honey and a touch of yeast. After a small bit of time, the wine explodes with summer and tropical fruits, peach, apricot, mango, pear, lychee, and papaya. This wine has a wonderful effervescence and fruity nose. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is lovely with nice effervescence, sweet honey, papaya, lychee, and pear. The mid palate is balanced nicely with acid and light toast, and effervescence. The finish is long and tasty with papaya, honey, and caramel, with the honey and caramel lingering long on the palate.
This is a more balanced, fuller, effervescent wine than the usual kosher blue-bottle Bartenura Moscato. Nothing against the Bartenura Moscato, but it does not compare and it is at least double to triple the price of this wonderful wine. Get a bottle or two and try it out. The Sara Bee Moscato is available at Trader Joe. Finally, as usual my score NEVER includes the price. This wine is scored what it is scored solely on its merit – irrelevant to its price, availability, or its kosher status.

N.V. Banero Prosecco – Score B+
The nose on this straw-colored Prosecco is screaming with a lovely bubble fest, along with a nice muscat nose, perfume, orange rind, yeast, toast, and honey. The mouth on this rich medium bodied wine starts off with a hit of bitterness, apple, honey, prolonged small mousse bubbles, and toast. The mid palate is core with acidity, toast, and drop of yeast, and orange peel. The finish is long and mousse-y with honey, slight bitterness, and toast. This is a wine that has a bit of beer bitterness at the start, which fades a bit, but lingers with a nice balance of perceived sweetness from the honey notes. The mouth is rich with small mousse bubbles that lie on your palate for a very long time, long after the wine is gone.

Seniorio de Aldaz Tempranillo, N.V. Banero Prosecco, Rosemary & Lemon Roasted Chicken, and Cholent

This past week saw us taking it a bit easier and that led us to thinking about our usual Rosemary & Lemon Roasted Chicken. We paired it with brown Basmati rice and fresh green salad. I looked for a lovely wine to pair with our meal, and thought I came up with a nice option – the 2009 Seniorio de Aldaz Tempranillo. The nose was killer! It was rich and powerful, but the mouth was out of whack, very unbalanced, and missing the point. I had to stop drinking the wine and went to find another bottle, and came up with the Trader Joe N.V. Banero Prosecco.

For lunch we had a nice cholent, but it is far from perfected to write it down yet – keep glued to this blog for the final version.

The Seniorio de Aldaz Tempranillo was the real shame. It opens to a powerful nose but that fades with time. The mouth starts very tannic, which does not bother me, and then goes scary. I have now tasted the Banero a few more times since our last tasting, and I think that the original notes are a bit off – as there is less or no muscat flavors than I remember from the original tasting.

The notes are listed below in the order they were tasted:

2009 Senorio De Aldaz Tempranillo (Spain, Navarra) – Score: B- to B
The nose on this bright garnet to purple colored wine is hopping with raspberry, crushed herbs, kirsch cherry, ripe plum, mineral/rock/gravel, bramble, blueberry, and tons of floral notes. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is unfortunately its downfall; it is far too out of balance with strong floral, blueberry, and cherry notes up front, without enough characteristics balancing it out. The mouth follows with plum, raspberry, and not yet integrated tannins. The mid palate is acidic with unbalanced tannin, mineral, and more floral notes. The finish is long and rocky (pun intended) with gripping tannin, more unbalanced fruit, and floral notes. The floral notes, cherry, and blueberry linger on the palate.

N.V. Banero Prosecco – Score B+
The nose on this straw colored Prosecco is screaming with a lovely bubble fest, along with a nice muscat nose, perfume, orange rind, yeast, toast, and honey. The mouth on this rich medium bodied wine starts off with a hit of bitterness, apple, honey, prolonged small mousse bubbles, and toast. The mid palate is core with acidity, toast, and drop of yeast, and orange peel. The finish is long and mousse-y with honey, slight bitterness, and toast. This is a wine that has a bit of beer bitterness at the start, which fades a bit, but lingers with a nice balance of perceived sweetness from the honey notes. The mouth is rich with small mousse bubbles that lie on your palate for a very long time, long after the wine is gone.

N.V. Banero Prosecco and Cholent

On the week of October 22nd we enjoyed a simple meal of Parve Cholent and a bottle of the new Trader Joe kosher wine – Banero Prosecco. Prosecco is the Italian version of Champagne, except that it is not. Champagne is a term used ONLY for wine made in the Champagne area of France. Of course, the term has been used recently to mean bubbly or sparkling wine in general, and that of course annoys the French greatly, as it diminishes the special aspects of Champagne. So, they have trademarked the term, so that wine made outside of Champagne cannot use the Champagne moniker. Prosecco is a bubbly and sparkling wine, but it is made with the less expensive method of secondary fermentation known as Charmat.

To start grapes used in sparkling wines are commonly picked early to minimize the sugars in them. This also causes the grapes to be higher in acid, as the sugar is grapes are in inverse proportion the acid in grapes, as the grapes ripen and increase their sugar, the grapes acid goes down. The higher the sugar and ripeness of the grapes the higher the alcohol content of the wine will be. Which is OK (sometimes), for bold red wines, but for bubbly wine which is consumed at a higher rate, it would be a bad night for most after two glasses. To allow for pleasant drinking without a massive buzz, sparkling wine makers pick the grapes early, thereby having lower sugar content, which means lower alcohol. However, with lower sugar and higher acid, the wine maker must do wonders to make it palatable.

When you enjoy a bottle of sparkling wine, no matter the version, what you are enjoying is a wine that has, in one or another, undergone two sugar fermentation(s). The first is the usual one which happens when the grapes are crushed and pressed and then yeast is added to ferment the wine. What is happening is that the yeast is eating the sugar in the wine juice and creating alcohol as its byproduct. Then the wine is aged in steel or wood and then is bottled. The wine at this point may not be so stellar in nature, as we explained because of its higher acid and lower sweetness. Then the wine is then ready for bottling and the start of the second fermentation, yeast and sugar are reintroduced to each bottle, and then they are closed with a beer cap. The wines go through a second fermentation and can be aged there for as many as 8 years. The wine sits on its lees, the byproduct of acid and sugar being consumed by yeast. More alcohol is added to the mix as well by this second fermentation, but there is so little sugar added that the alcohol change is barely noticeable. This second fermentation and the aging help to improve the wine and of course add bubbles!

Finally, after the requisite second fermentation is deemed complete, the lees are convinced to move to the neck of the bottle, the bottle neck is frozen, the cap is removed, and the frozen lees shoot out. To make up for the lost space, the wine maker adds in brandy, port, sugar, or some other special ingredient and of course a bit of sulfur dioxide as a last bit of preservative.

Well this weekend we wanted to pair our cholent with a not so obvious wine choice – Prosecco. Sparkling wine was a lovely pairing with our vegetarian cholent and one that I really enjoyed to boot. This wine turned out to be really nice and one worth looking into. As we spoke about last week, Trader Joe is selling a few Kosher wines for a nice price. We will be tasting them throughout the next few weeks so keep watching. This is the second wine of the group that we will be tasting.

N.V. Banero Prosecco – Score B+
The nose on this straw colored Prosecco is screaming with a lovely bubble fest, along with a nice muscat nose, perfume, orange rind, yeast, toast, and honey. The mouth on this rich medium bodied wine starts off with a hit of bitterness, apple, muscat perfume, honey, prolonged small mousse bubbles, and toast. The mid palate is core with acidity, toast, and drop of yeast, and orange peel. The finish is long and mousse-y with honey, slight bitterness, and toast. This is a wine that has a bit of beer bitterness at the start, but quickly leads into the muscat and perfume infused mouth which is rich with small mousse bubbles that lie on your palate for a very long time, long after the wine is gone.

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