As I stated in my last post, I landed in Israel and I had very few days to see a lot of wineries. Recanati Winery was the second winery I visited. Kobi Arviv, who is now the head winemaker at Recanati Winery. He is also the head winemaker at his own winery, Mia Luce Winery, and had been the associate winemaker at Recanati Winery, until June this year.
I have posted in the past about Recanati Winery, and the only real change since that post is that Kobi is now the new head winemaker and that their wines had moved riper in the past few years, my hope is that they return to the control they showed in 2010 and 2011. Since then, it seems they have moved to riper wines, like the rest of Israel.
The wines have stayed the same for the most part, with slight changes to the makeup of some of them. The biggest change overall is to the labels and some new fun and easy drinking reds and whites have been added in.
- Yasmin/Jonathan – these are the entry-level labels, that are also mevushal
- Upper Galilee Series – these used to be the diamond series or the baseline series. Not much has changed here other than the labels, though they have been a bit riper these past few years.
- Then the roses along with this new French Blend wine. The roses have become dryer and are lovely, but the French blend is too sweet for me.
- Specials – these are fun and well-made wines that are made for either restaurants or the Derech Hayayin stores in Israel.
- Single Vineyard Wines (Also called Reserve Wines) – this is the largest change of them all – labels wise. Here they have moved the Med series under the single vineyard label concept, though the labels themselves have not really changed. Actually, the reserve wines of old have folded under the Med series and now all the wines show the vines from which the wine was made. This is where the new Marawi wine lives.
- Flagship wines – what used to be called Special Reserve wines are now flagship wines. It consists of the red and white Special reserve wines.
While the number of labels may have expanded and their look changed, the essence of the winery which was the thrust of my previous post has not changed at all. The winery’s main focus is quality, and for most people, that continues to be the winery’s rallying cry. The prices of the single vineyard wines have gone up, which to me is a real problem because another of Recanati’s rallying cries was price control, and to me, they have lost control of that one, at least here in the USA. I think that issue is a combination of Palm Bay making hay while the sun shines (Wine Advocate, Wine Enthusiast, and others), and Recanati moving its prices up a bit as well. Read the rest of this entry
This past weekend my friends came over and we enjoyed some lovely Cabernet Sauvignon together, five were mine and two were brought by the guests. When you talk about Cabernet Sauvignon inevitably there are folks who love it and some who hate it. It is the grand-daddy of the noble grapes, it is the wine that has the history and stuffing to last and cellar for many years.
Cabernet will always be the classic and default red grape that most wine drinker will reach for. Why? Because it is well-known and consistent. I state this because if you buy a Cabernet Sauvignon from Hagafen Winery, Herzog Cellars, or many Israeli wineries, you may find ones you love and some you hate, but they are similar in nature. They are either green with classic graphite and green notes, or maybe they are black and red with other classic flavors. Since the start of kosher wines, all the wineries have started with the noble grapes; Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir. Some have done better with them and some have done a so-so job. Hagafen excels with their Cabernet Sauvignon that are sourced from the Napa Valley. Herzog, has been doing a really lovely job with their Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Israel, was dominated by Yarden in the past, but since 2008, they have lost their way and as I have stated before, this is not by accident – this is on purpose. Personally, I was irate when tasting two of Yarden’s masterpieces – the 2001 and 2008 Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon, El Rom. They were so impressive and of course they were two of the best vintages and Shmita wines as well, but since the 2008 vintage they have purposely turned their great fruit into pure date juice! I am so saddened by their actions, but my only option now is to look elsewhere and so I have with Flam Winery, Adir Winery, Recanati Winery, Castel Winery, Tabor Winery Limited Edition, French wines, and California wines. The French and Castel are not producing pure Cabernet Sauvignon wines, but that is OK! They are wines which have a majority of Cabernet and are of the ilk of the left bank wines of France – which are classically Cabernet based wines. Just looking at California Wineries, I would be hard pressed to not find everything I am looking for in a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Covenant Winery has been crushing it for the past 11 years when it comes to their epic Cabernet Sauvignon, and do not forget their Lot 70 Cabernet Sauvignon – which started in 2008 and has been getting better and better each year!
Herzog Winery has also been killing it in terms of Cabernet Sauvignon – involving a huge range of options. Starting at their incredibly well priced and QPR Baron Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, which has really been showing great potential from 2012 and on. The next price range is the Weinstock Cellar Select Cabernet that is really nice, and one that we had this shabbos. It started off slow, but with time, it filled out and was quite nice. After that there are the new range of Variations that are both very nice and well – thought provoking, which is exactly what Herzog is looking for. After them there is the ever consistent and reliable Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon Special Reserve from Alexander Valley. This wine is rarely off kilter and the 2013 is so on that it is very impressive. From there the prices start to rise and there is a large selection of options. There is the very consistent and impressive Chalk Hill Special Edition Cabernet Sauvignon. Then there is the never miss and beyond consistent Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon starring from the INSANE 2006 Tokalon masterpiece. Since then they have been hitting home run after home run, a truly impressive run given that each and every year – the vineyard is different! The Clone 6 have been hit or miss, but always enjoyable none the less. Finally, there have been the very special and unique Herzog XII line, which started with 2007 barrels aged for 6 years and then with a follow on 2010 vintage.
To be fair, I forgot about the B.R. Cohn wines from 2008, 2011, and 2013 in my last California wine post, but they do make OK wines. Sadly, the price is just too high for the wine quality. Read the rest of this entry
Well, Passover has come and gone and while I will not bore you with the details, I did get to cook my brisket and drink some very lovely wines. I have to say, I was away for this Passover from our home, and I brought some wines with me, many of which were great. However, I also visited Hungarian Kosher in Skokie, IL, the original home of kosherwine.com before they sold out to JWines.
When I was there I was happy to see that they were still selling lots of wine from all of the main distributors. The entire story of what happened to kosherwine.com and why it moved over to JWines, is not a mystery and much as it is politics and stuff I do not get into. This blog again, to remind many, is really for me to keep track of my notes and my wines, something I also do on Cellar Tracker. Still, when massive chances like this happen to the kosher wine industry some think I need to talk about it. Well, I do not agree. I like to converse about the overall wine industry, and the things I find issue with, such as the high cost of kosher wine, French Wines, and the date juice coming out of Israel.
The story of kosherwine.com is really not my business; it is between Dan and JWines and other people who I am friendly with, and something that is better left for table fodder.
Now, on to the wines. I was very happy to see a bottle of the 2002 Chateau Leoville Poyferre. WOW what a bottle! Another blockbuster wine that I enjoyed was the 2013 Harkham Shiraz, Aziza. We have spoken about the Harkham Winery and Richie Harkham here and here. The funny thing about this Aziza bottle is that the KA kosher supervision is not actually printed on the label! Mr. Harkham told me it was because of some glitch, and he sent me a letter from the KA, which stated clearly that the wine is officially kosher.
The next blockbuster was the 2009 Four Gates Merlot and the 2011 Four Gates Chardonnay. Both of them were insane and rich and really opened some few days after they were opened. Finally, the rose and whites from Hajdu and Shirah are still rocking and rolling and so are their new ones! Bravo guys!
After the blockbuster wines – I was lucky to spend some time with friends and family and we each shared wines with each other. My uncle shared a lovely bottle of the 2012 Quinta da Aveleda Vinho Verde Kosher Grinalda! I have never had this wine before, it is a white blend of some crazy grapes, I never heard of that was made in Portugal. I was skeptical to start – but WOW what a great wine and it is DIRT cheap. Sadly, it is only sold in Illinois. So, go to Binny’s or Vineyard’s in Lincolnwood and buy some.
My other friends, GM and RM shared two bottles of wines that they were aging for some time, maybe a bit too long (wink). They were a 1994 Yarden Merlot and a 1999 Hagafen Pinot Noir! Wow, sadly, they were both over the hill for sometime, but what a joy, honor, and experience to enjoy then with my friends. I shared with them a bottle of the 2013 Goose Bay Fume Blanc. The trade was nowhere near fair, but they were just being kind and I was happy to share more, but they seemed happy with that option. Shockingly, the star was yet another wine – a 2003 Weinstock Cellar Select Cabernet Sauvignon! That puppy was insane, rich, layered, black and mouth coating – LOVELY! That was a wine that was opened at its peak and we all GREATLY enjoyed!
The other visit was to BC and CG, CG made some two wicked cool brisket and other tasty side dishes. I shared the left overs of the 2002 Leoville Poyferre, the 2013 Aziza and they shared with me a lovely bottle of the 2008 Ella Valley Vineyards Vineyard’s Choice Personal and the 2012 La Fenetre Red Blend. Many thanks guys and feel better soon CG!!!!
Please post what you had for Passover, or at least your favorites ones from Passover!!
The wine notes follow below:
2003 Weinstock Cabernet Sauvignon, Cellar Select – Score: A- (and more)
WOW! Bravo guys, this is a wine, that is stored well will pay you back in deep dividends! The nose on this wine is redolent with dark brooding fruit, with hints of green notes and lovely cedar. The mouth is full and rich with layers of black and red berry, along with lovely and very elegant mouth coating tannin – lovely! The finish is long with roasted herb, vanilla, tobacco, sweet dill, and chocolate galore! Read the rest of this entry
The Recanati Winery was the realized life-long dream of Lenny (Leon) Recanati, a banker and true oenophile, who got his start in wine from his parents who made their own wine from their backyard vines. The winery’s stated goal from day one was to produce quality wines at reasonable prices – a truly noble mission statement which, as Recanati celebrates its first decade, it has accomplished beyond his wildest expectations. In addition to providing good value, Recanati is another winery from which you can buy any of their offerings and, while not every wine may be to your linking, you never have to worry about a bad wine.
“In order to go into the wine business, you have to have a passion for it. You have to have a love for it. Let’s say there are better businesses to go into, more profitable, more lucrative. Easier ways to make money,” said Recanati.
When Gil Shatsberg started making wine for Amphore Winery he tried to “take all the sunshine we have in Israel and push into the bottle and concentrate everything and shove it into the glass.” The wines were dense, heavy and high in alcohol.
“They were too big,” he explained. “I realized that when I couldn’t finish my own wine, that it was too heavy.”
Now he aims for wines that are more elegant with less alcohol.
“Wines with finesse that are tasty and fruity and you drink the vineyard and the sunshine in their elegance,” he said. Read the rest of this entry
The Recanati Winery is tucked away in the Industrial zone of Emek Hefer – a lovely town some 5 kilometers south of Hadera. The winery was built in 2000 by a group of oenophiles that were looking to build a world class winery to produce kosher wine that would truly compete on the world market. To this purpose they invested in a winery whose equipment is state of the art and a have access to a set of vineyards that are situated in the most envious of locations around Israel. The vineyards are spread throughout Israel’s wine regions – Upper Galilee, Judean Hills, Samson, and Shomron, and are closely monitored to extract the features that each region has to offer.
We appeared on a brisk Monday afternoon and were met by the current winemaker – Lewis Pasco. Lewis is a well known wine maker in Israel. He studied in UC David and from there went on to work in many prominent wineries – including Tishbi Winery and others. He joined the winery at its inception and has been there – ever since. However, he recently gave notice to the winery that he will be moving on – to pursue other opportunities with Israel or maybe abroad.
Meeting Lewis helped us to see the real success behind the Recanati brand and wines. For sure there is selling in a winery, along with marketing and such. However, Lewis says that Recanati is more about the wine and less about the bluster that wineries tend to display. The visitor room is a great example of that; it is a very nice spot within the winery, with awards and wines lining the walls. But it is not screaming look at me and the winery itself is inside the industrial zone – with a quiet external face – all very reminiscent of the winery’s approach to wine making – which is let the wine talk for itself.
Lewis was a highly accomplished chef before he turned his sights unto wine making – and his wines are a image of his tastes. They are not the California power houses, with exception to maybe the Special Reserve and Shiraz. That is not to say the wines are lacking – wine is not all about noise and attention grabbing oak. It is about balance – and all of Lewis’s wines are complex with balance and just enough show to tell you they are there – without stealing the show of what is going on in your palate. Even in the vineyards Lewis is of the opinion that the vines need not be managed to give out more fruit or that jammy flavor that seems to be popping up more and more in wine. Lewis’s vineyards are an envy of many a wine maker, and Lewis makes sure that just like his wine – the vineyards are not managed, but instead – kept to bring out the vines true and real potential.
We conversed about many a thing – mostly the wine but other topics as well, and one of the thoughts that keep popping up when I talk with owners or wine makers in Israel is marketing. Recanati does little marketing – letting the wine and their loyal fans take up the word for the winery. But with the current expansion of wineries within Israel and the global kosher wine market growing at a nice clip – how does one make sure that the consumer knows what varietals each winery has to sell them? Marketing outside of Israel was a constant topic of discussion and one that I think Israel must solve on a whole – not on a one off manner that most wineries are attempting to do.
Our time spent with Lewis was a real education – and we want to thank Lewis, Noam the CEO of Recanati – who stopped by during our visit, and the the entire winery for hosting us and showing us such a wonderful time. Following are the tasting notes which we sampled at the winery.
Recanati 2005 Shiraz – Score: B+
This wine that was aged in a mixture of American and French Oak for 8 months has a red to black color. The nose has oak and dark fruits that peek out from under the assault of the jammy aroma. The medium bodied wine starts floral and then at the mid palate changes to plum and and black berries. The structure is balanced with soft and integrated tannins.
Recanati 2004 Cabernet Franc Reserve – Score: A-
The grapes for this wine come from the Manara Vineyard in the Upper Galilee (750m). This wine that was aged in a mixture of French and Hungarian oak for 15 months has a medium to garnet color. The nose of this wine hits you with grass and floral aromas, with hints of oak. This medium to full bodied wine starts with green flavors that carry over from the nose and follow with floral notes wrapped in a blanket of berries and oak. Soft tannins and just the right amount of acid balance this wine out quite nicely.
Recanati 2004 Merlot Reserve – Score: B+
The grapes come from the Upper Galilee and were aged in French oak for 15 – 18 months. The color of this wine is dark red. The nose starts off with green and floral aromas but continues with cherry and berries. The medium to full bodied wine palate continues where the nose left off. The berries and cherry notes caress your mouth and finish with a long flourish of green notes and sweet wood flavors.
Recanati 2005 Petite Sirah and Zinfandel (PSZ) Reserve – Score: A-
The grapes of this dark to black colored wine come from grapes grown in the Jezreel Valley and the Upper Galilee. The color comes from the Petite Sirah’s black colored grapes. The nose is filled with green earthy aromas and hints of berry, cherry and oak. This full bodied wine has strong structure that needs time to mellow out. The body shows jammy flavors, tar and a fair amount of oak. The finish is long and satisfying wrapped in tannins and black fruit.
Recanati 2006 Chardonnay Reserve – Score: A-
The grapes for this electric straw colored wine come from the Manara and Ben Zimra vineyards. The nose is strong with lychees and honey suckle. The mouth is round with citrus flavors and lychees. The finish is medium to long with just enough acid and oak to balance out the wine quite nicely.
Recanati 2007 Rose – Score: B++
This pink colored wine has all you want in a rose. Lychees, and cotton candy steal the nose. The mouth of this light to medium bodied wine is very active and crisp. Green and herbal notes come through the curtain fresh berries and finish with a satisfying flourish of berries and lychees.
Recanati 2004 Special Reserve – Score: A-
This wine needs time to open up my friends! Lewis opened this bottle and all we could smell was green. But as it opened up the merlot (8%) and cabernet (92%) came through. The nose started to open with notes of black fruit, blackberries, and oak. The mouth of this full bodied wine is heavy with tannin still and will lie well in the cellar for some time to come. The tannin gives way to cassis, blackberries and more oak. The finish is long with hints of chocolate and dark fruit.
Recanati 2005 Shiraz Reserve – Score: A-
This purple colored wine has a nose filled with green vegetation and dark fruits. This medium to full bodied wine opens with dark fruit, cassis, and cherries. It follows with biting tannins and has a long finish of tar and oak.
Recanati 2006 Cabernet Franc Reserve (Barrel Tasting) – Score: A-
This red to dark wine has strong green to floral notes followed by cherry and oak. The mouth of this medium bodied wine is fruit forward, with grassy green flavors, and a long finish of oak and red berries. A real winner and one that truly shows the styling of Recanati wines – more fruit less bluster.