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2013 Kosher Food and Wine Experience (KFWE) lived up to all its billing

For years I have always sported a purple colored beaming grin when I finish my tasting at the IFWF (International Food and Wine Festival) in LA, which hid my grumbling stomach’s discontent. Like I have documented for years, I never get to eat at the events, even as the entire food court mocks me, attempting to pull me into their warm, delicious, and very present embrace, with their wafting and intoxicating aromas. Still, I stand strong and I taste through the night until my teeth are purple and my stomach is close to rioting on the lack of food. Truth be told, I am not that good at taking notes when eating – the flavors of the food cover up and belie the flavors and aromas of the glass that beckons me closer with its “come hither” look and aromas. So every year, after the event I go to dinner at Jeff’s Sausage (down the street from the new location of the IFWF). Which is sheer madness of course, here I have half the Pavilion at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, filled with food from one of the best kosher restaurants in the world – Tierra Sur Restaurant, and I pass on that for the spicy and homely fare of Jeff’s Sausage. In no way is this a slight to the joy of Jeff Rohatiner’s cookery and food. Rather, it has been my conscious tradeoff, throughout my many year experience at IFWF to drink through as much of the world-class wine I can before my taste-buds shutdown, rather than give them to the food court, no matter how wonderful it is.

This year was a massive shift for me, gone was the purple grin and my mutinous stomach, as I visited and added the New York KFWE to my travel dates. To say the KFWE was different than the IFWF would be an extreme understatement, the IFWF has close to 1000 people at the show, while the KFWE has closer to 2000 people. Further the event hall at Pier 60 is some 2 to 3 times larger than the Pavilion tent at the Hyatt Regency. Also, there were many options for lunch and dinner from the myriad of NY restaurants that all share half the hall, all clamoring to share their wonderful fare with great fanfare. The Pier 60 overlooks the Marina and Harbor and many folks were outside braving the cold to grab a smoke, but at least they had some comfort of looking at the marina and its waterfront.

To really appreciate the event you had to come to it with a game plan, and there were many guests who had a few of their own. The event started at Noon for those in the trade, a new thing that the KFWE started last year and something that the IFWF has been doing from the start (though initially with a smaller trade time). The trade event was crowded but there could not have been more than a thousand folks there, so access to wine was not a problem in any way. The event hall can easily handle 1000 people, it is a bit more complicated when the number swells to two thousand people, but still there was no pushing or shoving going on even at the end of the public tasting, when the number of guests was at its maximum. But I digress; the trade tasting allowed me to focus solely on wine and the winemakers, which was great. Read the rest of this entry

2012 Herzog International Wine Festival – part two of wine notes

As stated in the previous posting on this lovely event, there were many wines to taste and there was no way I could post all the wine notes in a single posting. Here is my follow-up posting on the wines tasted at the event, including the wines that I loved and did not love.

The wine notes are listed in the order that I tasted them:

2010 Domaine Netofa – White – Score: B++
The nose on this light gold colored wine shows clean and lovely nose of green apple, peach, grapefruit, kiwi, light quince, and rich/nice loamy dirt and mineral. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich and balanced with nice minerality, along with nice bright fruit that mingles well in the mouth. The finish is long and spicy with nice quince, tart green apple, grapefruit, and green tea.

2010 Binyamina Chardonnay, Reserve, Unoaked – Score: B
This wine did not show nearly as well as its 2009 sibling, the wine was flat without much to grab your attention. The nose on this straw colored wine has apple, lemon, nice mineral, bright acid, and melon. The mouth is somewhat plush and the finish has citrus to round out the wine.

2010 Binyamina Chardonnay, Reserve – Score: B+
This wine did not show nearly as well as its 2009 sibling, though not as bad as its unoaked twin. The nose on this dark straw colored wine has light oak, brioche, lemon, nice spice, light creme, and honey. The mouth is round with spice, summer fruit, and oak influence.

2011 Tulip White Tulip – Score: B++
This wine is a blend of 70% Gewurztraminer and 30% Sauvignon Blanc with the sweet and floral notes of the Gewurztraminer showing nicely with honey and guava, while the green apple and bright lemon notes from the Sauvignon Blanc blend together in a unique manner. The nose on this straw colored wine hits you with mineral, light honey, bright lemon, green apple, and guava. The mouth is nice and honeyed with light petrol, and citrus. The finish is long with both sweet lemon creme and bright lemon at the same time, along with fig, and tart notes. This is a great wine that would go well with fish or sushi.

Read the rest of this entry

NV Yarden Brut, Segal Rechasim Dishon Cabernet Sauvignon, and other OK wines

I will keep this one short, as I want to get to my top wines of the year post. However, my wife and I spent the first part of Saturday night prepping, breaking down, and rolling 60 sushi rolls filled with Hamachi, Salmon, Tuna, and julienned vegetables. All I will say is that there was little to none of it left before the evening was over.

We enjoyed some lovely still and sparkling wines, along with some very not so great wines as well. The wine notes are iffy, as I was not taking serious notes, except for one wine that was the clear winner of the evening.

The wine notes follow below:

NV Yarden Brut – Score: B+ to B++
The first interesting thing to note about this sparkler is that it was produced in 2001 and not produced again, so we are talking about a 10 to 11 year old wine made from equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The nose on this straw to pink colored wine is rich with citrus notes, peach, tart green apples, fresh flowers, and brioche. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is effervescent with a lovely mousse of many small bubbles, creamy and delicate attack of tart green apple, citrus, and acid backbone that is definitely not dead in any way.  The finish is long, creamy, and moussy with brioche, toast, tart apples and lemony goodness. Fun stuff that works great with sushi.

2007 Segal Rechasim Dishon Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: A–
The nose on this black colored wine is super rich with rich cedar, tobacco, cassis, rich ripe plum, licorice, raspberry, and chocolate. The mouth on this rich and medium bodied wine is mouth coating with lovely tannin, raspberry, rich ripe plum, cassis, integrated tannin, and cedar. The mid palate is rich and lovely with good acid, tobacco, cassis, chocolate, tobacco, and cedar. The finish is long and rich with sweet cedar, tobacco, cassis, ripe plum, chocolate, and tobacco. This is a rich and concentrated wine that has just enough to grab your attention but is also a bit played out with its not so unique flavor profile. Still a fun and rich wine that has two or so years left in its legs.

Baron Herzog Brut Champagne – Score: B-
Sorry this wine did not make the mental cut for me – the flavors do not meld in any way that makes sense to me.

2006 Rotheberg Cellars Pinotage – Score: N/A
DOA, OK but really not that interesting.

Rosh Hashanah 2010/5771 – Friday Night

To start, Friday Night was not Rosh Hashanah; I just put Rosh Hashanah in the title of this blog posting because it came right after it, and to be true I could not come up with a better title 🙂 There were six meals in total eaten during the three day holiday time, and we had guests for two of them and ate in for the rest. It all started with the wonderful meal and get together on Wednesday Night, as described in my previous post. The next meal we had with guests was on Friday Night. Sandwiched in between them were three meals on our own, where I enjoyed wine from the first night. Thursday and Friday afternoon we enjoyed brie, fresh vine ripe tomatoes, and avocado. Thursday Night we had some more simanim, along with a sneak peek of Friday Night’s main course, along with some Roasted Fresh Green Beans, sliced onions, and a fresh salad.

Friday Night started with Lox and Boiled Eggs, along with Benyoganoush. Benyoganoush is Benyamin Cantz spin on Babaganoush. I call it a spin, because until we enjoyed the dish at Benyamin’s house, we were used to only store bought Babaganoush that is normally roasted eggplant submerged in a pool of mayonnaise – Yuk! However, Benyamin taught us that the recipe is truly as simple as it comes! The main course consisted of Tri-Sausage Stew, Brown Rice, Parve Spinach Kugel/Soufflé, and a fresh green salad. The Tri-Sausage stew consisted of three different sausages, as the name suggests; 12 oz of Merguez cut into chunks, 12 oz of Italian Sausage cut into chunks, and 12 oz of Tofurkey Kielbasa sausage. The rest of the Kielbasa Stew recipe stands (pretty much).

One of our guests brought us a Bordeaux, while I struck out with a so-so to bad bottle of Segal Fusion and a not so bad bottle of Vouvray, which is a Chenin Blanc wine that turned out to be quite nice.

The meal was a joy, because we got the chance to stretch our legs from the grueling Rosh Hashanah services that were long, and well worrisome. It is after all the Day of Judgment, with Yom Kippur being the day our judgment is sealed. We sang some lovely Shabbos songs, spoke about the week’s Torah portion, and just kicked back a bit. It was a wonderful meal, with a lovely group of friends, along with nice food and wine. Again, may God seal us all for a year of life, success, joy, and health – Shana Tova and Gamar Chatima Tova!

The wine notes follow below in the order they were served:

2007 Segal Fusion (Israel, Galilee, Upper Galilee) – Score: B
The nose on this purple colored wine shows clear effects of mevushal, the nose has cooked plum, blackberry, raspberry, black fruit, loamy dirt, spice, and oak. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is spicy with black pepper, cooked blackberry, plum/prune, and dirt. The mid palate is balanced with oak, nice tannins, and tobacco. The finish is long and spicy with cooked black fruit, raspberry, loamy dirt, and licorice.

2008 Clos de Nouys Vouvray Moelleux (France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray) – Score: B++
The nose on this straw to gold colored wine is rich and honeyed, with wet grass, floral, green apple, honey, guava, pear, and citrus. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is rich with honey, floral notes, green apple, and tropical fruit. The mid palate is semi-sweet with bracing and balanced acid and orange peel. The finish is long with honey, floral notes, tropical fruit, and citrus. A nice wine that has just enough complexity to get your attention and keep it, but not for long enough. This is pairs nicely with spicy food, medium to hard cheese, and rich white sauces.

2005 Château Le Bourdieu (France, Bordeaux, Médoc) – Score: B to B+
The nose and mouth on this wine starts off very slowly and can definitely use some air, but it is also a wine that is at its peak or a bit behind it, so it is a very careful balance that you need to keep an eye out for. The nose on this browning garnet colored wine has cherry, raspberry, currant, a hint of plum, along with coffee, smoke, bell pepper, and mineral. The mouth on this medium bodied wine has raspberry, currant, plum, and cherry. The mid palate is acidic with oak, almost integrated tannin, and oak. The finish is spicy and long with mineral, acid, coffee, and vegetal notes. This is a wine that works well with light meat, chicken, and medium cheese. The wine is one that can is medium weighted with enough to get some attention, but not enough to make it worthy of must have wine. Open it an hour in advance and then start enjoying it. Also, it is really nice chilled down to about 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cholent, Spicy Food, and Segal Cabernet Sauvignon Special Reserve

This past weekend saw us sharing a Kiddush with my Brother and family after my nephew completed his Bar Mitzvah portion splendidly well.  The spread we were presented with was absolutely outstanding!  It included a North African Cholent called – dafina (wheat berry, onions, and meat), and a European Cholent (potatoes, meat, onions, etc.).  In addition to the cholent(s), there were an assorted number of chicken options, along with tons of other salads and side dishes (including some smoking hot peppers and olives).

Well, before Shabbos I picked up two bottles of wine.  One was a 1999 Nebbiolo wine that I found at the wine store, and it was DOA.  The other was a 2004 Segal Cabernet Sauvignon, which was quite nice.

The wine went well with the cholent and spicy dishes and was enjoyed by others at the table.

The wine note follows below:

2004 Segal Cabernet Sauvignon Special Reserve – Score: B+
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is hopping with sweet oak, blackberry, cranberry, and dark chocolate.  The mouth on this fat yet not complex full bodied wine is somewhat mouth coating, and carries along with it the fruit characteristics from the nose, with blackberry and cranberry.  The mid palate is balanced with well integrated tannins and acidity, that pick up the fruit flavors while adding some fullness to the mouth.  The finish is medium long with more black fruit and a nice chocolate presence.  The wine is effective, but not a complex wine, like the 2003 Ella Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Lasagna, Cotes Du’ Rhone, Segal Dishon Cabernet Sauvignon, and Psagot Cabernet Sauvignon

This past week we had a table full of friends and family that went late into the night.  It was a grand time for sure, and the table was graced by a few bottles of yet unreleased wines, along with some enjoyable wines that are readily available as well.  The evening started with my now signature olive soup, that I modified from Mollie Katzen original vegetarian cookbook, which is getting harder and harder to find.  The soup is so nice because of the Kalamata olives that are used in the recipe.  We tried to cook this soup once without Kalamata olives – and in the end, you could have just eaten the olives, it would have been a better use of them.  The soup loses all reasons to exist, without the Kalamata olives. The lima beans that are in there as well complete the flavor and texture profile of the soup.

We followed the Olive soup with a meat only version of Lasagna.  We have made the meat lasagna many times, and its only real fault is that it is not as gooey as cheese lasagna.  The cheese adds the glue that is needed to keep the whole package together.  In its place the meat only lasagna, has no real glue, but the texture is still nice and the flavors are really well accentuated.  The recipe comes from a cookbook I have, but its main idea is browned ground meat, sautéed onion, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, and mostly herbs – with a few spices.  Place the andante lasagna noodles on a layer of sauce at the bottom of a 9×13 pan.  Then place meat sauce on top of the bottom layer, followed by another layer of lasagna noodles, and then another layer of meat sauce, and then the final layer of lasagna noodles, followed by a light layer of meat sauce, to keep the top moist.

The 2007 Le Mourre de L’Isle Côtes du Rhône excites me because of its A.O.C., more than its score.  There are not that many Côtes du Rhône kosher wines around, and it gives us a chance to taste this interesting wine.  It is made with 60% Black Grenache – 40% Mourvedre, which are not very common kosher wine varietals.

We paired the lasagna with bold red wines and I think they paired well.  The wines notes follow below:

Psagot Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 – Score: B+
The nose on this garnet colored wine is another nice Israeli Cabernet. It is packed with chocolate, raspberry, blackberry, and serious amount of oak. The nose is not hot and is enveloping with heavy oak and chocolate. The mouth of this full bodied wine is soft and almost mouth coating. This wine required a long time to open up, and the patient wine connoisseur will be rewarded. The soft mouth melds well with raspberry, blackberry, and cassis. The mid palate is balanced with bright acidity, large amounts of oak, integrated tannins, and chocolate. The finish is long with more chocolate, leather, and a final dollop of oak. Another nice Israeli Cabernet that shows like a California Cabernet.

Segal Cabernet Sauvignon Single Vineyard Kosher Kerem Dishon 2005 – Score: A-
The nose on this red garnet wine is screaming with oak, cassis, blackberry, raspberry, and tons of dark chocolate. This nose on this wine is really quite special, and in many ways its nicest feature. This full bodied wine coats your mouth with oak first and foremost, almost reminiscent of a California Cabernet. The mouth follows with blackberry and cassis. The mid palate is packed with acidity, more oak and softening tannins. The medium long finish is flush with oak, coffee, and chocolate. This is a fun wine and one well worth the cost.

Le Mourre de L’Isle Côtes du Rhône 2007 – Score: B+
The nose on this purple colored wine is filled with blackberry, cranberry, cloves, coffee, and initially hot. After it has enough air, about 1 to two hours, the nose cleans up, and a bit of oak is noticeable, along with black cherry and more cloves. The mouth on this dense and interesting, yet not so complex wine starts with layers of black cherry, followed by hints of blackberry and a sensation that can only be described as chicken cherry cola. The dense flavors roll into a soft and oaky mid palate. The finish is medium long with a trail of oak, pepper and coffee.

Cheese with Four Gates, Galil Rose, and Segal Cabernet Sauvignon Special Reserve

This past week we had a cheese and wine party with our friends from around the area.  The evening started with a mixture of hard and soft cheeses.  We had a plate of Asiago, Swiss, and Cheddar cheese.  Another plate of Muenster, Baby Gouda, Monterey Jack, Brie, and Chive augmented cheese as well.  We had a bowl or two of walnuts.  Finally, we had a few plates of latkes that disappeared quickly upon arrival to the table from the oven, and a quiche that a friend brought by.

To match all this yummy stuff we opened two bottles of wine and some friends brought some wine as well (along with more cheese!).  We opened two Four Gates Winery wines, a Pinot Noir and a Syrah.  Our friends brought over a bottle of Galil Rose 2007, while another friend brought over a bottle of Segal Cabernet Sauvignon Special Reserve 2004.  A VERY important note, the Galil and Segal wines were nice out of the bottle, but became really yummy a few hours after it was opened.

We wanted to thank all the guys that came on over to share our holiday cheer. The wine notes follow below.

Four Gates Pinot Noir N.V. – Score: A-
Our previous notes are holding quite nicely, but I wanted to add that the mouth on the wine this time tasted far more full bodied than before.  The tannins are slowing down a tad, and allowing more of the fruit to show through, under the wine’s velvety covers.

Four Gates Syrah 2004 – Score: A-
Our previous notes are holding quite nicely, and this wine was not only the favorite of the evening, but it went exceptionally well with the Asiago.

Galil Mountain Rose 2007 – Score: B to B+
The nose on this vibrant pink colored wine was filled with grapefruit, raspberry, cherry, citrus, and floral notes.  The nose is the true highlight of this wine.  The mouth on this light to medium bodied wine is not very complex, but still a nice quaff.  Raspberry hits you first, with wave after wave of acidity, citrus, and cloves.  The finish is long with more acidity and spice.  This is a truly acidic and citrus packed wine, with a bit of fruit to round out the wine.

Segal Cabernet Sauvignon Special Reserve 2004 – Score: B++
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is packed with blackberry, cassis, raspberry, sage, mint, cherry, and oak.  The nose was really nice and kept going and going, really nice.  This full bodied and mouth coating wine starts with blackberry, cassis, sage, and mint.  The mid palate has a nice acidic core with integrated tannins, and a touch of coffee.  The finish is long with more coffee, oak, and integrated tannins.  This is another nice wine for the buck.

Friday night and Saturday day…

Went to friends for dinner and lunch, so I brought some wine over.  It was fascinating to taste a bunch of these wines within a short period of time – not like the wine tasting we had a few months ago – but still very fun indeed.

Chateau Le Crock, Saint Estephe 2002 – Score: A-
This is a thick and tasty wine.  Very complex with layers, full in the mouth, and it still is quite tannic.  The color of this wine is a dark blue to purple.  The nose is full of black fruit – blackberries, plums, and coffee, with some green vegetal aromas.  The mouth on this massive full-bodied wine is velvety and complex.  The black fruit flows in the beginning, with a mid palate of chocolate and something green, and a finish of spice and oak.  This wine is a winner and at its current price now online – it is a winner.

Yarden Chardonnay 2003 – Score: A-
The nose on this dark straw colored wine has aromas of peach, citrus, butter, and TONS of oak.  This is a classic California Chardonnay.  The mouth on this full-bodied Chardonnay is full of oak, butter, and citrus.  The finish is nice and spicy – which makes the wine feel complex.  The wine is really not very complex – but the shift of the flavors makes it quite enjoyable.  The fullness of this chardonnay makes it feel ripe and a bit fat – but is balanced nicely with the acidity and spice.

Chillag Orna Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 – Score: A-
The nose on this dark and almost impenetrable black colored (unfiltered) wine is strong with earthy aromas, cranberry, blackberry, a bit of green, and a fair amount of oak.  The mouth on this wine changes often from when we opened it to when it was finished a couple of hours later.  The wine starts almost cold to the touch – like a first date; not very talkative and almost boring.  The wine wakes to a strong-minded woman very quickly and it is quite enjoyable to say the least (disclaimer – no meaning to my comparison – just the first thing that came to my mind Smile).  The mouth of this full-bodied wine is not complex – but fun nonetheless.  The flavors are fruit forward and the wine’s tannic nature comes through loud and clear.  The tannins have yet to integrate – but when they do this wine will be nicer.  My question will be whether the wine has much body behind that tannin – time will tell.  The mid palate is nice but the finish of mint and spice makes it fun.  This is the first release Carmel did with Orna (acting as a guest wine maker).  Orna has a very successful Israeli boutique winery on her own called Chillag Winery – though, unfortunately it is not kosher.

Segal’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Unfiltered 2002 – Score: A-
This was the winner of the day – hands down.  The nose on this wine explodes – like a geyser throwing aromas in every direction.  Really quite a joy.  The nose on this impenetrable black colored wine was filled with blackberry, cranberry, coffee, chocolate, oak, along with a strong sweet flavor – almost date like in nature, and some allspice thrown in as well.  When smelling this wine at the start I said this is a hot wine.  A wine, which has zero green flavors in it, and the mouth, solidified that thought.  This was a fruit and spice wine – with zero green flavors to be found.  The mouth on this nice complex wine is really fun.  It starts with a strong attack of fruit that is complex by the nature of the many fruits that come at you along with the layers of the fruits as well.  Blackberry, cranberry, raspberry hit you first, the mid palate comes with a strong attack of coffee and chocolate.  The finish is laced with what I first thought was tar along with leather and oak.  The tar flavors dissipated quickly – but I swear it was there – weird for a cab to display tar flavors – but who knows.  Totally wild ride and the true winner of all the wines tasted this past weekend.

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