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The kosher wines I enjoyed this past Passover

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 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 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 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

Bashan Winery in the Upper Galilee

Bashan Winery

Bashan Winery

This small and new winery in the Upper Galilee has been the talk of the Upper Galilee since its inaugural 2004 release.  Why you may ask?  Well like all these small wineries popping up across the beautiful expanse of Israel’s landscape – this winery is a boutique winery that produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Port like wines.  But what makes this winery so very special – is that it is 100% organic.  Organic wines have been gaining in popularity for some time now.  To explain briefly there is a difference between organic wine and wine made from organically grown grapes.  The major difference is sulfites.  Wine made with sulfites cannot be deemed organic.  However, the grapes can be organic as long as they follow Agrior’s guidelines for growing wine grapes.

So what is Sulfites?  They are nothing more then a preservative for wine.  They were added into wine staring in the last century or so.  Before then people got along fine without using them – why?  Because sulfites occur naturally in wine.  The extra sulfites one may add allow for the wine to stay on the shelf or in the cellar longer.  So most wine makers that bottle organic wine will say that white wines should be drunk within the year and within the day of opening it.  Red wines have a bit more life to them – 5 years or so, as sulfites are far more prevalent in red wines.

Many wineries have wines made of organically grown grapes – this is a trend that according to Uri Rapp (one of the owners of Bashan Winery) is growing.  Grapes that make up Yarden’s Odem Chardonnay are grown organically, and so are many more.  Why?  Uri says because it is healthier for the land, the people who tend the land and finally – the people who enjoy his wine.

We met Uri at the winery on a cold winter day.  He explained that the idea for a winery started in 1999 between himself and the other owner of the winery – Emanuel Dassa.  In 2000 they planted 20 dunam of grapes close to the winery in Avnei Eitan.  The vineyards are rich in basaltic soil and have an elevation of 450m.  Of course to grow the vines organically – no pesticides, chemicals, or fertilizer.  Only organic products are used in maintaining the vineyards, and Uri hopes that this attention to the land and the vines, will allow his children and grand-children to harvest grapes from these very vines for a long time to come.

The winery is a converted milking shed from a dairy farm that Uri helped run until 2001.  After that Uri turned his attentions to wine making and built the winery with proper equipment for fermenting, aging, and bottling wine.  Currently production is at around 7,000 bottles with plans to get that number up to 80 thousand bottles.  It is this hands on approach and the attention to detail that has many people talking about the winery and about the future of organic wines and vineyards in Israel.

We would like to thank Uri for his hospitality and time when visiting his winery.  Following are the tasting notes which we sampled at the winery.

Bashan Cabernet Sauvignon Eitan 2005 – Score: A-
The nose on this electric Bordeaux red colored wine is filled with figs and black fruit.  The mouth of this full bodied wine has ripe raspberry, sour cherry, and oak notes.  The finish is long and satisfying.  The tannins balance well with the acid and allow the fruit to come through in the finish.

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