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September 28, 2016 / 25 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’

In Praise Of Merlot Wine

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

   Like Cinderella, wines based on the Merlot grape have too often been forced by their older and better- established sisters to sit in a corner, just a bit ashamed to make a public appearance. In Bordeaux, where the grape originated, and is, in fact, the most often planted grape in the region, Merlot grapes have a reputation for producing soft wines of limited character. The grapes have never been ignored however. Because wines made from Merlot are said to reduce the sharpness of other wines, they are often blended in relatively small quantities into some of the great Cabernet Sauvignon wines. For many years very few European winemakers gave much thought to bottling a pure Merlot. Even in California, Italy and Chile, where a good deal of Merlot wine is produced, many wineries have a problem selling it because potential buyers have been fairly well convinced that a Merlot simply cannot be as good as a Cabernet Sauvignon. The image of Merlot was tarnished even further in the 2004 film “Sideways,” in which one of the protagonists devoted a great deal of time to derogating it.


   All of which is not entirely fair, for the Merlot grape is the basis of the wine of Chateau Petrus, unquestionably one of the greatest Bordeaux red wines. Known as the “king of Pomerol,” Chateau Petrus has produced more consistently great wines year after year than any other chateau in Bordeaux. Rich, supple and elegant at all times and reaching extraordinary heights of finesse in good vintage years, these wines are highly prized and accordingly priced. Simply stated, the fact that Chateau Petrus is based on 95 percent of Merlot grapes demonstrates that in addition to the grape, climate and soil play dominant roles in the creation of great wines. At this writing, the Merlot grape is alive and doing quite well in Israel, the wines giving good competition to many other red grapes.


   The first local winery to come out with a wine based primarily on Merlot grapes was The Golan Heights Winery in 1986. Based on 85 percent Merlot and 15 percent Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, the 1986 wine was little short of superb and the winery has continued to release fine wines made from Merlot, some of those from single vineyards. Many other wineries have now followed this trend.


   Unlike the wines of Chateau Petrus that should never be drunk before they are 10 years old, the best Israeli Merlots are drinkable as early as three years after the harvest. Fermented for about two weeks with their skins, the wines are then aged for 10-16 months in 225 liter oak barrels – some from France, others from the United States. After that, the wines are aged in the bottle for 10-12 months before they are released to the market.


   Following are reviews of some of the very best current releases of Israeli kosher Merlot:


   Bustan, Bustan, Merlot, 2006: A luxuriant and rich wine, dark garnet toward royal purple in color, reflecting its 22 months in oak with notes of vanilla and cinnamon and soft, supple tannins that caress rather than “grab.” On the nose and palate a generous array of plums, black cherries, currants, mocha and toasty oak, all lingering comfortably on a remarkably long finish on which tannins and spices rise nicely. A supple and generous wine, perhaps best matched with large or small cuts of lamb or mutton. Drink now-2016. Score: 93.


   Yarden, Merlot, Kela (Sha’al) Vineyard, 2008: Full-bodied, concentrated and well-focused, showing layer after layer of blackberries, plums, espresso coffee and fresh sage, and roasted herbs. Give this one time and it will show hints of leather. An intense wine, but with the potential for elegance. Drink now-2018, perhaps longer. Score: 93.

Daniel Rogov

The Super-Tasting Women

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

There are two popular wine-related beliefs making the rounds these days, both of which deserve to be put to rest because they are nothing more than pure and unadulterated nonsense. The first of these would have us believe that men are better qualified to taste wine than women, and the second that some wines are more appropriate for men and others for women.


At least since the 1950s, it has been well demonstrated that the ability to taste wines (or for that matter any other food or beverage) is determined almost entirely by the number of taste buds on the tongues and the density of scent receptors in the nostrils. Thirty years passed with no major research into the question of taste, but starting in the mid-1990s, largely because major food producers were interested in determining to whom they should direct their advertising campaigns, interest in the subject revived in Europe and North America – and several major research studies were undertaken. At Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Grenoble, biologists came up with two sets of findings. The first, that had been more or less known by people in the food and wine industry for a hundred or more years, was that people fall into three broad categories – non-tasters, normal tasters and super-tasters; that is to say, people with limited ability, normal ability and extra-ordinary ability to discern the flavors and aromas in foods and beverages.


What amazed the researchers (who were mostly males) and the wine-tasting public (especially the male chauvinists among that group) was the second finding: nearly 80 percent of super-tasters are women and not men. Simply stated, women have a genetic proclivity toward having a greater number of taste buds and a greater concentration of scent receptors. That makes them better qualified than the majority of men to taste wines. It is thus far more than mere coincidence that those women who write about food and wine rank very high indeed among the most highly respected people who write about such things in order to make their living.


As to wines that are “appropriate” for women, all I can do is chuckle quietly. While it is true that some wines are described as “masculine” and others as “feminine,” even a quick glance at that terminology shows that the descriptors used are taken from misguided beliefs and stereotypes about what men and women are supposed to be like. Wines that are said to be masculine, for example, are described in terms of being aggressive, muscular, deep, flinty, strong, forward, coarse, and even vulgar. Those said to be feminine are soft, gentle, subtle, sensual, caressing, warm, and even “sexy.”


On one hand these terms (except perhaps the last) can honestly be used when describing wines. On the other hand, however, stating that men tend to favor wines described as masculine and women those that are feminine is an obvious error. Many recent market analyses in France and the United States have shown that women and men have precisely the same partiality to deep, young and aggressive wines than they do to soft, subtle and caressing white wines.


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Following, as promised in last month’s column, are reviews of quality wines from Italy and France, none of which will set us back a small fortune and all of which are thoroughly enjoyable under the right circumstances. Keep in mind that these wines, all of which are readily available at better wine shops and online wine sites in the greater metropolitan New York area, are all meant to be consumed now or in the next year or so.




Sara Bee, Moscato, Puglia, n.v.: A rich and lively aperitif or dessert wine. Light golden straw in color, generously frizzante, showing pear, apple and dried apricot fruits on a lightly honeyed and spicy background. Medium-bodied with generous sweetness in fine balance with lively acidity. Served lightly chilled and do not be the least bit embarrassed to do as the Italians do by adding an ice cube or two to your glass. $6. Score: 88.


Bartenura, Chianti, Ovadia Estates, Tuscany, 2009: Ruby to garnet in color, medium-bodied with soft tannins and an appealing berry-black-cherry personality. Not complex but easy to drink. Drink now. $14. Score: 85.


Bartenura, Pinot Grigio, Veneto, 2010: Golden straw in color, light- to medium-bodied and nicely dry. On the nose and palate, citrus, green apples and notes of tropical fruits. Clean, fresh and refreshing. A pleasant quaffer. Drink now. $11. Score: 85.


Borgo Reale, Maturo, Puglia, 2009: A medium-bodied blend of 55 percent Primitivo and 45 percent Negromaro grapes, dark garnet in color with gently caressing tannins and a spicy and red fruit nose. Opens in the glass to reveal red and black berries, cassis and earthy minerals, those followed by notes of licorice. Drink now. Score: 85.


Borgo Reale, Pinot Grigio, Puglia, 2010: A virtual twin to the 2009 release. Light golden straw, light- to medium-bodied, with citrus, mango and papaya fruits highlighted by good acidity. A good quaffer. Drink now. $12. Score: 85.


S’forno, Cabernet Sauvignon, Veneto, 2007: Medium-dark royal purple, medium-bodied with somewhat chunky tannins and showing a basic blackberry and black cherry personality. One- dimensional, but an acceptable entry-level red. Drink now. $16. Score: 85.




Capçanes, Peraj Petita, Montsant, Catalunya, 2008: Garnet toward royal purple, medium- to full-bodied, with gently gripping tannins and spicy wood needing a bit of time to settle in. On the nose and palate blackberries, currants, freshly cut herbs and notes of earthy minerals, all leading to a long, chocolate rich finish. Drink now-2014. $19. Score: 90.


Elvi, Ness, Ribera del Jucar, 2008: Very nice indeed. A blend of Tempranilo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Bobal grapes showing medium- to full-bodied with gently caressing tannins and generous aromas and flavors of blackcurrants, blackberries and figs. Drink now. $15. Score: 87.


Elvi, Classico, Ribera del Jucar, 2008: A blend of 88 percent Tempranillo and 12 percent Merlot, showing garnet-red toward royal purple, medium-bodied, softly tannic and very gently oaked. On the nose and palate blackberries, plums, wild berries and earth minerals. Drink now. $12. Score: 85.


En Fuego, Tempranillo, Spain, 2009: Medium-bodied, with soft, gently gripping tannins and opening in the glass to reveal a cherry-berry personality, the fruits overlaid with notes of freshly picked mushrooms. Drink now. $10. Score: 85.


Ramón Cardova, Rioja, 2009: A straightforward Rioja, made from Tempranillo grapes, showing dark ruby toward garnet, medium-bodied, with soft tannins and generous acidity. Opens in the glass to show aromas and flavors of cherries and red and black berries. Drink now. $20. Score: 84.


Real Imperial, Chardonnay do Cariñena, Cariñena 2009: Not to be embarrassed if you have never heard of the winegrowing region of Cariñena, for, despite being one of the oldest wine-producing regions in Europe, this is a sub-area of the region of Aragón in Northern Spain – and the wines are not well known outside of Spain. A not complex but very pleasant little Chardonnay, showing medium-bodied, with pear, melon and citrus flavors. A pleasant quaffer. Drink now. $13. Score: 85.


Senorio de Aldaz, Cabernet Sauvignon-Tempranillo, Navarra, Spain, 2009: Medium-bodied, gently tannic blend of equally parts of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon. On the nose and palate blackberries, blueberries and spring flowers and from mid-palate on a note of black licorice. Drink now. $11. Score: 85.


Sentieri Ebraici, Spumante Brut, Gioia, 2008: With a strawberry, raspberry and mineral character, a fresh, pleasant and fruity sparkling wine. Drink now. $10. Score: 85.

S’forno, Monastrell Dulce, Spain, 2005: A sweet red made entirely from late-harvested Monastrell grapes. Dark ruby toward garnet, medium-bodied, showing flavors and aromas of raspberries, figs and honeycomb, and, on the long finish, notes of apricot pits. Good acidity here but primarily for those who enjoy their reds on the generously sweet side. Drink now. $9. Score: 84.

Terrenal, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carinena, Spain, 2010: Ruby toward garnet, medium-bodied, with soft tannins, a not-at-all complex wine but one that makes for easy quaffing. Aromas and flavors of crushed blackberries and cassis are matched nicely by hints of freshly cut herbs and green olives. Drink now. $8. Score: 84.


Daniel Rogov is a premier kosher wine critic and the author of two annual books, “Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Wines” and “Rogov’s Guide to Kosher Wines.” He can be reached by e-mail at drogov@cheerful.com, and his books can be ordered at www.danielrogov.com.

Daniel Rogov

Going First Class

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

   No one has ever said that truly fine wines are going to be found at bargain prices. Such wines, like luxury automobiles, designer handbags, custom-made jewelry and first-class international flights can, in fact, be quite dear. While it is true that most of us will rarely, if ever, buy Lamborghini automobiles and will most probably not approach Gucci to custom design a handbag for us, there is no valid reason to avoid, at least from time-to-time, buying the best wines available.


   The good news is that with wine, unlike with our potential Lamborghini or our first-class flight to Paris, there is a good way to sample such wines at relatively reasonable prices. All that has to be done is to invite a group of six to eight wine-loving friends to share in the cost of purchasing a selection of the wines of one’s choice, to invite them to your home to share the wines, with each guest having the ability to taste some of the best wines available.


   Evenings of wine tasting, especially in good company and with good food, can be remarkably pleasant events. When planning such evenings count on your guests drinking about half a bottle of wine each. In other words, for eight people consider buying anywhere from four-five bottles of wine. Be sure as well to open the bottles about an hour before guests arrive.


   Following are my reviews of some of the very best recently released kosher wines from Israel, all available at better wine shops and online wine sites in the greater metropolitan New York area:


   Golan Heights Winery, Katzrin, Yarden, 2007: A blend of 91 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 9 percent Merlot, showing dark garnet to royal purple in color with spicy and smoky oak and gently mouth-coating tannins, all in fine balance with fruits. On first attack blackcurrants, blackberries and black cherries, those making way for notes of honey-sweetened chewing tobacco, roasted herbs and, on the super long finish, with fruits and tannins rising comfortably, a generous hint of baking chocolate. Best from 2012-2018. About $100. Score: 93.


   Recanati, Special Reserve, 2007: With its once-firm tannins now settling in nicely and with fine balance with spicy wood and fruits, showing very well indeed. Dark garnet in color, full-bodied but with a remarkable sense of “lightness” as it sits on the palate, opens with a berry-cherry nose and then goes on to show aromas and flavors of currants, red cherries and wild berries, those on a background of sweet cedar and dark chocolate. Long and generous. Remarkably approachable despite its youth, but still cellar-worthy. Drink now-2015. About $45. Score: 93.


   Carmel, Shiraz, Single Vineyard, Kayoumi, Upper Galilee, 2006: Deep garnet with hints of royal purple and casting orange and green reflections, a concentrated wine, full-bodied and deeply extracted yet showing remarkably soft tannins and spicy wood that almost melts on the palate. On first attack plums and currants, those making way for black cherries, hints of saddle leather and notes of asphalt. On the long and generous finish, with tannins rising, a comfortable overlay of freshly roasted herbs and cedarwood. Drink now-2016. About $60. Score: 93.


   Binyamina, Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon, The Cave, 2007: A limited edition, showing dark, almost impenetrable garnet with just a hint of royal purple at the rim. Full-bodied, with generous but remarkably round tannins and gentle notes of spicy wood. On the nose red fruits, vanilla and a hint of cinnamon. Opens in the glass to reveal traditional Cabernet blackcurrant and blackberry fruits, those complemented by notes of bittersweet chocolate and freshly cured tobacco. Concentrated but showing its strength in discrete and elegant ways. Fully enjoyable now but best from mid-2012 – 2018, perhaps longer. Indeed the best ever from The Cave and from Binyamina. About $100. Score: 93.


   Castel, Grand Vin Castel, 2008: A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec (60 percent, 20 percent, 10 percent, 6 percent, and 4 percent, respectively). Deeply aromatic, full-bodied and with fine concentration and opening to show true elegance, with layer after layer of complexity and depth. Near-sweet tannins that caress gently come together with lightly spicy cedarwood to highlight aromas and flavors of blackcurrants, blackberries and fresh Mediterranean herbs and, on the super-long finish, a tantalizing note of baking chocolate. Drink now-2018. About $65. Score: 93.


   Yatir, Shiraz, 2007: Dark, almost impenetrable garnet, with gripping tannins and generous but not at all imposing spicy wood integrating nicely now. On first attack almost peppery plums and blackberries, those followed by red fruits, dark chocolate and a note of sweet chewing tobacco. Give this one the time it needs. Drink now-2017. About $45. Score: 93.


   Ella Valley Vineyards, “E,” 2006: A limited edition of 2,200 bottles, a full-bodied and generously tannic blend of 35 percent Syrah, 15 percent Cabernet Franc and the balance of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, each variety fermented separately and developed in primarily new French oak for 12 months before blending. After the blending, the wine was given an additional eight months in oak for its elements to marry comfortably. Firm, near-sweet tannins and spicy wood come together on first attack with aromas and flavors of cassis and licorice, those followed by notes of blackcurrants and tobacco and, on the super-long finish, a hint of dried figs. A concentrated and intense wine that needs a bit more time in bottle to show its elegance. Drink now-2017, perhaps longer. About $120. Score: 92.


   Barkan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Altitude 624, 2007: Cabernet Sauvignon as a Mediterranean Cabernet Sauvignon should be. Made from grapes from the Alma vineyard in the northern Galilee, oak-aged in new French oak for 14 months, showing deep garnet toward royal purple. Full-bodied, with silky tannins and notes of spicy oak, those in fine balance with the fruits. On the nose and palate blackcurrants, blackberries and notes of licorice, all with a tantalizing overlay of bitter orange peel. Long and generous. Give this one some time and it will show notes of vanilla and Oriental spices. Drink now-2016. About $35. Score: 92.


   Next month: Quality Kosher Wines from Spain and Italy at Reasonable Prices.


    Daniel Rogov is a premier kosher wine critic and the author of two annual books, Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Wines and Rogov’s Guide to Kosher Wines. He can be reached by e-mail at drogov@cheerful.com, and his books can be ordered at www.danielrogov.com.

Daniel Rogov

California Dreaming

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Bruce Cohn, manager of the rock band The Doobie Brothers, purchased his Sonoma County winery in 1974, and since then has been equally well known for his olive oil and his philanthropy as for his wine. Cohn seems to have done a fine job of precisely what a family-owned boutique operation should be doing, namely creating high quality wines with a distinct personality. In 2008 Cohn made his first kosher wine, and that wine is well worth the attention of the most devoted of wine lovers. Released in a limited edition of 400 cases (4,800 bottles), the wine is only available directly from the winery and can be ordered by calling 800-330-4064 or by visiting www.brcohn.com. Here’s my tasting note for the wine:


B.R. Cohn, Cabernet Sauvignon, Trestle Glen Estate Vineyard, Sonoma, California, 2008 (Kosher Edition): Dark cherry red toward garnet, full-bodied but so well-balanced that it floats gently on the palate. With silky tannins that caress rather than bite, and with a gentle reflection of spices from the oak in which it was developed, the wine opens with clear notes of crushed berries and spices, those parting to make way for black cherries, black pepper and cedar wood – and, on the long finish, a tantalizing note of cocoa powder. A delight. Drink now-2016, perhaps longer. Score: 92.


Serious And Delicious From The Golden State


Let there be no question but that some of the finest kosher wines are being made in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys of California. The following are reviews from three of the wines from three of the very best kosher wineries in the state.

Covenant, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2007: Made entirely from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, dark ruby toward royal purple in color, full-bodied and well-extracted, showing gently gripping tannins and opening beautifully in the glass. On the nose and palate currants, plums and cassis, those complemented by notes of mixed spices, sweet cedarwood and light smoky oak. Drink now-2023. $80. Score: 93.

Covenant, Chardonnay, White Covenant, Bacigalupi Vineyard, Russian River, Sonoma, California, 2008: Deep gold, a big and creamy wine. On first attack pears, figs and a note of anise, those parting to make way for white peaches, honeysuckle and gentle notes of licorice and minerals that creep in quietly and linger comfortably on a long, long finish. Taste this one blind and you might be willing to take an oath that this is a Burgundy white of very high class indeed. Drink now-2016. $40. Score: 91.

Covenant, Red C, Napa Valley, California, 2008: Dark garnet toward royal purple in color, medium- to full-bodied, with soft tannins and gentle wood influences. On the nose and palate blackcurrants, blackberries and black cherries, those matched nicely by notes of bittersweet chocolate, garrigue and roasted herbs. Drink now-2016. $40. Score: 90.

Hagafen, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, 2007: Dark garnet toward royal purple, full-bodied, with soft tannins integrating nicely with fruits and notes of spicy wood. On the nose and palate traditional Cabernet notes of blackcurrants and blackberries, those complemented by notes of mocha, cigar tobacco and, on the long finish, a hint of licorice. Approachable and enjoyable now but best from mid-2011-2015, perhaps longer. $35. Score: 90.

Hagafen, Pinot Noir, Napa Valley, 2008: Dark ruby toward garnet, with both nose and palate redolent with red fruits, those including cherries, raspberries and kirsch. Medium-bodied, with appealing notes of smoky oak and showing hints of black pepper and licorice, all lingering nicely. Drink now-2014. $27. Score: 89.

Hagafen, Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley, 2007: Dark garnet with violet reflections, blended with four percent Merlot and showing medium- to full-bodied with generous but not at all imposing oak and tannins now integrating nicely. On the nose and palate black cherries, cassis and citrus peel, and, on the long finish, notes of espresso coffee and licorice. Drink now-2016. $30. Score: 91.

Hagafen, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, 2008: Light gold with green and orange reflections, medium-bodied. On the nose and palate white peaches, citrus and tropical fruits on a background that hints of citrus peel and candied flowers. Lively and refreshing with just enough complexity to grab the attention. Drink now. $20. Score: 89.

Herzog, Cabernet Sauvignon, Clone 6, 2007: Another winner for Herzog. Living fully up to its earlier barrel tasting. Full-bodied, concentrated and deeply tannic but showing fine balance and structure that bode well for the future. On the nose and palate ripe cherries and raspberries, those followed by blackberries and a light and tantalizing hint of celery root. An interesting oxymoron perhaps, but indeed an elegant blockbuster. Drink now-2018. $110. Score: 93.

Herzog, Merlot, Special Reserve, Alexander Valley, 2006: Full-bodied, with generous oak influences and soft tannins in fine proportion to fruits and acidity. On first attack black fruits, those yielding comfortably to notes of wild berries and espresso coffee and, on the finish, hints of strawberries and milk chocolate. Long and mouth-filling. Drink now. $30. Score: 90.

Herzog, Pinot Noir, Special Reserve, Edna Valley, 2005: Ruby toward garnet, medium-bodied, a delicate Burgundy-style wine showing gently caressing tannins and opening to reveal cherry, wild berry and light spices, all lingering long and comfortably. Drink now-2012. $32. Score: 90.

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And Just For Fun

Baron Herzog, Pinot Noir, Jeunesse, 2009: Cherry red toward garnet, medium-bodied, with soft tannins and only a bare hint of toasty oak, showing generous, near-jammy cherry, raspberry and currant fruits. A fine choice as an entry-level wine. Drink up. $14. Score: 85.

Baron Herzog, Cabernet Sauvignon, Jeunesse, 2009: Royal purple in color, an unoaked, light- to medium-bodied wine with only a bare hint of tannins showing a generous berry-cherry personality, the fruits with a hint of sweetness. As its name implies, a wine to be consumed in its youth. Drink up. $14. Score: 83.

Baron Herzog, Chardonnay, Central Coast, California, 2008: The color of freshly dampened straw, light- to medium-bodied, with aromas and flavors of green apples, citrus and spring flowers, those supported by an appealing hint of ground nutmeg. Drink now. $12. Score: 87.

Don Ernesto, Collage White, Napa Valley, 2009: The color of damp straw, with a nose that hints at one moment of spring flowers, at the next of guava, and boasting appealing red grapefruit, tangerine and ripe-peach fruits. As it is every year, a not-at-all complex wine but one that makes for easy and fun drinking, especially when served very well chilled. Meant for drinking in its youth. Drink now. $17.50. Score: 86.

Next month: Fine Kosher Wines From Israel


Daniel Rogov is the world’s premier kosher wine critic and is the author of two annual books, “Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Wines” and “Rogov’s Guide to Kosher Wines.” He can be reached drogov@cheerful.com.

Daniel Rogov

Italian With A Kosher Accent

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Twenty years ago only a handful of kosher wines were produced in Italy and, to tell the truth, most of those were pretty mediocre. Starting about five years ago, however, as those who keep kashrut became increasingly aware of quality wines, Italian producers responded and enormous strides have been made. The result: kosher wine, much of which is worthy of our attention, is now made in every wine-producing region in the country. Perhaps the most exciting recent step in kosher Italian wines is the introduction of truly excellent wines from the Falesco winery in the Umbria region.


The following are my recent tasting notes for a collection of kosher Italian wines, those recommended at different levels. As to my scores, those are based on a maximum of 100 points. Wines earning 96-100 points are truly great wines; those attaining 90-95 points are exceptional in every way; and those earning 85-89 points are very good to excellent and highly recommended. Wines that are awarded 80-84 points are recommended but without enthusiasm; scores of 70-79 indicate wines that are at least somewhat faulted; and those earning less than 70 points are not recommended. As always, prices are based on an average of three stores and Internet buying sites available in the greater New York City metropolitan area.


Falesco, Macillano, Umbria, 2005: A near twin to the non-kosher edition. Dark garnet, a full-bodied blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, those showing gripping but gentle tannins and spicy oak, both now integrating nicely to show red and blackcurrants, wild berry and licorice notes, those lingering very nicely indeed. Drinking now-2105. $80. Score: 92.


Borgo Reale, Pinot Noir, Puglia, 2009: Ruby toward garnet, medium-bodied, with soft tannins integrating nicely. Opens to reveal aromas and flavors of raspberries, cherries and cassis, all lingering nicely on a lightly spicy finish. Drink now-2013. $14. Score: 88.


Borgo Reale, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Abruzzi, 2008: Medium-bodied, with light tannins and a fresh blackcurrant personality along with notes of vanilla and minerals on the finish. Drink now. $12. Score: 85.


Borgo Reale, Chianti Classico, Vespertino, Tuscany, 2007: Dark ruby in color, medium-bodied, with chunky, country-style tannins. Opens to reveal red berries, cassis and notes of chocolate. Given time to open in the glass a pleasant little wine to match pizzas and pasta dishes. Drink now. $15. Score: 85.


Borgo Reale, Rosso di Montalcino, Tuscany, 2007: A wine with a split personality for it opens light- to medium-bodied with soft tannins to highlight raspberry, red cherry and red currant fruits, goes on to a dramatic change in revealing ever-increasing tannins and blackcurrant and purple plum fruits. In both stages of its personality, hints of earthy minerals and what at one moment feels like baking chocolate and at another cigar tobacco. Easy to drink, and best matched with small cuts of beef or lamb. Past its peak. Drink up. $12. Score: 84.


Monte Olivo, Opinioni, Umbria Rosso, 2005: A medium- to full-bodied blend of equal parts of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Soft, near-sweet tannins highlight lightly spicy aromas and flavors of currants and blackberries, those matched by a hint of cured cigar tobacco and dark chocolate. Round and appealing. Drink up. $15. Score: 86.


Cantina Gabriele, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lazio, 2008: Garnet toward royal purple, medium-bodied, with gently gripping tannins and good balancing acidity. On the nose and palate wild berries, raspberries and cassis, those supported by hints of pepper and Oriental spices. Drink now. $11. Score: 85.


Cantina Gabriele, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, 2007: Dark ruby, medium- to full-bodied with gently gripping tannins parting to make way for currant, wild berry and spicy aromas and flavors. Drink now. $13. Score: 84.


Cantina Gabriele, Chianti, Tuscany, 2008: Dark ruby, medium- to full-bodied, with soft tannins opening to show appealing cherry and wild berry fruits on a light herbal background. Drink up. $15. Score: 84.


Sentieri Ebraici, Dona Gracia, Marche, 2008: A light- to medium-bodied white wine made entirely from Trebbiano grapes. Light golden straw in color, light- to medium-bodied, with fresh aromas and flavors of citrus and tropical fruits on a background of Mediterranean herbs. Drink up. $13. Score: 85.


Sentieri Ebraici, del Vecchio, Marche, 2008: Ruby toward garnet, medium-bodied, made entirely from Sangiovese grapes, soft, round and red with aromas and flavors of red berries, plums and cherries. Not typical to the variety, but an easy-to-drink quaffer. Drink now. $12. Score: 84.


Castello di Cesare, Rosso, Lazio, 2007: Dark ruby in color, an unoaked blend of equal parts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Medium-bodied, with almost unfelt tannins showing a basic berry-cherry personality. A simple but pleasant enough entry-level wine. Drink up. $7. Score: 84.


Bartenura, Barolo, Ovadia Estates, Piedmont, 2007: Garnet with tinges of orange, medium- to full-bodied, with chunky tannins and smoky wood that give the wine a countryesque (yes, Virginia, there is such a word) persona. Opens to reveal a generous array of blackberry, plum and currant fruits, those supported by hints of black pepper, porcini mushrooms and earthy minerals. Drink now-2013. $46. Score: 87.


Bartenura, Pinot Grigio, Pavia, 2008: The color of damp straw, light- to medium-bodied, with apple, pear and floral notes on a crisply dry background. Simple but pleasant. Drink up. $14. Score: 85.


Bartenura, Barbera d’Alba, Ovadia Estates, Piedmont, 2009: Medium-bodied, with soft tannins and quite generous acidity, opens to reveal raspberries, cassis and pink grapefruit on the nose and palate. Uncomplicated but clean and pleasant. Drink now. $17. Score: 85.


Bartenura, Chianti, Ovadia Estates, Tuscany, 2009: Ruby to garnet in color, medium-bodied with soft tannins and an appealing berry, black cherry personality. Not complex but easy to drink. Drink now. $17. Score: 84.


Rashi, Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont, 2006: Medium-bodied, with soft, gently caressing tannins and fine acidity that highlights wild berry and cherry fruits, those supported by notes of spicy oak. Drinking nicely now but not for further cellaring. $22. Score: 85.


Rashi, Barolo, Piedmont, 2006: Dark garnet in color, medium-bodied, with gripping tannins and a light animal aroma that arises when the wine is first poured, those receding to reveal almost compote-like berry, black cherry and currant fruits. Made from traditional Nebbiolo grapes but hardly representative of traditional Barolo. Drink up. $50. Score: 84.


Rashi, Moscato d’Asti, Piedmont 2007: Light, semi-sweet and lightly frizzante, showing appealing pear, green apple and citrus notes. Not complex but lively and refreshing. Drink up. $16. Score: 84.


Santero, Moscato, Primo-V, Puglia, n.v.: Generously sweet and floral, with good balancing acidity to keep it lively. On the nose and palate kiwi, guava and papaya fruits. A pleasant quaffer when served well chilled. Drink now. $7. Score: 84.


Daniel Rogov is the world’s premier kosher wine critic and the author of the annual “Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Wines” and “Rogov’s Guide to Kosher Wines.” He can be reached by e-mail at drogov@cheerful.com.

Daniel Rogov

Fine Wines For Rosh Hashanah

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

           The blast of the shofar carries loudly and clearly over long distances. Because of that, it was often blown in biblical times as a means of communication – to announce times of danger or the onset of peace. Today the shofar is sounded in connection with the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. In fact, the only specific biblical commandment for the upcoming Rosh Hashanah holiday (in these times) is the sounding of the shofar.

What is not as well known is that the horns of rams, cows, sheep and goats served for many centuries as drinking vessels. Known in Greek as rhyton and in the Georgian Republic as khantsi, drinking horns first came into use with the Vikings. Later, however, made from the horns of bisons, gazelles, sheep, goats, antelopes and domestic cattle, they were adopted throughout Europe. By the Middle Ages, they had become one of the most prized drinking vessels, sometimes set with precious stones and trimmed with silver. Jewish communities were not averse to their use and today, a fine collection of quite ornate drinking horns may be seen at the wine museum on the premises of Chateau Mouton Rothschild in Bordeaux.

Drinking from such horns may have a romantic ring to it, but in fact these are not the ideal wine vessels, as each horn requires its own stand to keep it from falling over. Quite often, because of their size and uneven shape, it causes a good deal of wine to drip from the lip to the chin – and then to stain our clothing. As always, the best drinking vessels for fine wine will be made from thin crystal, keeping in mind that the higher the quality of the crystal, the more we will appreciate the aromas and flavors of the wines we are enjoying.

The following are recommendations for kosher wines from France, Israel and California that will be appropriate not only for Rosh Hashanah but for any celebratory meal. All are available from wine shops carrying kosher wines, as well as kosher wine Internet sales points throughout the U.S. Each of the wines will go well with meals based on large or small cuts of beef or lamb. They will also make fine accompaniments to other meals when served with a platter of mixed cheeses.

Yarden, Cabernet Sauvignon, Israel, 2006: Full-bodied, with gently mouth-coating tannins, sweet cedar wood and notes of tobacco integrating nicely. On the nose and palate wild berries, purple plums and currants on a background of spicy oak, all touched with hints of spices, coffee and light mineral-earthy overtones. On the long finish a hint of red cherries that brings a comfortable smile to the eyes. Drink now-2018. $21. Score: 92.

Herzog, Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Reserve, Alexander Valley, California, 2006: Dark garnet toward royal purple in color, opening with a generously aromatic nose that includes wild berries and tobacco and opens to reveal blackberries, black currants and plums on a background of sweet and spicy cedar wood. Long and elegant. Drink now-2014. $35. Score: 91.

Carmel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Kayoumi Vineyard, Israel, 2004: Aged in oak for 15 months, the wine is dark and almost impenetrable purple in color. Firm tannins and smoky wood come together with currant, blackberry, plum and mineral aromas and flavors, showing hints of Mediterranean herbs and light Oriental spices. Long and generous. Drink now-2012. $31. Score: 91.

Covenant, Red C, Napa Valley, California, 2007: Riper and more fruit-forward than the Covenant. Garnet to royal purple, medium to full-bodied, with soft tannins integrating nicely to highlight blackberry and black cherry fruits those on a tantalizing spicy background. Soft and round, but with plenty to grab the attention. Drink now-2013. $40. Score: 90.

Ch?teau Le Crock, Cru Bourgeois, St.-Estephe, Bordeaux 2005: Dark garnet, full-bodied, with chewy tannins and notes of spicy and toasty oak. Opens to reveal fine blackcurrant, blackberry and chocolate notes and, on the moderately long finish, a hint of eucalyptus. Best kosher edition to date from this winery. Drink now-2014. $30. Score: 90.

Dalton, Alma, Israel, 2007: Almost impenetrably dark garnet in color, a full-bodied blend of 65 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 22 percent Merlot and 13 percent Cabernet Franc. Developed in French barriques for 14 months, showing gently mouth-coating tannins and light notes of sweet cedar wood, opens with ripe black and purple fruits, those on a background of chocolate and sweet chewing tobacco. Drink now-2014. $26. Score: 90.

Ch?teau Giscours, Margaux, Bordeaux, 2005: Well done. Garnet toward royal purple with orange reflections, full-bodied, with soft tannins integrating nicely. Opens on the palate to show red and black berries, cherries and notes of citrus peel. Long, mouth- filling and generous. Best from 2011. $40. Score: 90.

Ch?teau Matras, St. Emilion, Bordeaux, 2004: Ruby toward garnet, with a rich floral, crushed berry and coffee nose. Medium (perhaps medium-full-bodied), opens to show still firm tannins and generous spicy wood waiting to settle down but in fine balance with blackberry and cassis fruits, those supported nicely by hints of roast meat and balsamico. Drink now-2015. $38. Score: 89.

Daniel Rogov is the world’s premier kosher wine critic and the author of two annual books, Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Winesand Rogov’s Guide to Kosher Wines. He can be reached at drogov@cheerful.com.

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Fine Wines On A Budget

Tierra Salvaje, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza, Argentina, 2009: Dark garnet, medium-bodied, with soft tannins integrating nicely and showing traditional blackberry, blackcurrant and citrus peel notes on a lightly spicy background. Drink now. About $6. Score: 86.

Sol de Chile, Cabernet Sauvignon, Single Vineyard, Estate, Maule Valley, Chile, 2008: Opens with damp earthy, almost compost-like aromas but those blow off after several hours. They reveal medium-body and chunky tannins, those parting to reveal blackberry, blackcurrant and purple plum fruits, those in turn opening to show raspberries and cranberries. A country-style wine, earthy to its core. Drink now. $12. Score: 86.

Daniel Rogov

Top Ten Wines For The New Year

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

   Rosh Hashanah is all about new beginnings and self-improvement and kosher wineries all over the world are making a commitment to producing great wines at affordable prices. Here are 10 suggestions for a fresh start on kosher wines.


   Baron Herzog Zinfandel, which has wonderful aromas of blackberry and raspberries balanced with vanilla and spice, has just been issued the seal of the Lodi Rules Certified Green Sustainability Program. The Lodi Rules program uses Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a long-term solution for both the environment and economy. IPM reduces the amount of harmful pesticides introduced into the grapes as well as the environment. When you enjoy the delicious Baron Herzog Zinfandel, you know you are doing the right thing for the environment and for yourself.


   For the first time in almost 10 years, the Herzog family presents the Late Harvest Riesling in a 375ML size. The Riesling has intense, late harvest aromas of dried apricot, pineapple and baked apple, a rich and luscious full mouth feel and sweet forward impression with a very well balanced finish. The flavor of apricot and honey will linger for a long time.


   Pinot Noir is a very elegant wine varietal. While usually dismissed as too soft or light for a red, the complexity of aromas on the palate of Pinot Noir more than makes up for it. The Herzog Reserve Pinot Noir is an exquisite wine, with silky texture and fine-tuned layers of cherry, raspberry, anise and spice flavors.


   The year 2006 in California was an excellent harvest for red wine varietals from the Herzog Winery. One of the best examples is the Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which recently was given a phenomenal rating of 92 points by a well-respected wine publication. The Herzog Reserve Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied wine exhibiting berry, cherry and licorice aromas and flavors of mocha and vanilla. This wine is the perfect example of affordable luxury.


   Sparkling wines are superb for toasts and celebrations. Rosh Hashanah is the start of a new year and the Elvi Brut Cava Sparkling Wine is an ideal fit. Cava is a Sparkling Wine made in the French champagne method and, similarly to champagne, can only be called Cava if grown in the specific regions in Spain for cava. The Elvi Adar Brut is bubbly, and dry, with notes of flowers, citrus and strawberries.


   Finding fun, fresh and enjoyable wines that are capable of being paired with food or enjoyed on their own is an arduous task. The Red, Pink, and White by W Wines have just made that task a lot easier. The Red has flavors of grenadine and fresh berries followed by a crisp finish. The White is lively with aromas of grapefruit, elegant floral notes and white peach flavors on the palate. The Pink is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Muscat Canelli. It’s aromatic and refreshing, with hints of wild strawberry and cherry, and a soft, well-balanced finish. The W Wines are also affordable as they are all under $10 so even the most budget conscience consumer will be satisfied.


   New Zealand wines other than Sauvignon Blanc are now moving into the spotlight as top tier high quality wines. Goose Bay Chardonnay is a rich, big wine with tropical fruit flavors of citrus and pineapple as well as green apples, fine oak and a touch of vanilla. Chardonnays are great for Rosh Hashanah because one of the flavor traits for chardonnay is apple.


   The next few wines highlight some of the hot, up and coming new wineries in Israel from the Judean Hills Region. The Judean Hills Region is well known as a winemaking region going as far back to when the Roman Legions supplied their soldier’s rations with wine from the Judean Hills.


   The Shiloh winery, founded in Shiloh in the Shomron Region in Israel, has just the right wine for the New Year. The Secret Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon’s grapes are harvested from a simple vineyard nestled on a small slope in the Judean Hills. The Cabernet grapes are then crushed and barreled for 14 months in new French oak barrels after which most are bottled for the regular Cabernet Sauvignon. The best barrels are selected to be aged an additional two months before bottling and named the Secret Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. The Secret Reserve has notes of rich cassis, toasted oak and spice, with a long concentrated finish.


   The Tzuba Estate Winery is located in an area historically recognized as a major wine-producing region since biblical times. The local topography of the Tzuba hillside vineyard has an altitude of 700 meters and a climate that provides ideal conditions for staff to cultivate the vineyards and produce a variety of prize-winning boutique wines. The inaugural 2005 Tzuba Metsuda wine is a blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was aged in French oak barrels for 24 months, and is medium dark in color and full-bodied. It has a complex aroma of spices, mineral soil, licorice, tobacco leaves and coffee beans. This velvety, harmonious, quality wine has abundant tastes of red ripe fruits, chocolate and roasted oak, with a long finish.


   For the tenth wine it’s appropriate the winery’s name is Psagot, which in Hebrew means apex. Psagot wineries flagship wine, Edom, meaning red in Hebrew, is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Merlot. The Edom has rich spicy vanilla notes with berries, black currants and oriental spice flavors.



   Shlomo S. Blashka is wine communications director for Royal Wine Corp.

Shlomo S. Blashka

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/food/top-ten-wines-for-the-new-year/2009/08/26/

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