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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Rogov Guide’

Israeli White Wines For The Summer

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

If you’re located in the Northern Hemisphere, July signals the time of year when the weather can be hot enough to make you both thirsty and a bit more than uncomfortable. Our minds go to the efficiency of the air-conditioning in our homes, automobiles, and offices, and our palates take us to dishes that are light and not infrequently intentionally served cold. When we think of wine it is most logical for our thoughts to turn to white wines for, in addition to being served well chilled, those indeed tend to be crisper and more refreshing than reds.


Even as a youth I knew that dry white wines are not white at all. Made from grapes whose skin is gold, green or yellowish, their color can range from pale straw-like to yellow or golden. I also learned at an early age that although most white wines are made for consumption in their youth, the very best of them can be cellared for 20, 30 or even more years.


Several years ago, together with our Israeli cousins, many Americans came to the conclusion that drinking white wines was not as sophisticated as drinking reds. Some went as far as to give away all of their whites. That, frankly, was a badly informed decision, for as true wine lovers know, the very best white wines can be no less complex, deep or long-lived as even the best of reds. Whether made from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc or Viognier, white wines tend to be more refreshing than reds because in addition to lacking the tannins of reds they are at their best when served well chilled. Simply stated, because we tend to eat dishes that are lighter in the summer, white wines go down more easily than reds.


As to what foods match well with white wines, I have only one rule: lighter dishes should be accompanied by lighter wines (e.g. Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis, and unoaked Chardonnay), while medium or heavier dishes should be matched with medium- to full-bodied whites (e.g. oaked Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Semillon).


Following are reviews of a collection of kosher Israeli white wines that are particularly well suited to the months of summer:


Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Chardonnay, Odem Organic Vineyard, 2008: Bright burnished gold in color, full-bodied, opening with a note of butterscotch on the nose. On first attack summer fruits and pears, those yielding to notes of citrus and crème brûlée. Gentle wood and a near-buttery texture balanced finely with acidity. Not a lively wine but indeed destined to be complex, mouth-filling and, for lack of a better term, delicious. Drink now-2018. $14. Score: 94.


Castel, “C,” Chardonnay, Blanc du Castel, 2008: Light, bright gold in color, full-bodied but with balance so finely tuned that the wine seems to float on the palate. On first attack, grapefruit and grapefruit pith on a seductive creamy and vanilla nose, the wine then opening in the glass to reveal pear, apricot, fig and melon aromas and flavors, all on a mineral-rich background. Long, deep, complex, and elegant. Drink now-2014. $42. Score: 93.


Golan Heights Winery, Katzrin, Chardonnay, 2008: Lighter gold and, although full-bodied, neither as dense or as oaky as with past releases. All of which is just fine, for after distinct notes of butterscotch and poached pears the wine opens to reveal citrus, melon and light toasty notes that prove subtle, complex, elegant and long. Drink now-2018. $22. Score: 92.


Yatir, Viognier, 2010: Unoaked, thus maintaining its fresh fruit character and crisp nature. Light- to medium-bodied, opening with floral and nutty aromas and flavors, going on to show a generous mouthful of pear, apricot and litchi fruits, all on a background that hints of spices and, on the finish, a note of litchi. Round, lively and generous. Drink now-2014. $32. Score: 91.


Yatir, Sauvignon Blanc, 2010: Fermented in stainless steel and then transferred to primarily older oak for two months, light straw colored with a hint of a green tint and just a bare and thus tantalizing hint of the oak. Light and refined, as fresh and lively on the nose as on the palate, showing aromas and flavors of citrus, pears and apples, those along with notes of guava and minerals that arise from mid-palate on. A fine balance between ripeness and finely tuned acidity. Drink now-2012. $32. Score: 90.


Carmel, Regional, Sauvignon Blanc, Upper Galilee, 2010: Light glistening gold, unoaked and showing fine aromatics and lively acidity to support aromas and flavors of passion fruit, pink grapefruit and star fruit (carambola), all on a background that hints nicely of freshly mown grass. Very nice indeed, reflecting the ongoing local improvement with this variety. Drink now-2013. Score: 90.


Galil Mountain, Sauvignon Blanc, 2010: Light gold with green and orange tints. Unoaked, pure, crisp and well focused, with peach, citrus, tangerine and mango aromas and flavors. From mid-palate on delightful notes of key lime pie and stony minerals. Refreshing, with appealing complexity. Drink now. $18. Score: 90.


Galil Mountain, Viognier, 2010: Medium-bodied, light bright gold showing a hint of smoky oak to complement a generous mouthful of green gage plums, litchis, Anjou pears and, from mid-palate on, a note of honeydew melon. Tangy, lively and long. Drink now. Score: 90.


Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Viognier, 2009: On the opening nose light notes of oak and flowers, those parting to make way for aromas and flavors of white peaches, pears and spices and, from mid-palate to a generous finish, notes of green-gage plums. Drink now-2013. $20. Score: 90.


Binyamina, Avnei Hachoshen, Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc-Viognier, Yashfeh, 2009: A medium-bodied blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier (50%, 30%, and 20% respectively). Aged in new and old oak for six months, shows a complex nose on which butternuts and ripe pears continuing to the glass and opening to reveal notes of honeydew melon and citrus peel. Finishes generously with a near-buttery texture. Drink now-2013. $16. Score: 89.


Barkan, Reserve, Chardonnay, 2009: Light gold, slightly muted when first poured but opening in the glass to show green apple, pear and green almond notes. Medium-bodied, with an appealing hint of bitterness on the finish. Drink now. $16. Score: 88.


Psagot, Viognier, 2010: Developed in new French oak for six months, light bright gold in color, medium-bodied, with generous acidity that calls to mind green apples, the acidity in fine balance with notes of spicy oak. Opens in the glass to reveal appealing spiced pears, litchis and almonds. Generous 14% alcohol, but not a sign of heat. Drink now or in the next year or so. $20. Score: 88.


Tzuba, Tel Tzuba, Chardonnay, 2009: Light bright gold in color, developed partly in stainless steel, partly in barriques (50% of which were new), and with no malolactic fermentation. Opens a bit flat but don’t let that put you off, for all this needs is a few minutes in the glass to reveal aromas and flavors of green apples, peaches and nectarines. Medium-bodied, with appealing notes of Anjou pears that come in on the finish. Drink now. $22. Score: 88.


Next month: kosher white wines from the U.S., Europe, New Zealand, and South America.

 

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.

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.

Guiding the Kosher Wine Consumer

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Looking for a great gift for the wine maven in your life? Look no further. Daniel Rogov has what you are looking for with his latest two hardbound, pocket-sized guides: Rogov’s Guide to Kosher Wines 2010: The World’s 500 Best kosher Wines (The Toby Press; November 1, 2009; 145 pages; $19.95), and Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Wines 2010 (The Toby Press; October 1, 2009; 485 pages; $19.95).


Rogov is the weekly wine and restaurant critic for the Israeli daily Haaretz. Even though he is not an observant Jew and is not remotely mindful of kashrus in his daily life, Rogov’s name has become increasingly well known in kosher wine circles. The reason is simple: in the course of evaluating thousands of wines from around the world, he tastes and reviews more kosher wines than any other published critic. Despite that a great many Israeli wineries actually produce non-kosher wines, a massive amount of very fine kosher wine is produced in Israel – all of which is tasted and reviewed by Daniel Rogov.


This is not an insignificant point, for the value of these two guides rests on the strength of Rogov’s professional critical judgment of wine in general, and of kosher wines in particular. That’s why his name is in the title. It is one critic’s view, and is perhaps a little idiosyncratic.


The value of the 2010 Israeli wine guide, the 6th annual, is fairly straightforward. Rogov reviews nearly 2,000 wines from about 150 wineries, all of which are ranked and described. Rogov also includes useful discussions of the history of wine production in Israel, Israel’s diverse wine- growing regions (a detailed map is included), and a brief discussion of the current Israeli wine scene. Also included in this handsome volume is a glossary of wine terminology, and contact information for all the wineries in the book. It is compact, comprehensive, and very easy to read and use as a reference for future purchasing and for helping one decide what to drink and when.


The tasting notes in both books are intelligent, concisely written and helpfully communicative – as these things go. That is, each review gives one a very clear picture of Rogov’s perception of the wine’s sensory characteristics (fruits, flowers, spices, etc.) and relative charms (balance, elegance, personality, etc.). The wines are further evaluated on the familiar 100-point scale favored by Robert Parker and the Wine Spectator.  Rogov provides a key: 96-100 points is a “Truly great wine”; 90-95 is “Exceptional in Every Way”; and 85-89 is “Very Good to Excellent and Highly Recommended”; and so on down the line to objectively undrinkable (0-50).


If Israeli wines are of any substantive interest, Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Wines 2010 is an essential pocket guide. If kosher wines are your primary interest, however, the Israeli guide alone is great, but not perfect. After all, so many wines are not kosher. Those who self-select to drink only kosher wine have no need for intimate knowledge of non-kosher Israeli wine.


Why, you might ask, are so many Israeli wines not kosher? They are, after all, made by Jews using kosher ingredients (grapes) in the Holy Land itself; so what could be wrong, right? Wrong, unfortunately. Among the key components to producing kosher wine is that those handling the process, from crushing the grapes until sealing the bottled final product, are Sabbath observant. Obviously, this also means that no winemaking can be done on the Sabbath. Many non-observant Israeli winemakers are not interested in such restrictions, or in the potential compliance headaches of conforming to the rabbinic supervision entailed in obtaining official kosher certification.


Which brings us to Rogov’s Guide to Kosher Wines 2010: The World’s 500 Best kosher Wines. The format and production values of this handy pocket guide are modeled after the Israeli guides, and likewise are destined to become a new annual series. The scope is geographically expanded to the whole world, rather than just Israel, so the content was somewhat arbitrarily contracted to “the five hundred best kosher wines that I have tasted or re-tasted during the last year.” Rogov also stipulates that he is only including wines that scored 85 points or more. Though it goes unsaid, the list seems to have been further whittled down so as to limit the dominance of Israeli wines.


There is not a single Israeli wine scoring below 88 points in this guide, yet his Israeli guide has them in abundance. Other distinct inconsistencies of inclusion arise as well. The excellent Israeli Bustan Winery, to take but one example, has 10 entries – all kosher and all scoring 90+ points – in the 2010 Israeli guide, but only four in his 2010 kosher guide. Why?


Presumably Rogov and his publisher have excellent reasons for such decisions of inclusion and exclusion, but no hint of any of these is included in this edition. Hopefully future editions will be greatly expanded and include a little more explanation.


Rogov’s Guide to Kosher Wines is an annual must-have for lovers of the best in kosher wines. Its publication marks a true milestone in the development of a genuine culture of kosher wine, and hopefully forever shatters the myth that kosher wine is necessarily inferior.


Taken together, Rogov’s guides offer the kosher consumer the most comprehensive, intelligent and authoritative guide to kosher wines available anywhere. What better gift for the wine imbiber in your family?


Joshua E. London writes about food, wines, and spirits, and is the author of Victory in Tripoli: How America’s War with the Barbary Pirates Established the U.S. Navy and Shaped a Nation.

Title: Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Wines

Wednesday, December 29th, 2004

Title: Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Wines
Author: Daniel Rogov
Publisher: Toby Press, New Milford, CT

 

 

Did you know that you can experience an aspect of Israel for only $12 or so – via a bottle of one of their award-winning vintage varieties of wines?

No more of that cloying extra-sweet Malaga (unless you happen to really like Malaga) – Israel’s wineries have made it to First Place on the wine connoisseurs choice lists. Their wines are highly regarded even by wine enthusiasts who applaud these wines after blind tests against varietals from established French, Italian, German and American wineries.

Daniel Rogov writes a weekly wine column for Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, and is a regular contributor to prestigious international wine literature. There are over one hundred twenty vintners in Israel today. As many as a thousand individual varieties of wines are produced annually, which are considered one of the major export products of Israel industry to Europe and North America.

This beautifully produced pocket-sized hardcover volume contains 250 pages with concise but very detailed descriptions that will be very useful to both the first-time user as well as to the aficionado. Rogov and his publisher, Toby Press, intend to re-publish this list annually with up-to-the-minute details on every Israeli winery and the wines that they produce.

The pages are replete with color photos of many of the labels found on wine bottles to assist easy identification, and reviews of the more than a thousand current selections, featuring individual scores and vintage reports. One chapter explains what constitutes a kosher wine, another provides a history of wine making in Israel, and there is an included glossary of wine terminology.

At less than $15, Rogov’s Guide should easily become a standard in the collection of everyone who enjoys consuming good wines and wants to start enjoying some of the world’s best fruits of the vine from Eretz Yisrael.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/title-rogovs-guide-to-israeli-wines/2004/12/29/

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