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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Special Reserve’

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.

New Kosher Wines For Passover

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

         Passover is to the kosher food market what Christmas is to the rest of retail – it’s make-or-break time, and the season to roll out new and exciting products. The kosher wine trade is no exception, and this year there are plenty of new and interesting kosher wines to enjoy at your Seder.

 

         Passover is a special and holy time. It is the Jewish festival commemorating the exodus from Egypt and the liberation of the Israelites from slavery, and is probably the best known Jewish holiday. It is the ultimate excuse for Jews to gather and eat and schmooze and contemplate the divine, as well as divine food, such as brisket, tzimmes, matzah balls, and kosher wine.

 

         Just in case there are any doubts, there are some truly excellent kosher wines in the market today. We have all read the usual tiresome obligatory introductory shtick by wine writers the world over: “It’s not your grandfather’s kosher wine anymore!” Part historical stigma and part cultural apologia, kosher wine as a category still suffers an image problem.

 

         True enough, kosher wine in the United States has most often been associated with sweet and heavy Concord grape wines made by companies such as Schapiro’s, Manischewitz, and Mogen David. Nostalgia helps keep these labels alive among Jews, but the kosher consumer market has drastically shifted up the quality scale. Since kosher is a dietary code rather than a taste profile, there is nothing about kosher wine that requires it to be qualitatively any different from non-kosher wine, much less sweet and syrupy or disappointingly undrinkable.

 

         Here, then, are 10 kosher wines that are well worth seeking out for your Passover festivities this year.

 

         Goose Bay, Chardonnay, Marlborough, New Zealand, 2006 ($26): The latest from this New Zealand label – produced by the Spencer Hill Estate winery under contract for kosher wine importer Royal Wine Corp – is a very appealing lemon-to-chartreuse colored, mouth-watering, dry, crisp, textured and fruity chardonnay exhibiting aromas and flavors of apples, tropical fruits, something faintly herbal, and with pleasantly light oak and vanilla undertones. This should prove to be both a crowd pleaser and an appetite enhancer. Score: 4/5.

 

         Psagot, Merlot, Judean Hills, Israel, 2004 ($25): This dark, deep medium bodied, fairly oaky, garnet colored merlot offers aromas and bright flavors of plums, black cherries, and something a tad bell-pepper-like, but with some enjoyable whispers of clove and green peppercorn-like spices; the tannins are a bit too soft, so drink it in the next year or so, rather than further down the road. Score: 4/5. Note: Psagot, which means “summit” or “the peak” in Hebrew, is a settlement situated northeast of Jerusalem on top of a hill overlooking the al-Bireh village of Ramallah, as well as the Wadi Kelt basin, the Jericho Valley, the Dead Sea, and the Edomite Mountains.

 

         Barkan, Reserve, Shiraz, Israel, 2005 ($20): Made of 93% Shiraz, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Petit Verdot grapes from Barkan’s vineyards in Kiriat-Anavim (in the Jerusalem Hills) and Eliad (in the Golan Heights), this dark violet to purple colored wine is firm, intense and rich with aromas and flavors of oak, black currants, blackberries, cherries, licorice, clove, thyme, and cedar wood, and with traces of spearmint, vanilla and perhaps a tinge of musk. The wine needs some time to open, so swirl it around vigorously before your first sip. Score: 4/5.

 

         Herzog, Syrah, Special Reserve, Edna Valley, California, 2004 ($34): This medium to full bodied nearly opaque garnet to black colored California Syrah combines elegance and brawn. This almost creamy yet still assertively tannic wine presents nicely layered aromas and flavors of black currants, raspberries, ripe plums, black pepper, cloves, something very much like tobacco (but in a good way), and even some chocolate. Not one to cellar for the long haul, enjoy it now and over the next couple of years. Score: 4/5.

 

        Binyamina, Yogev, Cabernet-Merlot, Israel, 2005 ($14): The word “yogev” in Hebrew means “farmer” or “man of the soil” and is in recognition of the esteem and appreciation the winery has for the toil and dedication of their viticulturalists and farmers (named on the back of the label). This simple but appealing medium-bodied blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot is a case in point, offering pleasing aromas and tasty flavors of blackberries, currants, plums, cassis and some subtle herbal and cedar wood notes; nothing fancy here, but honest, clean and quaffable. Drink now. Score: 4/5.

 

         Carmel, Gewürztraminer, Late Harvest, Single Vineyard, Kerem Sha’al, Upper Galilee, Israel, 2005 ($19): This sweet, elegant dessert wine has some lovely depth, with pronounced aromas and flavors of apricots, peaches, nectarines, litchis, cinnamon, honey, pineapple and rose petals all set against nicely balancing acidity, preventing the whole from seeming too sweet or sticky. Brilliant now, it should keep and mature if properly cellared through 2012. Score: 5/5.

 

        Capcanes, Flor de Primavera/Peraj Ha’Abib, Montsant, Spain, 2003 ($45): A stunning wine! This delicious oak-aged, deep, dark ruby-colored blend of 40% Grenache, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Carignan and 5% Tempranillo grapes is wonderfully balanced between tannins, acidity, wood and fruit, with almost tangible aromas and elegant yet robust flavors of black currants, plums, sweet blackberries, raspberries, cherries and mocha, with intriguing overlays of cedar wood, coffee, white pepper, licorice and minerals, and with something very much like mint emerging on the lengthy finish. Outstanding now, this will continue to develop and drink well through 2013, if cellared properly. Score: 5/5.

 

         Hagafen, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2003 ($40): Another stunning wine. Like virtually everything from this Napa winery, their latest Cab (technically a blend of 89% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Cab Franc grapes) is simply gorgeous. This opaque inky colored wine is sumptuous and supple, perfectly balanced between fruit, acidity and tannins, and deliciously complex, offering layers of aromas and flavors that include currants, black cherries, cedar wood, black licorice, black pepper, dark chocolate, eucalyptus, cassis, blueberries and mint, with a marvelous earthy finish with spice, berries and something slightly menthol in the long, rewarding finish. Drinking brilliantly now, if properly cellared, this will age gracefully over the next decade – presuming you have that sort of patience and self-control. Score: 5/5.

 

        Recanati, Special Reserve, Israel, 2003 ($30): Give this one time to breath, and it will command your respect. This deep, full bodied, brilliantly balanced blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon and 28% Merlot grapes offer luxurious aromas and flavors of currants, cassis, black cherry, plums, vanilla, with subtle but conspicuous layers of mint, black pepper, café mocha, and with that distinctive and intriguing Recanati stamp of bell peppers, olives and Mediterranean herbs. Delicious now, but will reward proper cellaring through 2015. Score: 5/5.

 

         Barons Edmond et Benjamin de Rothschild, Haut Medoc, Bordeaux, France, 2003 ($30): Made at the Rothschild’s famed Chateau Clarke, this medium bodied, oak aged blend of 40% Merlot and 60% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes is well crafted with a nicely balanced if somewhat mild structure of tannins and acidity, showcasing aromas and flavors of red currants, black cherries, and blackberries, with appealing notes of black pepper and chocolate. Drink now. Score: 4/5.

 

Rating system


5/5 = Excellent


4/5 = Very good indeed


3/5 = Good


2/5 = Kind of drinkable


1/5 = Best reserved for hand-to-hand combat

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/food/new-kosher-wines-for-passover/2008/04/09/

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