Musings on Wine and Spirits by Louis Marmon

As seen in:
Washington Post, Gazette Newspapers, DC Examiner, The Wine Report
Washington Jewish Week, LA Times, Jewish Exponent, Capitol File Magazine and in other cities in the US and Canada

Latest Article

Wines Worth The Search

June 28, 2012

A review of the Segal’s Special Reserve Chardonnay 2009 and the Glenmorangie Artein Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

Israel’s Segal Winery has its roots in the early 20th century when Yankel Hirsh Segal and his brothers Elhanan and Yehezkel established the country’s first distillery in Tel Aviv’s German Colony. Their early successes lead the regional colonial authorities to ask them to set up similar enterprises in Damascus and Beirut. In the 1950s, the Segals changed their focus to winemaking, initially calling their winery “Ashkelon” before changing it to the family name. Until the Golan Heights Winery launched Israel’s quality wine revolution in the 1980s, Segal’s was considered a high-end producer.

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The Unkosher Source of Some Kosher Wines

June 24, 2012

Domaine Netofa Galilee

A review of the Domaine Netofa Galilee 2009and Highland Park Thor Single-Malt Whisky.

While kosher wine must be made under strict religious supervision, not all kosher-certified wine comes from strictly kosher wineries. Many are created and bottled under the labels of wineries that select only a portion of their harvest for the kosher market with the rest being made not under supervision and released for the general public. Made with the same grapes and methods, many of these kosher wines are as good, and sometimes even better, than their regular nonkosher counterpart. The technique utilized is called “shadowing,” where every step of wine production is handled by Sabbath-observant Jews under rabbinic supervision, but all under the watchful eye, or shadow, of the winery’s regular winemaker. Not that the kosher production winemaker and crew are mere automatons. On the contrary, to be effective, they must possess the requisite skills, knowledge and palate to create excellent wines, along with a clear understanding of the underlying approaches of the winery where they labor.

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Stay-Cation Wine Travels

June 17, 2012

Chateau Thenac Fleur du Perigold

A review of the Chateau Thenac Fleur du Perigold 2010 and the Balblair 2000 Single Malt Whisky.

Think of wine as a portal through which to satisfy the itch for a summer vacation, but without paying the expensive airfare, trekking through awful airports or dealing with increasingly tedious and inane airport security. Through wine, one can travel far and wide, communing with the world’s varied wine regions, all from the comfort of home. Just as each country has a distinctive cuisine, so does each wine region have a unique and characteristic approach to winemaking – at least insofar as they contend with local soil and climactic conditions. So, for example, a Cabernet Sauvignon wine from California is likely to taste recognizably different from a cab produced in, say, Israel or Italy or South Africa. Different soils and climates produce different flavors in the grapes. Those regions with a long history of vine cultivation also tend to have a long tradition of wine production. In many cases, especially in Europe, these traditions are codified not only in widely accepted practice, but generally in legislative fiat. Hence, many of the world’s wine-producing regions have a certain taste profile. The sheer weight of these wine traditions has also, in many instances, determined what grape varieties will be cultivated in any particular region. With a little a sense of adventure, some decent glasses, good company and a desire to avoid the lazy indifference of “I’ll just have a glass of the white,” one can explore multiple continents in one sitting.

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Touring Scotland – Viewing Its Sights, Sampling Its Booze

June 6, 2012

Hagafen Sauvignon Blanc

A review of the Hagafen Sauvingon Blanc 2011 and some suggestions for a rewarding visit to Scotland.

While the number of kosher wineries is steadily increasing, there is a degree of comfort in returning to a familiar friend. One of our favorite winemakers is Ernie Weir, the owner of Napa Valley, California’s Hagafen Cellars. A multi-award winner, Hagafen has been making some of the world’s best kosher wines since 1979 when Ernie and his wife Irit began making wine from grapes whose source was the Winery Lake Vineyard located south of the Napa Valley. Over time the Weirs were able to build their own winery and obtain grapes from some of Napa’s finest locations, eventually purchasing two vineyards for their estate wines.

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Villa Maria: From Humble Beginnings To Superior Wines

June 4, 2012

Villa Maria Pinot Noir

A review of the recently released Villa Maria Estate Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

In 1961, George Fistonich planted grapes on 2 acres he leased from his father’s farm located in the upper region of New Zealand’s North Island. He released his first wines in 1962 and now is celebrating his 50th vintage as founder and CEO of Villa Maria Estate. Known as New Zealand’s most honored winery, Villa Maria won its first awards in 1963 when two of its red wines were prizewinners at a prestigious New Zealand event. Over subsequent decades, Villa Maria has continued to garner numerous local and international accolades for its consistently superior wines.

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