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

Making Wine Where Perfume Once Reigned

September 24, 2012

Binyamina Carignan Reserve

A review of the Binyamina Reserve Carignan 2010 and two Mortlach Single Malt Scotch Whiskies.

Israel’s Binyamina Winery began life in 1952, when Hungarian winemaker Joseph Zeltzer immigrated to Israel and established the Eliaz Winery, named for his son who perished in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. The winery’s facilities actually began life as a perfume factory. In 1925 Baron Benjamin de Rothschild built the factory to take advantage of the abundant jasmine that grew in the area. The surrounding village was renamed Binyamina in the Baron’s honor. The enterprise did not prosper, however, and the factory was abandoned in 1937. The abandoned building soon became a “safe house” for the Haganah until independence. Zeltzer’s plans required the intervention of then Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion who had a law passed that permitted the local farmers to sell him grapes rather than to the large Carmel Mizrachi winemaking cooperative. Subsequently Zeltzer released his liquors and brandies under the “Hard Nut” label to honor the PM who was known as a “hard nut to crack.”

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High Holidays – Time To Switch Sides

September 14, 2012

Boulard Calvados XO

A review of the Flam Reserve Syrah 2010 and Boulard Calvados.

As a general rule of thumb, the High Holidays are neither early nor late but always on time – even when they seem to sneak up on you. Regardless of the actual dates, in the northern latitudes the holidays are in the autumn, whose weather encourages a shift from summer wines to those better suited to this time of year. The brighter, high acid wines like roses give way to wines with earthier flavors and more complexity that compliment both the harvest season and the traditional holiday meals.

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Inhospitable Locations, Better Wine

September 10, 2012

A review of Bazelet Hagolan Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 and Jim Beam’s Devil’s Cut 90 Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

Although it seems somewhat counter-intuitive, the best grapes for wine frequently grow in the most inhospitable locations. This is a bit of a simplification, but basically the more stress the vines experience, the more flavorful are their grapes – so good wineries tend to seek out vineyards with well-drained, nutrient-poor conditions in the hopes of getting better quality, more flavorful grapes. These are often hillsides with a thin layer of dirt over some sort of rock such as limestone or granite. There are numerous other factors that influence grape quality and flavor, but selecting the correct sites for the vineyards is critical for a winery’s success.

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A Long Road To Winemaking

September 4, 2012

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

A review of the Agur Special Reserve 2008 and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottling of Glenrothes, #30.68.

Shuki Yashuv, owner and winemaker of Agur Winery in Israel, followed a somewhat convoluted road into wine.

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