Sparkling Wine From The “Cava”

January 30, 2013

Reviews of the Elvi Wines Brut Cava and the first three offerings from the Jewish Whisky Company under their private “Single Cask Nation” label.

Cava is Spain’s best known sparkling wine. It is produced primarily in the Catalonia region, which borders France along the Mediterranean coast. The name “Cava,” which is Catalan for cave or cellar, comes from the cellars of the Codorníu Winery that winery owner Josep Raventos i Fatjo, created to age and produce wines, and from which he produced the first commercially available Spanish sparkling wines in 1872. Invariably less expensive than Champagne, Cava is just as versatile and food-friendly, making it a terrific choice to match both budgets and menus. Thankfully, there are several kosher Cavas on the market. Cava is produced using the “methode champenoise,” the same process used in France’s Champagne region to naturally create the carbon dioxide in the bottle. The three indigenous varietals most often used to create Cava are xarello, macabeo and parellada. First the grapes are fermented separately as nonsparkling “base” wines which are then blended to create a consistent “house style.” This is no easy task.

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Better Than Chanukah Gelt

December 6, 2012

Four Gates Winery

Our Chanukah wish list including some kosher wines and a bunch of the great spirits we’ve recently enjoyed.

Chanukah gift-giving is really just an American transmogrification mimicking Xmas of the actual Jewish custom of giving Chanukah gelt (money). Still, we have nonetheless given in to modern convention and have compiled a list of a few things that we wouldn’t mind being given.

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Chasidic Bootlegging

October 29, 2012

Four Roses Small Batch Limted Edition

A review of the Ramot Naftaly Barbera 2007 and the Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon for 2012.

A few years ago a 300-family Montreal chasidic congregation paid a $20,000 fine to the Quebec civil authorities. Its offense? Supplying their community with kosher wines.
This chasidic shul, Congregation Toldos Yakov Yosef Skver, was raided in 2009 by the organized-crime unit of the Quebec Police Department. Le Fuzz confiscated nearly 900 liters of kosher wines and spirits including banana liquor and peach schnapps. Several members of the shul and the congregation itself were charged with importing and distributing kosher wines that had not been obtained through the province’s alcohol regulatory commission, Societe des Alcools de Quebec (SAQ).

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“Not For The Very Young, The Vain And The Active”

August 9, 2012

InVita 2011

A review of the ElviWines InVita 2011 and some Port-based cocktail suggestions.

Spain continues to be a source of well-made wines. The country is the world’s third largest wine producer but ranks first in total acres “under vine,” with over 600 grape varietals planted over nearly 3 million acres. The most popular grapes are mostly foreign sounding – Airen, Albarino, Carinena, Garnacha, Macabeo, Monastrell, Parellada, Tempranillo, Xarel-lo – and are utilized to create red, white and sparkling wines as well as the renown fortified port and sherry wines.

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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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Science, Inspiration Play Roles In Winemaking

April 25, 2012

Old Grand Dad Bourbon

Review of Bravdo Karmei Yosef Shiraz 2009 and a look at 2 Bourbon’s without an age statement, Basel Hayden and Old Grand Dad.

Making wine is a marriage of nature and technology. The interaction of yeast and grapes has been investigated for centuries with the results implemented in the vineyards and wineries. But winemaking is not an exact science, and great wines are not a result of formulas or recipes. Inspiration also has its role, especially when based upon a sound scientific foundation.

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Winery With Ancient Roots

April 5, 2012

Distillery No 209 Kosher for Passover Gin

A review of the Distillery No. 209 Kosher for Passover Gin and Vodka along with a look at the Shiloh Winery.

Before the Temple was built, before Jerusalem became the center of Jewish national and religious life, Shiloh was Israel’s capital. It was the place where the “whole congregation of Israel assembled” to set up the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Today, Shiloh is also the name of one of Israel’s most well-regarded boutique wineries. The winery is situated in the modern – and Modern Orthodox-community of Shiloh, which is just a few dozen meters from Tel Shiloh, the archaeological site that is widely thought to be all that remains of the pre-Davidic capital of the Jewish nation where the Talmud tells us the Mishkan stood for 369 years. Established in 2005, the winery’s roots actually go back thousands of years as evidenced by the ancient winepresses found in the nearby Samarian (Shomron) hills.

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