Jefferson’s Triumph

December 4, 2015

Review of the Molon Lave Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 and Kilchoman 100% Islay, 3rd Edition Single Malt Whisky.

Somewhere Thomas Jefferson is smiling. Our third President was an unabashed oenophile, asserting that “wine from long habit has become an indispensable for my health,” and while at Monticello consumed an average of 400 bottles of French, Spanish, German, Portuguese and Italian wine annually. He spent a great deal of time and effort trying to make his home state of Virginia into a world class winemaking region. Unfortunately Jefferson could never produce a decent wine from the vineyards planted near his estate.

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Wine For “Thanksgivukah”

October 31, 2013

Reviews of the Dovev Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 and the latest release of Kilchoman Scotch Whisky.

This year, due to the distinct dynamics of the secular and Jewish calendars, Chanukah is the day before Thanksgiving (the first night of Chanukah is erev Thanksgiving, which means that the first day of Chanukah is also Thanksgiving day; so those who celebrate both will be lighting the second night and then fressing at their Thanksgiving feast).“Thanksgivukah?” “Turkukah”? Whatever. This overlap of American Jewish life has given us turkey-shaped menorahs and mash-up songs that combine lyrics that embody both holidays. It also means that, for many, there is likely to be a similar convergence of menus for the American national holiday meal with latkes appearing side-by-side with turkey, stuffing and sweet potatoes. It can be a challenge to find an appropriate wine to match. Over the next several weeks, we will look at various ways to include wine in this year’s celebrations.

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It All Depends Upon The Grapes – And The Winemaker’s Skill

May 7, 2013

Review of the Soreka Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 and two single cask Kilchoman Single Malt Scotch Whiskies.

One question we are periodically asked is, “How do they get all those flavors into the wine?” The thought presumably being that the winemaker is somehow like a chef, creating finished dishes from a variety of ingredients besides just the primary one – that somehow winemakers add additional elements into their fermentation vats, perhaps throwing in some black cherries and pepper into the Syrah, or mixing some gooseberries into their Sauvignon Blanc. Wine critics shoulder a fair amount of blame for this, since many of the “official” wine descriptors regularly invoked suggest a veritable pantry of ingredients. But the truth is that there are very few additives permitted in wine. What we taste is nearly entirely dependent upon the grape itself and the skill of the winemaker.

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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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Smokey, Peaty Whisky Fans – We Feel Your Pain

May 31, 2012

A review of the Carmel Kayoumi Vineyard Shiraz 2007 and 2008 along with a review of the Kilchoman 2006 Single Malt Whisky.

Baron Edmond James de Rothschild is credited with establishing the modern Israeli winemaking industry in the late 19th century. As an ardent Zionist and owner of France’s Chateau Lafite, Rothschild readily offered his assistance to the new immigrants of the First Aliyah who wanted to cultivate vines and set up a winery. He began by planting grapes outside of Jaffa and soon after at another site in Zichron Yaakov, south of Haifa. In 1882, Baron Edmond founded the Carmel Mizrachi Winery (now just “Carmel Winery”) which has grown to become Israel’s biggest wine-making company with nearly 3,500 acres of vines and an annual production of over 15 million bottles.

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