It’s The Terroir, Stupid

July 7, 2013

A review of the Goose Bay Pinot Gris 2011 along with some Father’s Day Whisky suggestions.

One of the more fascinating aspects of wine is the influence of “terroir,” a French term that encompasses the various geographic and climatic influences upon a wine’s aromas, flavors and structure. Identical grapes grown in dissimilar locations will have distinctly different characteristics. Distances as small as a few meters between rows of vines can produce profound changes in the quality of the resulting wines.

Burgundy is one of the better known illustrations of the influence of terroir. Over several centuries the local monks painstakingly classified and subdivided the region based upon the quality of the wines produced by grapes grown in specific locations. In contrast with Bordeaux where the classifications are based upon the producing Chateaux, the wines from Burgundy are labeled according to the vineyard and there may be more than one producer creating wines from that site. There are 400 types of Burgundian soil and the stratification into Grand Cru, Premier Cru and Village are entirely dependent upon geography. One of the more fascinating aspects of wine is the influence of “terroir,” a French term that encompasses the various geographic and climatic influences upon a wine’s aromas, flavors and structure. Identical grapes grown in dissimilar locations will have distinctly different characteristics. Distances as small as a few meters between rows of vines can produce profound changes in the quality of the resulting wines.

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A Taste Of Black And White

January 9, 2013

A review of the Vinobles David Cote du Rhone Villages-Reserve 2010 kosher wine and the Black & White Blended Scotch Whisky.


The Rhone river valley produces some of the world’s finest red wines. It is comprised of two geographically and viticulturally distinct regions. The Northern Rhone climate varies widely through the year and is known for cold winters and warm summers. Its red wines are exclusively syrah although some subregions permit the addition of a small amount of white grapes. In the southern Rhone, the weather is more Mediterranean with a milder winter and hotter summer. The wines are predominately grenache based blends that can include over a dozen other red and white varietals.

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Gift Guide For Wine Connoisseurs Offers Good Words, Good Cheer

November 21, 2012

Iconic Spirits

Some recently published books that would be perfect gifts for the wine-lovers on your list.

A veritable feast of new publications are this year’s recommendations for holiday gifts for wine lovers, beginning with “Iconic Spirits — An Intoxicating History,” by Mark Spivak, the former host of NPR’s “Uncorked” and a prolific writer on food, wine and spirits.

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Hot Tips On Mevushal Wine

November 8, 2012

What is “Mevushal” anyway? Also a review of Dalton Safsufa Merlot 2009 and Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky.

One of the most confusing aspects of kosher wine is the concept of yayin mevushal or “cooked” wine. The following discussion might seem academic, but we are continuously asked about this, so we thought a brief treatment is warranted. For a wine to be made kosher (according to Orthodox standards, and presuming here that all the ingredients, as well as the vineyard practices, already conform to Jewish legal requirements), it must be produced exclusively by Sabbath observant Jews.

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A Chief Winemaker’s Ordeal

August 17, 2012

Barkan Sauvingnon Blanc

A review of the Barkan Classic Sauvignon Blanc 2011 and White Horse Blended Scotch Whisky.

A winery’s goal is to create appealing wines on a consistent basis. They begin by establishing a benchmark and then take appropriate steps to assure that each vintage meets consumers’ expectations in terms of quality, flavor and price. There will be some variations from vintage to vintage depending upon the growing conditions, but the basic character of the wines should not vary. Improvements are welcome but backsliding will result in warehouses of unsold wine.

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Scotch In A Can?

July 26, 2012

Scotch in a can

A review of the Mony Reserve Syrah 2009 and look at a new product: Scotch in a Can.

The Mony Winery is an unlikely producer of kosher wines. The winery is located at the Dir Rafat Monastery in the foothills of the Jerusalem Mountains, part of the much vaunted Judean Hills wine region (the mountain range that divides the Sharon Coastal Plain to the west and the Jordan Rift Valley to the east). Mony is nestled on a peak overlooking the Soreq Valley, opposite Beit Shemesh, its vineyards and olive trees start at the winery and descend the slopes towards the valley.

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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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Dietary Laws Of Separation No Barrier To Blending Wine

May 2, 2012

Grand Old Parr

A review of the Gvaot Gofna Chardonnay-Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 and Grand Old Parr 12 year old De Luxe Scotch Whisky.

Integral to Jewish belief and religious practice is the concept of separation. Many objects, certain behaviors and even time itself are differentiated as either holy or secular and mundane. The dietary laws exclude certain foods, while demanding that some foods first be elevated from mundane to holy before they may be consumed.

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Stress: Bad for Humans but Good for Grapes

December 7, 2011

Johnnie Walker Double Black

A review of the Teal Lake Special Reserve Shiraz 2009 and the Johnnie Walker Black and Double Black Blended Scotch Whiskies.

One of the interesting paradoxes of winemaking is that stressed grapes make excellent wines. Nutrient poor soils, minimal water, and wide temperature variations stimulate the vines to produce intensely flavorful fruit. With careful vineyard management and talented winemakers these grapes can produce some very special wines.

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