The “New Wine” For Jews

November 25, 2012

Covenant Solomon Lot 70

Reviews of the Covenant Solomon Lot 70 Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 and several SMWS single cask Scotch whiskies.

While wine has a pivotal role in Jewish life, whisky and other spirits, especially single malt Scotch whisky, have become quite the rage in shuls all across the country. Rare is the kiddush these days that does not offer at least a cheap single malt. (There are, of course, synagogues that are completely dry – but such institutions are wholly foreign to us – we mean, come on, “dry”? Really, why bother?) Reflecting this trend is the newly formed “Jewish Whisky Company,” an independent bottler that offers single cask whiskies under its “Single Cask Nation” label (www.singlecasknation.com; the first of these whiskies will soon be released, and likely reviewed here).

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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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Israeli Label Yarden Shows Much Promise

August 22, 2012

Yarden Chardonnay

A review of Yarden wines from Israel’s Golan Heights Winery.

In 1972, oenologist Cornelius Ough identified the Golan Heights as an ideal location for grape growing due to its altitude, cool climate and volcanic soil. More than a decade later the award-winning Golan Heights Winery was established and it is credited with invigorating Israeli winemaking by dramatically improving the quality of the country’s wines. Its early successes led to the search for a winemaker that would build upon these accomplishments. In 1992, a young American graduate of UC Davis, Victor Schoenfeld, arrived in Israel to become its new head winemaker. It could be argued that advanced Israeli winemaking really began that year.

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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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Wine Made With A Measure Of Tikkun Olam

March 28, 2012

Tulip Just Cabernet Sauvignon

A review of the Tulip Just Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, the Tulip Just Merlot 2010 and the Glennfiddich Cask of Dreams Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

With the onset of spring it seems appropriate that our next Passover seder wine suggestions are from Israel’s Tulip Winery. Established in 2003 by the Yitzhaki family, the winery rests on a hillside overlooking the Jezreel Valley in Kfar Tikva, a unique community that is home to 200 emotionally and developmentally disabled adults aged 20 to 74. This pastoral “Village of Hope” is recognized as one of the most innovative locations in Israel for adults with special needs. The village has a staff of 85, and 20 full-time volunteers from Israel and abroad, and their philosophy includes integrating the residents within the community at large, and providing creative and productive outlets for them – such as working at the local candle factory, craft workshops or the Tulip Winery.

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The Spiritual Side Of Wine

February 12, 2012

Angel's Envy

A review of the Or HaGanuz Namura Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 and Angel’s Envy American Whiskey.

When consumed appropriately, wine has been known to induce contemplative and even religious thought. Sometimes, as we’ll see shortly, it is exactly this sort of contemplative, religious thought that leads to the production of wine.

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Location, Location, Location

February 9, 2012

Barkan Altitude

A review of the Barkan Altitude +624 Cabernet Sauvignon and the Isle of Arran 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

While there are many factors that can be manipulated to affect the quality of a wine, there is one fundamental aspect that cannot be changed: the place where the grapes are grown. The monks in France’s Burgundy region spent hundreds of years painstakingly characterizing and classifying the precise aspects of specific hillside plots in the Cote D’Or and the result is some of the world’s most profound wines. Matching the correct varietal to the local climate and geography is likely the most critical decision that will assure a winery’s success. It is exactly as the old the real estate adage goes: location, location, location.

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Napa Valley Family Produces Award Winning Wines

February 1, 2012

Meiomi Pinot Noir

A look at the Wagner Family wines.

The Wagner family has been making wines in California’s Napa Valley since 1915. Its first winery flourished until 1920 when it was closed by Prohibition, and the family turned to farming, eventually growing grapes and making wines at their home. In 1972, Chuck Wagner and his parents Charles and Lorna Belle, established the Caymus Vineyards winery, naming it for the 1836 land grant that included the area encompassing their farm.

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Jewish Family – Jewish Nation Blend

November 23, 2011

springbank 10 year old

A review of the Alexander Reserve Sandro Cabernet-Merlot 2007 and the Springbank 10-year old 100 proof Cambeltown Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

While still dominated by the large winemaking companies, the Israeli wine scene is becoming increasingly populated by small, family-owned wineries. The three biggest players – Carmel Winery, Barkanand Golan Heights Winery, along with their respective subsidiaries – account for more than 65 pecent of the 2011 grape harvest.

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