Finicky Pinot Noir Grape Can Produce Profound Wine

February 25, 2014

A review of Yarden Pinot Noir 2009 and the Old Pulteney 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

There is some mysterious aspect of Pinot Noir that results in a degree of winemaker madness. It is difficult to grow and vinify, temperamental in the barrel and prone to closing down in the bottle for years before becoming really drinkable again. These very challenges seem to inspire rather than inhibit those winemakers who consider crafting a Pinot Noir the pinnacle of their profession.

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The Desirable Taste Of The Varietal

February 17, 2014

A review of the Barkan Assemblage Tzafit 2010 and The Glenlivet 15 year old, French Oak Reserve, Single-Malt Scotch Whisky.

One of the more difficult aspects of winemaking is creating a blend. It requires the ability to predict how a very young wine will evolve, and then also the ability to choose which additional varietals to add to enhance the finished product. Since the final result may not be ready to drink for years, a finely crafted and enjoyable blended wine is a true testimony to the winemaker’s skill and experience.

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Shifting From Red To White

January 21, 2014

A look at the growing emphasis on white wines in Israel including a review of the Flam Blanc 2012 along with a look at the purchase of Beam, Inc. by Suntory.

It has been interesting to observe the subtle but steady shift in emphasis from red to white wine occurring in Israeli winemaking. The country certainly produces a number of flavorful, enjoyable, compelling and occasionally even truly outstanding red wines. But now there seems to be a growing appreciation of the potential inherent in white grapes when grown in the Mediterranean climate. In this regard, there are some remarkable similarities to Greek winemaking.

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Scotchy, Scotch, Scotch

January 13, 2014

A review of the Yarden Gewurztraminer 2012 and the Ron Burgundy Blended Scotch Whisky, “Great Odin’s Raven” Special Reserve.

Choosing a wine for your meal is dependent upon numerous factors including flavors, style, budget and accompanying foods. An often overlooked factor that can influence one’s selection is the time of day. For example, few would consider sipping a California Cab in the morning — unless attending a wine industry tasting even — but many folks have indulged in a mimosa (or Bloody Mary) to help wash down a brunch. And pairing a quality Champagne with a simply prepared egg dish for breakfast is one of life’s more decadent pleasures.

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Oak And Wine — A Heavenly Match

January 6, 2014

A look at the role of oak in winemaking along with reviews of the Dalton Unoaked Chardonnay 2012 and several Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whiskies.

Why oak? At first glance it would seem unlikely that the wood from a tree and the fruit of the vine would have such a longstanding relationship. While both oak barrels and wine are ultimately made from plants, they are certainly cultivated, harvested, developed and utilized very differently. Yet without oak, the wide world of wine would be very, very different.

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A ‘Signature’ Wine From Upper Galilee

December 30, 2013

Review of the Ramot Naftaly Duet 2010 and several of the Bowmore Single Malt Scotch Whiskies.

Most established wineries produce a “signature” bottling. Usually a product of their finest grapes, these flagship wines are meant to reflect both the winemaker’s skill and the winery’s specific terroir. These signature wines, often with limited-production runs, tend to be a winery’s most expensive. Indeed, beyond striving for excellence, these signature wines are useful marketing tools; especially if widely and critically acclaimed, as positive buzz tends to shine a light on the rest of the winery’s portfolio.

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The Growing Population Of Sweet Reds

December 2, 2013

A review of Ben Ami Zmora Semi-Sweet Cabernet Sauvignon and the “Whisky of the Year,” the Glenmorangie Ealanta, 19 Year old Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

One of the fastest growing segments of the wine industry is sweet red wines. This isn’t much of a surprise since most folks grow up and continue to go through life with high-fructose corn syrup or refined sugars in nearly every processed food product we eat. Some of the more tasty if nutrition-less garbage, like donuts, cupcakes, soda, ice cream and the like, are obviously sugar-packed, but so many other processed foods have such sweeteners too — from pasta sauce to Cheerios, and from energy drinks to yogurt. So winemakers are now recognizing that many consumers are looking for wines that fit that same sweet-flavor profile.

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Wish List For Chanukah Gifts

November 25, 2013

Some suggestions for wine and spirits related holiday gifts.

With the beginning of Chanukah falling on Thanksgiving, many folks will be focused on the traditional turkey-centric meal and related Thanksgiving aspects of the day. But it is good to remember that Chanukah is not only the more important of the two holidays, it also lasts longer — far longer than any Thanksgiving leftovers. So a little more thought and contemplation are required. With this in mind, relevant to a column on wines and distilled spirits, it seems worthwhile to discuss some great booze related gifts.

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Liquid Poetry

November 13, 2013

A review of the Tzuba Pinot Noir 2010 and 2 new releases from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

Among our favorite varietals for Thanksgiving is pinot noir. It is a notoriously finicky grape that can be difficult to grow and challenging to vinify, but it’s also responsible for some of the world’s greatest wines. It prefers cooler growing conditions and has been planted nearly everywhere in the world with variable success. Except, of course, in France’s Burgundy region where the resulting wines can become ethereal and profoundly complex.

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