Labors Of Love

September 30, 2013

Reviews of the B.R. Cohn Trestle Glen Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, the Agua Dulce Winery Syrah 2010, and the Angel’s Envy Rye Whiskey.

Beyond all the many good-to-excellent kosher wineries out there slaking the growing thirst of the kosher consumer, we always enjoy it when some well-established and prestigious nonkosher winery gets in on the act and produces a limited batch of kosher wines. These days, as often as not, these limited run wines are pet projects of the winery — more a labor of love by the producer, than a contract-fulfillment for someone wanting to market the next “hot” kosher Bordeaux or whatever.

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Preparing For Fall (Wine)

September 18, 2013

A review of the Ramot Naftaly Shiraz 2010 and several Boulard Calvados.

Sukkot is approaching now, and the prospect of additional lavish entertaining looms large. Time to gather our thoughts, and materials, to build and decorate our sukkot, plan and prepare our meals, and maybe plan and prepare some sage Torah thoughts to share with our family and friends as we celebrate together. So, obviously, we should all also begin to evaluate the state of our wine stash for the upcoming months. If you have any left, it is time to drink up all those young roses and other lighter summery wines. For this is the season, now, of deeper, more complex whites and reds — the kind that have been resting in our dusty cellars (for those who have such) — that taste so much better as the days get shorter. After all, the fall brings cooler weather and the concomitant seasonal produce like squash, pumpkin, various root vegetables and the like. As our seasonal dishes are generally more robust than in summer, our wines should follow suit. But the transition can, and probably should, be gradual — no need to jump right in with big, bold and heavy wines.

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Wines Fit For The Grill

June 27, 2013

A review of the Recanati Syrah Reserve 2011 and several Glenglassaugh Single Malt Scotch Whiskies.

It’s grilling time, and we could not be happier for there are few summer pleasures more gratifying than preparing meals outside. Whether you are a charcoal devotee or a fan of propane, rarely are there foods that don’t do well cooked on a grate. The imparted roasted, smoky flavors are truly irresistible. Besides the usual culprits (steak, burgers, dogs) we have grilled nearly every vegetable from artichokes to zucchini and even some romaine lettuce. You can grill cheese, make pizzas, roast veggies, bake bread and create unique desserts. Try slicing a firm nectarine in half, remove the pit and place it on direct heat for a few minutes for a delicious ending to a summer meal. Selecting a wine to pair with grilled foods is relatively straightforward. Stick to reds and avoid the lighter wines like pinot noir by opening something more robust with complementary flavors. One of our favorites is syrah (also called shiraz), a dark-skinned varietal that likely originated in France’s Rhone Valley. It ranges in style from deep and brooding to very fruity and alcohol laden with flavors that can include floral, berries, coffee, earth, chocolate, dark fruit, spice and pepper.

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Australia’s Only Kosher Winery

January 23, 2013

A review of the Harkham Shiraz 2010 and the Old Pulteney 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

This week our search for enjoyable kosher wines leads us to Australia’s Hunter Valley. Located in New South Wales, about 75 miles north of Sydney, Hunter Valley is not well-recognized in the U.S. as a wine-producing region. Yet Hunter Valley was Australia’s first wine-producing region and is currently home to more than 120 wineries, including the well-regarded nonkosher producers Tyrrells, Wyndham and Lindeman’s. The local weather is hot and humid but fortunately the mountain ranges flanking the valley draw the nearby cooler ocean breezes into the region thereby facilitating grape cultivation. Subdivided into the Upper and Lower Hunter Valley areas, the region is known for its semillion, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and shiraz wines. Its proximity to Sydney has made Hunter Valley a prime tourist destination.

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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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High Holidays – Time To Switch Sides

September 14, 2012

Boulard Calvados XO

A review of the Flam Reserve Syrah 2010 and Boulard Calvados.

As a general rule of thumb, the High Holidays are neither early nor late but always on time – even when they seem to sneak up on you. Regardless of the actual dates, in the northern latitudes the holidays are in the autumn, whose weather encourages a shift from summer wines to those better suited to this time of year. The brighter, high acid wines like roses give way to wines with earthier flavors and more complexity that compliment both the harvest season and the traditional holiday meals.

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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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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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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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