Israel’s Dalton Produces World-Class Wines

May 21, 2008

Dalton Winery

A visit and tasting at Israel’s Dalton Winery.

Londoner Alex Haruni recognized that Northeastern Israel needed a new economic base. During a visit to the area — which had been a fiscal sinkhole for years, with unemployment approaching 60 percent and families leaving in droves — Haruni had some surprisingly good wine made from local grapes. An examination of the vineyard convinced him that the Upper Galilee could produce world-class wine.

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The Antidote To Boring Wines

November 27, 2007

Martinelli Pinot Noir

A look at the wines of the Martinelli Winery.

Inside a red barn along Sonoma’s River Road is the Martinelli Winery tasting room. The Martinelli family planted their first vineyard in 1899 on a site known as ‘‘Jackass Hill,” a location reportedly so steep that only a fool would harvest there. During the ensuing century, the family has acquired several other prime vineyards and now their portfolio includes excellent Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Syrah, many of which are available only through their mailing list.

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Portuguese Winemakers Offer A Mix Of Old And New

October 17, 2007

Quinta do Monte D'Oiro

A look at some Portuguese table wines.

Known for centuries as the home of exceptional Port and Madeira, Portuguese winemakers are making some very good table wines now. Mirroring their Spanish counterparts, Portuguese wine producers have made major investments to modernize their facilities and to plant new varietals. ‘‘We needed to show the world that we could make quality table wines,” Jose Bento dos Santos, owner of Quinta do Monte D’Oiro explained at a recent tasting. ‘‘So we made wines from grapes people already know. Now that they see what we can do, they are more willing to try the wines from native grapes such as Touriga Nacional.”

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Fine Kosher Red Wines

September 13, 2007

Teperberg Family Estate

A review of some recently released kosher red wines.

Kosher wines can satisfy a discriminating wine drinker and accompany any dish from brisket to blintzes. They continue to gain the approval of wine critics and their growing sales indicate increasing consumer acceptance. Kosher wines are produced all over world, including California, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Israel. In France some of the most prestigious wine producers are making kosher wines. “If the French masters of the art of winemaking have accepted kosher wine into their ranks then Kosher wine has truly arrived,” declares Martin Davidson, spokesman for Royal Wine, a leading importer of kosher wines and owner of California’s Herzog winery. Davidson believes that, “the Jewish community has fortunately graduated up to complex and sophisticated wines…Consequently, a better-educated buyer can now refine their appreciation in viniculture, knowing there is enough fine wine out there to accommodate a demanding and discerning palate.”

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Paso Robles: California’s Most Promising Wine-Making Region

April 18, 2007

J Lohr Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon

A review of some wines from Paso Robles.

More than 40 different varietals — high-quality Zinfandel, excellent Cabernet blends and first-rate Rhone varietals — are cultivated in Paso Robles, California’s largest American Viticultural Area (AVA). The 24-plus square mile area has 700 to 2,000-foot elevations, with diverse microclimates from the cooling Pacific breezes and multiple canyons.

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Washington State Wines Yield Pleasant Surprises

January 17, 2007

Alexandria Nicole Cabernet Sauvignon

A review of recent releases from Washington State.

Every year a fellow wine writer begs me to join him for his annual Washington State wine tasting. In the past these have been dreadful affairs, with the amount of swill we had to wade through completely overwhelming the occasional stars. I have learned to strategically place myself on the far end of the table and watch the faces of the other people he has coerced to join him. If they look like they have a mouthful of paint, I let that bottle pass me by.

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Flavorful Wines Arise From Inhospitable Conditions

October 18, 2006

Rosenblum Rockpile Road

A review of several Rosenblum wines.

Lovers of big, flavorful wines should make a pilgrimage to northern Sonoma County. There, the Rockpile AVA, a recently designated American Viticulture Area, includes more than 15,000 acres extending from Dry Creek Valley to the Mendocino County line above Lake Sonoma. The name fits perfectly since the shallow soil is studded with rocks and water is scarce. Only a few hundred acres within the Rockpile region can support grapevines, and the farms are located miles apart. These remarkably inhospitable conditions are the source of amazingly complex and well-structured wines — including the award-winning Rosenblum Rockpile Road Zinfandel 2003.

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Ceja Vineyards Are A Family Affair

August 16, 2006

Ceja Vineyards

A visit and tasting at the Ceja Vineyards.

Amelia Ceja does everything with passion, style and a smile. The second-generation American met her husband Pedro while picking grapes when they were 9 years old and they shared a dream of having their own vineyards. In 1999, they established the Ceja Vineyards along with Pedro’s brother Armando (a University of California-Davis grad who is their winemaker) and his wife Martha. Amelia, who studied literature and history at UC-San Diego, is the first Mexican-American woman to serve as president of a wine producing company, and the entire family is involved in all aspects of the business.

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Choosing A Wine For Thanksgiving

November 16, 2005

Chapoutier Belleruche

Some Rhone wine suggestions for your Thanksgiving feast.

The classic meal of roast turkey, stuffing and cranberries offers a variety of flavors that expands, rather than limits, the types of wine that can be served. Ideally, the wine should have good fruit flavors, refreshing acidity for balance and not be too tannic or oaky. Champagne and other sparkling wines work wonderfully as would an aromatic Pinot Noir, a crisp Riesling, a fruity Beaujolais Nouveau or a spicy Zinfandel. This year, however, I am recommending a Cotes du Rhone.

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