Review of Chateau Montviel 2002 and The GlenDronach, Revival, 15 year old Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky.
By Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon
Washington Jewish Week July 2015
We have previously discussed the periodic availability of kosher versions of otherwise non-kosher wines from non-kosher wineries. Not only does a “kosher run” at a non-kosher winery require the complete koshering or all equipment to be used and, of course, complete supervision of every stage by the kashrus agency providing certification, but such wines will also have to meet the standards of the brand being made kosher, however limited the production. Once a wine is released to the public bearing a particular winery’s name, no matter how niche the market and narrow the distribution might be, it will be seen as a reflection of that winery or brand. So whatever ends up in the bottle must also meet the winery’s own quality standards. After all, the small OU or other symbol indicating kosher certification may very well be a distinguishing feature on the corner of the label, but the otherwise unchanged label of the winery or brand remains front and center.
When the kosher run in question is of a well-established, Old World wine producer, that bottle of wine also represents, after a fashion, an opportunity for the kosher consumer to taste the product of many decades, if not centuries, of wine cultivation. Especially when it comes to some of those French wine producing regions where there are strict regulations in place governing the types of grapes that can be grown, as well limit other aspects of the cultivation and then winemaking process – all in an effort to maintain overall regional quality. These rules appear to work fairly well, as such French wines have long been considered among the world’s finest.
Many Bordeaux wines are highly coveted by consumers and collectors. Located near the southwest corner of France at the Gironde estuary, it is the country’s largest wine making area with over 700 million bottles produced each year. It is divided by the Garonne and Dordogne rivers into the northern “Right Bank” where Cabernet Sauvignon predominates, the “Left Bank” where Merlot prevails and the mostly white wine producing “Entre-Deux-Mers” located between the two rivers.
While some bottles of Bordeaux can cost hundreds of dollars, there are many more reasonably priced options. Indeed, there are many values to be had, especially from the less well known producers. However kosher versions can be pricy, reflecting the additional activity and costs required; it is fairly common to find a kosher version to be nearly double the cost of the same wine in its original non-kosher form, sometimes even more. Such is the nature of supply and demand.
This should not intimidate the curious, as the kosher editions are usually most rewarding. A friend recently brought us the Chateau Montviel 2002, a wine made of mostly Merlot, with some small percentage of Cabernet Franc, from 30 years old vines located in the Pomerol commune of the Right Bank. While this particular bottle was clearly moving toward the end of its ideal drinking window, it still displayed abundant red berry, dark plum and earth aromas. Amidst a frame of soft tannins, were notes of strawberry, plum, cassis, and mushroom, with hints of herbs, mocha and tobacco. Most enjoyable.
Spirits-wise, we recently heard some expected but unwelcome news from the GlenDronach Distillery in Scotland.
The distillery, founded in 1826 and located in the Forgue Valley in Aberdeenshire’s “castle country” in Huntly, in the Deveron district of Speyside is discontinuing one of its great whiskies. The official word from Alistair Walker, director of sales and marketing at the BenRiach Distillery Company, made available via our friends at the wordofwhisky.com blog: “The GlenDronach 15YO will indeed be discontinued from the range, for approx 3 years – the plan, at this stage, is that it will return at some point in 2018. This isn’t something we would do lightly, as this is one of our best-selling and most popular whiskies, but we simply don’t have the maturing stocks to continue to bottle and supply the GD 15YO over the next 3 years. The GD 15YO will be withdrawn from all markets, not just the UK.”
Entirely expected, but oh so unwelcome. It takes time for this to work its way through the distribution chain. So seek out and buy while you can.
The GlenDronach, Revival, 15 year old Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky (46 percent; $95): This thick, rich complex Oloroso Sherry cask-matured whisky is a joy, with aromas of dark dried fruits (like raisins and prunes), candied citrus peel, toffee, cake spice, and with overtones of worn leather and traces of furniture varnish, with warm, rich, yummy flavors of raisins, marmalade, baked cake spices, nuts, and autumnal fruits. The finish is warming and slightly tannic, with a bit more raisin and some blackberry jam. An awesome whisky! L’Chaim