Meshugas From Maker’s

March 6, 2013

Review of the Yikvei Zion Armon Reserve 2007 and a look at the flip-flop over Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whisky.

Israel’s first “modern” winery was established over 150 years ago. Originally located in the Old City of Jerusalem near the Kotel, the Zion Winery – now in Mishor Adumim, the industrial estate near Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem – has grown to become one of the country’s largest wine producers.

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Kosher Food And Wine Experience

February 27, 2013

A review of the Hagafen Riesling 2012 and several whiskies including Angel’s Envy, the Tomintoul 10-year-old single malt and two single malts from Glengoyne.

The 2013 Kosher Food and Wine Experience was held in NYC earlier this month. This annual tasting event is one of the best opportunities-along with their tasting events in London and Los Angeles-to sample the latest kosher wines and spirits distributed by the Herzog family’s Royal Wine Corp. also known as Kedem, the world’s largest importer, producer and distributor of kosher table wines.

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Kicking Off A New Year With Chablis

February 14, 2013

A review of some of the excellent white wines produced in Chablis.

It is always an excellent time to become acquainted with Chablis. Located nearly 100 miles south of Paris, Chablis is the northernmost aspect of the renowned Burgundy region although the vineyards are actually closer to Champagne than to the rest of the Burgundy. Relatively isolated with a limestone and clay soil containing fossilized seashells that is planted exclusively with Chardonnay, Chablis was once the largest vineyard area of the country and reigned as the premier white wine of Parisian bistros. The area is prone to harsh weather including devastating frosts that reduce crops. Combined with competition from other winemaking areas such as Bordeaux, Chablis plantings dramatically decreased despite its prominent name recognition.

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Israel’s Upper Galilee: A Fine Winegrowing Region

February 6, 2013

A review of the Adir Kerem Ben Zimra Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society Cask 4.153, 11-year-old Highland Park.

The Upper Galilee’s lush landscape, meandering streams and magnificent mountain views make it one of Israel’s most attractive winegrowing regions. Noted Israeli wine maven Adam Montefiore has rightly called it, “the Israeli Tuscany or Provence.” This combination of natural beauty and quality wine has made the Upper Galilee a premier wine tourism destination.
The visitors’ center at the award-wining Adir Winery is an ideal location for enjoying the region’s vistas and excellent wines. The winery was established 10 years ago by the Rosenberg and Ashkenazi families, but its first vines were planted decades earlier. The Rosenberg family immigrated to Israel from Poland in the late 1940s, while the Ashkenazi family immigrated to Israel in the early 1950s from Turkey. Moving to the Upper Galilee, they helped settle Moshav Kerem Ben Zimra (founded in 1949). The Rosenbergs began planting grapes on the slopes of the Galilee hills in the late 1980s; meanwhile the Ashkenazi family raised goats in the area and began producing cheese and milk. They combined their efforts in 2003 and founded the Adir Winery and Dairy. The complex houses both winery and dairy, combined at the glitzy visitors’ center.

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Sparkling Wine From The “Cava”

January 30, 2013

Reviews of the Elvi Wines Brut Cava and the first three offerings from the Jewish Whisky Company under their private “Single Cask Nation” label.

Cava is Spain’s best known sparkling wine. It is produced primarily in the Catalonia region, which borders France along the Mediterranean coast. The name “Cava,” which is Catalan for cave or cellar, comes from the cellars of the Codorníu Winery that winery owner Josep Raventos i Fatjo, created to age and produce wines, and from which he produced the first commercially available Spanish sparkling wines in 1872. Invariably less expensive than Champagne, Cava is just as versatile and food-friendly, making it a terrific choice to match both budgets and menus. Thankfully, there are several kosher Cavas on the market. Cava is produced using the “methode champenoise,” the same process used in France’s Champagne region to naturally create the carbon dioxide in the bottle. The three indigenous varietals most often used to create Cava are xarello, macabeo and parellada. First the grapes are fermented separately as nonsparkling “base” wines which are then blended to create a consistent “house style.” This is no easy task.

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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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How Much Time Should The Wine Spend In Its Bottle?

January 16, 2013

A review of the Carmel Mediterranean 2007 and several GlenDronach Single Malt Scotch Whiskies.

In a strictly biological sense, there is nothing “alive” in a bottle of wine, and yet there is no doubt that wine continues to evolve after bottling. Many have compared wine to a living creature since it begins as an organic product that changes over time and has a limited lifespan. Indeed, most well-made wines seem to have their own unique personality, and often with the inherent potential to become more complex and interesting over time.

Most wines are made for early consumption rather than extended maturation, and accordingly are generally consumed within days or weeks after purchase. There are some wines, by contrast, that require additional time in the bottle to allow the various components to merge and reach their full potential. A great many wines fall somewhere in between and will benefit from a few years of additional time in the bottle.

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A Taste Of Black And White

January 9, 2013

A review of the Vinobles David Cote du Rhone Villages-Reserve 2010 kosher wine and the Black & White Blended Scotch Whisky.


The Rhone river valley produces some of the world’s finest red wines. It is comprised of two geographically and viticulturally distinct regions. The Northern Rhone climate varies widely through the year and is known for cold winters and warm summers. Its red wines are exclusively syrah although some subregions permit the addition of a small amount of white grapes. In the southern Rhone, the weather is more Mediterranean with a milder winter and hotter summer. The wines are predominately grenache based blends that can include over a dozen other red and white varietals.

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On The Importance Of Vintage

January 3, 2013

A review of the Recanati Petite Sirah/Zinfandel Reserve 2010 and several Springbank Single Malt Scotch Whiskies.

Vintage is the most important number on a wine label. Each growing season brings its own differences in vineyard temperatures and rainfall, which significantly affect the quality and character of the grapes. The winemaker’s role is to create the best possible wine every year in a specific style despite these annual variations.

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