Spluring On Fortified Wines

April 18, 2013

A review of the Zion Miharmartif Port-style kosher wine and several Port-finished Whiskies.

While we love a bargain wine, every so often it is fun to splurge, especially when the bottle remains drinkable for a long time after the cork has been pulled. This is the domain of the fortified wine, that middle ground between wine and spirit. Some fortified wines, such as Port and Madeira, can provide pleasure for weeks after opening while others retain their flavors only if kept refrigerated. These wines are typically costly to produce and available in limited quantities, hence the generally higher price tag.

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Introducing The “Cab Franc”

April 15, 2013

Reviews of the Alexander Reserve Cabernet Franc 2009 and several Tomintoul Single Malt whiskies.

Cabernet franc is one of the lesser-known grape varietals. Aromatic and with a softer feel than its better-known progeny cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc is usually added to enhance aromas and mellow a wine’s structure without sacrificing its ability to age. Cabernet franc, or “cab franc” as it is often called for short, even plays a prominent role in several of the most exalted Bordeaux wines. Cab franc can be excellent on its own, or as the primary or dominant constituent to a blend, and the resulting wines can range from rustic and austere to rich and balanced.

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Petite Sirah A Somewhat Undiscovered Gem

April 10, 2013

Reviews of several Petite Sirah wines from California.

Petite Sirah has seen dramatic changes since our last look at this underappreciated varietal several years ago. Its classic dark berry and cherry flavors accented with mild peppery spiciness make it easy to praise as an ideal wine for grilled foods and hearty winter fare. But for many years Petite Sirah was either relegated to a blending role or, if bottled solo, required at least an hour of aeration before consuming to allow the wine to become enjoyable.

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Tulip Winery: Good Wine and Good Works, As Well

March 28, 2013

A review of the Tulip Syrah Reserve 2010 and several recommendations for Passover libations.

All Jewish holidays, outside of fast days, entail big, festive meals. Passover is, in many respects, the ultimate example of this, despite having a more restricted diet. Not only must we eat matzah and maror at the seder meals, but we must eat matzah and refrain from all chametz (leavened grain products) throughout the holiday. Further, not only must each of us consume four cups of wine at each seder, which, depending on the number of guests, can make for a lot of bottles, but we are encouraged to keep the wine flowing as an expression of our freedom and joy. Besides, with our adult beverage options severely limited by type, with all grained-based spirits and beer unequivocally off limits, the importance of having enough wine on hand takes on yet another level of importance. So drink up (in moderation, of course).

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What To Drink With Your Brisket

March 21, 2013

A review of the Dalton Zinfandel 2010 and some suggestions for Passover libations.

Though the Passover seder has firmly established millennia old rules, rituals and traditions – the very word “seder” means “order” or “arrangement” – after all, the Jewish way is to conduct the night’s proceedings with highly personalized, family specific, customs and practices. This is especially true for the menu, which may run the gamut from cherished family recipes, to the latest cookbook concoctions, to professional catering, to potluck. Invariably one of the most traditional foods – at least among Ashkenazi Jews, is beef brisket. This, alone, seems subject to countless variations.

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Blame The French

March 17, 2013

A review of the Barkan “Reichan” Assemblage Galil 2010 and Tullamore Dew Blended Irish Whiskey.

One of the facets of wine culture that has contributed mightily to its more negative reputation for effete, snobby, high-brow insularity is the wine world’s propensity for invoking foreign words and phrases. If a culprit must be found, blame France. For, like it or not, the one nation most associated with wine is France. French wine continues to dominate the fine wine market and remains the benchmark for quality. Hence we have the French words, phrases, concepts and poses endemic to wine including such terms as bouquet, brut, cuvee and domaine. Another is “assemblage,” or the “art of blending.” It is also the name of a line of high-end blended wines from Israel’s Barkan Winery.

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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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