Archive | March, 2018

Passover Wines, 2018: Yarden, Golan Heights & Galil Mountain Winery

29 Mar


It never fails: within one 24 hour period,  both a local neighbor and a long-distance blog fan hit me with the same question: “Will you suggest some more wines I can buy for Passover this year?”

Why yes, I think I will!

Mount Hermon White Wine Blend, 2016, Golan Height’s Winery, Galilee, Israel. 13.5%ABV, SRP $12/bottle.

Color is pale straw. The nose offers honeydew melon and fresh wildflowers. On the palate, this blend is a delight to the tongue: ripe white peach, Bosc pear, sweet apple, and tangy citrus for a lovely fruit blend moving from the front to side palates. The tropical fruit hits on the finish, crossing up through the top palate and into the nasal cavities. This is so easy to drink, I’d suggest you open it while cooking, but it’s really the wine you want to ply your guests with as they enjoy reading the Haggadah, paring with roast chicken, gefilte fish, fresh fruit, and the cheese course. Aunt Edna (who won’t drink red wine) will love this throughout the meal, but will remind you to pour her “only a little” each time you come by with the bottle. A great value in non-Mevushal, Kosher-For-Passover wine at a daily drinking price.

 

Yarden Gewürztraminer 2016; Golan Height’s Winery, Galilee, Israel. 14.5%ABV, SRP $21/bottle.

This non-Mevushal, Kosher for Passover white is world-class gewürztraminer! Medium straw in color with sweet citrus on the nose. On the palate: lychee, pineapple, a hint of clementine, some orange peel. Nice acidity without being too hot. Great balance with mouth-watering acidity, the mid and back palate pucker up as the wine moves back and down on the long finish. Without a doubt, this is among the finest examples of Gewürztraminer  I’ve tasted from Israel. This medium-bodied wine is the perfect for the discerning and difficult wine drinkers to start their meal with- your first few cups, perfect for the fish and salad courses, before you move on to the brisket. After the brisket, you can come back to this for dessert, it’s that mouthwateringly delicious. If you want a little more citrus, smoke and a tiny hint of mint that is serious enough to pair with crispy duck, a roast, or the salmon course, look no further. This is a serious white wine for Pesach, and it’s a delightful expression of the gewürztraminer grape!

 

 

Yiron, Upper Galilee, 2014 Red Wine Blend, Galil Mountain Winery; Galilee, Israel. 15%ABV, SRP $32/bottle.

The serious red blend! Made of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 7% Syrah, and 5% Petite Verdot, this is aged for 16 months in French oak. Color is deep garnet with purple edging. The nose offers blueberry pie and a bit of extra alcohol to burn. Given some time to air, the aromas of vanilla, blackberry, spice box and forest floor come through. On the palate, find a mix of black currents, blueberry, and tart black plum. With above-average acidity and strong tannins, a swish around the mouth allows you to sense the unctuous, full-bodied mouthfeel and enjoy its long, tart finish. This is an excellent choice to serve with your roast or brisket, no doubt, you might be tempted to name this wine when the youngest one asks, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” Trust me, keep that answer to yourself, and wait for the next cup -it’s worth it. Last but not last, this bottle would also be a perfect gift wine for Passover if you’re a guest joining others for the annual ritual and celebration.

 

What wine will grace your glass, and your Seder plate this year?

If you hadn’t noticed, I’m a fan of Yarden and their head winemaker Victor Schoenfeld, who is credited as being the single greatest influence in elevating Israel’s wine to a world-class level. You can check out my other posts about his wines, and more Kosher for Passover wines at these links:
http://bit.ly/VSYarden
http://bit.ly/YardenRosé
http://bit.ly/JvBYardenII

à votre santé!

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Raw & Unfiltered: Eminence Road Farm Winery Pinot Noir 2015

26 Mar

Eminence Road Farm Winery Elizabeth’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015, Finger Lakes AVA, New York, USA. 12.4% ABV; $25/bottle.

 

Color is maroon with a garnet center. The nose offers rich red plum, eucalyptus, cherry pie, slate, grass cuttings, and a touch of damp forest floor. On the palate, a thick and viscous juice, showing a fruit blend of mature & ripened cherry, dried cranberry with sunkist orange peel, a hint of fennel and vanilla bean, long finish of black plum, tart black cherry, with slate, marle, and hint of tar on the back palate. Ooooh. 

Raw and unfiltered, this is a brusque and muscular pinot that is a joy to drink. It changes significantly with air, so for best results I suggest you decant for at least an hour. I was surprised when the lean and ropy wine opened up into a teenage ninja mutant turtle and then suddenly gained a sweet edge on the mid palate. I adored this wine initially with salmon and ratatouille, but loved it on day 2 with a piece of gorgonzola cheese and again on day 3 with chicken chili and a side of garlic and ginger stir-fried veggies.

Do you like pinot from Burgundy, California, or Oregon? I do- but I like all styles of pinot noir, and all types of grapes- the more I taste, the more I find that across the entire globe, there are hordes of winemakers working hard to create something amazing with just about every grape out there, in every type of terroir. But not to digress, let’s get back to pinot noir: YES, I’m a fan of those lean, focused styles of wine- but Eminence Road Farm Winery‘s Elizabeth’s Vineyard Pinot Noir is is a totally different take on pinot noir for me, and a great example of how “alive” wine is. This wine is a curving road: complex, evolving, multifaceted. If you enjoy exploring new roads, not sure whether to hit the gas or touch the brake as you navigate the curves of life- this might be your favorite new wine. 

I have previously enjoyed the leaner white wines from the Finger Lakes but this red wine pleasantly surprised me with its expressive nose, an oversized mouthfeel, rich viscosity, and complex flavor palate. Those elements help make this a fascinating and fun wine to drink and enjoy!

 

 

Have you had raw and unfiltered wines before? Share your experiences with me below! 

 

 

#WIYG? 

 

à votre santé!

The Vinum Il Rosso: Montepulciano

20 Mar

The Vinum: Il Rosso Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC, Ortona, Italy. 13% ABV, $25/bottle by Topochines.com

 

Translucent garnet in color. A floral, violet-driven nose with bright red fruit, dried leaves, and an essence of green cuttings.  On the palate: delightful cherry and young raspberry on the fruit profile, together with an excellent acidity and chewy tannins; rounded out with notes of earth, clove, cumin, cinnamon, oak, and slate. Unlike many Montepulcianos I have tasted, this one is in great shape to drink young but has enough acidity and fruit to age for a decade or two, when this wine would go from really good to possibly stunning- if you can bear to keep it that long. Made from 100% Nero grapes, this is a wine to please your wine-loving friends and make their mouths water.

I paired this wine with a pot roast and was thrilled at the result, a very complementary set of flavors for the roast and the winter vegetables. But unlike most wines, I couldn’t stop pouring myself  another one-0unce taste over and over again, as my nose went back again for the violet aromas that filled the top of my palate, even as I enjoyed the wine with meringues for dessert instead of coffee or tea. This is a wine that won’t allow me to taste it over a week with at least three proteins, because it isn’t going to last that long. Hello, time to order a case?

This wine has made me more interested in the Nero grape (since it was a new expression of the grape to me), as well as the wine importer/retailer/wholesaler  Topochines Vino, whose selections are intriguing, reasonably priced, and made me raise an eyebrow and want to order several bottles as soon as I began to browse their online store. A clear win, and worth checking out.

 

 

à votre santé!

Journey to the Jura with Puffeney 2.0

14 Mar

Frédéric Puffeney 2015 Arbois Trousseau. 13.5% ABV,  between $25-28/bottle, street price.

 

Trousseau. Most Americans don’t know what it is. It’s a grape, one also called by many names in Europe over the last several hundred years, sometimes names like Bastardo, Gros Cabernet, Semillon Rouge, or other nicknames.  What you should know is that it accounts for about 5% of the wines grown in the Jura AVA of France, and it can provide some delicious wines.

Color is translucent maroon. The nose offers a sweet red plum, sour cherry, and green herbs with a secondary note of black soil and wet moss. On the palate, subtle fruit pair with a strong acid/tannin combination make this a powerful food wine. Bright and brisk cherry and raspberry dominate the fruit profile with sage and mixed peppercorn with hints of  limestone, granite,  tree bark and forest floor. Beautifully dark and brooding, this Trousseau is pinot noir’s cousin: instead of a mature  and brilliant youth, trousseau presents like an angry young man at first, then shocks you with tremendous pairing power and a likeability that warms you up slowly but steadily. While the traditionalists will tel you to pair this with morbier or comet cheese, I will tell you that roast chicken, delicate grilled meats, or ratatouille are perfect matches for this wine.

Lastly, the pedigree. Jaques Puffeney stopped making wine years ago, but his nephew Frédéric has taken the helm in supporting the wines and terroir of the Jura. Well, fear not- he’s doing something right. His wines are fascinating, compelling, and delightful. You may have to look for them, but when you find them, his wines will win you over.

 

à votre santé

 

Markus Wine Co: Sol

10 Mar

Markus Wine Company, “Sol” 2015 Vintage Red Blend, Lodi, California. 14.9% ABV, $39 SRP.

 

Dark purple, nearly black in color near the center, with purple edging. Busy, eclectic nose of dark fruit, forest floor, sand, and eucalyptus. On the palate, massive black fruit: plum, blackberry, black cherry- the violence in the crush is evident- this is a big, blasting stroke of bold flavor. A big mouthfeel, strong tannins, acidity, and fruit; secondary notes of mocha, vanilla, and salty sand- this is a huge wine with a long, Grand Canyon of a finish that goes on, and on, and echoes far past when you think the last note has ended. This wine screams for grilled meats but can work beautifully with Mexican, Italian, I even made it pair with a salad by adding some grilled chicken and a few slices of jalapeño! This wine is fun, fabulous, and a ton of black fruit flavor.

 

 

 

 

Made of 42% petite Syrah, 37% Syrah clone 877 (both from Borra Vineyards), and 21% Mourvèdre from Silvaspoon Vineyards. Each time I tasted this wine, I wanted it to be named “Black Dog”, after the Led Zeppelin song whose protagonist is in constant, amorous pursuit- because the black fruit is so forward and direct on the palate. Its driving, electric, bluesy desire never gives up!

When you want an incredible night, put some massive steaks on the grill, pop open a bottle of Markus Sol, and let the music flow!

 

 

 

Oh Baby! Oh Alright!

 

 

 

à votre santé!

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