Posts Tagged ‘Carmel’

Drinking mature wine…

Monday, December 6th, 2010

I had one of my most enjoyable tastings a few days ago.  I got to taste about 20 wines ranging in age from 7-11 years old, all stored in optimal conditions.  I knew which wines I would be tasting ahead of time and was concerned that many would be past their prime and possibly even dead.  Lo & behold, the wines were all alive and quite spectacular.

It is said that 95% (or thereabout) of wine in consumed within 24 hours of its being purchased.  Which leads me to believe that most people have not had the extreme pleasure of drinking a wine that has had time to mature in the bottle, a bottle aged wine.

From “The Billionaire’s Vinegar”: “Crudely, the molecular changes known to unfold in a sealed wine bottle that has been laid down for years involve the gradual interaction of oxygen and wine.  Simple chemical compounds break down and recombine into more and more complex forms called polymeric phenols.  Acidity and alcohol soften.  The largest compounds – the harsh, astringent tannins – drift down into a carpet of sediment, taking with them the saturated, inky pigments.  They leave behind a mellowed, unfathomably subtle flavor and a brick-red hue.  Everything knits together, resolving into an ever finer complexity expressed fragrantly in the wine’s bouquet.”

The chapter gets into more detail about mature wine (while discussing Bordeaux purported to be from Thomas Jefferson’s cache dating back to the late 1700’s, and declares that “a wine is considered mature when it has maximized its flavor possibilities but has not yet begun to deteriorate”.

I still believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Some people prefer the primary aromas and flavors of a young wine, while others prefer the tertiary characteristics.  Of the wines I tried at the tasting I was shocked to discover that not only were most of the wines alive, but they were still displaying youthful fruit.  Their color was almost across the board still ruby, not showing very much (if any) of the brick color that is indicative of an aged wine (as it goes from purple to ruby to brick and ultimately towards brown as it reaches the end of its life).

I tried 5 Bordeaux, 3 Spanish wines, 2 wines from California and 9 wines from Israel.

The Bordeaux was all quite nice and I wish I had time with each bottle to enjoy it as it evolved.  Sadly this was a bit of a speed tasting for me as my job on this evening was simply to verify that the wines were still alive.  They were alive yet I couldn’t help but think they all seemed a bit lite.  They were definitely light in body.  I wonder what types of characteristics would have been revealed had I had more time with these wines.

Next were the Spanish wines from Capcanes; A 2000, 2001 & 2003.  These were probably my (more…)

Kosher Food & Wine has arrived

Friday, February 5th, 2010

My posts have been increasingly inconsistent of late as my new job has me working night and day representing amazing wines and helping to plan fabulous events.

This past week saw it all come together with the culmination of the 4th annual “Kosher Restaurant & Wine Experience” on Feb 1 in NYC & the 3rd annual “International Food & Wine Festival” on Feb 3rd in Oxnard, CA.

I helped out with a bit of the planning for the NYC event and have been ecstatic to hear all the positive feedback (with a dash of criticism thrown in of course).

And while I had little (OK, nothing) to do with the planning of the West Coast event, I was privileged to represent Israeli standout wineries Carmel & Yatir – whose wines also received rave reviews from the attendees.

Though high priced items such as the Yatir “Forest” attracted lots of attention, having spent MANY hours (on my feet) pouring the Carmel/Yatir wines I found that people were pleasantly surprised by the resurgence of Carmel and the new “Private Collection” (new label & no longer mevushal/flash pasteurized) & “Appellation” series wines.  Though the Appellation Carignan & Petite Sirah (both old vines incidentally) have been cult favorites for years among Israeli wine lovers, other Appellation wines such as the 2007 Cab Franc (in NY) or the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz (in CA) were also very positively received.

Though my wife makes fun of my food critiquing, I am far from a food critic (can you say Food Tasting Guy?).  Yet I managed to sneak away from my post at the CA show a few times and marveled at the culinary genius of Tierra Sur Chef Todd Aaron’s creative and delectable cuisine.  It was so good I reserved a precious spot to go back for dinner prior to my return flight to NY early next week.  Now if I can only figure out a way to get the company to cover the tab…

Happy mind blowing-ly good KOSHER food & wine tasting!


Carmel’s quality wine revolution

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

I fancy myself an aspiring Israeli wine expert, but I must admit that I have lots to do before I earn any such title.  Among the many things I must do is to better acquaint myself with one of Israel’s oldest wineries – Carmel.  YES, that Carmel, of the sweet, thick sacramental wine.  Well guess what folks, quietly the Carmel people have made HUGE advances in the vineyards, winery & their resulting products.  From their single vineyard and appellation series wines to their “supermarket” – “Private Collection” wines – the improvements have been dramatic.  And now that the product is better, they have slowly started to market the “new Carmel”, and people are noticing (see a blog post at the Hakerem Israeli wine blog here).


I recently checked out some of their unique single varietal appellation wines (Carignan & Petite Sirah) and was so (surprisingly) impressed by their quality that I included them in a blog post with some recommendations.  Clearly they are doing things right at Carmel (marketing wise as well as winemaking) as I was subsequently thanked via email and invited to the winery for a more formal introduction to Carmel and the changes that have been implemented in recent years.

I graciously accepted the invitation and had my appointment there today.  Upon arriving at the winery I was greeted by Ruti, a Sommelier and manager of their wine culture center (how is that for marketing?!).  A warm and likable person, Ruti was an encyclopedia of information.  She started with some very interesting facts about the 120 year history of Carmel.  Of interest was how the ambitious founder Baron Rothschild (of the famous Lafite Rothschild) wanted to be completely self sufficient and created both a cooperage (for making barrels) and glass blowing center (for making bottles) at the original winery.  Neither stuck, but how cool is that?!

Following our history lesson I was introduced to one of the (many) winemakers.  Understanding that wine starts in the vineyard, I was told that changes have been made to improve fruit quality by incentivizing the growers/co-owners to put in extra effort in their vineyards.  From shoot thinning & fruit dropping (to lower yields) to leaf trimming (increase fruit exposure to sun) & water management (cutting down on water leads to more concentrated grapes), the growers are doing everything to get their fruit included in the premium wines.  And the results in the vineyard are evident.  Prior to visiting the winery today I tried their LOW LEVEL supermarket 2007 “Private Collection” Cab/Merlot blend.  WOW!  Fabulous new packaging to go along with a wine that is a great deal at its price.  I was really excited to taste their “better” wines.

And taste I did.  Together with a Carmel executive, 2 winemakers & Ruti (yes, I was a bit embarrassed by all the attention) we went through 12 wines –  five white & seven red.  All REALLY IMPRESSIVE.

The 2007 Carmel Ridge White, a blend of sauvignon blanc (50%), Chardonnay (20%), semillion (15%) & french Colombard (15%) had a hint of effervescence to go along with its crisp acidity & pink grapefruit characteristics.   And the 2007 appellation whites: a Viognier, a Gewurtztraminer & a Reisling each seemed varietally correct and had their own unique appeal.

As for the reds, the single vineyard 2005 Kayoumi Cab showed black fruit, was round, approachable and very elegant, while the 2004 Kayoumi Shiraz was very upscale shiraz in style with a touch of black pepper, very fruit forward and a long finish.  My favorites of the day were still the appellation Carignan and Petite Sirah.  Not because they were the best, but because they were the most unique and really got me thinking.  Although the color of the Petite Sirah was incredibly dark (leaning towards being almost black) I was surprised by how light (relatively speaking) the body was.  Its gripping tannins and subtle dark chocolate were a pleasure.  The wine of the day was the Carignan though.  I may have been influenced a bit by Ruti’s enthusiasm for this wine, but it is a wine that truly speaks for itself.  The 2005 Appellation Carignan, made from 30-40 year old vines and blended with 10% Petite Verdot had an interesting toffee, mocha, chocolate, cedar thing going on.  A BIG juicy, mouth coating wine with creeping tannins and a modest finish – this is a wine you MUST try!

Of note were the alcohol levels of the wines.  I have heard some criticism regarding the high alcohol levels of some of Israels wines.  Yet i noticed that only the appellation Petite Sirah & Carignan were as high as 14.5% ABV (which clearly did not affect my affinity for them), while others such as the single vineyard wines came in at a more modest 13.5% (as was the appellation viognier which I had thought was a typically high alcohol varietal).

As is being done at the Israel wine revolution leader Golan Heights Winery (AKA Yarden), Carmel is trying to get away from being labeled as kosher, and doing everything possible to instead be considered a World Class winery whose wines JUST SO HAPPEN to also be kosher.  If today was any indication, they are well on their way!

Happy World Class CARMEL WINE tasting!