Founded by the late Daniel Rogov, focusing primarily on wines that are either kosher or Israeli.
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A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by Daniel Rogov » Sun Jul 20, 2008 11:09 am

Of late I have noticed a distributing phenmoneon in the email notices that I have been receiving from several, primarily American, online suppliers who deal primarily with kosher wines. The phenomenon is quite simple - advertising "specials" on wines, some from Israel, Chile, Argentina, France, the USA and Italy, that are so far out of date that even offering to sell them is laughable.

A few examples: An rather ordinary Israeli Chardonnay from the 2001 vintage; a Tuscan Chianti from the 1999 vintage; and an Israeli rose from the 2003 vintage, all wines meant to be consumed in their youth and so far past whatever prime they might once have enjoyed that they should long ago have been assigned to cleaning the sewers of various cities.

In the case of the wines, most surely a case of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) . In the case of this wine critic a case of santimonia (charity) at this time as I am not naming names. Starting from now, however, as I do receive such notices, my policy will be veritas vos liberabit (fthe truth shall set us free) and names will indeed be named.

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P.S. With no apologies for the Latin above. Sometimes when I'm teed off,I see the use of Latin as a show of strength.
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Re: A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by Harry J » Sun Jul 20, 2008 9:27 pm

bsd
What this might bring to mind is the difference in palate between the seasoned wine critic & us mere mortals.A case in point;Benhaim has been selling here in the US for about $23.Found it this past Thursday for $15 and decided to try it.The color was browning however the wine was more than drinkable it was delicious.Perhaps a second bottle might not prove to be as good.But it was years past it's drinking window in the notes.And yet almost always I will turn to Daniel Rogov's notes for guidance before purchasing a wine.Cause as they say in the (wine) 'hood "he's the man"!h
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Re: A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by David M. Bueker » Sun Jul 20, 2008 9:31 pm

I certainly know nothing about kosher wines, but I am still drinking (and very much enjoying) the 1999 Chianti Classicos.
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Re: A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by Daniel Rogov » Mon Jul 21, 2008 4:52 am

David, Hi....


Indeed a great many of the regular editions (that is to say non-kosher) of the wines of Chianti Classico and Chianti Classico Riserva are drinkiing very well indeed. The problem that one encounters in many kosher wines is not merely that they are kosher, for as often I have said, there are no contradictions in quality betwen wines that are kosher and non-kosher. There are however two problems that may come in with wines.

The first of these is that wineries producing both kosher and non-kosher cuvees often make two separate cuvees- sometimes those even based on grapes from different vineyards, made at a different facility and even by different winemakers. That can clearly impact on the quality of the wine.

The more serious problem is that some (but thankfully far from all) kosher wines are mevushal - that is to say, flash pasteurized and this process impacts on the wine quite noticeably after a few months in the bottle, often giving the wine a "cooked" taste and indeed shortening its potential drinking window. The only good news about mevushal wines is that one can find a note on the bottle indicating that the wine has undergone this process and thus avoid them. In fairness to the process, however, one winemaker in the world Ernie Weir of Hagafen winery in California makes all his wines mevushal but has managed (the finger of God perhaps?) to avoid the wines being at all second rate.

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Re: A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by David M. Bueker » Mon Jul 21, 2008 8:12 am

Thanks for the insights Rogov.
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Re: A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by Avi Hein » Mon Jul 21, 2008 8:36 am

Rogov - From my insignificant perspective, feel free to out them. Bad business practices and selling spoiled wine only serves to give a bad (worse?) name to kosher wines.
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Re: A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by Menachem S » Mon Jul 21, 2008 9:16 am

I find it more often in stores than I do on the internet, especially when they then actually tell you to buy the wine.

The internet, of course, makes its way to Isreali, where as the local stores do not.

Outing them, or at least e-mailing them first with this warning, is a good thing, not just for the future "victim" of the ploy, but hopefully it causes them to discount to sell the wine before its past due.

Thanks DR!
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Re: A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by Gary J » Mon Jul 21, 2008 11:00 am

I don't think the idea was to "out them", especially since it HAS happened and WILL CONTINUE to happen.

I think the lesson being imparted here (and correct me of I'm wrong Rogov) is to be weary of "deals" and ALWAYS keep your eye on the vintage of the wine you are buying.

In Harry's case with the Chianti Classico it was a red that thankfully Harry enjoyed. But with older vintage whites & rose', the buyer will likely be disappointed...
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Re: A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by Daniel Rogov » Mon Jul 21, 2008 1:23 pm

Indeed at this time my post was more as a warning to potential buyers. On the other hand, in the future if/when I receive more cyberspace ads about such clearly outdated wines I do intend to list the names of those making such offers. One of the roles of the critic, n'est-ce-pas vrai?



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Re: A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by Daniel Rogov » Wed Jul 30, 2008 3:26 pm

Well, at least nobody can say they were not warned and yet another reminder that the task of wineries, distributors, wine stores, wine sales internet sites is to sell wines and one of the roles of the wine critic is to decide which wines might be worth buying. It goes without saying that the decision of whether to buy or not is not up to either the seller or the critic but up to the potential consumer.

The following are offers received today from kosherwine.com in the USA.


Wine #1: My Review

Hevron Heights, Triple Red, Efron’s Cave, 2003: Dark garnet, this medium-bodied, unoaked blend of one-third each Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah offers up soft tannins and forwards berry-cherry fruits. Drink up. Score 79. K (Re-tasted 16 Nov 2007)

Wine #1: Their Review

Efron's Cave, Tripe Red Label, 2003: Efron's Cave is a supple fruity melange of Cabernet Sauvignon (33.3%), Merlot (33.3%), and Syrah (33.3%) from Israel's ancient Judean Mountains. Produced in stainless steel with pronounced forward fruit, big Bing cherries with a peppery mid-palate and smooth finish.


Wine #2: My Review

K by Saslove, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003: In its youth, light to medium-bodied, perhaps a bit thin on the palate, with some berry, currant, and herbal flavors but those somehow never coming together. Showing distinct age and well past its peak. . Score 80. K (Re-tasted 17 Mar 2008)


Wine #2: Their Review

Saslove Cabernet Sauvignon Mediterranean 2003: This rich, fruity wine was made from grapes grown in the Kayumi Vineyard, one of Israel's coldest microclimates. Ageing in new French oak barrels for six months added spicy, smoky flavors.


Wine #3: My Review

Hamasrek, Chardonnay, 2004: When young, light golden in color, medium-bodied, with spicy oak that came together nicely with aromas and flavors of citrus and tropical fruits. Now caramelizing and showing a hint of vinegar. No longer scoreable. K (Re-tasted 14 Mar 2008) K

Wine #3: Their Review

Hamasrek Chardonnay 2004: Hamasrek is a kosher boutique winery in Israel. The winery is located in Beit Meir, a small village near Jerusalem.

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Rogov
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Re: A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by Lior Yogev » Wed Jul 30, 2008 3:37 pm

Thanks for the info.

Recently I saw in a wine store (with not-so-bad reputation) a GHW gamla sauv-blanc which seems rather golden-brown in color. A closer look on the bottle revealed it was from the 2003 or 2004 vintage (can't remember which of the two). It was even priced higher than the usual price, probably since it aged so well 8)

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Re: A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by Avi Hein » Wed Jul 30, 2008 4:40 pm

Rogov - I'm not sure what's wrong with the kosherwine.com reviews - they didn't seem dishonest to me. Of course they weren't your reviews but they are trying to sell wine -- you're not.

On the other hand, and I don't know if this is the site you were reviewing or not -- in the bargains page of onlinekosherwine.com there were DEFINITELY several wines (all of them?) that were unquestionably past their peak! I make no comment about the rest of them and have heard of good experiences and they have a wider selection of Teperberg than kosherwine.com, but are any of these wines still drinkable?


Herzog Selection Macon-Blanc 1999
The wines of Gan Eden (including a Gan Eden 1995 Chenin Blanc)
Galil Yiron 2001
and a few others.

These wines may have been perfectly good (or not) in their prime but why are they selling wines that are beyond their peak now? I should add that doing so gives kosher wines a bad name. Some one may buy the Yiron 01, hate it because it's old, and then be forever turned off to Israeli and kosher wines.
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Re: A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by Harry J » Wed Jul 30, 2008 5:38 pm

bsd
Avi I'd like to step in and comment on your post in a similar fashion to a thread last week.
Firstly kosherwine.com isnt doing anything dishonest!Rogov is a a wine critic & probably considered an expert in his field.
To many of us a wine can still be enjoyable or drinkable which to the critic it isnt.If you are someone whose palate is as well trained as someone like Rogov then some of the wines on these sites that are offered are as you say past their peak.If you are an average wine drinker (like me) you'd be surprised what bargains one can find that are still ok.h
p.s. obviosly im not refring to a 95 chenin blanc, i mean c'mon guys lets get real :wink:
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Re: A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by Daniel Rogov » Wed Jul 30, 2008 6:03 pm

I am not at all saying that what is being done is "dishonest". What I am saying is that expert palate or not, I find it difficult to understand why anyone should be tempted to buy a wine that is well past its peak, perhaps oxidized, perhaps starting to take on a vinegar-like note. One can also purchase eggs that are say two-three months or a year past their "sell by" date. With eggs, there is even a chance that they will still be edible and if stored well, not even cause you any harm whatsoever. No matter though, for once cooked (opened if you like) they will surely not look like, smell like or taste like fresh eggs.

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Re: A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by Michael P » Wed Jul 30, 2008 6:47 pm

I hope this thread and continued education on Kosher wines will:

A. Force store owners to be more selective when ordering kosher wines i.e. not just becuase the distributer specializes in kosher. Just like wines from any other region, some Israeli/Kosher wines are not good (even to average drinkers), and should be avoided.

B. Encourage owners to clean out their stock of young wines earlier - this is important!

C. Allow kosher drinkers to feel more comfortable buying on sale, and as other have pointed out, first time Kosher/Israel drinkers will at least have a shot at enjoying first sale purchases
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Re: A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by David Raccah » Wed Jul 30, 2008 9:15 pm

Wow - this thread is a ticking time bomb - I do not manage this board, but as a member - I think I can ask for etiquette. So, how about laying out the facts - though this is my slant on the subject:

1) Kosher or not every bottle has its day and then its blooms fall off (some faster than others). So, if Daniel gives a window and a score at the last tasting, I would take that to mean that the wine will be best appreciated in that range of dates - and will probably not get much better, and can only get worse - over time.
2) Now people weigh many things when they buy a bottle of wine (again kosher or not), value, previous experiences, cost (for the snooty of us), prestige, label :-) ,etc.
3) We may like a wine that Daniel does not, which is perfectly fine, and something he has stated many times before.

However, if a wine is oxidized or way past its prime, saying that Daniel is a critic and therefore cannot appreciate a simple wine - is basically absurd.

So if company X is selling a wine that is over the hill, it is good to know that - so that we can add that to our decision matrix. Now the next set of facts:

1) Most decent wine stores will help you if you call them and tell them honestly that the wine is bad
2) Wine stores do not taste the wines every week, so they take the reviews they get from their distributors or wineries as the gospel and reuse it as it was when they got the bottle. It would be nice to have a recent wine tasting notes - but that is not always possible
3) Wine stores are in business of selling wine. They understand the laws of supply and demand. They drop the price until demand increases - simple. That means that a Gan Eden wine that has long gone over the hill, can be sold for a buck or two. Nothing wrong with doing that - it is your decision and it is your business to understand why a bottle is being sold for a dollar or two.
4) Wines stores want your business - call them up and ask them what they think about the wine ask them if they think the wine is over the hill. If they are not honest - they are not worth your business.
5) Wines stores that act honestly with you will get your business. I and MANY of my friends buy wine online and many of them are wine newbies. They buy it online because the price, service, and quality is to their liking and when things go wrong they get service that is equal to other business that do well online - electronics, clothes, etc.

I hope this is not too long a rant. Having Daniel and others tell you what they think about a bottle is not bad - it is good for you and for the industry. It is up to you to decide what to do with that data.

Best Wishes!
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Re: A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by Jan Schultink » Thu Jul 31, 2008 3:43 am

Bravo. I never understand why any wine retailer would take a risk of stocking past-their-peak wines that will create serious customer disappointment. It hurts the consumer, it hurts the retailer, and it hurts the winery brand. Obviously the practice is not limited to kosher wines, Rogov just happens to be on the mailing list of many of this type of retailers.
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Re: A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by Shlomo R » Thu Jul 31, 2008 4:09 am

About a year ago, a kosher wine retailer in my in-laws' area took in a large allocation of Yarden 2000 Merlot - a wine considered past it's peak when they took it. They offered it for sale at a substantial discount, with the request that bad bottles be brought back. At the time, I bought six bottles, and drank them in a short time frame. I was pleasantly surprised - all six were in fine shape and thoroughly enjoyable. Since then, in spite of the decreasing price, I have refused to buy more. A month ago, they took in a large allocation of 1999 Yarden Blanc de Blancs, and offered it at a steep discount. THe advertising did not give the vintage. I hoped for the 2000, but still opted to buy the 99 (in lots of 6, it's $12 per bottle). For the price, it's pretty good.

Here's my point. If I am possessed of a palate (technically, I think it's the tongue, actually) that is capable of above average discrimination, it is my responsibility to be aware of what I am buying. Caveat Emptor. If I can taste better, it is my responsibility to know better. The average Joe recognizes labels and has very limited ability to discriminate between vintages. It's my money, and my tongue. Every retailer is different. I know one retailer who is so fussy he won't carry something he doesn't like. The retailer in my in-laws' area like to take in bargain allocations to offer at steep discounts - seems to work for him, even though he is gambling with past peak wines. A retailer in my area has a great kosher wine selection, but has 2 huge problems - his sister, who works in the store, considers everything over $30 per bottle to be delicious, and the store gets very warm inthe summer. For these reasons, I buy wines from him that have not been there for very long, and try to avoid his sister.

Sometimes I represent people to protect their interests during construction on an adjacent property. Very often, the contractor agrees to reimburse my client for my fees. I refuse to accept payment directly from the party on the other side of the property line - I MUST get paid by my client, even if he is reimbursed by the contractor. In this way, I prevent accusation of conflict of interest. In the ethanol industries, there is no way for the retailers to maintain integrity/impartiality - they exist to buy low and sell high, as that is how they live. Therefore, the consumer MUST be the arbiter of impartiality - the consumer must have the information necessary to decide if they will gamble on 6 bottles of past peak Merlot or Blanc de Blancs.

Feel free to disagree - I welcome it.
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Re: A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by Jonathan K » Thu Jul 31, 2008 8:34 am

I have no problem with the slash the price to sell old wine method. That is not what we are talking about. It is selling past its day wine at regular retail prices. This really bothers me. I have found kosherwine.com to be a terrific source for Israeli wine (at least those that are kosher) and it doesn't stretch the imagination to believe that some looking for an intro into Israeli wine (kosher or otherwise) might find their way to this source. I just cringe to think what their perception of Israeli wine would be with some of these wines represented at retail prices. Just cut the price and let the people know that you are clearing your inventory. By the way, I had my last bottle of Yarden Blanc de Blanc 1999 about a month ago and I would definitely buy some at a discounted price; it's still just fine.
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WTN: Yarden, Blanc de Blanc, 1999

by Daniel Rogov » Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:54 am

By chance, drank the 1999 Yarden Blanc de Blanc just three days ago. My tasting note follows....

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Rogov

Golan Heights Winery, Blanc de Blancs, Yarden, 1999: Yarden, Blanc de Blancs, 1999: Made by the traditional methode Champe-noise, just yeasty enough to enchant, with rich citrus, peach and nectarine fruits and hints of spring flowers. Mineral-rich crispness, sharp, well-focused bubbles, a long mousse and a long and tempting near-creamy finish. Drink now or in the next year or so. Score 90. K (Re-tasted but not blind 28 Jul 2008)
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Re: A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by Harry J » Thu Jul 31, 2008 10:45 am

To not let a comment to be taken out of context;I agree a wine that as DanielRogov calls vinegar like should NOT be offered for sale under any circumstances & personaly do not feel in such a case constitutes "buyer beware" and is frankly dishonest.
As to the idea of the sophisticated palate -again tasting notes is something that are so usefull & valuable to the indulgent & interested wine buyer.However as there are many out there who can discern there are probably many whose own tasting notes are not as sensitive & thus without being at the stage of vinegar like can still be ok drinking.I have tried it & sometimes it works(and believe me I dont like vinegartype wines)h
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Re: A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by Jeff Adler » Fri Aug 01, 2008 5:06 pm

I would question how much of the issue can be attributed to the US distributors. When I often speak to wine store owners about vintages for their Kosher Wines they often tell me they are at the mercy of the distributors and what wines are made available. There seems to be a hierarchy in the US for shipping kosher wines with certain stores and certain areas getting first preference at newer vintages and wines that have limited supply quantity.

For example, before Passover I pre-ordered a few bottles of Gamla Sangiovese from a wine store and when I went to pick it up it was a 2002 vintage. This was wine that was recently received via shipment from a distributor.

I think wine merchants should be cognizant of the vintages but if they are difficult to distributors they can be shut out or given lower priority for new releases.

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Re: A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by Jaicky T » Tue Aug 05, 2008 3:30 pm

Mr. Rogov,

First let me tell how glad I am to have found this forum as I enjoy your articles and reviews immensly.

One of my favorite wines is the Galil Yiron. I recently found one of these US web sites selling the 2001 Yiron for $12.50 including shipping, which I knew to be extraordinarily low. Upon calling I was told that due to Shmitta issues it did not carry a US hashgacha. Upon further investigation, I discovered that the Israeli hashgacha was fine, and purchased a case, which i split with a number of people. We all enjoyed this, and each of us subsequently ordered a case each, which i am close to finishing. Most of us had one bottle or so that was not up to par, but at this price I can live with that.

I was coming back from visiting Israel in June, and found the Yiron 2001 at the duty free on sale for $55. The woman explained to me that it's age makes it very desirable and good. When I told her how much I paid in the US, she almost fell off her chair.

What are your views on the Yiron 2001 now, as I'm considering buying more. I cant seem to find one of your earlier write ups on this.
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Re: A Friendly Word of Warning In Re Kosher Wine Buying

by Ilan T » Tue Aug 05, 2008 4:00 pm

Yaakov T wrote:I recently found one of these US web sites selling the 2001 Yiron for $12.50 including shipping, which I knew to be extraordinarily low.


Hi Yaakov,

Which website was this?
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