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Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by Daniel Rogov » Sun Jan 02, 2011 2:39 pm

Depending on which edition of the Old Testament one reads, the most common modern English language phrasing of Psalms 1:2 reads in part "Why do the heathens rage". It is undoubtedly true that people sometimes enter into rages about things or ideas that are false. It is, however, no less true, that sometimes we rage about realities that deserve our anger or frustratration.

So be it today, for I have just had the displeasure of tasting some 24 wines, 16 of which are mevushal (flash Pasteurized) and ten of their mates that were did not go through this process. The wines came from the 2010, 2009 and 2007 vintages and come from wineries as diverse in character as Bartenura, Teperberg, Segal, Barkan, Terra Vega, and Primo-V.

Simply stated, each of the non-mevushal wines is still drinking well. Alas, when it comes to the mevushal wines, the 2010 wines (red and whites; dry, half-dry and sweet) are still showing nicely but the 2009 releases are already showing signs of being just a bit "stewed", and the 2007 wines are already well past whatever peak they may have had.

I more-or-less accept the need for mevushal wines. Call me a heathen if you will, but I do not accept that those wines make their way to market when even the least sophisticated wine consumer will find them most definitely either on the way down or already down.

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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by David Raccah » Sun Jan 02, 2011 4:12 pm

Just to be clear - you tasted Barkan, Teprberg, and Segal Mevushal and non-Mevushal wines, while Bartenura, Terra Vega, and Primo-V were all Mevushal - correct?

This is great news! They finally let you have access to the mevushal wines along with the non-mevushal wines, or you had your "spies" get you the wines :lol:

Either way, as always, looking forward to the info!
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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by David Raccah » Sun Jan 02, 2011 4:15 pm

On a side note - I totally agree that unless you do what Herzog and Hagafen do, the act of "boiling" the wine, clearly destroys them. It is a shame. Though, more and more, I am seeing the wines poop out by themselves, without any stewed flavors.

For example, I just opened a bottle of 2007 Ben Ami Chardonnay. It was lovely out of the bottle for about 5 minutes! After that - DOA! It as not cooked, it was not oxidized, it was just gonzo! It was just white wine, without a drop or hint of fruit. It had a body and some texture, but nothing else!

Same with Goose Bay wines and other such wines I have been tasting recently, the wines seem to go away before the stewed flavors show up. The red wines show more of the stewed flavors and they show them quickly, while the whites just fade away, but no off or displeasing flavors.

What do you think - Daniel?

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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by Daniel Rogov » Sun Jan 02, 2011 4:44 pm

David, Hi....


Good point. While mevushal reds will start to show stewed and oxidative notes after 6-12 months and certainly after that period, the whites never go past their peak .... they just up and drop dead on us.

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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by Isaac Chavel » Sun Jan 02, 2011 5:41 pm

Hi,

This "6-12" months. from when do you start counting. From bottling, from release?
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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by Daniel Rogov » Sun Jan 02, 2011 5:54 pm

Isaac, Hi....

We might say that these wines get off to a "running start". Alas the run is too often all downhill and that from time of bottling.

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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by Isaac Chavel » Sun Jan 02, 2011 6:24 pm

thanks.
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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by Gabriel W » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:09 am

I wonder how Prix Melange would score if it wasn't boiled....
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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by Jonathan Hajdu » Wed Jan 05, 2011 2:17 am

Some of you may recall the M Series

It was a unique opportunity for me to taste the difference between the same exact wines mevushal and non-mevushal
the wines were even bottled on the same day.

What sticks out most in my mind was the 2003 Edna Valley Syrah.

While young, the wines tasted different although qualitatively similar, but as they aged this changed rapidly. While the non-mevushal aged elegantly and maintained its subtle flavors the M Series lost nearly all of its appeal in a relatively short time.

When I go to a kosher restaurant in the States I nearly always drink beer (A heathen beverage).

The French would Rage if they had to drink second rate wines with their dinner that's why they have non-mevushal wine in their restaurants.
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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by Gary J » Wed Jan 05, 2011 2:32 am

I don't know...I've tasted some BAD mevushal wines but I've also had some aged mevushal wines that I did not think had a chance to be alive that were both alive & spectacular.

Isn't there something to be said about "safe pasteurization"?
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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by David Raccah » Wed Jan 05, 2011 2:38 am

Hey Jonathan was the M series wine - mevushaled before or after bottling? From what I hear the current wines are all mevushaled (of those that are boiled) as soon as possible. Were the M series wines split from the non-M series wine and boiled early or late by bottling?

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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by David Raccah » Wed Jan 05, 2011 2:49 am

Gary! You work for one of the two top line mevushal companies! I have never really tasted a wine that was mevushal that lasted so long, unless it was Herzog or Hagafen. The rest of them burned out quickly.

There is very little boiling you can do to a wine that will not upset it. It is kind of like many of the oxymoron out there

1) Healthy poison
2) Army intelligence
3) Nice robbers
4) non deadly explosives

Anyway - no matter how you cut it, what Hagafen and Herzog do is not natural, while what the others do is normal, they kill the wine with boiling it.

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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by Gary J » Wed Jan 05, 2011 2:59 am

David Raccah wrote:I have never really tasted a wine that was mevushal that lasted so long, unless it was Herzog or Hagafen. The rest of them burned out quickly.


Agreed!
;)

...well, mostly.

I'd say most wineries do not take the mevushal process seriously when it comes to quality (with the exception of Herzog & Hagafen).

Another winery I think that needs to be acknowledged is Goose Bay. That said the Goose Bay varietals are all white with the exception of their Pinot. I'm looking forward to seeing what Phillip Jones (Goose Bay Winemaker) can do with the bigger red varietals he will be working with from Washington State.

As long as we are having the "mevushal" conversation we need to remember that many NON-KOSHER wineries (such as Latour & Beaucastel) put their wines through a flash pasteurization as well...though from what I understand those are heated to about 140 F rather than the required 160-165 F for mevushal wines...
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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by David Raccah » Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:12 am

Also, as Daniel has stated before, and as Josh from Hagafen told me when I visited there last year, that the French do pasteurization almost on the must itself, even before it ferments. They do it mostly to remove the green notes that come from being so bloody cold over there.

According to Halacha, Mevushal cannot be done until after fermentation and it needs to be in the 160 range, which in and of itself, is a huge kula (leniency) that Rav Moshe Feinstein wrote down in the 70s or 80s, from what I remember.

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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by Gabriel W » Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:51 am

There's what to be said for purity. Not flash pasteurization. The problem is with the kashrus issues involved in having real wine with non-Jews. We should work on a system that would allow non-mevushal wine in public. But the OU and a handful of kosher wine producers are convinced that pasteurization is fine, which according to the majority of wine enthusiasts is false. I think the kashrus agencies need more die-hard winos writing the rules.
Why can't there be more wine events like Covenant's at The Kitchen Table? Or the way things are in Israel and Europe (from what I'm told) where the mashgiach puts the bottle on the table and what happens at the table stays at the table?
Just because a handful of non-kosher producers flash pasteurize doesn't really justify it. If kosher producers had no kashrus related reason to boil their wine they would never do it.
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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by Ilan T » Wed Jan 05, 2011 4:11 am

Gary J wrote:As long as we are having the "mevushal" conversation we need to remember that many NON-KOSHER wineries (such as Latour & Beaucastel) put their wines through a flash pasteurization as well...though from what I understand those are heated to about 140 F rather than the required 160-165 F for mevushal wines...


Actually, Gary, what Beaucastel and Louis Latour (among others) are using is a fairly new technology called flash detente. This process rapidly heats must for red wines immediately after crush and then quickly cools it using evaporative cooling. The idea is that (a) heat damages the cell walls of the berries and allows for better extraction and (b) some compounds, most notably pyrazines (green pepper/vegetal aromas), can be removed in the flash water during the cooling. The temperature of this ranges from 80-90 C according to the literature, and 85 C (=185 F) is the magic number for bishul according to the OU. I have spoken with the OU's head of wine supervision about this. This process hence makes wines technically mevushal even if not kosher.

As you might imagine, there are several really interesting potential applications of this for kosher winemaking and winemaking in Israel in general. Most notably, in my opinion, is the possibility to revolutionize the way that kosher wine is made in Israel and the need for such ridiculous supervision protocols in which cellar hands and mashgichim need to be the same person and most winemakers cannot handle wines. Even more exciting is the possibly of eliminating all the frustration and alienation felt by non-observant Jews in Israel because of wine kashrut laws that could be relaxed if more wine was technically mevushal.

The best part of all of this is that wineries in various parts of the world are investing a whole lot of money in this technology because they think it helps them make better wine. Without getting into whether bishul by flash pasteurization should ruin wines or not (which is something I have discussed with a few forumites in the recent past), flash detente should not have the same type of negative effects and would possibly even help the wine. Pretty exciting, huh?
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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by Jonathan Hajdu » Wed Jan 05, 2011 5:10 am

David Raccah wrote:Hey Jonathan was the M series wine - mevushaled before or after bottling? From what I hear the current wines are all mevushaled (of those that are boiled) as soon as possible. Were the M series wines split from the non-M series wine and boiled early or late by bottling?

Thanks!
David


I think they were pasteurized later than is usual
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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by David Raccah » Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:58 pm

That makes sense, otherwise, it would have been a serious logistical nightmare. That is why I am sure they decided that IF they must do mevushal, they will do it when it is best for all the wine.

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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by Gary J » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:52 pm

Ilan T wrote:
Gary J wrote:As long as we are having the "mevushal" conversation we need to remember that many NON-KOSHER wineries (such as Latour & Beaucastel) put their wines through a flash pasteurization as well...though from what I understand those are heated to about 140 F rather than the required 160-165 F for mevushal wines...


Actually, Gary, what Beaucastel and Louis Latour (among others) are using is a fairly new technology called flash detente. This process rapidly heats must for red wines immediately after crush and then quickly cools it using evaporative cooling. The idea is that (a) heat damages the cell walls of the berries and allows for better extraction and (b) some compounds, most notably pyrazines (green pepper/vegetal aromas), can be removed in the flash water during the cooling. The temperature of this ranges from 80-90 C according to the literature, and 85 C (=185 F) is the magic number for bishul according to the OU. I have spoken with the OU's head of wine supervision about this. This process hence makes wines technically mevushal even if not kosher.

As you might imagine, there are several really interesting potential applications of this for kosher winemaking and winemaking in Israel in general. Most notably, in my opinion, is the possibility to revolutionize the way that kosher wine is made in Israel and the need for such ridiculous supervision protocols in which cellar hands and mashgichim need to be the same person and most winemakers cannot handle wines. Even more exciting is the possibly of eliminating all the frustration and alienation felt by non-observant Jews in Israel because of wine kashrut laws that could be relaxed if more wine was technically mevushal.

The best part of all of this is that wineries in various parts of the world are investing a whole lot of money in this technology because they think it helps them make better wine. Without getting into whether bishul by flash pasteurization should ruin wines or not (which is something I have discussed with a few forumites in the recent past), flash detente should not have the same type of negative effects and would possibly even help the wine. Pretty exciting, huh?


WOW...Ilan - that IS potentially exciting. Very cool stuff. Question though, if the "flash detente" is a new technology, do we know what they were doing before this technology was available? ALSO, i wonder what the cost for said technology is...

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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by David Raccah » Wed Jan 05, 2011 2:27 pm

Actually flash is what Herzog and Hagafen and a few others use today. The wine is heated and then cooled within a second. The real issue is WHEN is it done. Ilan, have you checked if there is a difference between if it is done before or after fermentation? As I thought, The French do it very early in the process, like you said as well, after crush, before fermentation. Either way, the earlier the better. If it improves or not, is also dependent on whether the grapes need it. Remember, as I stated above, France has the green issue, which it wants to remove, however, Alexander Valley Cabernet does not have much of a green issue, except for maybe this year, same for Yatir and other fine wines that have ripe flavors.

In the end, early is best, if you must, and unless you have serious green issues, it may well be of no improvement at all, excepting for the issue of having created a mevushal wine.

I think the poor horse it pretty dead on this one for me....

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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by Daniel Rogov » Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:11 pm

As I understand flash détente, the grapes are heated before the crush, the hot grapes are then transferred to a vacuum container that is super-heated, the water on and in the skins of the grapes thus turning rapidly to steam. Thisvery rapid conversion of water to steam is referred to as a "flash". That is only the first part of the process, the second coming about because the vacuum causes the vacuoles of the grape skins to burst, that in turn causing a high extraction of color from red grapes. The process also has the advantage of decreasing the green or vegetal character of the wines. This hi-tech operation is used entirely on grapes and not even on must and certainly not on already fermented wines.

There are two potential objections to the process, the first being that this is a form of manipulation that takes wines further away from being what some call "natural"; and the second that at least as of now no rabbinical authority in Israel and only a few in the USA will accept this as equivalent to the process of making a wine mevushal.

Flash pasteurization (in its literal sense "rapid" pasteurization), which is also known as "high temperature, short time pasteurization" involves raising the temperature of either the must or the wine to the appropriate temperature and then keeping it there for anywhere from 20-35 seconds (depending on the manufacturer). The temperature is then rapidly lowered. As to precisely how rapid that lowering is, one might smile a bit in wondering just how if at all it would be possible in a matter of seconds to lower the temperature of wine in a 20,000 or 50,000 liter tank.

I have no problem with those who choose to pasteurize the must before fermentation has begun. In fact, in some cases I'm all for it. When it comes to wine itself, let me suggest imagining that you are hanging by your neck with your toes a mere few centimeters above the floor for 20-35 seconds. Enough said?

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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by Craig Winchell » Wed Jan 05, 2011 4:00 pm

According to Halacha, Mevushal cannot be done until after fermentation and it needs to be in the 160 range, which in and of itself, is a huge kula (leniency) that Rav Moshe Feinstein wrote down in the 70s or 80s, from what I remember.


Not so, David. Bishul can be done even at the grape stage and still qualify as mevushal wine. And most, at least in the USA, do the bishul at 185 degrees F, not 165. I don't think the OU, at least, allows 165, unless perhaps in special cases.

Ilan T, Louis Latour has been heating his wine as long as I can remember, and it was always good to exceptional, so if they are using flash detente now, as it's new technology, it has been adopted by them recently. They were thermally processing not must but wine.

Having been out of the industry for a number of years, I knew nothing of flash detente until Gabe brought it to my attention. Interesting equipment and operation, but certainly not one with universal applicability.
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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by Ilan T » Wed Jan 05, 2011 4:21 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote:As I understand flash détente, the grapes are heated before the crush, the hot grapes are then transferred to a vacuum container that is super-heated, the water on and in the skins of the grapes thus turning rapidly to steam.

...

There are two potential objections to the process, the first being that this is a form of manipulation that takes wines further away from being what some call "natural"; and the second that at least as of now no rabbinical authority in Israel and only a few in the USA will accept this as equivalent to the process of making a wine mevushal.


David,

This is not the same as flash pasteurization. I hope Rogov's post helps explain the differences between flash pasteurization and flash detente. As for flash detente, no kosher producer is using this method at this time. There are only two units in all of California, both recent acquisitions, one in Monterrey and the other in Lodi. Think of this as a horse of a different color, if you will.


Gary,

I'm not sure what they were doing before the late 90s, but I do know that they feel that flash detente helps improve their wines and their wines are pretty damn good. These units are not cheap. They cost about 1-2 million USD to install.


Rogov (acharon acharon chaviv*),

From my understanding, although the treatment's objective is to heat the skins, at least the Della Toffola and possibly also the Pera units seem to do the heating after crushing the fruit into a slurry, whereupon the juice and skins are heated. The berries can be pressed afterwards. I will need to see the units in action in order to confirm this, but this is the impression I got from my discussion with a professor who has been in contact with the crew at the Monterrey Wine Co.

After speaking to the OU, assuming the skins are heated as part of a slurry, this would make the wine mevushal according to them. Again, I have to see the technology in action to confirm this, but these are the factors that I have been presented with. The process is described in the right sidebar here: http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/ ... -1/A_BIZ03. As for Israel, I honestly doubt any rabbinical authority is familiar with this technology due to the novelty and expense.

Flash pasteurization is not done on large tanks all at once, but is rather done very rapidly while the wine is pumped through narrow pipes through heat exchanging plates and then cooled while in narrow pipes using glycol or cold water. The whole process can take is very quick if done correctly--we're talking seconds, not minutes.

As for natural wines, that's a separate issue which we can discuss in a different thread if someone would like.

Ilan


(* Hebrew, loosely translated as "best for last.")
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Re: Mevushal Wines: One of the Reasons That the Heathens Rage

by Daniel Rogov » Wed Jan 05, 2011 4:33 pm

After speaking to the OU, assuming the skins are heated as part of a slurry, this would make the wine mevushal according to them.


Indeed if the skins are heated as part of a slurry, OU and OK will recognize this process as mevushal... in the USA. Alas, not in Disney-Land Middle East.

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