Founded by the late Daniel Rogov, focusing primarily on wines that are either kosher or Israeli.
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YoelA

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Notes from our dessert wine tasting

by YoelA » Tue May 27, 2014 9:49 pm

Fifteen people (including my wife and me) at our tasting of kosher dessert wines yesterday (an annual benefit for our synagogue, the ninth one we have held).

We tasted eight dessert wines. The wines ranged in price from $ 17 to $ 75 per 750 ml bottle (or the equivalent). For the most part, they're expensive and don't have what I would consider a good qpr. Several of the wines were about the most expensive that we have had in our tastings.

Overall, many of those tasting were excited about one or more of the wines. I found the wines interesting but I was not as excited as I had expected. Hopefully wine tasting hasn't left me jaded. And please forgive me for not specifying which fruits I found in the wines. That's something I'm not good at.

My notes:

2009 Carmel Sha’al Vineyard late harvest gewurtztraminer (Israel) (11.9% alc., 16.0% residual sugar); $ 22 – half bottle

This was one of the group favorites and scored highly by Rogov. The nose is very fruity; the wine has a medium body, excellent acid-sugar ratio and is still young. The acid, sugar and fruit indicate to me that it's capable of long aging and development in the bottle (10 years+ ?)

2008 Hagafen late harvest Sonoma Coast sauvignon blanc (Cal.) (11.5% alc., 12% residual sugar); $ 30 – half bottle

The nose was a bit musky. Some called it "soapy" or the like. Fruit and acid are well balanced but the flavors seemed simpler that the Sha'al. For the price, the Sha'al is a better wine and a better value.

2009 Hafner Burgenland chardonnay eiswein (Austria); (8.5% alc., 13.8% residual sugar) $ 37.50 – half bottle. There was a bit of disagreement about this wine. Because the wine was made from chardonnay grapes it was not as fruity as others in the tasting. The body was a bit lighter than the others and I did not find the highly concentrated flavors I would have expected in an eiswein (although, again, this was a chardonnay).

2006 Vignerons de Balma Venitia muscat de Baumes de Venise (southern Rhone valley, France) (15% alc.) $ 17. This wine was made by the co-operative winery of the area. I have had a number of non-kosher muscats from this region that have been just delicious. This wine had the distinctive flowery muscat taste but not the usual very aromatic nose. The higher alcohol was evident. I though the wine was pretty good but many did not like it.

2006 Chateau Piada Sauternes (99% Semillon, 1% muscadelle) (Bordeaux region, France) (14.5% alc.) , $ 75. This wine was disappointing at first but began to come around with some time in the glass. Its flavors have a bit of an earthy component, probably because unlike many Sauternes it is practically all semillon and has no sauvignon blanc. It has a good acid-sugar balance and the honeyed taste that indicates some botrytis. I don't know how well it would compare to other Sauternes as I haven't had any any such wines for quite some time.

2011 Herzog late harvest Lodi zinfandel (Cal.) (8.5% alc., 9.97% residual sugar), $ 21. A number of people really liked this wine. I wasn't one of them. On the one hand, it's quite pleasant and low alcohol to boot. Lots of strawberry in the nose and taste. It's well balanced but rather simple and one-dimensional.

And now to the ports. can't have a dessert wine tasting without at least one port, now can we? And ports are among my favorite wines (too bad there isn't a kosher old tawny port).

Nonvintage “Porto Cordovero” ruby port (produced by Taylor Fladgate) (Portugal) (20% alc.) $ 32. It's got good basic port flavors and the right type of nose but it's about twice the price of a comparable non-kosher port. If you like it, drink it tomorrow. As for me, for $ 32 I can get a lot more pleasure from other wines, including two bottles of the above muscat.

2005 “Porto Cordovero” Late Bottled Vintage Port (produced by Taylor Fladgate) (bottled 2009) (Portugal) (20.5 % alc.) $ 48 . Well; I had high hopes for this one, even though it's priced high compared to non-kosher late bottled vintage ports. Taylor Fladgate is one of the top port houses and I have always liked their ports. But their ports also typically are a bit heavy when young (as this one is). At this time the nose is a bit medicinal, less likable than the ruby. Despite the fact that it's supposedly produced ready to drink this wine needs more time to be at its best.


And that's it. I was hoping to have Hungarian tokaji but, as discussed elsewhere in this forum, they're no longer available.
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Alexander F

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Re: Notes from our dessert wine tasting

by Alexander F » Thu May 29, 2014 5:43 pm

Hi Yoel,
Long time since last visited here. I'm not familiar with foreign Kosher dessert wines, but based on your notes, I can keep it that way. :)
In Israeli Kosher market, there are fortunately several Kosher wines which are exceptionally good. E.g., the Sha'al's brother from Biniyamina. And two blockbusters from Yarden of cause. I would have added Yardens against Sauternes and Eiswein.
Hafner is disappointing. The residual sugar seems too low for the icewine. A bottle of other Hafner wine stands on my table right now and its best place to be is the sink. I forgot he's cooking his wine before buying.
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YoelA

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Re: Notes from our dessert wine tasting

by YoelA » Thu May 29, 2014 10:38 pm

Alexander: I had to choose between the Sha'al and Yarden Heights wine for this tasting and had to include examples of wines made outside Israel and California in order to get a broad spectrum of dessert wines. And I had to include ports because, well, one just has to.

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