We continue our competition between Israeli and Californian wines. Next were three Cabernet Sauvignon rounds, each including wines of comparable price matched alongside one another. The first round included the Herzog Reserve Alexander Valley and the Barkan Altitude 624. Comments for the first wine, which we later learned was the Herzog, included descriptions such as; “lots of fruit – nice wine” by Jay, “sweet fruit – quite pleasant” by the Israeli expert and “fruit forward – almost sweet” by the NY expert. The second wine (the Barkan) received words of praise such as “raspberry and cherry – lots of stuff going on” (Jay), “rich nose, good length – nice wine” (Israel wine expert) while I noted its “baked fruit – soft palate”. No clear favorite in this round as both were well received.
We took a step up the price platform and tried the Herzog Reserve Chalk Hill against the Bazelet HaGolan Reserve Cabernet. The first, which turned out to be the Chalk Hill had a “developed nose and soft tannins” (Israeli expert), was “soft & flavorful – great wine” according to Jay and was “velvety soft with great tannins” (NY expert). I found it to be “lush” with “great structure” and a “long finish”. Three of us preferred this wine while the Israeli expert preferred the Bazelet which he felt had a “good concentrated nose” and “good length”. NY expert called the Bazelet “Yum” with “blackberry, violet and great aging potential”, Jay commented that it had a “nice nose” and I remarked that I enjoyed the “dark fruit and chocolate” aromas.
Our last round featured Israel’s Yatir “Forest” against California’s Covenant – each highly rated award winning wines. The first wine, (which later was revealed to be) the Covenant, was a “rich fruit, delicious, WOW” wine according to Jay, and a “dark, rich, complex” wine according to Israel expert. The NY based wine expert said the Covenant had “big fruit (flavors) that coat the mouth”. The second wine, the Yatir Forest, had “rich tannins – excellent” exclaimed Jay, was “soft & juicy” according to Israeli wine expert and “great on the palate” according to NY expert. Once again this round featured a split panel, with two panelists favoring the Covenant and the other two favoring the Yatir.
Overall the winner was not Israel or California, but rather the kosher wine consumer. The last 10-20 years have seen continued improvement by kosher wineries, big and small, each improving the quality of their offerings to such a level that all kosher consumers can now proudly serve wine at the various price points and feel confident and secure that they are serving world class products.
Gary Landsman, AKA the “Wine Tasting Guy”, makes, sells, writes about and of course tastes wine. Presently doing PR/Marketing work for Royal Wines, you can contact Gary with any wine related questions at firstname.lastname@example.org