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NO SOUR GRAPES AT KOSHER WINE TASTING: DALTON SAFSUFA MERLOT RECOMMENDED

By Dr. Yoav Keynan

A “Wine Tasting” event featuring kosher wines was held at the Rady Centre here on December 10th, just before Hannukah, as part of the annual Book Fair [see photo of Rady staff  at event].  The tasting followed a  book written annually since 2005 by Daniel Rogov, who ranks wines in his comprehensive "Rogov's Guide to Israeli Wines”. In the 2010 Edition, Rogov describes, sorts and ranks 2,000 wines from nearly 150 Israeli wineries.

Rogov, who is arguably Israel’s preeminent wine critic, writes wine and restaurant reviews for Ha’aretz, as well as for European magazines. He also hosts a website Rogov’s Ramblings, featuring wine tasting notes, food and wine matching articles and a plethora of information for the oenophile.

Rogov’s convenient pocket sized guide contains a detailed map of Israel's wine regions, and coverage and contact details of the winerys. The guide indicates which of Israel's wines are kosher, and explains what makes a wine kosher.


In general, there are two methods for making kosher wine. One is to boil it, and the other is to insure the grapes are harvested by Jewish workers and handled only by a kashrut supervisor. Only the supervisor can extract the fermenting drink from the barrel to allow the wine maker to taste for readiness.


Marlies Tipps, General Manager of the Kenaston Wine Market gracefully guided a small audience at the event through six wines from Italy, Chile and Israel, representative of the growing diversity and improving quality of kosher wines. The attempt was to match the tasted wines to wines featured in Rogov’s guide.

 

The wines tasted were:

  • Gabriele Dolcemente; Chardonnay and Malavasia (Italy)
  • Alfasi Chardonnay (Maule Valley, Chile) 2007
  • Tierra Salvaje Cabernet Sauvignon (Maule Valley, Chile)
  • Dalton Safsufa Vineyard Merlot (Upper Galilee, Israel) 2006
  • Dalton Cannan Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Shiraz (Upper Galilee, Israel) 2007
  • Efrat Israeli Shiraz (Samson, Israel) 2007


Overall the wines showed well with the exception of the Tierra Salvaje Cabernet 2005,  a wine past its optimal drinkability window.  


The wines that stood out in terms of quality were both products of the Israeli winery, Dalton, in the Upper  Galilee. This winery was established in 1995 initially producing 20,000 bottles annually, with subsequent growth to the current production of  about 800,000 bottles annually. The Adelaide trained lead winemaker Naama Mualem is aided by Australian wine consultant John Worontschak. They produce a range of wines that have been consistent and reasonably priced. Dalton is the 8th largest winery in Israel, in terms of production volume, after Carmel, Barkan, Golan Heights, Efrat Wine Cellars, Binyamina Wine Cellar, Tishbi Winery and Segal Winery.
The 2007 Dalton Cabernet-Shiraz-Merlot blend had dark, purple color with notes of spice, cherry and pepper and would marry well with beef dishes.


My favorite wine of the tasting was Dalton Safsufa vineyard, Merlot, 2006. A mid-range priced wine from the winery’s spectrum, the wine displayed a ruby color, with plum and cherry flavors accompanied by a hint of vanilla. The tasting notes in the book were simple and not laden by complex descriptive terms.  


The only disappointing feature of the tasting was the  poor attendance at the event, which occurred on a frosty sub -30  evening. Since the book fair has not usually included a wine tasting event, possibly more advertising highlighting it would be helpful in the future.


No doubt there are many in the community who would enjoy attending wine tasting events in relaxing environments. With the exponential growth in the  number and quality of kosher wines and Israeli wineries in particular, one would hope for future events with turnouts that would serve to increase the choices available to Winnipeg wine consumers.  


Dr. Yoav Keynan, is a medical doctor, working at the Laboratory of Viral Immunology, Departments of Medical Microbiology and Internal Medicine in Winnipeg. He is also a wine enthuisiast/connoisseur.

 

 
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