Yossie’s Wine Recommendations #138.5 – The Leket Wine Club is Here!

As promised, I am happy to announce that the Leket Wine Club has finally launched and is fully operational. Please check it out at www.leketwineclub.com and sign-up early as there is a special bonus for signing up by August 20th (which will also guarantee delivery of your first shipment in time for Rosh Hashanah).

While all of the Wine Club details are available on the website above, I wanted to mention a few things about the Wine Club that I thought would interest you. First, currently delivery is only available within the United States and only to those states where legally permitted. However, the Wine Club would obviously make an awesome gift for anyone, so hopefully my Israeli-based readers will find this of interest as well, and folks will find a kosher Wine Club membership an attractive and unique gift. Second, I will personally be selecting all of the wines for each quarterly shipment and only wines that I personally recommend and enjoy will be provided in each shipment. Lastly, and as with every other aspect of my oenophilic endeavors, I will not be receiving any benefits whatsoever, in any form or fashion (other than having the opportunity to assist a great charity).

Each shipment will include a collection of Israeli wines from a specific wine-growing region, winery or varietal and a write-up from me about the wines and their provenance together with my personal tasting notes for each wine. The wines will include both old favorites (although I wouldn’t hold my breath for any of Bartanura’s Moscato D’Asti) and other new and interesting wines that you might not otherwise think to purchase on your own but will be wines that I think you will enjoy.

Leket has partnered with Skyview Wine and Spirits – located in Riverdale and a great source of top-notch kosher wines – to provide the wines and handle all commercial aspects of the Wine Club. Skyview will be offering Wine Club members additional discounts and special offers throughout the year, including the ability to purchase additional quantities of all Wine Club selections at discounted prices so check out the various links and pages on the Wine Club’s website.

About Leket
Leket Israel (formerly Table to Table Israel), is Israel’s leading food-rescue network and also operates as its national food bank and. Leket rescues excess food from varying food sources (producers, caterers, farmers, etc.) all over Israel and redistributes it to hundreds of not-for-profit organizations all over the country which provide food to those in need positively impacting the lives of over 30,000 Israelis daily. I volunteered with Leket for a while when I was living in Israel, helping get their Jerusalem operations off the ground and have continued to be actively involved with them in a variety of ways since moving to New York including by sitting on the board of the American Friends of Leket Israel. For more about Leket check out their website at http://www.leket.org/english/.

Hope you enjoy and, as always, please feel free to email me any wine-related questions. For any technical and/or commercial aspects of the Wine Club, please use the “Contact” links on the sites which will yield a far more knowledgeable (and presumably helpful) response.

Listed below are notes from two wines I enjoyed this past weekend. While I don’t usually enjoy two wines of this caliber on a random Shabbat, we were planning on being away for the weekend and I had selected these two incredible wines from my cellar in honor of my host. When we ended up not making it out these for the weekend, I felt “obligated” to enjoy these wines on my own which, as you will see from the notes, was no great hardship.

Stay tuned for my regular edition coming at the end of the week.

Best and Le’Chaim,

Hagafen, Prix Reserve, Mélange, Napa Valley, 2004: Hagafen’s Prix Reserve wines are only available directly from the winery and you must belong to their Prix wine club as well. Joining their club carries my highest recommendation since the Prix wines, while somewhat expensive, are always hits. The Mélange was created as the flagship of the Prix series and, given its standing as the best Hagafen wine I have yet to taste, it does not disappoint. Now, while I am not a big believer in wine scores, thinking that the actual tasting notes holds much more information that the score itself which is sometimes taken out of context; I believe this wine received one of the highest scores a kosher wine has ever received from Daniel Rogov and, boy was it well deserved. An excellent, rich ruby colored wine with muscular but somehow supple and well-integrated tannins this wine is a massive delight. Full-bodied, with loads of cassis and red forest fruit on the initial nose tempered slightly by a gentle oak influence. Black and white pepper are easily recognizable and they serve to provide an interesting accompaniment to the delightful fruits, cinnamon, espresso, mint, eucalyptus and vanilla on both the palate and nose. All this goodness leads into a long, slightly smoky, finish. By far the best mevushal wine I have ever tasted, this wine is incredible now after a couple years of good bottle aging but will continue to develop nicely over the next 5-10 years.

Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Ortal Vineyard, Syrah, 2004: As I have mentioned in the past, the Golan Heights Winery seems to have struck oenophilic gold with their Single Vineyard Series. I had this wine pretty recently over Pessach but was more than happy to get another go at it since it’s finally starting to come into its own resulting in the most delicious Israeli Syrah I have tasted yet. Even at release the wine was delicious (I couldn’t resist opening a bottle as soon as the package from Avi Ben in Israel arrived at my doorstep). The structure and balance of the wine’s tannins, fruit and wood made it clear that an even more amazing wine awaited and all it was asking in return was for a bit of patience. The time in the bottle and my dark and cool wine cellar has definitely done well by this wine. A full bodied wine best described as lusciously opulent and exceedingly elegant. Layers and layers of complex and slightly spicy fruit on the nose and palate which gives way to plums, cherries, currants and tangy raspberries all backed up beautifully with earthy tones and plenty of cloves and other warm spices.