Sosie Winery Syrah

Sosie Winery Syrah

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and it’s a maxim Sosie Winery lives by. “Sosie” [so-zee] is French for twin or doppelganger, and as it says right on the bottle, “We are inspired by the wines of France. So we employ an Old World approach to wine growing that favors restraint over ripeness, finesse over flamboyance. Our aim is to craft wines that show a kinship with France’s benchmark regions. Wines that are their sosie.”

Sosie Winery also pays homage to the French tradition of location, or terroir, believing that the vineyard site is perhaps the most important component of a bottle of wine.

Sosie Winery co-owner Regina (no last name, apparently) was introduced to wine at an early age, one of the first being Chateauneuf du Pape. “I remember the shape of those bottles and the crossed-keys of the papal crest. It was a symbol you could trust, my mom used to say. I never forgot that, and as a young adult one of the first places I had to visit in France was Chateauneuf. To this day I still love those wines.”

On a quest to cement that fascination, in 2006 she and partner Scott took a trip to the Loire in western France, and then in 2008 they spent 10 days traveling the Côte de Nuits, walking the vineyards and tasting the wines. In 2016 they visited both northern and southern Rhone, working their way down from Côte-Rôtie to St. Joseph

Following their travels, Regina and Scott founded their winery on the belief that their wines should stand for something. That they would not just have a style, but a purpose. They wanted their products to be food-friendly, with lower alcohol levels, higher acidity, and made in small batches with minimal intervention and just a bit of oak.

The couple are hands-on vintners. They prowl the vineyards throughout the growing season and are at the sorting table when the fruit comes in. They taste the berries, check the sugars and acids, and call the pick. They supervise every aspect of their barrels – the cooper, the forest, and the toast level. But they can’t do it all, of course. They get plenty of help from winemaker Kieran Robinson. Kieran had worked previously at Domaine Pierre Gaillard in France (of course), and had the deep appreciation for French viticulture and winemaking they were looking for.

Sosie Wines Syrah 2016

This Syrah hails from the Vivio vineyard in Bennett Valley, sixty miles north of San Francisco. The area, near Petaluma Gap, has a maritime microclimate, with breezes coming in from the Pacific Ocean. The vineyard is at an elevation of 700 to 800 feet, with mineral-rich, volcanic soil. Even with the Pacific influence, summer days can be quite warm, resulting in very late ripening fruit due to the extended “hang time” on the vines.

In addition to the Syrah, there is 7% Rousanne in the bottle. It was aged for 20 months in 50% new oak. The nose features aromas of berries, tart cherries, with a hint of plum and menthol. The restrained plum continues on the palate, with some cocoa and, frankly, booming tannins. No worries, though. Decant Sosie Wines Syrah for an hour or two before drinking, and those tannins settle down nicely.

Give this Syrah a try with roast duck with cherries, beef braised in red wine, or pork chops with mustard, cream, and tomato sauce.

Only five barrels (that’s 1500 bottles) of this wine were produced, so get a bottle while you can.

http://sosiewines.com

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Carmel Winery Private Collection

Carmel Winery Private Selection

The first mention of wine in the Bible appears in Genesis, chapter 9, verse 20, “And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard.” The story goes on to recount some unpleasantness after Noah overimbibes, but there is no reason to go into that here. The point is, wine is as old as history itself, with some of its earliest beginnings in the Middle East. Indeed, references to wine appear hundreds of times in Scripture, through both the Old and New Testaments.

Wine production flourished in the eastern Mediterranean until the rise of Islamic prohibitionists suppressed it in the 8th century. However, there has been a modern renaissance in Turkey, Cyprus, and Lebanon, as well as Israel, from which these Carmel Winery Private Collection wines come.

Sweet red kiddush wines, consumed on the Shabbat (the Jewish day of rest) and other Jewish holidays, were for years the standard output of the original cooperative wineries of Carmel at Rishon le Zion and Zichron Yaacov in the coastal regions of Samaria and Samson, a gift to Israel from French wine magnate Baron Edmond de Rothschild, owner of the famous Chateau Lafite in Bordeaux. They still control just under half of all grapes in the most traditional wine-growing areas.

Starting in the 1980s with the introduction of technology and expertise from California, Israeli wines began to move from primarily sacramental use to products intended to compete on the international stage.

Carmel Winery, one of the first and largest winemakers in Israel, was founded in 1882 by the aforementioned Baron Rothschild. It sits on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, about 14 miles south of Haifa. The Zichron Yaakov wine cellars were built in 1890, and are still active to this day. Carmel Winery works with 108 families of wine growers to nurture some 3,500 acres of vineyards in Israel from the Galilee and the Golan Heights in the North, to the Negev in the South. Carmel uses state-of-the-art technology to produce an array of wines from entry-level offerings to premium bottlings.

This new Private Collection series showcases the country’s most prized growing regions and Carmel Winery’s 137 years of winemaking expertise.

The 2018 Winemakers Blend is an easy-drinking mix of 50% Cabernet and 50% Merlot, made by Carmel’s Chief Winemaker Yiftach Peretz. It has fragrant aromas of blueberry and vanilla on the nose. The taste features suggestions of plums with hints of spices and cocoa abetted by soft tannins. The finish is relatively short.

The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, perhaps predictably, is much like the Winemakers Blend. It has rich aromas of blackberry and chocolate, with a similar flavor profile. The well-balanced tannins are more prominent, and the finish rather longer.

The 2018 Shiraz is deep purple in the glass, with a medium-bodied palate of dark stone fruit, a hint of green pepper, and good supporting tannins. It offers the longest finish of this trio.

All three of these Carmel Winery expressions are worthy of your consideration, but the Shiraz was the standout for me.

These wines are “kosher for Passover” and “mevushal.” Both certifications require handling and processes unique to these types of wine.

Kosher wine is grape wine produced according to Jewish dietary law (kashrut). To be considered kosher, Sabbath-observant Jews must supervise and sometimes handle the entire winemaking process, from the time the grapes are crushed until the wine is bottled. Any ingredients used, including finings, must be kosher as well. Wine that is described as “kosher for Passover” must have been kept free from contact with chametz, such as grain, bread, and dough.

Mevushal is a subclass of kosher wine that can be handled by non-Jewish or non-observant waiters, and is consequently frequently used in kosher restaurants and by kosher caterers. To be classified as mevushal, kosher wine is cooked or boiled, after which it will keep the status of kosher wine even if subsequently touched by a non-Jew.

The process of fully boiling a wine can greatly alter the tannins and flavors. Therefore, much care is taken to satisfy the legal requirements while exposing the wine to as little heat as necessary.  Surprisingly, there is significant disagreement as to the precise temperature a wine must reach to be considered mevushal, ranging from 165°F (74°C) to 194°F (90°C). Heating at the minimum required temperature reduces some of the damage done to the wine, but still has a substantial effect on quality and aging potential.

Alternatively, flash pasteurization rapidly heats the wine to the desired temperature and immediately chills it back to room temperature. This process is said to have much less impact on flavor, at least compared to actual cooking or boiling.  I assume Carmel Winery uses the flash pasteurization method to achieve mevushal status, as none of these wines display any obvious damage from overheating.

Regardless of the heating method, to ensure the kosher status of the wine it must be overseen by a Jewish authority who supervises the kashrut status of the producer. Generally, this supervisor will physically tip the fruit into the crush and operate the equipment. Once the wine emerges from the process, it can be handled in the normal fashion.

http://carmelwines.co.il/en

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Two from Down Under

Linchpin McLaren Vale ShirazLinchpin McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004

This award-winning Shiraz hails from McLaren Vale on Australia’s southern coast. The complex soil types here combine with the St. Vincent’s Gulf breezes to make for ideal vineyard conditions.

Winemaker Matt Rechner believes the best way to make excellent wine is through simple processes and minimal handling for maximum flavor extraction. Here the grapes were harvested from low-yield vineyards, then spent 20 months in French and American oak. The concentrated fruit, supported by notes of chocolate and blackberry, certainly comes through in this relatively high-alcohol (15.2%) Shiraz. It has a lush, velvet-like mouth feel and well-balanced oak tannins.

Serve with lamb stew accented by eggplant, saffron, and raisins, or shepherd’s pie.

https://ekhidnawines.com.au/product/linchpin-shiraz-2016/

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Kim Crawford is perhaps New Zealand’s most famous wine maker. After 20 years as an independent, three years ago he sold out to an American holding company. However, he was allowed to pursue boutique bottlings, and we have one of those here.

This Sauvignon Blanc dodges the grassiness which so often mars this varietal when it originates in New Zealand. Instead there is a tart, refreshing, distinct grapefruit nose and taste. Completely dry, with a bit of flint on the finish. Delicious.

Pair this wine with lobster tacos, seafood paella, or parmesan-dijon chicken drumsticks.

https://www.kimcrawfordwines.com/us/products/sauvignon-blanc/

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Cockfighter’s Ghost Shiraz

Cockfighter’s Ghost Shiraz

I Come from a Land Down Under

In this post I sample two uncommon wines that only have one thing in common: they both come from Australia’s McLaren Vale.

Cockfighter’s Ghost Shiraz 2002

Some say that if the light of the moon is just right, the ghost of Cockfighter the horse can be seen galloping through the vineyards of Pooles Rock.

Perhaps. The wine named in his memory is anything but ephemeral, however. Cockfighter’s Ghost Shiraz first greets you with a powerful nose of earth and dark berry fruit. The berry and black plum flavors continue on the palate, supported by some spice, black pepper, and oak. The color is a dense, dark crimson.

After letting this shiraz ‘breathe’ for at least an hour to soften its edges, serve with rare roast beef and field mushrooms, spicy sausages with tomatoes and Italian beans, or oven-roasted rack of lamb.

https://cockfightersghost.com.au/product/single-vineyard-shiraz-2016/

Tapestry Chardonnay 2005

This chardonnay is an excellent value, with more character than its relatively low price would predict.

The wine spent nine months on-lees in new French oak, and features a very appealing balance of juicy stone fruit and a citrus acidity, supported by the spicy, toasty oak, with a moderately long finish. There was no malo-lactic fermentation. The color is pale straw with green tints.

Serve lightly chilled with coquille St. Jacques, fried calamari, or grilled whole red snapper.

[Unfortunately, Tapestry Wines is now reported closed.}

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