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WINE & SPIRITS | The best of the new breed

March 31, 2004|Charles Perry

A recent tasting of kosher wines at the Los Angeles Times turned up wines from all over the quality spectrum. The tasting panel, whose members included columnists Russ Parsons and David Shaw and acting food editor Leslie Brenner, sampled 28 kosher wines from nine countries. The best of them were well-made and quite drinkable, if not terribly distinguished; the worst suffered from a curious "pickle nose" or "bad barbecue sauce" flavors. Entries from California producer Baron Herzog were most reliably decent; many of the inexpensive bottlings from Teal Lake in Southeastern Australia also showed well, with what the panel felt was a good ratio of price to quality.

We found the widest selection of kosher wines at Kosher Club, 4817 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles (323) 933-8283. Wade's Wines in Westlake Village, (818) 597-WINE; Wally's in West Los Angeles, (310) 475-0606; and the Wine House in Los Angeles, (310) 479-3731, also have good selections. For a website specializing in kosher wines, go to www.kosherwine.com.

Here are the standouts from the tasting, listed (roughly) from the lightest to the most full-bodied:

2002 Alfasi Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc (Valle de Maule, Chile). An attractive, food-friendly wine with a hint of minerality, bright acidity and judicious oak. $22.

2001 Ramon Cardova "Crianza" (Rioja). Soft, approachable and well-balanced, with generous ripe red fruit aromas. Would pair nicely with roast leg of lamb. $10.

2002 Teal Lake Cabernet "Reserve" (Southeastern Australia): Fresh and fruity, with a bright red fruit nose, more like rhubarb than cassis. Mevushal. $11.

2002 Teal Lake Cabernet-Petit Verdot (Southeastern Australia). Friendly and drinkable, with a hint of charcoal; a good brisket wine. Mevushal. $11.

2001 Baron Herzog Cabernet "Special Reserve" (Napa Valley). Fairly elegant, with generous blackberry and cassis aromas and some complexity. Its fruit is sweet and soft enough to please someone who secretly wished for Manischewitz. Mevushal. $30.

2002 Baron Herzog Syrah (Edna Valley). Attractive berry aromas with a surprising touch of peppermint. $30.

2002 Kidron Shiraz (Yarra Valley). A sound, drinkable red with pleasing ripe stone fruit aromas. Mevushal. $14.

2001 Kiddush Hashem Syrah "Great Oaks Ranch Vineyard" (Santa Barbara): Nose of berries and herbs, mouth-filling and well-constructed. $30.

-- Charles Perry

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