Tasting Castel Winery’s Blanc 2011 Vintage

I guess should have said the famous quote from the movies, “I’ll be back,” but I didn’t know that I would be gone for so long. Looking back at the date of the last posts that I wrote, more than four months have passed since I was actively writing at a pace of approximately two articles per week. Who would have expected that such a tragedy would befall us. One never seriously considers that tomorrow, or even today, brings such a momentous change. But every day people suffer from unforetold accidents and diseases that can result in not being able to communicate, or to see, or to walk. I guess that if we constantly thought of such occurrences happening to us, we could not make it through the day. But when my dearly beloved wife, companion, playmate, and editor of this blog went to sit on a broken chair and fell on her back, a series of dominoes began to fall, each bringing us closer to her present state of complete paraplegia. So my message here is for all of us to live life to the fullest each moment, so when something like this happens, we have no regrets.

But when I opened a bottle of 2011 vintage Castel Winery’s Blanc varietal Chardonnay, I was blown away. Actually I was transported back in time to the 1970’s when I visited France and tasted the famous white wine of Chablis. I had forgotten that their wines are, indeed, from the Chardonnay grape, but as I smelled the aromas, put the first pouring into my mouth and tasted the oaky, flinty fragrances, I was unconsciously transported back in time and place. I didn’t remember that this grape variety was the one from that place, but it was confirmed when I looked it up.

We have tasted the Blanc du Castel before when we first visited the winery, but this time, here at home and being able to focus on the wine without the distractions involved in a social/business visit, it seemed to be different. There was no bite or bitterness, but just a lingering aftertaste of mellowness and pleasant fragrances wafting about in my mouth and up to my olfactory senses. Jancise Robinson is quoted in the Wikipedia article on Chablis as being ‘one of the “purest’ expression (sic) of the varietal character of Chardonnay due to the simple style of winemaking favored in this region.”This Chardonnay from Castel sure fits the taste characteristics of the Chablis wines that are described as flinty, steely, and wet stone, the images that came into my mind when tasting Castel’s version.

I think that perhaps they should change the name of the place where this wine is made from Moshav Raziel to Moshav Chablis en Israel. It is a very expensive wine, but well worth the price, and certainly cheaper than flying to the Chablis region of France. Open it, pour it, smell it, taste it and close your eyes in order to be “transported” to Chablis, France:-)

Bon Appetit. L’Haim


Tasting the Petit Castel from 2010 Vintage

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This is the first article I’ve written since November 2012 when Nurit, my wife, companion, lover, inspiration and fellow Israelwinetaster suffered back pains after a fall. The simple compression fracture turned into a spinal epidural abscess leaving her a permanent, complete, T-9 paraplegic. Let me tell you, it’s been a nightmare for us both, physically and psychologically. We are now on a long road together coping and learning to enjoy the life that we have together. My preoccupation has been Nurit’s care and obtaining the help in the home, medications including 27 pills/capsules just for uncontrollable muscle spasms, catheters and all the paraphenalia necessary to carry our urinary bladder catheterization, physical therapy, pressure sore treatment and prevention. wheelchairs, physical therapy machines and personnel and all those other things to be able to overcome this curse on our lives.

But tonight, I put another vegetarian feast together. It included the curried quinoa with zucchini that we have had before and German potato salad from a modification of Nurit’s recipe, and……WHOOPS, the garbanzo beans that I thought were left over had been completely eaten two days ago. So we put some store-bought hummus on the plate, dressed it up with Koranica olive varietal oil from Eretz HaGashur presses on the Golan Heights, and two half slices of the juciest, sweetest, reddest, Beefsteak tomato that you have ever seen or tasted. And we opened our first bottle of Petit Castel from the 2010 vintage.

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First let me share our innovation of the German Potato Salad which included small cubes of approximately1.5 pounds of potatoes with a bare minimum of water in the microwave oven for 25 minutes thereby bypassing heating up the house with the usual method of cooking the potatoes. We mixed in about a teaspoonful of Dijon mustard, a slog (about 1 Tbsp) of olive oil, one third of a slog (about 1 tsp) of apple cider vinegar (2006 vintage hard cider from our orchard), 1 clove of finely chopped garlic, and several tablespoons full of fresh chopped herbs from the garden (chives, oregano, basil, and a bit of dried zaatar, also from the garden). All this was mixed together and allowed to sit for a bit before serving.

Petit Castel and Potato SaladWe opened the wine and allowed it to breath for about an hour before partaking of its splendor. The fragrances it emitted were abundant and complex, reminding me of a mexture of dried fruits (prunes predominating) and mixed nuts, especially hazel nuts. It also reminded me of a carpet of mixed fragrant flowers, and of a deep and dark New England forest. I inhaled and floated away with the waves of deep, dark caves used for wine storage. The complexity of lingering tastes included a hint of oak overlaying berries and beer. It had an “everlasting” finish. This is truely a wonderful tasting experience and would enhance any food, from light pasta to fish, to a heavy meat meal.

Bon Apetit — B’Tayavon

L’Haim — To Life