Monday, May 7, 2012

Dalton Oak Aged Range


Dalton Petite Sirah 2010   NIS 55.
Dalton Fume Blanc 2011    NIS 45.

As mentioned in my last slighty weird post, I am reviewing two medium priced wines today from Dalton winery. I have already reviewed their top of the range “Reserve” line and praised highly their Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc all of which were excellent.  The “Reserve” range are all around NIS 100 to NIS 120 price range. Let’s see how their “Oak Aged” Series for around NIS 40 to NIS 60 fair.
The Dalton Label
I have mentioned in the past how much I like the Dalton’s label design. Obviously a wine label has two functions. Its primary function is to inform you as to what the contents are but the label must also be able to entice you into picking up the bottle and buying it.
The understated minimalist design succeeds in both these areas lending the wine an aura of confidence.
I'd rather trust a man who doesn't shout what he's found,
There's no need to sell if you're homeward bound.
If I choose a side,
He won't take me for a ride.
(Genesis, “The Chamber of 32 doors”, 1974)

Teudat Hechshir

Machon LeKashrus, HaRav Mordechai Unger, New Square, NY.
OU (Orthdox Union) America
Local Rabbinut Merom HaGalil
Haschgachas Yoreh Deiah, Rav Shlomo Machpud
There are a few blends in this Oak Aged range but I decided upon a Petite Sirah 2010 for Friday Night and a Fume Blanc 2011 for Shabbos lunch.
Pitite Sirah 2010

Petite Sirah is a grape which is known outside of America and Israel as Durif. It is a modern red grape produced by cross breeding Syrah and Peloursin grapes. In theory, it produces a full bodied heavy tannins plummy wine. They enjoy maturation in oak casks and produce spicy vanilla notes over time.

I won’t bother typing out the label description as you can read it from the label in the photograph above. For such a modestly priced wine, Dalton certainly make a lot of fanciful claims!

I like the sound of "American Oak barrels which results in a taste of lavender, leather and old world complexity". However I think they've gone too far when they start talking about “old world complexity”. What on earth does that mean?

I placed the wines directly in the wine cooler and kept them there until we needed them on Shabbos. Interestingly, as the temperature in Israel has gone up, so has the temperature in my wine cooler. Constantly set to 14 degrees Celsius, it has been showing between 15 and 16 degrees indicating that it cannot reach its assigned temperature. This is a bit worrying as we haven’t reached the really high values yet of 30 degrees plus.
Friday night we came back from shul and opened the bottle of red. After everyone was assembled and Shalom Aleichem, Eishes Chayil and the kid's brachos in front of the Shabbos candles, we were ready for Kiddush. The bottle was standing for about 15 minutes and had problably gone up about two degrees in temperature by the time I came to pour it.

Getting to the Shabbos table I poured the wine.  Its almost totally black colour with hints of purple was very striking. The Nose was very very promising. Swirling the wine around in the glass brought an assortment of very solid attractive aromas of heavy plum juice, warm berries, vanilla fudge, oak spices and a hint of smoke.
After Kiddush, we sat to drink the wine. Ummmmh, glorious. As my two sons were home from yeshiva, we had the full complement of six family members at the table so there was only enough for one glass each. This was no where near enough to really sample this complicated wine. Medium to heavy body with rich matured plums and berries yet certainly not syrupy. Definite taste of creamy vanilla ice cream as it goes down and a long lasting finish.

The strange thing is that all these flavours seemed to come along, one after the other, not in layers. Was the wine lacking complexity? I can’t say as I drank half the glass down for kiddush in two gulps (as is the halachah) and then didn’t have sufficient wine left over in my glass to properly judge it. I wasn't the only one. Requests for more were met with dissapointment as we extracted the last drops of this wine from the bottle. We shall certainly be purchasing this Petite Sirah again (beli neder) but this time, we are going to buy two bottles so that we can try it with the challa and hors d'oeuvres to further enjoy its many tastes. I'd also be interested in knowing if any other Israeli winery produces a Petite Sirah. I think I like this grape.
Dalton Fume Blanc 2011

I was looking forward to this one. I like smoky whiskies and remember how delighted I was with the Dalton Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon which was full of sweet cigar smoke.
Fume Blanc is actually what they call Sauvignon Blanc in California. According to Wikipedia, the name Fume Blanc was simply a marketing ploy to try and shift some cases of Sauvignon Blanc when it went out of fashion. Why Dalton decided to use the American name for this grape rather than the name which everyone knows this grape by in Israel, I’m really aren’t sure.
Typical characteristics of this grape are tropical fruit flavours, tartness and refreshing. The label adds to this description” a rich smoky character”. Intriguing indeed!

We opened the bottle at 14 degrees Celsius straight out of the wine cooler, opened and poured it immediately.  Veshomru Kiddush said, we tasted the wine. This Shabbos we had guests who I know like their wine and whisky so I was hoping they would be impressed with this one.
Oh Deary me! I noticed something funny from the start. Even after the wine had settled in the glasses there were still bubbles rising to the top as if this was a sparkling wine. There was a slight smell of bitter lemon and yeasty dough. Tasting the wine, it was barely drinkable. Dry, fizzy and furry on the tongue. Yuk!
Now we have had a similar experience before with a bottle of Bravdo Chardonnay. I don’t know if this fizziness occurred after it was bottled, that is, the wine has spoiled or, the wine was ruined during manufacturing process by for instance, adding too much yeast. Whatever it is, I’m not willing to buy another bottle to try out.
 Slightly embarrassed, I quickly asked everyone to wash for HaMoetzi and we began our seuda (my daughter’s delicious challa with a Tuna salad, Egg and onion salad and homemade chumos salad) with a bottle of Glen Grant Single Malt, followed by Ardbeg with two teaspoons of water. After the excellent whisky we forgot all about the Fume Blanc!

In conclusion, one fantastic success beyond all expectations followed by one complete and utter disaster. Sounds rather like Arsenal’s game results for this season doesn’t it.

1 comment:

  1. The bottle must have deteriorate during shipping to the US.
    We drink this wine every shabbes for kiddush, and I have never noticed bubbles.the wine has to be served cool, +- 10C.
    I made it my house (white) wine.
    BUT, to be fair, I have to say that I am a chossid of Dalton :-)
    git shabbes,
    Eli Kaufman, Petach Tikva

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