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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Some atypical wine blends --- and a whisky-tourism trip

By Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon

Three Colors Of Wine from Bigstock



Drinking to a different drummer

JewishWorldReview.com | The best way to make a small fortune in the wine business, it is often said, is to begin with a large one. Indeed, winemaking is an inherently risky business. The weather, obviously, is unpredictable. Wine is, further, subject to complex market forces, stiff global competition, and the vagaries of consumer tastes. The prudent approach, it would seem, would be to stick to well-established wine-making formulas and techniques.

Well, not according to Shivi Drori and Amnon Weiss, the owners of Gvaot Winery located in Israel's Shomron region. They blend together grape varietals with apparently little thought as to what is considered "usual." Drori and Weiss have released to market such atypical wine blends as Chardonnay & Gewürztraminer, and Cabernet Sauvignon & Chardonnay. The results of these experiments are surprisingly good, reflecting both the superior nature of their vineyards and their skill in anticipating the ultimate results of these combinations.

They even mess around with Pinot Noir, a grape that is seldom blended as a still wine in order to preserve its balance, delicate flavors and sense of terroir (though in sparkling wines, such as Champagne, Pinot Noir is typically blended with Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier).

Their very first release in 2009 was 100 percent Pinot Noir but the next year's iteration included 10 percent Merlot. For their most recent release, they went with 95 percent Pinot Noir and 5 percent Petit Verdot, a late ripening varietal more commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon. The Gvaot Gofna Pinot Noir 2011 has more earth, floral and coffee aromas than the previous vintage, along with strawberry and red berry scents. A medium-bodied delight, it shows layers of delicate red fruit including raspberry and cherry along with earth, hints of leather, plums, herbs and spice in the lingering finish.

Gvaot currently produces 30,000 bottles annually of blends and single varietal wines in three levels, beginning with their flagship Masada label followed by Gofna and Herodian. Winemaker Shivi was trained as a plant molecular biologist, not as a classic winemaker, which may explain his fearlessness when combining varietals.



Spirits-wise, one of us recently returned from a short but very full whisky-tourism trip to the island of Islay, Scotland—home to more distilleries than schools! Actually, it is not that large an island (the population hovers around 3,500). So we thought we'd spend a little while exploring the Scotch whiskies of Islay. Don't worry, we'll space it out—not everyone, after all, likes smoky, peaty whiskies. Also, some of the notes taken on location may require a bit of time to decipher fully. (Only kidding—honest).

So first up, we thought we'd start with a general discussion of Islay itself. The island is something of a mecca -- if it is not too impolitic to use such expression these days, especially when referencing hooch -- for whisky aficionados. Islay (pronounced Eye-luh, Gaelic for island) is the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides archipelago off the west coast of Scotland. By plane it is about 20 minutes directly west of Glasgow—a journey available twice a day (there and back; depending on weather). The airport is located on the south-west coast of Islay in the small town of Glenegdale (all of Islay's towns are tiny by American standards—as are all of the island's roads). Roughly 20,000 passengers travel through the tiny airport annually—the amenities roughly reflect this volume—circa the 1980s (except for the handicap access and spotty wifi).

Until the one begins to venture forth from the airport to any of the Island's eight distilleries it can be very difficult to grasp the nature of the distances involved from place to place, or even from coast to coast. In fact, while not wholly insignificant, the distances are hardly great. If it took more than 30 minutes to get from any one location to any other, it was probably less to do with distance or what passes there for congestion as it was to simply driving slowly to admire the mostly breathtakingly beautiful scenery. Sure, the two-way traffic roads are little wider than a single lane bike-path, and there are a few wee spots where the road is "narrow" and "windy" even by local standards—ridiculously, perhaps even perilously so by American standards…but the roads were well maintained, and the drivers were uniformly courteous. A commendable attribute considering that most of the traffic is folks heading to or from whisky distilleries!

The most popular characteristic feature of Islay malt whiskies is the pronounced presence of peat smoke. Until one has smelled peat, or smelled and tasted the effects of peat smoke in whisky production, however, it is a hard descriptor to wrap one's head around.



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Peat is a Celtic term for compact, decayed vegetation, decomposed over thousands of years by water, and partially carbonized by chemical change. Found in the cool, wet uplands and bogs that cover vast amounts of Scotland and Ireland, the vegetation at the heart of peat includes moss, heather, sedges and rushes. Over time, the vegetation decomposes, gets waterlogged, sinks to the bottom, piles up, compresses and carbonizes. Once it becomes a super thick, rich mud, it can be usefully harvested. When dried, peat is a satisfactory, if pungent, fuel source, and the traditional fuel for the kilns in which malted barley will later be fermented and distilled into whisky. Think of peat as an earthy, smelly, poor-man's coal.

The smoke generated by peat is robustly aromatic and tarry, transferring and imbuing these compounds (phenols) to the whisky itself, as determined by how heavily peat is used in the kilning of the malt. It is this peat smoke, or "peat reak" as it is commonly termed, which helps divide whisky drinkers into those who hate and those who love smoky whisky — there seems no middle ground among enthusiasts. But reading about peat is no substitute for experience. Taste a smoky, peaty Islay malt whisky and it'll all make sense. Consider, for example:

The Laphroaig 10-year-old Single Malt Scotch Whisky (43 percent abv; $50). Although everything else in the Laphroaig lineup is released at higher proof and is not chill-filtered, and undoubtedly the 10 years is much improved at higher proof and non-chill-filtered (as evidenced by the always awesome cask strength versions of the 10 year old that are widely available), this flagship expression is nonetheless utterly fantastic! It is, in turn, soothing and stupendous; familiar and reliable, yet complex, deep and dreamy. It enraptures with its heady yet nuanced mix of iodine, smoke, sea-brine, and sweet malt; with its oaky backdrop, and whispers of vanilla, and with its rounded, oily, subtle and ever so slightly drying finish. Yet it is a dram with enough of a medicinal, fish oil, seaweedy presence to keep one grounded and alert, like a good natured thump from an older brother or an old school chum. Not for all tastes, obviously, but this is serious, brilliant whisky!

L'chaim!

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Previously:

A wine bargain, and Johnnie Walker goes platinum!

And now they're kosher

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JWR contributor Joshua E. London is a wine and spirits columnist who regularly speaks and leads tutored tastings on kosher wines, whisk(e)y, tequila, and other unique spirits.

© 2013, Joshua E. London

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