Monday, October 3, 2022

Kosher Cab From Oxnard, Via Paso

If you are looking for a good kosher wine, a reliable place to start the search is always Herzog Wine Cellars of Oxnard. Oxnard may not spring to mind immediately when you start riffing through your mental Rolodex of California wine regions. The Ventura County town is home to Herzog Wine Cellars, under the umbrella of the Royal Wine Corporation. The winery's story is one of immigrant grit and determination. 

The Herzog website says the company goes back to "Philip Herzog, who made wine in Slovakia for the Austro-Hungarian court more than a century ago. Philip's wines were so appreciated by Emperor Franz-Josef, that the emperor made Philip a baron."

Philip's grandson Eugene had to move his family around quite a bit during World War II to hide from the Nazis, only to be run out of Czechoslovakia by the communists. He brought his family to New York in 1948 and started working for a kosher winery that paid him in company stock. Within ten years all the other stockholders had given up on it, leaving Eugene as the last man standing. He and his sons then formed Royal Wines as a tribute to Philip. 

Expansion to Southern California happened in 1985, but it was a couple of decades before they would build their present state of the art facility. Head winemaker Joe Hurliman leads the kosher facility and produces wines in the tradition of the Jewish people. 

The Herzog Variations Be-leaf Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 was made from Paso Robles organically grown grapes. It's a kosher wine, as are all the Herzog selections, and it has no added sulfites. Alcohol sits at 13.5% abv and the retail sticker reads $25.

The wine is a deep, dark red color with an herbal note on the nose to go along with the cheerful red fruit. I always like the chalkiness of Paso Cabs, but in this selection that effect is somewhat muted, shoved aside by that herbal note, which takes center stage on the palate. The effect of oak aging is plain, but not overdone. The freshness of the wine speaks to its youthful character and the tannins are firm. The chalky note makes itself more noticeable on the finish. 

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