Showing posts with label Oxnard. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oxnard. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Kosher Pinot Noir Misses Mark

Oxnard may not spring to mind immediately when you start riffling 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 2015 Baron Herzog California Pinot Noir is a dark ruby in color, with light just barely getting through the glass. Its nose is straightforward - black fruit and a smoky layer on top. It's not terribly complex, but it is rather savory and pleasant. The wine is quite light in the mouth, which is surprising given the dark aromas. The tannins and acidity are both on the scarce side, leaving a Pinot Noir that is mainly just a sipper. Its light feel and rather thin flavor don't translate to elegance, so there’s not a lot to recommend it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Baron Herzon Old Vine Lodi Zinfandel

Sometimes, when you take a chance on a wine by the glass, you get lucky and like it a lot.  Sometimes you just sit and ponder on it.  I pondered on an $8 glass of Baron Herzog Old Vine Lodi Zinfandel at Wood Ranch at the Grove recently.  It's produced by Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard, California.  They source the grapes from the Watts Vineyard, far, far away in Lodi.  The wine cost $8 by the glass and retails for $13 per bottle.

The reason for my pondering is not that it is a bad wine - it's just not what I expect from a Zinfandel.  The nose is candied up, which doesn't bring images of gnarly, old, head-trained vines to my mind.  There is some bramble on the palate with a big, spicy blackberry flavor which I do find appealing.  Gentle tannins also lead me to believe that maybe these vines aren't as old as they are cracked up to be.

A little research showed that Watts Winery in Lodi has some vines which date back to 1937 - old vines, to be sure, even though they're just teenagers by California Zinfandel standards.  To my knowledge, there are no government regulations on the use of the phrase "old vine" on a wine label, but, as I pondered, I thought, "maybe there should be." 

The thing that may be making me ponder this wine so much is the fact that Herzog ages it in stainless steel, not wood, for a year.  The Herzog website indicates that they feel this preserves "the fruit's essence."  I can't argue with that.  It's a fairly pure fruit expression.  Most of the Zinfandel I drink has the stamp of oak on it, to one degree or another, and this unoaked version left me a little baffled.

I suppose I prefer a little oak spice with my Zin, but this is a Zinfandel worth trying.  Its clean flavors and candy-like aromas are a different shade of Zin - one that's worth pondering for a glass or two.