Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon 2004-2003

Covenant 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
91 points

“The medium to full-bodied 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon reveals dense cassis fruit along with smoky, scorched earth and spicy oak characteristics. Rich, full-bodied, and opulent, it is a gorgeous example of Cabernet Sauvignon that should evolve nicely for 10-15 years.”

2004 Covenant

“Medium ruby color; rich and alluring ripe fruit aromas with an explosion of new oak scents; full bodied, high impact on the palate, very good structure; dry, nice acidity, fine balance; big and ripe in its flavors, oaky, very good concentration of fruit; lingering finish, rich aftertaste. (Best Served 2008-2012) ”

2004 Covenant
“What makes this a great wine...the fruit is delicious, the acids are perfect, and the balance puts the weight indicator right in the middle of the scale.”

Covenant 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
90 - 92 points

“The inky, purple-tinged 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon (450 cases produced) reveals a pure nose of black currants and spicy oak, a beautifully textured, dense, full-bodied palate, and admirable persistence as well as length. It should come close to equaling the impeccably high quality of the 2003. The packaging and label are both striking.”

Covenant 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
93 points
“Covenant may be the finest kosher wine made in the United States. Fashioned from fruit grown in the valley floor Larkmead Vineyard, north of St. Helena, by former Wine Spectator journalist Jeff Morgan in partnership with Leslie Rudd, the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon (550 cases of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 14 months in French oak) is a superb effort. It boasts a dense purple color in addition to a sumptuous, sweet bouquet of black currants, flowers, and minerals. Opulent, layered, and rich, with serious concentration, this beauty can be drunk now or cellared for 12 -15 years.”

Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2003
92 Points

“Kosher. A rich, exotic, distinctive style, with aromas of ripe currant, plum and blackberry, along with an intriguing new-leather aroma that plays in the background. Shows a measure of finesse and polish on the finish, with ripe, integrated tannins. An impressive debut.
Best from 2006 - 2012.” -J.L.

“What if you could have a kosher wine that holds its own when tasted against some of Napa Valley's top Cabernets? This is no pipe dream. It's the first vintage of Covenant, a handcrafted kosher wine from Jeff Morgan of SoloRosa Winery and Leslie Rudd of Rudd Winery, both in Napa Valley. The grapes come from a single vineyard, a parcel of the historic Larkmead vineyard in Napa Valley, and the wine is aged in French oak.

By any measure, the 2003 Covenant is a compelling Cabernet. Velvety and intense, and tasting of black currants and tobacco, it has the kind of complexity that holds interest glass after glass.

There's no reason a kosher wine can't be as great as any other wine. But these were the guys to articulate that idea and actually make a wine for the kosher table that stands up to the big boys. This is a seriously good Cabernet, to drink now and over the next decade.”

Wine and restaurant critic for the Israeli daily, HaAretz; contributor, Decanter

“Covenant, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, 2003: Jeff Morgan's first effort and a rousing success. Dark ruby towards royal purple, medium- to full-bodied, with generous but soft tannins integrating nicely and gentle overlays of vanilla and spices from aging in new French barriques. Near-sweet blackcurrant aromas and flavors abound, those matched nicely by hints of berries, tobacco and Mediterranean herbs. Long, round and mouthfilling. Approachable now but best from 2006-2013.”

Score 93.K (Tasted 19 May 2006)

Vintners boost quality of kosher products
By Tara Q. Thomas
Special to the Denver Post

This Passover weekend, you could suffer through the usual four glasses of thick, sweet wine at your seder. Or you could choose one of the new wave of high-quality kosher wines, and actually enjoy it.

There's a revolution going on in the kosher wine market. Winemakers from California to Israel are out to change the image of kosher wine as thick, sweet syrups reserved for symbolic drinking, to one of quality wines that can be enjoyed at any time. Many vintners are now eschewing the heating of the wine that makes kosher wines mevushal, a sort-of super-kosher designation important to the most observant Jews. Without heating, the process of making a kosher wine is pretty much identical to the making of a non-kosher wine, which means there's no reason a kosher wine shouldn't be just as good as any other.

Case in point: Covenant. It may be the most stunning entry in the new wave of kosher wines, at $85 a bottle. That's pretty shocking when the reference point is $4 Manischewitz. But Covenant isn't a high-end Manischewitz. It's a high-end California cabernet sauvignon that happens to be kosher.

Covenant was started on the very premise that there was no reason kosher wine couldn't be good. "It began as a challenge, actually," says Jeff Morgan, one of the partners in the venture. Leslie Rudd, his business partner and proprietor of Rudd Winery in Oakville, had asked him why there were no good kosher wines. "I said there's no reason there can't be," Morgan recalls, "And he said, "Prove it."

Morgan has, by doing everything any good winemaker would: by sourcing grapes from a top vineyard - the Larkmead Vineyard in Napa, in this case - and treating the grapes gently. The difference in Covenant is that the people who handle the grapes in the winery are all Sabbath-observant Jews, and the equipment used to make the wine is exclusively used to make kosher wines.

Those differences can mean a lot to people spiritually, but for the non-observant, they are undetectable. The winery workers are trained like any others, the winery equipment is the same sort used in any modern winery, and the grapes are of the same high quality as go into other $85 California cabs. The result is a kosher wine that stands on its own as a quality wine, able to please the observant and nonobservant alike.
Covenant is made at Herzog Wine Cellars, a 20-year-old brand that just opened a 70,000-square-foot state-of-the-art winery in Oxnard, Calif. Herzog has itself begun selling single-vineyard wines and upscale blends in addition to its everyday-priced wines. In particular, check out the syrah and syrah blends that winemaker Joe Hurliman is putting out: Hurliman picked up a lot of pointers on Rhone-style winemaking when he worked with John Alban of Alban Vineyards, a legendary name in syrah-lovers circles.

Yossie Horwitz
#173 – May 11, 2011

This first vintage of Covenant was a clear indicator of the future greatness of a winery that has not yet disappointed, and is still drinking amazingly these days. Later vintages have proven to be spectacular as well, but I have a special affinity for the 2003. A full bodied wine with aromas and flavors of cherries, plums, blackberries and violets with pleasing notes of oak, some herbaceousness and a hint of vanilla. At its peak now with tannins that are seamlessly integrated with all that fruit, leading into a long luxurious and somewhat spicy finish that seems to have developed over recent years and is now locked, cocked and ready to rock with tobacco, cedar and more fruit. Recently enjoyed, this wine provided me with a near-magical drinking experience and totally justified the high price tag Jeff demands for his wines. The wine should continue to cellar nicely for at least another couple years, maybe longer. I also recently tasted this wine in Magnum format which yielded a slightly different tasting note (which I will share another time) and which should have another 4-5 years on it.