Flash Pasteurization

Founded by the late Daniel Rogov, focusing primarily on wines that are either kosher or Israeli.

Flash Pasteurization

Postby Gary J » Mon Apr 16, 2012 3:07 pm

Flash Pasteurization or in the case of kosher wines "mevushal" is certainly a hot button topic. Those of us who have been participating on this forum for a while know that Rogov used to say that pasteurizing the wines harmed them. Though he did admit that California producers Hagafen & Herzog seemed to have devised methods that harmed the wine less.

Another dearly departed member of the forum, Ilan Tokayer, was studying at UC Davis and had plans to research a method known as Flash Dente (or something like that).

In my role dealing with Passover PR the question of mevushal came up several times. I did some research and found the following well known and highly regarded wineries who utilize the practice...

Chateau Beaucastel in Chateauneuf du Pape (see http://www.beaucastel.com/vins_int.php?vin=1&langue=en :"The skins of the grapes are heated briefly to 80 °C / 176 °F and then cooled to 20 °C /6O °F before the bunches drop into enamel tiled vats for twelve days' maceration.")

Louis Latour in Burgundy (see http://www.louislatour.com/pages/index.php?id_page=37 under "blending"...: “The wine is passed through a heat exchanger that raises the temperature to 72°C for 2-3 seconds. This kills the bacteria that have already performed their useful tasks and leaves only the healthy bacteria that contribute to the wine's fine ageing. This process also permits a soft filtration and, most importantly, a minimal addition of sulphur dioxide (30 mg/l where 160 mg/l is permitted”)…

Forgetting about my obvious affiliation with the Herzog family (& Royal Wine Corp) for one second, I think many of us can attest to the fact that the Herzog Reserve wines of the 90's that HAVE gone through a flash pasteurization are alive & well and in some cases fruity & youthful. The same can not be said about many other kosher wines.

So....and this would obviously require extensive testing/experimentation....but is it possible that flash pasteurization is actually BETTER for a wine than one that does not go through this process???
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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby Isaac Chavel » Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:51 pm

Hi, interesting thread, hope to learn more about the subject.

My recollection of the earlier discussions is that it depends when the falsh pasteurization is done. If it is done early in the process --- I think, in the vats before fermentation --- then the harm to the wine is minimal, if non-existent, with possibly some benefit. If done after the whole run-through then it is harmful.

What I do recall, clearly, is that last spring I was in France and had a kosher 2004 La Chablisienne that was mevushal --- and it was wonderful. Last Sukkot, although less astounding, I had a 2009 Pascal Bouchard Chablis that was mevushal, and it, too, was wonderful. So, beyond Hagafen and Herzog, it can be done.
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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby Craig Winchell » Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:30 pm

Gary, it depends upon what one hopes to accomplish with the flash pasteurization, as to whether it is better for a wine than no undergoing the treatment. If the purpose is to produce a mevushal wine, then obviously it is superior to the alternative of no treatment, which would not meet the specification. If the purpose is to denature laccase, then obviously an HTST procedure such as this would be superior to not doing so, because the specification would not be met. If the purpose is to extract more color and less tannin, then thermovinification, such as performed at Beaucastel, would be superior to longer maceration of skins and seeds. Or if the desire is for removing green, unripe flavors, then flash detente, which amounts to heat volatilization of and vacuum removal of those types of flavors, can be positive. There has been some discussion of increased fruitiness upon thermal processing, but nothing that has been subjected to scientific, statistical scrutiny. We know that thermal processing changes the flavor profile. We know that the longer the period of heating, the greater the change, and the shorter, the less the change. Theoretically, there is a rapidity of temperature increase and decrease which would subject the wine to zero change. Perhaps we could do that in a lab, but not in real life, because it would take so many BTUs. So if the purpose is to make a wine halachically bishul, we'll change the wine when thermally treating it. We minimize the change by doing it as early in the process as possible, then minimize damage by excluding oxygen and using antioxidants.

I would tend to say that Louis Latour's pasteaurization is mostly done for marketing purposes. While they have produced good wine, even excellent wien in the past, they were never at the very apex of wines from any particular location. I tend to believe his wines would often be better without it, though I have no way to really be definitive, since they are what they are.
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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby Isaac Chavel » Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:53 pm

Good to see that my meory served me well, at this "late date." :)
Gabriel quoted Rogov's post in the thread that begat this one:
http://www.wineloverspage.com/forum/village/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=43620&view=unread#unread
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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby Gary J » Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:58 pm

Craig Winchell wrote:Gary, it depends upon what one hopes to accomplish with the flash pasteurization, as to whether it is better for a wine than no undergoing the treatment. If the purpose is to produce a mevushal wine, then obviously it is superior to the alternative of no treatment, which would not meet the specification. If the purpose is to denature laccase, then obviously an HTST procedure such as this would be superior to not doing so, because the specification would not be met. If the purpose is to extract more color and less tannin, then thermovinification, such as performed at Beaucastel, would be superior to longer maceration of skins and seeds. Or if the desire is for removing green, unripe flavors, then flash detente, which amounts to heat volatilization of and vacuum removal of those types of flavors, can be positive. There has been some discussion of increased fruitiness upon thermal processing, but nothing that has been subjected to scientific, statistical scrutiny. We know that thermal processing changes the flavor profile. We know that the longer the period of heating, the greater the change, and the shorter, the less the change. Theoretically, there is a rapidity of temperature increase and decrease which would subject the wine to zero change. Perhaps we could do that in a lab, but not in real life, because it would take so many BTUs. So if the purpose is to make a wine halachically bishul, we'll change the wine when thermally treating it. We minimize the change by doing it as early in the process as possible, then minimize damage by excluding oxygen and using antioxidants.

I would tend to say that Louis Latour's pasteaurization is mostly done for marketing purposes. While they have produced good wine, even excellent wien in the past, they were never at the very apex of wines from any particular location. I tend to believe his wines would often be better without it, though I have no way to really be definitive, since they are what they are.


Interesting Craig, but unfortunately much of what you wrote is over my head.

I guess in lay terms what I was hoping to initiate was a revisiting of the old "mevushal is crap" theory that seems so prevalent...similar to the old "kosher is crap". And just as kosher wine producers had to work at and perfect their craft to improve the overall quality, so too have wineries hoping to make a good & mevushal wine. It was once mevushal (but not good)...but now they have learned and where they care enough they have improved the methods so that it is no longer an inferior product.
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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby Craig Winchell » Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:57 pm

But if it's good, can it be considered mevushal? Is it the process or the endpoint? There are those who say it must be inferior for it to be considered halachically mevushal. Not many, mind you, but they exist. After all, if the point is to control socializing between Jews and nonJews, then a good tasting wine just doesn't cut it. Only if it's distinctly inferior, to the point that nobody would use it for social purposes, would it be considered truly mevushal. That satisfies both the letter and they intent of the law. Otherwise, the letter, but not he intent, is satisfied, or in the case of just bad wine, the intent but not the letter.
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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby Jonathan K » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:02 pm

I have been very impressed with what Hagafen has done with flash pasteurization and maintaining quality- Herzog also.
Most Hagafen wines I have tasted, it wouldn't even occur to me that it was mevushal with the exception of the Pinot Noir, which although I haven't tried the last couple of vintages, has always had a "stewed prune" quality to it that I associate with mevushal wine. The Hagafen "Prix" PN's(also mevushal) have never had this quality though that I can recall.

Several years ago, the Rashi Barolo (?2000?) which is/was a mevushal wine got a very nice review from WIne Spectator and based on that I bought a few bottles. The first bottle was pretty good. Within 6 months, the fruit tasted cooked and started fading and the wine fell apart. Maybe it would have fallen apart anyway or maybe that was what heating did to this particular wine the way it was done.

As a side note, at our seder this year we had a yeshiva student that wanted all the non-mevushal wine kept at the opposite end of the table, as he knew not everybody at the table was Sabbath observant but didn't know whom and wanted to avoid a mistake. He was happy to try the Four Gates if I came over and poured for him though.
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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby Gary J » Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:07 am

Jonathan K wrote:As a side note, at our seder this year we had a yeshiva student that wanted all the non-mevushal wine kept at the opposite end of the table, as he knew not everybody at the table was Sabbath observant but didn't know whom and wanted to avoid a mistake. He was happy to try the Four Gates if I came over and poured for him though.


Funny, there are those who believe that halachikly (according to Jewish law) one can not use mevushal wine for the 4 cups... :oops:
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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby Gary J » Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:16 am

Craig Winchell wrote:But if it's good, can it be considered mevushal? Is it the process or the endpoint? There are those who say it must be inferior for it to be considered halachically mevushal. Not many, mind you, but they exist. After all, if the point is to control socializing between Jews and nonJews, then a good tasting wine just doesn't cut it. Only if it's distinctly inferior, to the point that nobody would use it for social purposes, would it be considered truly mevushal. That satisfies both the letter and they intent of the law. Otherwise, the letter, but not he intent, is satisfied, or in the case of just bad wine, the intent but not the letter.


My rabbinic supervision ran out recently :wink: , and I am certainly not an authority but...isn't there inter-religion socializing over other alcoholic drinks such as beer or hard liquor??? Why single out wine...especially when beer was around for thousands of years before wine??

Also, and this I am even sketchier on, but isn't there something about mevushal wine no longer being considered actual wine? Though I guess that would present an issue as it relates to making the bracha (blessing) of borei pri hagafen...

I've actually never heard that mevushal needs to be inferior...that is a new one for me. I'll have to investigate.

But rather than take this thread to a religious place, any chance of steering the conversation back to the question of whether flash pasteurization possibly IMPROVES wine rather than what is commonly assumed...that it harms the wine???

If nothing else, replacing the (& possibly eliminating the need for) a filtration process that many believe strips wine of essential aromas and flavors sounds like a great thing to me...

Anyone else???
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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby Craig Winchell » Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:10 pm

OK, Gary. The answer to your question is that flash pasteurization does absolutely nothing to mitigate the need for filtration. In the past, there was something called pasteuriation and hot bottling. Wine was pasteurized and while still hot, was filled into as sterile of bottles as they could find, and would cool in the bottles. In the process, both the wine in the bottles and the bottles themselves would attain practical microbiological sterility. Thankfully, that process is typically not used anymore, to the benefit of wines everywhere. We now have sterile filtration immediately before filling through sanitized bottling lines. The main objections to sterile filtration are 1) adsorption of aromatic components thereby stripping the wine and 2) breaking up of colloids, thereby changing the mouthfeel. With the new membranes, adsorption is kept to a minimum, and while colloids are broken up at the time of bottling, they begin to reassemble within minutes. Thus, a couple of months after bottling, it would be difficult to tell the difference between a tight pad filtration before bottling or a sterile filtration during bottling. Of course, there could well be a greater difference between an unfiltered wine and a sterile filtered wine. Personally, I would rather stick a red through tight nominal pads than membranes, because the membranes clog on polymerized color, but I would rather not do an unfined/unfiltered red wine, knowing what I know about wine microbiology. But at least with dry reds, it is possible to go the uf/uf route with some degree of confidence, if the wine underwent complete malolactic fermentation. Same is true of a dry white. But any degree of residual sugar, or lack of full MLF, and it becomes a craps shoot, with the downside a damaged reputation and costly recall.
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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby Mike BG » Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:06 pm

I am no big expert, but comparing what should be like-with-like: I was a great fan of the Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon-Zinfandel-Syrah 2002 release, but with the 2003 release they decided to 'go mevushal' and it was just pathetic. I tried more than one bottle from more than one source, and none were really anything special. I have not tried it since then.
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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby Craig Winchell » Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:28 pm

But that is not like-with-like, because the vintages are different. There are no control wines. The experiment could be done, but only in a laboratory, because all of the other factors must be controlled, so that the absolute only difference in handling would be bishul. Even then, it should be done over many replications, both in production and in tasting. Multiple reps in production because it could be bishul at different times along its production, and you'd want to know the optimal time. Additionally, you would want one that was both mevushal and sterile bottled, to indicate what differences were due to the bishul itself (since everything else would be either/or, and we wouldn't know which factors are due to bishul and which factors are due to sterile bottling).
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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby Mike BG » Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:57 pm

I recall that Daniel did do a parallel tasting of mevushal and non-mevushal wines of the same vintage - pretty much as controlled as possible. I think his findings are on this bb somewhere. My recollection is that up to two years there were no significant differences, but that they then began to diverge significantly. Here is one link, but I think there was something more extensive and more recent, which I have not found:

viewtopic.php?f=29&t=37366
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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby Adam M » Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:17 pm

I have tasted MeV and nonmev of the same vintage with the Cave and Shiloh secret cab and have noticed a difference and found the nonmev more enjoyable.
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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby Craig Winchell » Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:32 pm

With all due respect to Rogov, the results are not reliable. Only over large, repetitive samplings with controls does one get data which can be subjected to statistical analysis, and only with that statistical analysis does one get real, definable information. Rogov's anecdotal evidence may be perfectly valid, but I would venture to say that after 2 years, individual bottles from the same bottling are likely to be diverging in character in any case, and the longer the period from bottling, the more different 2 bottles can be. And bottles bottled on 2 different bottling days can have distinctly different character in any case. Fill levels differ slightly in different bottles, corker vacuum differs on any 2 bottles. The corks have different flavors and aromas. There are a wide range of variables that cannot be controlled, and that must factor into into the experimental method.
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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby Gary J » Tue Apr 17, 2012 6:14 pm

Adam M wrote:I have tasted MeV and nonmev of the same vintage with the Cave and Shiloh secret cab and have noticed a difference and found the nonmev more enjoyable.


Challenge accepted!!! :)

Adam, we are going to have to set up a blind tasting with some wines that have mevushal & non-mevushal editions. I'll do it with you...and any other NYC based volunteers. We'll have someone set it up for us. Should be fun!

At the end of the day please realize that professionals don't like blind tasting as they are generally made to look foolish. Heck...I'll be the first to admit that I make endless mistakes when tasting blind. I remember being incredibly embarrassed when working in Napa & I was told to pull a small sample from a barrel of Cab. When I found the row & barrel per the instructions it was labeled a Merlot. I brought the sample back to the lab & reported my findings...including that I tried it and was sure it was a Merlot. NOPE....it was in fact a Cab :oops:

Where & when old friend...???
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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby Gabriel Geller » Tue Apr 17, 2012 6:49 pm

Mike BG wrote:I am no big expert, but comparing what should be like-with-like: I was a great fan of the Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon-Zinfandel-Syrah 2002 release, but with the 2003 release they decided to 'go mevushal' and it was just pathetic. I tried more than one bottle from more than one source, and none were really anything special. I have not tried it since then.

You must try the '06 then - stunning! Guess where you can find it... :wink:
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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby Gabriel Geller » Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:06 pm

Gary J wrote:At the end of the day please realize that professionals don't like blind tasting as they are generally made to look foolish. Heck...I'll be the first to admit that I make endless mistakes when tasting blind. I remember being incredibly embarrassed when working in Napa & I was told to pull a small sample from a barrel of Cab. When I found the row & barrel per the instructions it was labeled a Merlot. I brought the sample back to the lab & reported my findings...including that I tried it and was sure it was a Merlot. NOPE....it was in fact a Cab :oops:


Reminds me of when I first visited the Ella Valley Winery a few years ago. I was blind tasting wines together with Udi Kaplan the CEO and Doron Rav Hon the (former) winemaker and I thought I made dumb of myself stating I had tasted a bordeaux-blend and a Cabernet Sauvignon. What I thought of as being a Bordeaux-blend was actually the Cabernet Sauvignon Vineyard's Choice 2003 and what I thought being the Cabernet Sauvignon was... the Merlot Vineyard's Choice 2003. :? Udi and Doron were not at all surprised with my confusion and took the opportunity to point out their expertise with Merlot. So that's when I discovered that Ella Valley were making the most interesting (IMHO) Merlots in Israel and that made me literally fall in love with the winery. :)

Bottom line: There's always something to learn from mistakes, even from the most embarrassing ones! 8)
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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby Gary J » Wed Apr 18, 2012 12:23 am

Gabriel Geller wrote:Reminds me of when I first visited the Ella Valley Winery a few years ago. I was blind tasting wines together with Udi Kaplan the CEO and Doron Rav Hon the (former) winemaker and I thought I made dumb of myself stating I had tasted a bordeaux-blend and a Cabernet Sauvignon. What I thought of as being a Bordeaux-blend was actually the Cabernet Sauvignon Vineyard's Choice 2003 and what I thought being the Cabernet Sauvignon was... the Merlot Vineyard's Choice 2003. :? Udi and Doron were not at all surprised with my confusion and took the opportunity to point out their expertise with Merlot.


Turns out Gabriel that there are those out there willing to admit that telling the difference between a Cab & Merlot isn't necessarily that easy.

Gabriel Geller wrote:So that's when I discovered that Ella Valley were making the most interesting (IMHO) Merlots in Israel and that made me literally fall in love with the winery. :)


Ella Valley does make great Merlots but there are many Judean Hills wineries making BIG Merlots. Something about the terroir. Among the best examples might be Clos de Gat, where on a business visit I was shocked when they insisted on pouring their Cab BEFORE their Merlot, informing us that they believed their Merlot was the more robust wine and therefore should be placed after the Cab in a tasting.

And don't forget about the Merlots from Tzuba or the Petite Castel (which in some vintages has a large amount of merlot)....

Gabriel Geller wrote:Bottom line: There's always something to learn from mistakes, even from the most embarrassing ones! 8)


Well said! :wink:
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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby Gabriel Geller » Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:44 am

Gary J wrote:Ella Valley does make great Merlots but there are many Judean Hills wineries making BIG Merlots. Something about the terroir. Among the best examples might be Clos de Gat(...)

And don't forget about the Merlots from Tzuba or the Petite Castel (which in some vintages has a large amount of merlot)....


- Not judging or anything, just a bit surprised and this is out of curiosity: You drink also wines that aren't carrying kosher certification?

- Tzuba's Merlot are very nice but nothing to compare with EV.

- Petit Castel, no matter the vintage, has always showed in my experience clear characteristics of an old-world Bordeaux-blend.
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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby Gary J » Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:44 pm

Gabriel Geller wrote:- Not judging or anything, just a bit surprised and this is out of curiosity: You drink also wines that aren't carrying kosher certification?


I didn't say I drank the wine, nor did I say I tasted the wine. Having said that I will tell you that shortly after deciding to dedicate my life to the wine industry I spoke with people and made a personal decision that it would be wise not to limit the wines I taste to those with a hashgacha (kosher certification).

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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby Gabriel Geller » Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:53 pm

Interesting Gary! I admit also that restricting myself to kosher wine can be at times very frustrating both on a personal and professional basis... :(
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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby Craig Winchell » Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:22 pm

I have a heter from Rav Gedalia Schwartz, in Chicago, that allows me to taste and spit Stam Yeinam. The Herzog family, as far as I know, claims to have a heter from the Tzelemer Rav for the same. My personal rav, Rav Belsky, couldn't find a heter he or Rav Eliashiv liked, but allowed me to use Rav Schwartz's (which was poskined for me personally). In the process of his deliberations, he asked the Herzogs, who said they no longer had a written teschuva of the heter, so they couldn't give him any clues as to the nature of the psak. Anyway, the point of all this is that heters exist, at least for people in the industry. If you find that you need one, ask a rav. You may be surprised to find that you can indeed taste nonkosher wine. It's all done on an individual basis, so thateach person would need to ask his/her own shaila of a competent rav.
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Re: Flash Pasteurization

Postby David Raccah » Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:26 pm

There are four threads here:

1) Tasting non-kosher wine by religious folks
2) Why we have mevushal wines and whether or not this is still "ok" from a mevushal perspective (meeting its purpose)
3) making mistakes when doing blind tastings - we are all human
4) The actual purpose of this thread - does the mevushal process help or hurt wine.

Personally - Craig you knocked it out of the park with your comments and technical information on what types of pasteurization processes affect what aspects of wine. But to Gary's point, Isaac hit it on the head. I have tasted wine, including many of the 2010 Barkan Classic wines, that taste cooked and nasty. I will be VERY happy to admit that the Shiloh, Herzog, and Hagafen wines do a far better job at making mevushal wines than others. I could care less why, how, or when they flash the wine, they taste good. There are many others, including the Recanati, Barkan, and Carmel wines that are nasty. Mind you, the Welner wines and the Elvi Wines that also flash their wines are not that poorly affected by the flashing.

My 2 cents, and to make Gary happy, as always, in my humble opinion,
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