I’m challenging myself this week to learn more about Kosher wines, recommend a few non-kosher wines and basically soak your holidays up through New Years, whether you’re lighting Menorah candles or Christmas trees.
I’ve had the Kosher Manischewitz wine at a couple of Bris ceremonies: Fruit juice that a newborn boy could happily suckle off of a soft cloth for anesthetic purposes. I only tolerated it as that was all they were serving and the Mohel let me get up close to watch. But, what if you want to give a nice Kosher wine as a Hanukkah present or serve for any Jewish holiday?
So, for you Beaconeers that want to know, here is a more comprehensive report:
The internet site for the Kosher Wine Guy has recommendations, Head to Head taste tests and a list of wines that recently won awards at Vinitaly.
The Wine Spectator magazine’s website had these few highly rated offerings:
Golan Heights Gewürztraminer Galilee Yarden Heights Wine 2005, released just this past October, was rated 90 points and only priced at $23. Thick and rich, showing luscious flavors of glazed apricot, pineapple, baked apple and spice, with a very long and honeyed finish. Kosher. Drink now through 2015.
(But you might have trouble finding it at only 967 cases made. Yarden of Israel also makes the same varietal; but with even less availability.)
Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte Pessac-Léognan Kosher 2000 & 2002 (A little pricy for $175 but sounds interesting.) Aromas of spice, earth and meat with just a hint of tobacco. Fruity. Full-bodied, with spicy, tar and earthy character. Very intense, almost funky. Long, velvety finish.
Château de Valandraud St.-Emilion Kosher 2001 – 2003: Subtle and multilayered on the nose with Indian spices, berries and raspberries. Full, silky and refined with lovely fruit and a medium finish. Very pretty. This has developed nicely. Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. (Both I found available for purchase at bottleshop.com.)
Then I got an email from Martin Davidson, a wine distributor for Royal Wines, and hit the jackpot! With Kosher wines hailing from 10 different countries, and a local tasting room in nearby Oxnard, this may warrant a part 2 (Comments from readers will let me know if there is enough interest for me to travel to Oxnard)…but here’s what I have so far from Martin:
Our Californian wines are under the Herzog and Baron Herzog labels; Covenant has been made there too. On the East coast we do the local Kedem and import from France (Bordeaux and Burgundy) Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia, NZ, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Hungary and of course Israel.
Once you have visited the winery you will see and taste the quality level we have ascended to (hopefully) and according to leading critics.
Wine selections (for the holidays or any time) from my wine guru at Valencia Wine Company, Guy Lelarge:
Bonaccorsi Pinot Noir from the Santa Rita Hills is a fantastic holiday wine. A complex medley of ripe plum, black cherry and wildberry fruit that turns elegant and spicy, ending with a long, full, focused finish. A blend of mostly Pommard and 20% 777 Clones, this beautiful wine has been fermented on native yeast and aged for 18 months in 50% new French oak.
Heidsieck & Co. Monopole, the official champagne of the Titanic. Legend has it that this Blue Top non-vintage bubbly was the official champagne aboard the ill-fated Titanic. When they brought the salvage from the wreckage a few years back some bottles of Heidsieck Monopole were also recovered and they still tasted delicious. Full, rich and nutty, this champagne goes well with just about anything!
Also, remember that only France’s Champagne region can produce Champagne. You don’t want to get caught offering a California Sparkling wine when you told your guests they are getting champagne. They may not taste a difference but you won’t like being corrected. I know…