Libations for Elijah’s Cup
Twelve wines to consider this Passover
Twelve suggestions for your Passover wine list
Twelve suggestions for your Passover wine list
Passover is generally the make-or-break season for the kosher wine industry because of all of the wine drinking and entertaining that we traditionally engage in. There are the seders at which around four glasses of wine are consumed per person, and then there are the six holiday and Shabbat meals over the course of Passover, with a Kiddush recited at each meal. Further, many of us also serve wine with our meals, not just for Kiddush. Even presuming that nobody is doing any entertaining over chol hamoed, the intermediate days, we are still talking about consuming a lot of wine.
Some kosher consumers will go all-out for Passover meals while others seize the opportunity afforded by all the Passover sales and promotions to stock up on kosher wines for the months ahead. The surest and simplest strategy for exploring the veritable sea of kosher wine—whether for Passover or year round—is to start by sampling from among some favorite producers. After that, look to wines that look or sound interesting, or chat with friends for recommendations.
Here are twelve suggestions to get the ball rolling.
Golan Heights Winery, Hermon White, Galilee, Israel, 2016 ($11.99): Easy, breezy, crisp, fresh, and tasty blend (of muscat canelli, sauvignon blanc, and viognier) offering aromas and flavors of stone fruits, orange blossom, honey crisp apples, pear, a little melon, and subtle lychee. Nice underlying citrusy acidity helps keep it refreshing.
Unorthodox, Sauvignon Blanc, Paarl, South Africa, 2017 ($13-18, so shop around; mevushal): This is the second vintage for this creative brand that was first launched in 2016 by the Zandwijk Wine Estate (producers of the kosher Kleine Draken wines), and it offers simple, straightforward pleasure—crisp, bright tropical fruits against a mildly grassy back-drop, with zippy acidity. This is appealing and very easy to drink. The label is clever too.
Recanati, Rosé, Upper Galilee, 2017 ($16.99): Made from 80 percent barbera and 20 percent merlot, this is crisp, bright, and aromatic with notes of strawberry, raspberry, watermelon, under-ripe peach, a little pomegranate, some subtle blackberry that gives it a slightly weightier feel. Hints of soft spice and some refreshing acidity round it out further.
Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Gewurztraminer, Galilee, Israel, 2016 ($20.99): Lovely, with an apricot, green apple, and honeysuckle against an exotic lychee and spicy profile; nice citrusy acidity along with a pleasant bit of sweetness.
Recanati, Marawi, Judean Hills, Israel, 2016 ($34.99): With attractive floral and citrus aromas, this is less minerally rich than the previous vintage—though a mineral and slightly earthy quality remains; this is crisp and refreshing, and offers a nicely rounded character of stone fruits, citrus, honeydew melon, and honeysuckle. Delightful.
Château Clos Haut-Peyraguey, Premier Crus Classé, Sauterne, kosher edition, 2014 ($114): A fabulously enticing, nicely balanced, pure, fresh, and lively sweet wine with seriously concentrated tropical fruit notes, a lovely botrytis edge, honey undertones, and nice acidity. This is wonderfully soft and airy, practically levitating across the palate, showing terrific finesse, beauty, and refinement.
Golan Heights Winery, Gilgal, Cabernet Sauvignon, Galilee, Israel ($16.99): This is fresh, juicy, and tasty, with dark red fruits, some toasty oak, coffee beans, a little baking spice, and enough tannins and acidity to quench one’s thirst while washing down meaty foods. Good value, as always.
Dalton, Estate Merlot, Galilee, Israel, 2016 ($23.99): Young and mildly, though noticeably, tannic, presenting enticing purple and red fruit notes, a little vanilla, and a smidge of cocoa. Allow it to breathe, but otherwise a rewarding, straightforward, bright, fresh, and lively offering.
Galil Mountain, Yiron, 2014 ($31.99): This delicious, supple almost beefy, deep, medium to full bodied red blend—56% cabernet sauvignon, 32% merlot, 7% syrah, and 5% petit verdot—is seriously good, with enough complexity and elegance to command sustained attention. With aromas and flavors of plum, black cherry, dark chocolate, dried herbs, against a general background of vanilla and oak, nicely integrated generous but not overpowering tannins, and a subtle but distinctive earthy quality. Nice finish too.
Recanati, Bittuni, Judean Hills, Israel, 2016 ($34.99): Made from an indigenous red variety, this is light but very appealing and calls to mind something between Gamay and Pinot Noir, offering delightful notes of strawberry, raspberry and perhaps a little subtle cherry, with dried Mediterranean herb notes, nicely balancing acidity, and all with a nice if mild spicy, peppery note (sort of like the spice in a nice Blaufränkisch); overall very yummy and dangerously quaffable—but a slower pace will be rewarded. Serve on the slightly chilled side, like Beaujolais.
Château Moulin Bellegrave, Saint-Émilion, Grand Cru, kosher edition, 2015 ($45): Rich, full, extracted, and rewarding, with super ripe almost sweet berry fruit notes, forest floor earthiness, leather, tobacco, and chocolate; a little baking spice creeps into the otherwise long and dark finish. Enjoyable now, though it’ll start to show its best in another year or two.
Karmei Yosef, Bravdo, Landmark 2B, Samson, Israel, 2012 ($55): This enjoyable blend of 40% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot, and 30% cabernet franc (aged for 24 months in a 75/25 mixture of French and American oak, and with a 75/25 ratio of used oak to new oak), is the best I have tasted from this winery in some time (the additional bottle age has done this wine proud). Ready to drink now, this slightly creamy, medium-bodied wine has an enjoyably savory, beefy nose, and on the palate offers generous dried fruit notes (cherries, dark berries, and plum), some nice forest floor earthiness, with a mild spiciness, and a little minerality. Tannins and acidity here are crying out for some flesh.