Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Kosher wines for Passover and Kosher Fest 2020

I had the pleasure to be invited to this year’s NY Kosher Wine Fest that took place last February. This event is organized by kosher wine importer Royal Wines, that sell both Mevushal and non Mevushal wines. The difference between these two kosher categories is that Mevushal wines are pasteurized (heated to 165 Fº, a procedure that kind of cooks the wine) whether non Mevushal wines are wines made like in any other but only handled by Sabbath observant Jews. If you can choose, always go to non Mevushal (it will say so on the label).

Royal Wines imports and produces all types of wines, including their Baron Herzog line from California, a staple in most Jewish homes. Let me start by saying that non all kosher wines are sweet a la “Manischewitz”, (usually served at Kiddush services on Shabbat). There are many good and dry kosher wines, from all over the world. However, in my opinion best samples come from France, Israel and California.

Over the years, I have tasted several Kosher wines, and I have found a few gems at this tasting, such as: Drappier Brut and Rosé NV $ 50 made both from Pinot Noir, Laurent Perrier Brut NV $75 and Baron de Rothschild Champagne Brut and Rosé NV $75, that were crisp and fresh and have nothing to envy to their non kosher counterparts. 
Regarding reds, these are some of the very best wines I tasted: Terra di Seta Chianti Classico Riserva 2015 $30 and Assai Gran Selezione 2013 $45 from partially organic vineyards, two flavorful 100% Sangiovese wines.  Yatir Forest 2016 $84 and Flam Noble 2016 $95. Yatir Forest is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec and Flam Noble a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Syrah and Merlot. Baron Herzog has a special high end line of Cabernet Sauvignons: including Baron Herzog Clone# 6 Chalk Hill 2016 $140, Baron Herzog VIII Generation “Padis Vineyard”2016 $208 and Baron Herzog Special Edition Rutherford 2017 $90.
Among Rhone style blends, I like Celler Capcanes Peraj H’abib 2016 $52 from Montsant, Spain a blend of Garnacha, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon and Elvi’s Clos Mesorah 2016 $75 a blend of 40% 90 year old Carignan, Syrah and Garnacha (grenache).   I was also impressed to find kosher, dessert /Ice Wines from Canada: Tzafona Cellars, made from Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 and Vidal 2016 grapes $30 (half bottles).

The event was super crowded and kind of hard to move along fast, since the pourers normally rinse your glass with water every time you ask for a new pour, which caused huge lines in some of the tables. However, the food was very good and plenty, the event was very well organized, featuring an app that included a map of the tables to easily locate your producers and a full list of wines at each table with information about what was poured. But for me the best, was that finally someone was smart enough to put the signs with the names of the wineries/producers high above the tables… Wine events organizers, you should all do this! since putting name of wineries on tables that are crowded with people, makes short ladies like La Wina (me) waste a lot of time trying to find them. Everything is much easier, you can just go inside the room, look up and  find immediately the producer of your choice.

Besides these high end wines mentioned above, they had plenty of values too, like Bartenura Moscato d’ Asti 2018 $14, Alfasi Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 $9,  Baron Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley 2017 $35, Elvi Herenza Crianza 2016 $26 from Rioja, etc. Overall a fantastic event! L’Chaim (to life). 

For sure, this will be a different Passover (also known, as the festival of freedom), with our country still fighting Corona Virus. May all of us be free of this virus soon! I wish all of you a happy, healthy and safe Passover and Easter. Cheers! Silvina.

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