March 2011


By: Anthony Dias Blue
Passover begins on April 19 this year and continues for a week. Often this is the only time of the year when many people buy kosher wines. Traditionally, among Jews who are less than totally observant (you know who you are: the ones who see the inside of a synagogue once or twice a year at the High Holy Days and for an occasional bar mitzvah), this is the one week of the year when kosher wines are consumed. The seder wouldn’t be the same without the blessing over the wine, and the wine has to be kosher.

Most of you blame this short-lived annual spurt of religiosity on the wine—the memory of syrupy sweet Concord grape wine in a squat, square bottle still being fresh in your sensory memory. Well, that excuse doesn’t work any more. There is a whole crop of delicious kosher wines on the market these days, and they are not just from Upstate; they come from California, France, Spain, South Africa, Italy and Israel.

I tasted about fifty modern kosher wines and found it to be a rather pleasant experience. The overall quality was quite impressive. What follows are the wines that I liked best. These are wines that will add to the enjoyment of the seder—and would be more than appropriate all the other days of the year as well.

Hagafen Cellars 2009 Chardonnay, Oak Knoll ($24) Creamy and smooth with bright fruit and vanilla oak; juicy and balanced. 87

Backsberg 2010 Chardonnay, Paarl, South Africa ($14) Clean and crisp with smooth tropical and citrus fruits; mellow and dense; a true oakless expression of varietal fruit. 88 FREDERICK WILDMAN

Recanati 2009 Chardonnay, Diamond Collection, Upper Galilee, Israel ($15) Smooth and juicy with fresh, tangy fruit and good acidity; creamy, balanced and ripe with tropical notes and silky texture. 89 PALM BAY INTERNATIONAL

Carmel Winery 2006 Appellation Petite Sirah, Old Vines, Judean Hills, Israel ($25) Dark, juicy and meaty with a hint of bret; smooth and rich with good structure and length. 88 ROYAL WINE CORP

Galil Mountain Winery 2009 Viognier, Galilee, Israel ($18) Creamy and fresh with lovely aromatics and notes of apricot and soft oak; generous, minerally and balanced with intriguing flavors. 90 YARDEN, INC.

Golan Heights Winery 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Galilee, Israel
($15) Ripe with dense blackberry and chocolate; rich, jammy and showing vanilla oak and considerable power. 89 YARDEN, INC.

B. R. Cohn 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Trestle Glen Estate, Sonoma Valley ($28) Smooth and elegant with plum and spice; balanced and softly herbal with subtle oak and a long, fresh finish. Sustainable. 89

Herzog 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Reserve, Alexander Valley ($38) Smooth and juicy with bright plum, cherry and notes of licorice; balanced, fresh and supple with good structure and length. 90 ROYAL WINE CORP.

Herzog 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Clone # 6 Edition, Chalk Hill ($140) Supple and smooth with lush vanilla, plum, blackberry and soft spice; complex and elegant; silky, harmonious and long. 93  ROYAL WINE CORP.

Recanati 2006 Special Reserve, Galilee, Israel ($48) Dark and smooth with concentrated plum and cassis; rich, thick and ripe; spicy, dense and balanced; 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot. 90

Galil Mountain Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Galilee, Israel ($15) Smooth and bright with lovely crisp plum and black raspberry fruit; juicy, long and supple with soft herbal complexity; tangy and charming. 89 YARDEN, INC.

Carmel Winery 2007 Carignan, Old Vines, Zichron Ya’acov, Israel ($30) Velvety and ripe with smooth, lush black raspberry fruit; tangy and juicy with good acid structure and lively spice; quite charming. 91 ROYAL WINE CORP.

Terra di Seta 2008 Chianti Classico, Italy ($20) Lean and juicy with lots of racy acidity; clean, tangy and nervy; fresh and balanced; long and zesty. 89 ROYAL WINE CORP.

Capçanes 2008 Flor de Primavera Peraj Ha’abib, Montsant, Spain ($60) Velvety smooth with ripe blackberry and blueberry fruit; lush and dense with lovely balance and spice; rich, precise and charming; long and charming. 92 ROYAL WINE CORP.

Binyamina 2007 Zinfandel, Binyamina Reserve, Lower Galilee, Israel ($28) Dark, dense with concentrated blackberry and cassis; rich and meaty with spice and chocolate; long and intense. 89 ROYAL WINE CORP.

Baron Herzog 2008 Zinfandel, Lodi
($13) Fleshy and ripe with bright berry fruit and some green notes; clean and balanced. 87 ROYAL WINE CORP.

Shiloh 2007 Petite Syrah, Secret Reserve, Judean Hills, Israel ($32) Dark and dense with ripe plum and blackberry fruit; rich, earthy and supple with good balance; long and intense finish. 89 ROYAL WINE CORP.

Barkan 2009 Classic Merlot-Argaman, Dan, Israel ($13) A fresh and pleasant wine made with a combination of Merlot and an Israeli-created hybrid called Argaman; silky smooth and juicy with plenty of charm and bright fruit flavors. 89 ROYAL WINE CORP.   

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