BEST Kosher Wines You Never Knew From

times have changed

Collectible kosher wines? The thought boggles the mind. How could inky purple Manischewitz syrup with a shelf life of 20 minutes get a Parker rating? Next you’ll tell me there are “growth” Bordeaux, as in those classified in 1855, that obey Talmudic law. Every year there are more customers than there are wines for those lucky labels classified under the five levels of Bordeaux Growths: wines such as Château Léoville-Poyferré a 2nd Growth St. Julien; or Château Malartic-Lagravière an unclassified yet coveted Graves; Château Pontet-Canet a 5th Growth Pauillac; and Château Le Crock a Crus Bourgeois Pauillac. Oh yes. Each one of those highly coveted labels has a kosher “edition.” N’kidding.

How do you know if the bottle you are holding is the kosher kind? You look for a symbol discretely placed somewhere on the label. The Herzog Winery in Oxnard California produces 100,000 cases of California wine annually. The wines are made from purchased lots throughout the state. They come from everywhere; Riesling from the Central Coast, Merlot from San Leandro, Pinot Noir from Lodi and Cabernet Sauvignon from Mt. Veeder in Napa. Any of these wines would be a fine alternative to the “traditional” sloe-gin-lite that typically graces Aunt Marilyn’s Passover table. But wait. The supreme alternative option is within reach. All you have to do is find the store that carries premium kosher wines. These wines do not cost any more than the “non-kosher” versions. In fact the better way to look at this is they cost as much. These are not inexpensive wines; ranging from $50 to $90. All this proves is how stupid we are. There is a world of Kosher wines and distributors. One such distributor is Bokobsa Wines which represents three Bordeaux houses, two Rhone wines and a region that is new to this writer – Coteaux du Tricastin. Bokobsa also offers a Sancerre and a Tavel Rose. Another is Herzog Selections brings in the high end Bordeaux and at least one very desirable Burgundy, Chateau De La Tour Clos-Vougeot Gran Cru. This changes all the rules for the high holidays.

Here are the tasting notes.

Herzog Cellars – widely available wines from California. We tasted the 2010 Chenin Blanc ($15) and the 2009 Russian River Chardonnay ($24). Both would be excellent wines for the Seder table. The following Bordeaux and the Burgundy are Herzog Selections imported by their subsidiary Royal Wine Corp.

2003 Clos Vougeot Chateau de la Tour $94: Kosher Burgundy from a very well known house. Wine is middle aged, bit dusty with good fruit. Would not expect this to improve. Not my favorite style especially at the price.

2005 Malarctic Lagraviere $50: Back when we used to buy Bordeaux this was a sleeper pick and always good. This is kind of tight. Dark color. Needs the aerator!
2005 Leoville Poyferre $169: Bordeaux pricing for a very nice 2nd Growth. Pencil lead nose. Dark color. Everything wonderful about Bordeaux.

2004 Pontet Canet $50: Bargain priced for Classified Pauillac. Big and strong like wines are supposed to be from the district. Carrying a billy club. Tight. Plenty young. Where is my aerator?

2005 Le Crock $30: The bargain bin “find” in the bunch. Lighter weight, red color. Drink it up.

The Selection Bokobsa wines included one that might have been the most interesting wine tasted. We had never heard of the wine or the region. Read about it here.

NV Coteaux du Tricastin Red Rhone Special Reserve Cellier des Dauphins $14: Non vintage blend that is bright (means showing acid spine), red and spicy. Would be excellent with food like latkes and brisket. This is the tBoW will be hunting for Passover. 12%

The story is not over. The winemaker who has supervised production of the wines for decades above has his own vineyard in Israel. And he is a delightful man.

Pierre Miodownick is the winemaker for Royal Wine Corp which is a subsidiary of the Herzog portfolio and which distributes the Herzog Selection wines. He has been making wine in Europe for 32 years. He moved from Belgium to Israel in 2009 and started his own winery in Galilee named Domaine Netofa near Mount Thabor. He chose to plant Mediterranean varietals including Syrah, Mourvedre, Toriga Nacional, Tempranillo and Chenin Blanc. He describes his winemaking philosophy as Old World wherein he uses traditional French technique to control yields and quality. He looks for more fruit and acidity to balance his wines. He uses French oak but not more than one-third new barrels. The rest of the barrels are second year. “The wood must add flavor but not overwhelm.” He prefers to harvest earlier than later so the fruit is not over-ripe. The wine is made in the vineyard. He prefers not having to “arrange the wine.” He ages in 400 liter barrels. No barriques. Once again, he does want the wood to be “too aggressive.” He has a hand in all the kosher wines made for Royal Wine under Herzog Selections including Taylor-Fladgate Port (try some with blueberry blintzes). It would not be a stretch to think of Pierre as the Jewish Michele Rolland.

2009 Domaine Netofa Latour $30: Pierre only grows Rhone grapes which in his opinion are best suited for the Galilee terrain. This is a blend of Syrah and Mourvedre, dark ruby color, medium to heavy weight. Nice blackberry and choco flavors.

2009 Domaine Netofa Red $20: This is a wine that would be great at the Seder meal. Everything above in French oak and a bit darker including the chocolate flavor.

One more thing. Kosher tequilaLos Arango Blanco! L’Chayim!

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