Originally, this post was supposed to be titled Happy Passover! – but Passover started on Monday, and today is Wednesday… Well, considering that celebration technically continues for a week, I guess it is still appropriate to wish Happy Passover even on the third day… By the way, Happy Easter too – just in case I will not be posting anything on Sunday.
In our family Passover is rather cultural holiday than religious, which means that our Passover dinner (seder) takes just a little longer than the regular dinner (when it is done properly, you might have the first real bite of food closer to midnight). What is important for me here, as with any other holiday where dinner is a part of the festivities, I can pay special attention to the wine (not that I don’t do it every day, but holiday is a holiday).
Of course Passover dinner calls for the Kosher wine. About 10 years ago, selecting a kosher wine for Passover or any other holiday used to be a very dreadful experience – sweet grape-juice-more-than-wine Manischewitz was undrinkable, but still better than most of the actual “dry” kosher wines which were outright terrible. Over the last 5-7 years the situation changed dramatically, and now at the most of the stores you can find a great variety of outstanding kosher wines. You don’t need to take my word for it – here are kosher wine recommendations from Eric Asimov of New York Times, here is the list from Lettie Teague from the Wall Street Journal (subscription required, unfortunately), and here is a very interesting post from Alice Feiring describing her recent kosher wine tasting experience.
I had a great experience with a two different kosher wines. The first one was 2009 Psagot Merlot Judean Hills (about $25, 14.4% ABV). Psagot means “peak” in Hebrew, and the small community of Psagot is actually located on the peaks of the Benjamin region mountains, 900 meters above sea level – and this is where this wine came from, made at a boutique winery under the same name. It is 100% Merlot, aged for 13 month in small French oak barrels. On the nose and the palate this wine has perfect dark power (umph – I gave you one strong description, but you know that I often describe the wine emotionally rather than technically). Coffee, chocolate, dark fruit on the nose, same on the palate. Roasted notes on the palate. Excellent balance of fruit, acidity and tannins, very harmonious. Drinkability: 8-
The second wine was 2007 Flam Classico Judean Hills (about $30, 13.5% ABV). Flam winery is also situated in the Judean Hills area. It was founded in 1998 by the brothers Golan and Gilad Flam after they visited Chianti Classico region and fell in love with the wines. While “Classico” is the name of the wine I’m about to present to you, the wine itself is more of a super-Tuscan than an actual Chianti Classico. This 2007 vintage is a blend of 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, and if anything, it resembles classic Bordeaux (it is interesting to note that 2010 vintage is even more “classic Bordeaux” than the 2007, with the addition of small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot to the blend).
2007 Flam Classico has nice dark fruit on the nose and the palate, with a tiny whiff of Bordeaux greenness. Classic Bordeaux profile with touch of eucalyptus and mint. Very round and polished, smooth but with pronounced acidity, and literally unstoppable – in terms of not being able to stop drinking it until bottle is empty. Great wine which will evolve further (but it was my one and only bottle, sigh). Drinkability: 8
2011 Cave Pomerols Picpoul de Pinet “Hugues de Beauvignac” Coteaux du Languedoc (about $10, 12.5% ABV) – this wine is produced by La Caves Pomerols and it is made out of 100% White Picpoul grape. The wine was clean and refreshing on the nose, with touch of minerality. The same on the palate – white flowers, white fruit, round and easy to drink. Very balanced. Considering the price, this can be your every day white wine – and it will pair nicely with lots of different foods. Drinkability: 8-
This is all I have for you for now, folks. The usual “Wednesday Meritage” post still should be coming out today, as it is in the works already, so until then – cheers!
It is time for our weekly wine quiz. But – before we begin with the new quiz, I just realized something – I didn’t give you the answers for the 4 previous quizzes. I thought that I would do it in the comments, but then the answer will always stay with the quiz itself, which is probably not that good. Therefore, going forward, the answer for the quiz will always be provided in the next week’s quiz.
Now, here are the answers for the past quizzes.
#1,The official drink of the United States – correct answer is Bourbon. While it is not written in the Constitution, there were a number of Congress resolutions which support the claim of Bourbon to be an official drink of the United States. You can find more information on Wikipedia – here is a link.
#2, Bordeaux 1855 Classification – correct answer is Chateau Mouton Rothschild. Only 4 Chateaus were classified as “First Growth” in 1855, and Chateau Mouton Rothschild was not one of them. Baron Rothschild spent humongous amount of efforts on getting Chateau Mouton Rothschild classified as first growth in 1973 – here is a Wiki link for more information.
#3, Judgement of Paris – correct answer is Caymus Vineyards. Caymus makes great wines, but they didn’t participate in the famous 1976 competition in Paris. Here is a Wiki link for more information.
#4, Which One Doesn’t Belong – These are the red grapes used in Bordeaux – correct answer is Syrah. Here is yet another Wiki link if you need more information.
Now, let’s talk about the theme of today’s wine quiz – Kosher wines. We are in a middle of both Passover and Easter celebrations this year, and while it is impossible to create a wine quiz around Eastern wines ( because there are no wines designated as “only for Easter” in this world), we can talk about Kosher wines.
Kosher wines are a complex subject if you want to know the details of what and why – here is … yep, you got it – Wiki link for that. I just want to look at the subject of Kosher wines form the consumer’s point of view. Ten years ago, if you would want to drink a Kosher wine in US, you had literally one choice – Manischewitz – a sweet concoction which majority of the wine drinkers should avoid, unless you need some syrup on your ice cream. Little by little, situation changed, as quality of Israeli wines increased dramatically, and more and more Kosher wines started to be produced all around the world, from Australia to France to US. Today, if you want to drink a Kosher wine, you don’t need to dread it anymore – most of respectful wine stores carry great selection of Kosher wines, and finding an excellent bottle is not a problem anymore.
Now, to the quiz itself – below are the names of the Kosher wines from all over the world – all except one. Just by looking at those names, can you guess which one is not a Kosher wine? The answer is coming next week.
Happy Passover and Happy Easter! Cheers and enjoy!