Top 5 Kosher Wines

Passover starts tomorrow night, which means I have a week of kosher wine drinking to look forward to.  Admittedly, the thought of kosher wine used to make my stomach turn, but over the last few years I’ve started discovering that there are a few gems out there.  This year, I have a few new ones to try.   I’m particularly excited about the Ella Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and the Covenant Chardonnay “Lavan.”

Before I get to those, though, I thought it would be fun to look back at my reviews of kosher wines from the last few years.  One thing I realized is I need to find some good sparkling and white kosher wines because most of the ones I reviewed leave much to be desired.  The red wines, on the other hand, regularly surprise me with their quality.  The 5 kosher red wines that earned 3 or more corks are:

 

2006 Petit Castel

2006 Petit Castel

#5
The 2006 Petit Castel (winery, snooth) was a blend of was Bordeaux blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot grapes.  The wine had some complexity that made it particularly enjoyable.  It was a bit pricey for not being outstanding, but it was a solid choice and one that could definitely go over well at a Passover Seder.  I gave the wine 3 corks and purchased it $40.

 

2003 Carmel Kayoumi Shiraz

#4
The 2003 Carmel Kayoumi Shiraz (winery, snooth) was 100% Shiraz grapes and was a wonderful addition to last year’s Seder.  The wine had a nice, big body.  Not only were there black fruits and smoke, but also a touch of meatiness, followed by coffee grounds and a hint of leather.  It was a wonderful food wine and worked perfectly in the charoset (chopped apples, ground walnuts, cinnamon, and wine) I made for the holiday.  I gave the wine 3 corks and purchased it for $33.

 

2006 Bazelet HaGolan Cabernet Sauvignon

2006 Bazelet HaGolan Cabernet Sauvignon

#3
The 2006 Bazelet HaGolan Cabernet Sauvignon (winery, snooth) was 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  The wine had a nice black fruits, followed by hints of vanilla and olives.  It had a good body, nice acidity, and was very food friendly.  I actually reviewed the wine as part of Wine Blogging Wednesday #56, which was all about kosher wines.  I posted about 4 wines, and the 2006 Bazelet HaGolan was by far the best.  I gave the wine 4 corks and purchased it for $27.

 

2006 Galil Mountain Yiron

#2
The 2006 Galil Mountain Yiron (winery, snooth) was 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% merlot, and 5% Syrah grapes.  The wine had a nice mix of black fruits, cloves, thyme, and cedar.  It was a big wine, with medium-to-high acidity and tannins that definitely benefited from time to breathe.  Once decanted, the wine’s harshness was really toned down, transferring it from one that needed to be paired with food, to one that was food-friendly, but also enjoyable on its own.  I gave the wine 4 corks and purchased it for $20.

 

2008 Golan Heights Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

#1
The 2008 Golan Heights Winery Cabernet Sauvignon (winery, snooth) was by far the best kosher wine I’ve reviewed over the last couple of years.  It’s made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, and it dispels all of the stereotypes about kosher wines.  It’s still a little young, so black fruits dominate the wine, but it has a surprising smoothness and promises to develop into a beautifully complex wine.  Even if you’re not looking for something kosher to drink, this is worth picking up.  It will definitely surprise you.  I gave this wine 4.5 corks and purchased it for $16.

A Passover Shiraz

2003 Carmel Kayoumi Shiraz

My office is open on both the Friday before and the Monday after Easter; however, each of us can choose to take one day off as an office holiday.  Good Friday was clearly the day that most of my coworkers picked, as there were only 4 of us in the office all day, but I think that those of us who came in on Friday had the better end of the deal by taking today off.  Last Friday was one of the quietest days I’ve ever had at work.  It was perfect for being productive, as well as for bonding with my coworkers, since we were able to eat lunch together around the lunchroom table.  By the time we all left the office on Friday, everyone was in a wonderful mood, enjoying the weather, and looking forward to a long, holiday weekend.  I celebrated by coming home and opening a bottle of the Shiraz.

The 2003 Carmel Kayoumi Shiraz (winery, snooth) was made with 100% Shiraz grapes and was a dark ruby color with flecks of garnet.  On the nose, there were blackberries, cedar, smoke, leather, and a touch of coffee.  In the mouth, there were blackberries, plums, cooking meat, smoke, and ground coffee.  The wine had high acidity, high tannins, and a medium body.

Is this worth a glass after work? Sure…you won’t be drinking anything out of the ordinary, but you’ll have a decent, reliable glass of wine. At $33, this kosher Shiraz was enjoyable both on its own and with grilled chicken I made for dinner.  It was also the wine that I used to make my charoset, which is chopped apples, ground walnuts, cinnamon, and wine.  The Kayoumi Shiraz mixed nicely with the other ingredients and resulted in a delicious addition to this year’s Passover celebration.

Overall: 3 corks

Woody Woodcutter’s Shiraz

After a crazy first two weeks at my new job, things have quieted down a little. In fact, I’ve realized that in a strange way, I miss the constant buzz of the bullpen, even when I’m enjoying the quiet of my new office. Substantively, Tuesday was a fairly quiet day in terms of my workload, but it was a particularly good day because I found out that I will be receiving a small holiday bonus at the end of December. I was shocked, to say the least. It will be small, but that’s not the point. To find out 9 days into my new job and immediately after delivering my first big project that I was being recognized for the hard work I’d already done was a wonderful feeling. Then, as if that wasn’t good enough, I met up with a former coworker for a couple of hours of good girl talk. After that, I was off to a condo board of directors meeting. When I finally walked in the door, I was exhausted. It was a good exhausted, but I was still just ready to put up my feet and relax. As I really enjoyed previous wines that I’ve had from Torbreck Vintners, I open a bottle of the 2005 Woodcutter’s Shiraz to help warm me up and settle into what was left of the evening.

The 2005 Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz (winery, snooth) was a deep ruby color with purple flecks. On the nose, there were big, juicy blackberry, plum, and blackcurrant leaf aromas, which were followed by a tough of eucalyptus. In the mouth, there were heave smoky and cedar flavors, which matched the name of the wine. Those woody characteristics were followed by black cherry, blackcurrant, and medicinal flavors. The finish was dominated by the medicinal flavors. The wine had a surprising amount of acidity, medium body, and firm tannins.

Is this worth a glass after work? Eh…if you have a bottle on hand, drink it, but I wouldn’t go searching it out either. At $23, this wine was a disappointment. I was looking for a woody, deep wine with hints of dark fruits to sink into and instead the Shiraz tasted like something that I bought at a pharmacy. I tried drinking the wine with food in an effort to tone down the medicinal characteristics, but had no such luck. It is rare that I don’t finish a bottle of wine, but unfortunately, this is one that I just couldn’t get into. If you’re looking for a good wine from Torbreck, I definitely suggest sticking with 2008 Torbreck Cuvée Juveniles, which costs the same, but is significantly better.

Overall: 2 Corks

Woody Woodcutter's Shiraz

After a crazy first two weeks at my new job, things have quieted down a little. In fact, I’ve realized that in a strange way, I miss the constant buzz of the bullpen, even when I’m enjoying the quiet of my new office. Substantively, Tuesday was a fairly quiet day in terms of my workload, but it was a particularly good day because I found out that I will be receiving a small holiday bonus at the end of December. I was shocked, to say the least. It will be small, but that’s not the point. To find out 9 days into my new job and immediately after delivering my first big project that I was being recognized for the hard work I’d already done was a wonderful feeling. Then, as if that wasn’t good enough, I met up with a former coworker for a couple of hours of good girl talk. After that, I was off to a condo board of directors meeting. When I finally walked in the door, I was exhausted. It was a good exhausted, but I was still just ready to put up my feet and relax. As I really enjoyed previous wines that I’ve had from Torbreck Vintners, I open a bottle of the 2005 Woodcutter’s Shiraz to help warm me up and settle into what was left of the evening.

The 2005 Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz (winery, snooth) was a deep ruby color with purple flecks. On the nose, there were big, juicy blackberry, plum, and blackcurrant leaf aromas, which were followed by a tough of eucalyptus. In the mouth, there were heave smoky and cedar flavors, which matched the name of the wine. Those woody characteristics were followed by black cherry, blackcurrant, and medicinal flavors. The finish was dominated by the medicinal flavors. The wine had a surprising amount of acidity, medium body, and firm tannins.

Is this worth a glass after work? Eh…if you have a bottle on hand, drink it, but I wouldn’t go searching it out either. At $23, this wine was a disappointment. I was looking for a woody, deep wine with hints of dark fruits to sink into and instead the Shiraz tasted like something that I bought at a pharmacy. I tried drinking the wine with food in an effort to tone down the medicinal characteristics, but had no such luck. It is rare that I don’t finish a bottle of wine, but unfortunately, this is one that I just couldn’t get into. If you’re looking for a good wine from Torbreck, I definitely suggest sticking with 2008 Torbreck Cuvée Juveniles, which costs the same, but is significantly better.

Overall: 2 Corks

Celebrations With A First Class Shiraz

Last week was a wild ride for me, and it culminated in an exciting, although slightly anxiety-filled, day on Friday. For the last couple of months, I’ve been looking to make my next career move and things finally fell into place last week, although they did so at a whirlwind pace.

Last Tuesday, I had my second interview for a position that I’d been pursuing for several weeks. That second interview was followed two days later by a third interview on Thursday, and, happily, a job offer first thing Friday morning. I couldn’t have been happier. By Friday afternoon, the deal was final and I’d let my current bosses know that I will be leaving. Telling them was a bittersweet moment, as I am sad to leave many of the people in my current office, but know this exciting new challenge is definitely something I could let pass me by. Without a doubt, this certainly is a reason to celebrate. So, on my way home from work on Friday, I couldn’t resist the urge to stop at my local wine store, Grand Cru Wine Bar & Cafe, for something fun to drink with dinner. Traveling first class definitely is my idea of indulgence and celebration, so when I saw the fun label on the 2007 First Class Shiraz, I couldn’t resist the temptation to buy it.

The 2007 First Class Shiraz (snooth) was a deep, inky, ruby color. On the nose, there were blackberry, black cherry, dust, smoke, blackcurrant leaf, and chocolate aromas. In the mouth, there were smoke, dark chocolate, blackberry, and blueberry flavors. The wine had good tannins and a full body. It was a little hot, but when it was paired with food, that seemed to help tone it down a little.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely! If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $35, this wine delivers a beautiful, velvety smoothness that is perfect for sinking into on a Friday after work. In celebration of my new job, Hubby and I ordered Chinese, which may not be a typical pairing for a Shiraz, but it worked. In particular, I think the soy sauce that I added to both my crab rangoon and my chicken with broccoli helped create a nice flavor blend. However, this Shiraz is definitely not a wine to pair with something spicy, as the wine enhanced the heat in the spiciness to the point of setting my mouth on fire. That said, if you’re looking for a solid, Australian Shiraz, the 2007 First Class is one worth considering.


Overall: 3.5 Corks