Move Over Manischewitz, There Are New Kosher Wines In Town (WBW #56)

Between the mention of kosher and the mention of Passover, you may ready to click the “x” on your computer screen to close the window, but don’t! I have some wine reviews that may surprise you…they definitely surprised me. As I mentioned in my post last week, The Cork Dork picked fine kosher wines for the Wine Blogging Wednesday topic. Since I liked the idea of finding good wines for this year’s holiday, I decided to taste “Kosher for Passover” wines—four, to be exact.


  • 2005 Domaine Saint Benoit Laureline Chateauneuf-du-Pape (Mevushal)
  • 2006 Bazelet HaGolan Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Bartenura Prosecco (Mevushal)
  • 2006 Baron Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon

For those new to kosher wines, it’s worth a quick look at what it means for a wine to be kosher, as there are two methods and the wines I tasted are a sampling of both. The first method for making kosher wine dictates how the wine is handled—throughout the entire wine making process, the materials can be handled only by an observant, orthodox Jew. The other method dictates how the wine is prepared—it must go through boiling or flash pasteurization. This method is necessary for strict kosher laws and the result is mevushal wine. Mevushal wine can be handled by anyone. With either method, in order for a wine to be “kosher for Passover,” it not only must be made using one of these two processes, but also must not come into contact with chametz (bread, grains, or leavened products). Once made, a rabbi must certify that the wine has been prepared in accordance with Jewish law (one of these two methods).

Now, onto the wines…


2005 Domaine Saint Benoit Laureline Chateauneuf-du-Pape (Mevushal)

When I saw that there was a kosher Chateauneuf-du-Pape, which is among my favorite wines, I could barely contain my excitement. It’s also probably no surprise that it was the first wine I opened, both with the purpose of having a glass and making charoset—a traditional Passover dish made with apples, walnuts, cinnamon, honey, and, of course, wine.

The 2005 Domaine Saint Benoit Laureline Chateauneuf-du-Pape was a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, and Clairette grapes and was a mevushal wine. It had a nice, deep ruby color. Unfortunately, the great color did not match the rest of the wine. I was hit in the face with pungent medicinal strawberry and blueberry aromas, a smell that I did not enjoy. In the mouth, I was overwhelmed by a sour cherry flavor, which was followed by a hint of leather and a long finish of cherry cough syrup. For as little as I enjoyed the smell, I thought the taste was far worse.

Is this wine worth a glass after work? No…it’s not worth dirtying a perfectly clean wine glass.At almost $33, this wine is only a small step up from drinking Manischewitz and significantly more expensive.

Overall:
½ cork


Needless to say, this first wine made me a bit apprehensive about the remaining three wines.

2006 Bazelet HaGolan Cabernet Sauvignon

As I couldn’t use the Domaine Saint Benoit for my charoset, I opened bottle number 2—the 2006 Bazelet HaGolan Cabernet Sauvignon (winery, snooth). This Israeli wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and is not a mevushal wine.

The Bazelet HaGolan had a deep ruby color, with hints of garnet showing on the rim. The black fruit, particularly blackberry, aromas were delicious and were followed with a touch of toastiness. In the mouth, the black fruit flavors were intense and balanced with a hint of vanilla and olives, and nice tannins.

Is this wine worth a glass after work? Definitely!  Regardless of whether or not you’re looking for a kosher wine, if you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. For $27, you might actually want to grab two bottles—one to enjoy now and one to let age a little, since I think this wine has some good development potential.

Overall:
4 corks


Bartenura Prosecco (Mevushal)

Several days into the holiday, I opened my one kosher sparkling wine—a Bartenura Prosecco. This mevushal Italian sparkler had a clear, gold color with large bubbles, although there weren’t a lot of them. On the nose, a pleasant medium-to-light yeasty smell was followed by a hint of fresh oranges. In the mouth, the Prosecco was more fizzy than bubbly. This sparkler was high in acid, which was exaggerated by the lime and grapefruit tastes. It’s a fairly simple tasting sparkling wine, but well-balanced and refreshing.

Is this wine worth a glass after work? Sure…you won’t be drinking anything out of the ordinary, but you’ll definitely have a decent, reliable glass of wine. For $14.50, this wine could be a good choice to accompany any tomato sauce-based dish. On its own, it was just ok, the type of wine that I would recommend if you were looking for a kosher sparkler. However, when paired with the high acidity of my matzo lasagna, the wine showed its true, vibrant colors. It was an enjoyable pairing that increased my opinion of the wine.

Overall:
3 corks


2006 Baron Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon

As Passover is coming to the end, I opened my last bottle of kosher wine last night—the 2006 Baron Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon. This California Cabernet is not a mevushal wine. Appearance wise, it had a medium-to-light purplish-ruby color. My bottle was slightly reduced, so the sulfur smells were unpleasant and overpowering. Behind the sulfur, I had a hint of black cherry. I tried decanting the wine, which helped a little, but not enough to make the wine anything other than just passable. In the mouth, there were stronger black cherry flavors, which were accompanied by spice, tobacco, and cedar.

Is this wine worth a glass after work? Eh…if you have a bottle on hand, drink it, but if not, I wouldn’t go searching it out. The wine is only $14, so if you’re looking for an inexpensive kosher wine and your choices are limited, this probably could work. However, if you can afford the upgrade, it’s worth paying a little extra for a wine like the Bazelet HaGolan.

Overall:
2 corks


**Special thanks to The Cork Dork for hosting Wine Blogging Wednesday! Clearly, there are some enjoyable fine kosher wines out there for Jews and non-Jews alike.

Dark Moods and Dark Wines

This week is moving week in my office, which is quite depressing really.  As I mentioned in a previous post, my current space is wonderful.  The new space has a gorgeous conference room and about half the office, including my boss, will definitely have an upgrade in everyday workspace.  I, on the other hand, will be moving with the other half of the office to what has nicknamed “the bullpen.”  15 of us will be put in one room, and while I’ll have a small 5 ft wall to enclose my little space, there are only three of us fortunate enough to be even semi-closed off.  That leaves everyone else sitting desk to desk in a big open space, with 20 ft ceilings.  I can only imagine how loud it’s going to be, not to mention how much I’ll miss my balcony.

As you can imagine, preparing for the move has made for a long, busy, and tiring week, which obviously called for a deep, brooding wine.  The 2006 Napa Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (vineyard; snooth) proved to be the perfect match for my mood.

This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, and its intense ruby color is very inviting.  The nose on this Cabernet was very pronounced—dominated by dark plums and vanilla, with a slight hint of anise.  As soon as you taste this wine, you’ll feel the high tannins pull at your gums, and when mixed with the spicy, ripe blackberry and black cherry flavors, it’s very enjoyable.  The flavors are very lively and can even lift the spirits of someone who is mourning her impending loss of wonderful space and hating every moment of packing up her files and books.

Is this worth A Glass After Work? Definitely. For $20, the 2006 Napa Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon has a nice, long finish that makes it easy to really savor the delicious smell and taste.  It’s perfect for drinking alone while putting your feet up at the end of the day and sinking your teeth into a good book.  If you’re going to eat it with food, I recommend something that is equally strong in flavor—roasted beef and lamb would both pair nicely—this way the vibrant flavor of the wine doesn’t overpower the food.

Overall: 4 Corks

All You Need is a Little Patience…

I admit that before taking my wine class, I’d only had a few Zinfandels, and this unfamiliarity caused me to shy away from them.  I had no idea what I was missing.  As winter comes to a close, and with it my desire to drink heavy red wines, I decided to do some last minute exploring of California’s Zinfandels.  I chose California, as the majority of Zins come from this area of the US.  I opened the first of these recent Zin purchases last week—a 2006 Paso Creek.

The deep color of the 2006 Paso Creek Zinfandel was very inviting.  When smelling the wine, I found hints of black pepper, semi-sweet chocolate, and a heavy fruit smell that I couldn’t quite place.  The smell was very pleasant. 

As for tasting the wine, the first night didn’t live up to the expectations I had from the smell.  The taste seemed very muddled and chewy.  Itreminded me of a fruit stew. 

On the second night, after the wine had time to breathe, the stewy taste transformed into spicy, warm fruit pie flavors that were enjoyable.  The wine still felt thick in my mouth, but with the change in flavors, it was very pleasant.  Finally, as you can see from the label, the wine is high in alcohol.  

Is this worth a glass after work?  Definitely. For $17, the wine offers something a little different from your usual, everyday red wine, but the difference is still a pleasant, enjoyable flavor, as long as you have the patience to either decanter it or let it breathe for a little.  Paso Creek’s website describes the wine as “a big, full-bodied, frank, and forthright wine that somehow manages to retain a touch of its wild side,” and I think that is a fitting description.  I drank the wine with a grilled steak marinated in Worcestershire sauce, and this was a wonderful pairing.  You could also eat it with other any bold flavor food,though, especially something like lamb or dark chocolate.

Overall: 3 1/2 corks

Celebrate Spring with the 2006 Governor’s White!

Spring has definitely arrived—it’s the busy season at work, as at a lot of people are coming into town for meetings to set the year’s agenda and make special requests.  This means a lot of talking, a lot of memo writing, and a lot of negotiating.   It’s a fun time, but it’s also so demanding that I come home from work physically and mentally exhausted.  This doesn’t bode well for poor Hubby who craves “real” food after a few weeks because we basically live off of take-out during these few hectic months (yes, he could cook, but he doesn’t, so take-out it is).  This year, though, it gives me a chance to experiment with wine & take-out pairings, which is definitely an added bonus for me.

One great pairing from this week was eating Chinese food with The Williamsburg Winery’s 2006 Governor’s White.  The Governor’s White is a pale, lemon color with a strong pineapple and grapefruit smell.  As a non-drinker, Hubby doesn’t really like the smell of wine, but he’s a huge pineapple fan.  So, I asked him just to sniff my glass and tell me if there was a flavor that really “hit” him.  As skeptical as he was, he was a good sport.  He took a whiff and said “Mmmm!  That smells like a ripe, fresh pineapple.”  Clearly, the smell was something we both enjoyed. 

The wine has a surprisingly complex taste.  The pineapple and grapefruit appeared when I tasted the wine, and they were accompanied by some honey, floral, lemon, and honeydew notes.  The wine itself is a refreshing semi-dry wine, so it’s sweeter than what I normally drink, but the sweetness is part of what made it a perfect match for my crab rangoon and my very spicy garlic chicken & broccoli.  The seafood and spiciness help keep the sweetness in check. 

Is this worth A Glass After Work? Definitely. At $7 a bottle, this is an unexpected sweet treat. You can undoubtedly sit down and drink a glass when you’re unwinding after you eat or enjoy a glass with some spicy or seafood dishes. If you don’t live near VA, you might have trouble finding this wine, but don’t fret, you can grab a bottle or two or three online. Overall: 3 1/2 corks (keep a lookout for a post explaining my new rating system)