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Do Not Passover These 3 Excellent Passover Wines

08
Apr

When I grew up in England it was a devoutly Christian country, now it is devoutly secular. But I knew more about Easter than  the  average Brit would know about gefilte fish or matzoh balls. Although, to be fair, I’ve met many Americans just as oblivious to those staples of the Passover table. The wine shops around the world, but especially across the United States,  have a healthy selection of Kosher Passover wines. These are essentially wines made by devout, Sabbath savvy,  orthodox Jews,  who maintain strict Kosher rules and regulations. When I arrived in these Colonies, the only Kosher wines I recall gracing the liquor store shelves came in square bottles and were so sweet they made Cinderella seem like the Ugly Sister.  But Jews were made to suffer so it was all part of the overall plan that they drank wines which were palate challenging, to go with their unleavened bread – matzohs  – during a relatively bland dietary week of Passover or Pesach. Leo Rosten’s wonderful book “Hooray for Yiddish” retells the story of Mrs. Belovski who stormed into the grocery store and banged an open box of matzos on the counter: “This you call matzos? They’re so hard you need an ax to break them!”  “Just a minute” retorted the owner. “If our ancestors, crossing that terrible desert in Egypt, had matzos like these they would have been grateful!” “Sure they would” says Mrs. Belovski, “when they were crossing that desert these matzos were fresh!”

Kosher wine is wine that is produced in accordance with kashrut,  allowing Jewish people to say blessings over it, and, indeed, drink it. This is essential, since wine is prominent at the Sedar meal on the evening that Passover begins (and for very observant Jews on the second night as well). To be considered kosher, Sabbath-observant Jews must supervise the entire winemaking process and handle much of it in person, from the time the grapes are loaded into the crusher until the finished wine product is bottled and sealed. Additionally, any ingredients used, including finings, must be kosher.  Wine that is described as “Kosher For Passover” must have been kept free from contact with leavened or fermented grain products.  When kosher wine is produced, marketed, and sold commercially, it would normally have a hechsher (kosher certification mark) issued by a kosher certification agency, or by an authoritative Rabbi who is respected and known to be learned in Jewish law, or by the Kashruth Committee working under a beth din (rabbinical court of Judaism).

Since as far back as memory serves, I have enjoyed the nectar from a producer whose products appeared on the shelves in shops with wine savvy management. And I particularly enjoy the wines because they offer a range of tastes to suit every family member and friend whose palates are widely differing. Carmel Winery, probably the best known wine producer in Israel, was founded in 1882 by Baron Edmond de Rothschild. If that names rings a bell, it should indeed. That was the very same man whose most distinguished Marque is Château Lafite in Bordeaux.

I have 3 wines from Carmel to recommend for Passover 2022 and, if you know me at all, I don’t have to remind you to chill all three of them. Yes, yes, including the red, as is my philosophy for all red wines.

 

Carmel Private Collection Chardonnay, Judean Hills, 2020 (approx. $15 USA)

This Chard is very  well-balanced, and has a light golden yellow colour with the perfume of pineapple and pear, melon and sweet citrus. The taste has delicious flavours  of pear and banana. It is dry and crisp with medium acidity. And the finish is clean and leaves a wonderful lingering taste of candy on the tongue.

 

Carmel Appellation Cabernet Sauvignon,  Judean Hills, 2019 (approx. $25 USA)

Definitely a wine lovers wine,  and a wine best suited to food. I would highly recommend roast chicken or brisket with this bad boy, which is produced from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from the Upper Galilee. After a lengthy fermentation with its skins still attached, the wine is aged in French oak barrels for 12 months. It has a deep purple colour with a perfume reminiscent of blackberries, plum, and mint. It is medium to full bodied, but remember I enjoy my reds chilled for 10 minutes in the fridge, which will enhance the fruit in this wine, and make it incredibly quaffable (best to buy several bottles).

 

Carmel Selected Emerald Riesling & Chenin Blanc semi -dry 2020 Samson (approx. $12 USA)

Now this is a really clever idea. Take two of the most underrated grape varieties and then blend them and as a result you have the best of both varietal worlds captured in the bottle,  to be rediscovered all over again (or maybe for the first time). This  blend of two grapes, born to be melded through the winemakers magic, produces a perfumed wine full of tropical fruits. This elixir is lighter than a Fred Astaire dance routine. Citrus fruit is the predominant perfume and flavour. It fills your mouth with deliciously yummy flavours (that’s a technical term) and leaves a lingering lemon zest taste in your mouth, well after the glass is empty.

 

The 8-day Holiday of Passover begins at sundown April 15 – April 23, and is celebrated by Jews around the world , During the Seder,  the story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt is recalled and celebrated across the generations.  And if you have a tendency towards headaches after long family gatherings, just think of Moses crossing the dessert. He must have had an enormous headache because he climbed a mountain and returned with one gigantic tablet. As I recall, no reference is made to his needing a prescription for it!

Cheers & L’Chaim. Happy Passover to all.

Carmel WInes

SPECIAL THANKSVicki Jakubovic, VICKIGJ PR.

 

 

 

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