Here’s a roundup of oenophile-tested, rabbi-approved picks for this year’s Seder table:
The granddaddy of wine publications has picks for all budgets, from a $13 Baron Herzog Zinfandel to a $150 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon. Look for more options using their online Wine Searcher. [Wine Spectator]
Kosher wines from South Africa and the Pacific Northwest, including a mevushal (pasteurized) selection that can be poured by non-Jews. [The Daily Meal]
It’s all about reds, according to these New York wine professionals. [The Wall Street Journal]
Wine critic Eric Asimov reviews a dozen options (two mevushal) starting at $16. [The New York Times]
A look at five mevushal varieties from Napa Valley’s Hagafen Cellars. [Palate Press]
Maple Leaf Jews are covered with 20 picks under $20. [Canada.com]
A focus on Israeli wines under the Yarden’s umbrella. [The San Francisco Examiner]
Four non-mevushal picks from Israel, Bordeaux and California. [The Wine Cellar Insider]
Recommended bottles from $9 and up. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
On Tuesday, I had an evening that would make the proverbial bubbie plotz (and with credit to my Bubbie, when I told her where I was, she kind of did). I left my Brooklyn apartment while it was still dark, and boarded the train from Penn Station to Washington DC, the sun was rising out the window. By noon, I was surrounded by a room full Jewish men; lawyers to be precise. The whole place was full of them, dressed in suits, making small talk. If you’re quiet, you can hear the sound of bubbie plotzing!
This week’s annual Sommelier Wine Expo in Tel Aviv brought dozens of Israeli wineries under one roof at the Nokia Arena. From tiny boutique producers to large companies, and from the northern Golan Heights to the Southern Negev, the mostly Israeli wines spanned a range of styles, offering something for everyone. After somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 wines were sampled, it was found that these five wines represent that spectrum, while standing out in the crowd with a distinctive product. All five are kosher, and most should be available in the United States.
Galil Mountain 2008 Avivim
One of only four white wines from Galil Mountain winery, Avivim is a blend of 25% Chardonnay and 75% Viognier. Although their straight Viognier is a pleasant wine, this blend offers more complexity in each sip. Viognier, which is a grape originally from the Rhone Valley in France, is a white wine varietal that has become quite popular in Israel. Aged for nine months in new French oak barrels, the dry white is golden in color and has notes of tropical fruits and honey with nice acidity. A joint venture between Kibbutz Yiron and the large Golan Heights Winery, Galil Mountain Winery has been producing wine in the Upper Galilee since 2000. It produces 1,000,000 bottles annually, only 10% of which are white. Galil wines are widely available in the United States.
Pair with: Fish or pasta.
About 30 miles outside of downtown Portland, Oregon in the heart of the Willamette Valley, is the AlexEli Vineyard and Winery, home to Oregon’s only kosher wine producing vineyard. Vintner Phil Kramer, 28, who co-owns the vineyard with his mother, Anita, purchased the 18-acre estate four years ago and has been producing wine ever since.
This October, he bottled his first kosher variety, a Pinot Noir. Inspired in part by his extended family, who keep kosher, Kramer said he has been thinking about producing a kosher variety for a couple of years, but wanted to get a good bearing on wine production before he started.
Daniel Rogov, who passed away recently, may have gained notoriety for putting Israeli wine on the map, but it was as a food writer that he got his start. And while he will likely be most remembered for his impact on viticulture, his influence on the Israeli culinary scene was no less profound.
“He played an important role in our industry and [for] chefs,” says Jerusalem chef Michael Katz, owner of Adom, Colony, and Lavan at the Cinematheque. “Daniel Rogov was a very controversial person. Some people said he had no idea; some said he is a professional; some said he should have stuck to wine only; some said he had no idea about [being a] food critic; some said he was the best — what I am trying to say [is] that among the professional people there was no one idea or thought about the man…. Our opinion does not really matter [since] the public respected him and listened to him.”
This piece is cross-posted from JTA.
Daniel Rogov, who helped develop Israeli wine and food culture and thrust Israeli wine into the international spotlight through decades of sharply written critiques, died Sept. 7 in Tel Aviv. He was in his 70s, by several accounts, but his exact age has not been made public. In addition, the name Daniel Rogov was a pseudonym and few knew his real name.
Rogov, widely regarded as Israel’s leading food and wine critic, died a revered figure in the world he helped create. A week before his death, Rogov was treated to a celebratory tribute in his honor attended by hundreds of Israel’s leading food and wine professionals and fans at a Tel Aviv hotel.
For the small but budding wine community of Israel (and many local revelers), The Israel Wine Festival at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem is the pinnacle event of the year. Friends and celebrities — close to 10,000 of them — mingle outside between the museum’s buildings and trees. Wines from around the country were poured, as guests munch on locally made cheeses from places like Jacob’s Dairy.
The festival, which started on Monday and ends tonight, is in its eighth year and was started by owners of two Jerusalem wine shops, by Avi Ben and Smulik Shahar. The winery lineup consists of 40 Israeli wineries. This year’s newcomers included: Bazelet ha’Golan, Kitron, Ella Valley, Katlav, Gva’ot, Har Bracha, Chillag and others. More established wineries like Carmel and Golan Heights were there as well, as was Tishbi Winery and Binyamina Winery. And some of the boutique Israeli wineries like Tzuba Winery, Odem Mountain Winery and Yatir Winery also made appearances.
While wine is a crucial element of Jewish religious practice, kosher consumers are not known for their expertise in vino. The stereotype is that Jews prefer sweet wines to the more sophisticated dry wines favored by oenophiles. And, according to Beckey Richards, sommelier at Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard, Calif., there’s some truth to that.
“I was surprised when I started working here to see the demand for sweeter wines,” she said. Herzog Special Reserve (the company’s higher-end label, which includes more aged wines) sells three versions of late harvest wines, which are made with sweeter grapes — a Chenin Blanc, Zinfandel and Riesling. Usually, wineries will make just one late harvest variety.
“But I do think there’s a lot of interest in experimenting more,” Richards said. “We sell a Chardonnay and a Cabernet a little hint of sweetness. I call them ‘training wheel wines.’ They get people to transition from sweet into drier wines.”
Going to be in New York on Christmas and looking for a break from Chinese food? Eater NY gives us a list of 22 restaurants where you can enjoy a delectable meal. If you’re afraid to stray too far from the classic Chinese feast, they recommend trying Brooklyn’s Mile End Deli’s interpretation. [Eater]
‘Tis the season for brisket. It seems brisket recipes are everywhere at the moment. The Kitchn supplies us with a recipe cooked in pomegranate juice from James Peterson’s new book “Meat: A Kitchen Education.” [The Kitchn]
Former JCarrot contributor, Jeffrey Yoskowitz writes in the New York Times Dining Section of the first Hebrew language pork cookbook, “The White Book” and the varying opinions surrounding the topic of “the white steak,” or pork, in Israel.
J. Weekly announces a new Adamah fellowship on urban Jewish farming to start next summer in the Bay Area.
JTA launches Chocolate and Kalamata Olives a food blog focusing on food and cooking in Israel.
Today The Jew and the Carrot brings you two beverage stories for drinks to enjoy in your sukkah. The first installment explores Kosher wines and this afternoon, check back for the second installment to learn how to infuse rye for the holiday.
In past years, most oenophiles have looked at kosher wines as something to be endured out of respect to family members or in honor of a holiday. But the days of overly sweet [Concord grape Malaga , or tasteless, boiled mevushal wines are thankfully behind us. With the introduction of new techniques like flash pasteurization and the ability to “cook” the wine to a lower temperature the process of producing kosher wines has been made easier and more palatable to wine makers around the world.
With 55% of kosher products being purchased by non-kosher consumers because of perceptions of purity and quality, many wine producers are finding it worth their while to take the extra step of producing a kosher product. Some importers also commission a special run of quality wines from Spain, Italy, France, Australia, Chile or Portugal, made according to the laws of Kashrut.
Nathan will also be answering questions about cooking for the holiday on the Times’ Diner’s Journal.
No longer just Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and McIntosh – The Wall Street Journal reports on new (but pricey) apple varietals like Honeycrisp, Zestar and SweeTango in time for the New Year.
In Vino Veritas: Mark Oldman at Tablet suggests pours some suggestions for vino to accompany your holiday meal.
-The LA Times brings us a piece on the symbolic foods Jews around the globe eat for Rosh Hashanah and provides [recipes] for the holiday, along with photos to make your mouth water.
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