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French Kosher wines


Pan
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All things being equal, I'd like to bring some French wines to the seders this year. I'm willing to spend up to about $15 or so (maybe $20) for really superior wines. I'd prefer something not super-dry, as I like wines that have some fruitiness, and it would be a pity if I brought something so bitter-tasting I wouldn't drink it, but I'm not looking for a dessert wine, either (though you could feel free to recommend those in a separate thread, if you like). Anyway, have at it, and I'll see whether I can get any of your suggestions at my local wine and liquor stores (e.g. Astor Wines and that discount store on Broadway near Waverly).

FYI, I've often brought Italian kosher wines to previous seders, with uneven but mostly good results. Of the Israeli kosher wines, I've generally found Baron de Herzog (or whatever exactly that's called) to be good.

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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The only Baron Herzog wines I've seen have been from California. I'm not aware of any Israeli wines sold under that label.

Joseph Nase and I tasted a number of kosher wines a couple of years ago. Here are the notes we came up with on the ones we liked (we tasted at least 20). These vintages will no longer be available, but the notes should hold in terms of relative strength. The first and third are French, as far as I know. I'm sorry I don't have a price list.

+++

Laurent-Perrier Brut L.P. Kosher. From the great Champagne house founded in 1812. A wonderful toasty nose, full of citrus and fresh green apple flavors. Highly recommended. Also excellent: Laurent-Perrier Rosé. (non-Mevushal)

1997 Yarden Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. From the Golan Heights Winery in Israel. Both wines are textbook examples of their styles. The sauvignon is the crisper of the two. The chardonnay is rounder with more fruit and body. (non-Mevushal)

1998 Chablis, Domaine de la Tortue. A wonderful wine that just happens to be kosher. Has all the mineral qualities of typical first-rate chablis. Crisp and very fresh with subtle hints of citrus fruits. (non-Mevushal)

1998 Baron Herzog Chenin Blanc. Ideal as an apéritif, light and refreshing with just the right amount of sweetness, balanced with mouth-puckering acidity. Great with fish. Highly recommended. (Mevushal)

1998 Baron Herzog Chardonnay. Straightforward Chardonnay. Very nice texture, round on the palate with a faint kiss of oak. Try with poultry. (Mevushal)

1997 Baron Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve. Try any of the reserve cabernets from this winery -- they're all superb. The 1997 vintage shows beautiful ripe, black cherry fruit, hints of vanilla, coffee and chocolate with opulent, smooth texture. New York Times wine writer Frank Prial said of Herzog's wine: "It will easily hold its own with non-Kosher wines at higher prices." (1997 is Mevushal, but some other vintages are not; if this is an issue for you, please read the label carefully)

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Pan,

I'm afraid I don't know of any French kosher wines under $20 that are really worthwhile. Most of the bordeaux houses that do kosher cuvees (e.g., Leoville Poyferre, Giscours, Smith Haut Lafite) mark them up well beyond that price point. However, here are a few other quick recommendations from other places and at various price points:

1998 Weinstock cellars "Contour": This a Chenin Blanc-based blend from California that is just on the dry side of off-dry. The flavor profile is simillar to a demi-Sec Vouvray, and its the best Chenin I have had from outside of France. At around $10 per bottle, this is a bargain.

If you want a Cabernet, the Israeli Cabs from Yarden and Barkan are generally well made and drinkable, although they do show their oak.

There is a Kosher Barons de Rothschild blend from the Haut Medoc that is usually pretty good, but is priced at around $25.

The Hagafen wines from Napa are very well made, but also very much in the new world style. Of the recent releases, I liked the Syrah the best.

I recently had a Kosher Rioja from Ramon Cardova that was a delicious simple country wine with red fruit and spices. It retailed for around $12.

The best place to buy kosher wines in the city is at Skyview Wines & Liquors in Riverdale. They offer the best prices and the widest selection. Their telephone number is (718)-601-8222 and they are located at 5681 Riverdale Ave, Bronx, NY. If you call them they will fax you a copy of their Passover sale list.

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Pan, the basic explanation is this: Most people think kosher wine means "wine blessed by a rabbi." Actually, blessings have nothing to do with it. For a wine to be kosher, a producer has to make certain that all the winemaking equipment is used exclusively for kosher wine production, the additives (such as yeast) must be kosher, and only Sabbath-observant Jews can handle the wine from production through consumption. If there's any question about the chain-of-custody of the wine, it can also be made kosher by heating -- a process called Mevushal ("meh-VUH-shel"). And while that sounds harsh, you'd be surprised how many mass-market, non-kosher wines are pasteurized, including the red burgundies from Louis Latour. However, I've found for the most part that the non-Mevushal kosher wines were the best ones, and nobody I hang with is Orthodox enough to care about that distinction. The wines from the Golan Heights Vineyard are my personal favorites. They taste like competently made, mid-priced California wines. I'm sure all the Yarden selections have stumped plenty of experts in blind tastings.

Other purveyors that have good selections of kosher wine:

K&D Wine & Spirits,1366 Madison Avenue, (212) 289-1818

Sherry-Lehman Inc., 679 Madison Avenue, (212) 838-7500, www.sherry-lehman.com

67 Wine & Spirits, 179 Columbus Avenue, (212) 724-6767

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Hi there Pan

For some particularly orthodox Jews, wine must be flash pasteurised if it is to remain kosher when served by non-Jews. When wine has been treated in this way, it is known as mevushal. The technique is considered by some to reduce the quality of the wine, but winemakers who produce mevushal wines argue that modern technology has advanced to the point where there is no perceptible effect on the taste.

Steve

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1998 Chablis, Domaine de la Tortue. A wonderful wine that just happens to be kosher.

Aw c'mon FG. Wines don't "just happen" to be kosher. It's too complicated a process -- read your own expanation! (Just getting on your case.) :rolleyes:

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Another vintner that has produced good kosher wines in the past is the California label, Gan Eden.

The Weinstock Contour label has been reliable as well.

Some of the Golan Heights wines are quite good.

I have had some good Muscat wines, one Italian, the other (not as good) Israeli which I would recommend for desert. The Italian runs about $13-$14. The Israeli a little under $10.

I am going later today to the local supplier and will check labels for you.

Baron de Herzog is an American label, not Israeli. I believe that is actually owned by the American kosher grape juice company Kedem.

Edited by VivreManger (log)
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I just discovered that I own a 1985 Yarden Galil Cabernet Sauvignon, purchased for Passover 1988 at Acker for $12.

Was 1985 a good year in the desert?

"To Serve Man"

-- Favorite Twilight Zone cookbook

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As far as I know, vintage variation in Israel is minimal: it's always hot and sunny, and the vineyards are irrigated. Kind of like Chile. But maybe someone will Google and find an Israel vintage chart!

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The following are two web resources I have found useful for information on Israeli wines:

Danie Rogov on Israeli wines

Yak Shaya's tasting notes on Israeli wines

I would be surprised if that 1985 Yarden Cabernet is any good at this point, even with perfect storage, as it is my impression that their wines are made for drinking within 5 years or so from release and don't really have the stuffing to age that long. The again, who knows? Please do report back.

(Edited to add the following):

I see that Yak has two positive tasting notes on this wine on his page---the most recent being from April 98. He has a different view than mine as to the ageability of the Yardens, and he certainly has a lot more experience aging them, so you may want to discount what I wrote above. Note that Yak claims that the 85 is considered to be the best wine ever made in Israel...

Edited by MartyL (log)
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There's a page of kosher wines in the Morrell catalog that just came in the mail today. You can also get a list if you go to the Morrell site and do a keyword search for "kosher." The lists are not, by the way, identical.

There doesn't seem to be much in the not-too-dry, French, and inexpensive category. In the dry, French, and expensive category, however, I noticed a very promising entry: Nicolas Feuillatte Kosher Cuvee Brut NV Champagne, for $44.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I forget which restaurant was pouring the Herzog Chenin Blanc as its house white, but that's a terrific wine in its price range.

Perhaps if Varmint is lurking he'll tell our Yarden Cabernet story.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Thank you for all your answers and suggestions!

I think it's actually Yarden wines that I liked most, and I confused myself, which just goes to show how often I drink kosher wines (i.e., pretty much only on Pesach and when I'm with my orthodox godmother). In any case, I'll print out this thread and take it with me when I'm shopping for wine for the seders.

Say, no good kosher wine from Belgium or Germany, eh? :laugh::laugh::laugh:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Today's WSJ Tastings column by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher tackles kosher carbernets and chardonnays.

Best of tasting goes to a 99 Hagafen Cellars Cab from Napa for $37.99. They also really liked the Baron Herzog Cellars Cab for $14.39 and the Blacksberg Estate chardonnay from South Africa at $13.99, especially for the prices.

It's on the web, but for paid subscribers only.

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

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  • 2 weeks later...

There's a johnny-come-lately kosher wine piece in the New York Times today:

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/16/dining/1...ml?pagewanted=1

It seems fairly detailed and accurate, though the discussion of pasteurization is quite incomplete given the failure to mention that Louis Latour -- one of the most recognizable, established names in Burgundy and a non-kosher producer -- flash-pasteurizes all of its red wines by choice.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I especially like the last sentence of the piece -- and I am guilty as charged. I picked up a bottle of Dalton Winery Canaan cab/merlot blend to bring to a seder tomorrow night but I'll probably break down on my way home and get a bottle of Mogen David blackberry for our seder tonight. It just doesn't seem like Passover without the sweet wine and, after all, I'm going to need to use it for the charoset.

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Of the kosher wines we tried at this year's seder, the one standout was Macon-Peronne "Les Plaisrs" Cave de Lugny. Less than $10 and a totally drinkable Macon. Nothing special, but good.

I don't see anything wrong with the sweet-wine tradition. I do it too, but don't consider myself guilty. I see it as being respectful of family traditions and also drinking wine that is probably somewhat like what wine tasted like back in the day. We use it always for the first cup and then we move on to the good stuff.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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