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Pesach Wines

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Pesach is a holiday where multiples abound. From the four questions, the 10 plagues and double dipping to the hodgepodge that is charoset or Hillel’s famous bitter herb and matzah sandwich, nothing seems to be singular on this holiday. If only our unleavened bread were privy to such excess.

 

With this theme in mind, I’d like to focus on wines made from multiple grape varietals, or “blends,” worth drinking at your Seder and beyond. And given the state of the economy, I thought it appropriate to focus on those priced below $25.

 

All wine lists must start with the Yiron. The flagship wine of the Galil Mountain winery has been a favorite of mine since its 2002 vintage. Currently, you can find the 2005, which is, simply put, the best wine for your money on the market. A blend of 50 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 44 percent Merlot, 4 percent Syrah and 2 percent Petit Verdot, this Bordeaux plus style wine is both elegant and complex. Pour it into Eliyahu’s cup and smell it over the course of the Seder. Aromas of berry, smoke, tobacco, chocolate delicious! All with a beautifully soft mouth feel and long finish.

 

Sticking with the Bordeux varietals, the Dalton 2006 Alma, another Israeli wine, is made from 56 percent Cabernet, 25 percent Merlot and 19 percent Cabernet Franc. Dalton’s wines typically show restraint and elegance, and the Alma is no exception. Subtle aromas of toast, fresh berries, minerals and mint, together with well-integrated tannins and a long finish make the Alma a winner.

 

Odem Mountain Winery, whose products have recently hit shelves stateside, has a new blend worth trying. This boutique winery is the northern most winery in all of Israel, and the 2007 Volcanic Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend is a fruity wine, with big gripping tannins and spicy clove aromas. With its big body and chunky tannins, this wine will pair nicely with a big roast.

 

We all like a good deal, and when I found Kadesh Barnea’s 2005 Gilad for under $15, I had to try it. An unusual blend of Petit Verdot, Merlot and Syrah, this wine born in the Negev desert is a powerhouse. Toasty oak, tobacco and ripe cherry aromas lead to jammy fruit flavors, reminiscent of cherry pie. With its nicely integrated tannins and long finish, this wine would go great with my mom’s famous (only made on Pesach) meat borscht soup.

 

While California wineries such as Herzog, Hagefen, Covenant and the elusive yet special Four Gates Winery are producing lovely wines, most of the better wines from California are priced above $25. So for an under $25 wine that is something other than Israeli, I picked up the Capcanes 2007 Peraj Petita, a blend of 60 percent Garnacha, and 20 percent of Tempranillo and of Carinena. With little oak aging, this wine is fruit driven, showing nice minerality to go along with its ripe red fruit. While it lacks the structure of its big brother, the Peraj Ha’Abib, Petita is a lovely wine and a great choice for those who don’t like big, oak aged wines.

 

Finally, while many people prefer dry red wine for their four cups, I’d like to finish with a white blend on the market that is both very affordable and quite delicious. The 2007 Golan Sion Creek White is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewurztraminer and a touch of Muscat. This wine has beautiful fruity and floral aromas. On the palate is a crisp acidity with just a hint of sweetness.

 

Gary Landsman, a.k.a. the “wine tasting guy,” makes, sells, writes about and tastes wines. Visit his blog at www.winetastingguy.com or email him at gary@winetastingguy.com.

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Pesach is a holiday where multiples abound. From the four questions, the 10 plagues and double dipping to the hodgepodge that is charoset or Hillel’s famous bitter herb and matzah sandwich, nothing seems to be singular on this holiday. If only our unleavened bread were privy to such excess.

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Kosher wines have improved greatly in the last 20 years. Much of the credit can be given to the Golan Heights winery in Israel, which ignited the quality wine revolution when they released their first wines in 1983. Stateside, however, it has been the Herzog family and their Royal Wine Corporation that has introduced U.S.-based kosher consumers to premium wines.

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