The Chosen Cup: Kosher Wines Worth A Second Sip
Let’s face it. Kosher wines in the past have gotten a bad rep. Crafted more with a spiritual than epicurean eye, kosher and mevushal wines are known for their syrupy sweet texture and flat, fruit-driven flavors. However, as tastes change and the craft of winemaking moves forward, kosher producers are bringing new life to the category, changing plenty of consumer and critic minds along the way. By supporting kosher winemakers we open a door to exploring global wines in a new and invigorating way.
A New Start In The Old Country
Like Georgia, Ukraine has a long history with winemaking that was decimated in the 1980’s during the Cold War. Elijah’s Fifth Cup is the perfect example of the wine Renaissance taking place right now, particularly in the Transcarpathia region of Western Ukraine. Inspired by a recent trip to learn more about his Jewish ancestry in Ukraine, winemaker Bruce Schneider has partnered with Chateau Chizay in western Ukraine’s Transcarpathia region for his newest brand, Elijah’s Fifth Cup. Chateau Chizay is located on volcanic soils in the warmest, mildest part of the region, making it an ideal home for this easy drinking Cabernet. Bold and rich, with dark red fruit, notes of graphite and smoke, balanced by soft, supple tannins. Certified Kosher for Passover and Mevushal.
(Really) Old World, New Traditions
Hailing from the Galilee (sometimes called Galil) the most northern, and generally considered, the best appellation in Israel. The highest quality area within the appellation is the Golan Heights. Golan Heights has been around since 1983 with the express interest in sharing their terroir with the world and showcasing the quality and uniqueness of the wines from this region. They take great pride in their land and history and try to impart their cultural as well as viticultural values into each and every wine. The wines are single vineyard harvested and were carefully studied and monitored (over many generations in some cases) before being chosen for specific qualities that lend themselves to the production of the grapes grown there. Modeled on the classic Bordeaux tradition, this plush wine is full-bodied, rich and earthy, showing enhanced notes of soil, green tobacco, leather, and bramble. Particularly food-friendly, pair with a wine-glazed rack of lamb, traditional brisket, or roasted root vegetables. Though perfectly delightful to drink now, the ageing potential is impressive--up to 10 years!
In The Business of Care
Charles Louis Back arrived in South Africa in 1902 as a Jewish refugee from Lithuania, eventually starting the Backsberg estate winery in 1916. Today, the vineyards remain family owned and operated, with an express focus on community and sustainable farming. Nestled in the slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain, South Africa's first carbon neutral winery, the Backsberg family is committed to the highest quality of care. Care for the land, the product and the employees. The Backsberg estate is committed to not only ecological responsibility but social responsibility as well. They are involved in several social outreach projects that revolve around sustainable education, housing and employment for their community. We can drink to that!
- Sparkling Brut Cap Classique — This bubbly blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is lively and fresh with bright fruit on the nose that carries to the palate, a leesy backbone with a delicate mousse. A perfect easy sipper for the most casual or momentous occasions.
- Chardonnay 2019 — Lemon zest, melon, and hazelnut characters mingle with notes of white peach to give this wine a complex and fresh aroma. The wine is Mevushal and kosher for Passover. Made under the auspices of the Cape Town Beth Din and the OU of the United States.
- Pinotage 2017 — Produced under the same auspices as the kosher Chardonnay, this pinotage offers notes of juicy, brambly black fruit with food friendly structure and elegance. A perfect partner for everything from roast beef or potato kugel.
Classic For A Reason
Named after 15th century Italian rabbi and philosopher Obadia Bertinoro, Bartenura wines are made from high quality grapes all throughout Italy. These wines are old school; it’s quite possibly your grandma’s kosher wine! That's no reason to shoot it down though, as a classic is a classic for a reason. Produced under strict supervision, all the wines from Bartenura are certified kosher for Passover as well as Mevushal. This means that from the time the grapes are delivered to the winery they are handled only by observant Jews, and all the equipment used in winemaking, ageing, and bottling consists of kosher materials. The wine is also gently pasteurized to ensure its suitability for religious use. Make no mistake, these are quality wines to drink and enjoy.
- Pinot Grigio — Aromas of pear, grapefruit and honeysuckle followed by notes of green apples and citrus fruits, balanced by a touch of wet stone and refreshing clean, crisp finish.
- Vino Nobile de Montepulciano — This Sangiovese-blend is ruby red with violet hues in the glass, featuring bright notes of morello cherry and red currants, vanilla and baking spices. On the palate, the wine is bold, and rich, pairing well with red and white meats, Bresaola and aged cheeses.
- Rosso di Montepulciano — This blend of Sangiovese and Canaiolo offers notes of wild cherries and pomegranate with sweet spices and a subtle hint of anise. On the palate, the wine is soft, yet structured, a great partner for roasted meat dishes.