From our tasting on Thursday March 26, 2015……
Today’s wines were chosen for upcoming religious holidays, when family and friends gather. Certain foods are traditional at each holiday—brisket or roast chicken at Passover, lamb or ham at Easter. Red, white, and rosé wines can each play a role at the table.
All kosher (“pure”) wines are made according to Jewish laws. Only observant Jews may handle the harvested grapes, must, and wines; all substances used in winemaking must be kosher; and a trained rabbi must oversee the entire winemaking process. Kosher-for-Passover wines may not come into contact with any grain, dough, or bread; this affects yeast selection—only naturally occurring or kosher yeasts are used. Wines labeled mevushal were flash-pasteurized and can be served by Gentiles or non-observant Jews without losing their kosher status. Kosher wines made in Israel must adhere to Biblical agricultural laws: the vines must be at least four years old, vineyards must lie fallow every seven years (there are ways around this), nothing but grapes may be grown in the vineyard (no olive or fruit trees), and 1% of the wine is poured out to commemorate the 10% reserved for priests and Levites during the days of the Temple in Jerusalem.
We’re pouring two whites. A local favorite, Ryan William Dry Riesling 2012 hails from Ryan’s vineyard on Seneca Lake. Soft but bright, with citrus, apple, and mineral aromas and flavors supported by balanced acidity, this is a great partner for an Easter ham or a chicken dish.
Baron Herzog Chardonnay 2013 from California’s Central Coast is gently oaked and kosher for Passover. The Herzogs were winemakers in Slovakia for over a century, making both kosher and non-kosher wines. Forced to flee in 1948, the family arrived in Brooklyn and worked for a small kosher winery. In 1985, they moved operations to California. The winery uses sustainably farmed grapes, and the cellar crew are Sabbath-observant Jews. This is a fine complement to roast chicken.
Red Feet loves rosé, even if there’s still snow on the ground. It pairs well with food (ham, vegetable, and chicken dishes) and drinks well on its own, as one sip of Château Laulerie 2014 pink will show you. The wine is a blend of Cabernet and Merlot from the French region of Bergerac, made from the estate’s younger (5-15 years) vines. Half the juice is press wine, half saignée, and the wine rests on the lees to add roundness and depth.
For those who plan on lamb or beef for the holidays, we offer an Old World-New World contrast of Merlot. Ch de Grandchamp Montagne-Saint Emilion 2011, from Bordeaux’s Right Bank, is Merlot dominated. Grapes were fermented in tank and aged in both tank and oak to create an elegant, balanced wine with dry berry fruit and a nuance of pepper.
Richer, rounder, and all Merlot, Airfield Estates Runway Merlot 2012 from Washington showcases a New World style—juicy, spicy blackberries and plums and hints of chocolate and black olives. The second fermentation took place in barrel, as did ageing. Odds are you’ll prefer one style to the other, depending on your food.