For years, I worked as a wineconsultant on the sales floor at the Highland Park Binny’s store. This time of year, I’d find myself repeating this same conversationmany times a day:
Where is the Kosher wine section?acustomer would ask.
Right over here, sir. I’d reply.Let me show you.
The customer would then ask: Are anyof these Kosher wines any good?
The customer would pause,take in the wall of kosher wines, side to side, and then ask:
There are a lot of good wines out therethat happen to be kosher. Recently, I was able to sit in on a shortseminar focusing on some wines from the Royal Wine Corp. portfolio a major importer and distributor of kosher wines. With passoverquickly approaching, here are a few wines you might want to try. There’s something for everyone, from the once-a-year wine drinker, tothe nerdiest wine nerd (that’s me).
Easy to Drink Wines From California
A great wine for the casual drinker isthe BaronHerzog Cabernet Sauvignon Jeunesse (I’m told Jeunesse meansyouth in French). This soft, slightly sweet red is designed foreasy sipping, and lacks that tannic bite that people who don’t drinka lot of wine don’t like. We have a lot of customers whoaren’t Jewish that love this wine because of its light, easy to drinknature. We also tasted the BaronHerzog Old Vines Zinfandel, a much deeper wine showing rich, darkraspberry and just enough tannic support to keep it solid anothergood value.
New to Binnys are two new blends byWeinstock simply called Redby W and Whiteby W. Both are light and soft. The red, a blend of zinfandeland syrah, is an especially good value. My tasting notes include thephrases baking spices and pie filling. Both of theseblends usually sell for $10.99, but they’re being launched at Binny’sat the crazy low price of $7.99 through April 7th.
Interesting Reds From Spain
We tasted two reds from producer CellerCapçanes, from the Montsant DO in Spain. Capcanes offers a widerange of wines, just a couple of which are kosher. The 2006Peraj Petita, a grenache-based blend, is made in a modern style,with good jammy fruit and tight underlying tannins. Its biggersibling, the PerajHa’abib Flor de Primavera, is less compact the fruit on thenose submits to a layer of vanillan oak influence, and the deeperfruit on the palate is intertwined with herbs like anise andtobacco. These wines are impressive, if a little priceycompared to non-kosher Montsant peers.
Good Stuff from Israel
Domaine du Castel holds a certain levelof respect in the wine world as one of the most solid producers inIsrael today. The Blancdu Castel, 100% Chardonnay (I tasted a mature 2003) is done in avery Burgundian style, with a presence of baking spices that don’toverwhelm the brightness of fruit. The 2003 is still vibrant andyouthful. The PetitCastel shows a lot of good fruit on the nose. It’s done in asurprisingly modern style, and is lighter than I was expecting (whichisn’t to say it’s light, just lighter than I was expecting) with asolid tannic foundation. The winery’s flagship wine, the GrandVin, (I tasted 2005) has more restrained tannins; the fruit andearth also seem a bit reigned-in. While not necessarily subdued, thefocus of this wine seems to be on balance and finesse.
Finishing up the tasting were the winesof Yatir: the Yatir Cabernet-Shiraz-Merlot,and the YatirForest (a blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz). I alwaysconfuse these wines (can you blame me?) so it was good to get thechance to finally taste them. The ‘self-titled’ blend is a heavymodern blend, with good fruit and great weight, closer in style to anAustralian blend than to a French one. The Forest is deeper still,impressive with layers of complexity cocoa, blackberry, tealeaves and other herbs, and medium tannins on the finish. These winesare interesting enough that I hope they draw notice from fans of allwine and not just those seeking kosher wine. Still, I worry that theprice tag might be a touch high compared to similar, non-kosherwines.
This list of good kosher wine is by nomeans exhaustive. And of course, the Binny’s wine staff has tried most of these wines and is always eager to offer assistance. Don’tforget to check the listof Kosher wines Binny’s has on sale through April 7th.