A Nose For Pesach | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

A Nose For Pesach

A Nose For Pesach

From The Jewish Week’s Grand Wine Tasting, some vintages for the holiday table.

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At The Jewish Week’s Grand Wine Tasting at City Winery last week, there were many wonderful wines on offer. While all of the recommended wines of the evening couldn’t possibly fit into this space, it seems appropriate to highlight a smattering of choice selections, any one of which would be appropriate for the Passover seder table. 

3 de Valandraud, Saint-Emilion, Grand Cru, France, 2013 ($73): Without grading on a curve to consider the difficulties of this vintage in the region, this — the third quality level of Château de Valandraud — is a straightforward yet charming, subtle and easily accessible wine with notes of coffee, red berries, a little earthiness, vanilla spice and a touch of graphite. Fresh and vigorous, it’s very easy to drink; craves a real meal.

Bat Shlomo Vineyards, Chardonnay, Israel, 2014 ($35): With significantly more oak on the nose than on the palate, this enjoyable Chard presents a serious side before relaxing and settling in for a good time, with notes of fresh green apples, vanilla bean, baked apple with cinnamon, and some pleasant if light mineral qualities. Decent acidity and nice finish. 

Cantina Gabriele, Malvasia, Lazio, Italy, 2014 ($13): This light, reddish, slightly fizzy, low-alcohol, sweet wine is simple, aromatic and fruity, with appealing notes of strawberry, raspberry and a bit of ripe cherry. It is significantly less sweet than expected for Malvasia, though still sweet, with enough acidity to keep it fun and refreshing. Solid value, very quaffable. Serve chilled. (Mevushal)

Cantina Giuliano, Chianti D.O.C.G., Primizie, Italy, 2014 ($18): New to the kosher wine world, this is lovely Chianti with real heart and soul, made from a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 17% Merlot, and 13% Ciliegiolo (pronounced “she-liay-joe-lo”; a local Tuscan variety). Made more for finesse and early consumption than for oomph and long-term cellaring, this is very light and soft yet fresh, fruity, expressive and aromatic. It offers herbal and red berry fruit notes, with a nice dollop of fresh cherry. This is refined and elegant, yet friendly and vibrant, with very good structure and balance. It is refreshing and even charming, and represents terrific value. Overall a most impressive first wine! Ready now, but should improve with a few years of additional maturation in bottle. Serve lightly chilled.

Ella Valley Vineyards, Estate Bottled Merlot, Judean Hills, 2012 ($30): With lovely depth and complexity, this deep, dark, slightly muscular Merlot offers attractive notes of plum, black cherry, blackberry and currant, with a little spicy cedar wood, mocha, and an enticing, subtle earthiness. Nicely balanced, with a pleasingly lengthy finish. 

Ella Valley Vineyards, Estate Bottled Cabernet Franc, Judean Hills, 2012 ($30): This medium body, nicely layered wine offers plum and black cherry fruits, minerals, a hint of citrus, a dollop of tobacco, a hint of mushroom, and with dusty yet integrated tannins, lively acidity and an appealing finish. Craves a bit of meat.

Gva’ot ,The Promise, Shomron, Israel, 2014 ($28): This wonderful medium-to-full bodied blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Petit Verdot, is deep and rich with expressive dark fruits, raspberries, a touch of vanilla, cedar wood, a little chocolate, and Mediterranean herbs, with nice balancing acidity and well integrated tannins. Very tasty.

Jacques Capsouto Vignobles, Cotes de Galilee Village, Cuvee Eva Blanc, Galilee, Israel, 2014 ($20): This splendid white blend entices with fresh and fruity notes of peach, pineapple, apricot, sweet vanilla and green apple, buttressed by some nice minerality, spice and herbal characteristics. Crisp, refreshing and tasty.

Jacques Capsouto Vignobles, Cotes de Galilee Village, Cuvee Marco, Galilee, Israel, 2014 ($40): Cherry compote, mocha and sweet spice details mark this plush red. With tangy acidity and integrated tannins, this shows savory and floral details through the lingering finish.

Jacques Capsouto Vignobles, Cotes de Galilee Village, Cuvee Marco, Galilee, Israel, 2014 ($40): Cherry Compote, mocha and sweet spice details mark this plush red. With tangy acidity and integrated tannins, this shows savory and floral details through the lingering finish.

Jerusalem Winery, Premium 3400, Marselan, Judean Hills, Israel, 2013 ($21): Originally a Languedoc hybrid of Cabernet and Grenache used often in Rhône blends, the Marselan grape has started showing real promise in parts of Israel. This lovely example offers wild brambly flavors, with some cherry and vanilla, and notes of fresh sage and a subtle whiff of tobacco. 

Joseph Mellot, Sancerre, La Gravelière, France, 2014 ($34): This is a crisp, clean, fresh, refined, really superb Sauvignon blanc. It opens with opulent floral and grapefruit aromas that lead into vibrantly rich flavors including tart green apple, peach, orange and passion fruit, with flinty notes, a hint of grassiness, great acidity, stony minerality and a lively, long, citrus-infused finish. Delicious.

Karmei Yosef Winery, Bravdo, Landmark 2B, Samson, Israel, 2012 ($46): An attractive and easy drinking blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that had Cabernet Franc skins added to the fermenting for additional enrichment. It presents with an intense, sweet nose of dried, jammy berry fruits, and rich and ripe fruity flavors of red plum and red berries, with mild notes of ginger and clove, very light oak, with soft and mild tannins, and a pleasantly refreshing finish. 

Kerem Montefiore, Montefiore Red, Judean Hills, Israel, 2014 ($24): This satisfying, unoaked, medium-bodied blend of 45 percent Petite Sirah, 35 percent Shiraz, and 20 percent Malbec is vibrant and earthy, fruit forward though not bombastic, with hints of spice and a little playful depth, with a clean, refreshing finish. Enjoy now through the next release, serve lightly chilled.

Kerem Montefiore, Montefiore Red, Judean Hills, Israel, 2014 ($24):  This satisfying unoaked medium bodied blend of 45% Petite Sirah, 35% Shiraz, and 20% Malbec, is vibrant and earthy, fruit forward though not bombastic, with hints of spice and a little playful depth, clean, refreshing finish. Enjoy now through the next release, serve lightly chilled.

Kerem Montefiore, Kerem Moshe, Judean Hills, Israel, 2012 ($50): This fabulous full-bodied blend of 78 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 15 percent Petit Verdot, 5 percent Merlot, and 2 percent Malbec, aged for 16 months in small French oak barrels, is elegant, silky, complex and structured to age, with notes of dark fruits, a touch of eucalyptus here and there, as well as some subtle herb and cigar-box. Excellent now, and craving food, but will reward further maturation through 2024, and perhaps beyond.

Lewis Pasco, Pasco Project BDX, Judean Hills, 2014 ($30): Pasco’s latest release, as expected, continues to impress! This lovely, fruity and young yet approachable Bordeaux blend of 56 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 44 percent Merlot, has lively acidity, integrated but still distinct tannins and toasty oak spice notes against which its red berry fruits dance a jig. Requires plenty of air, but is delicious, enticing and food-friendly now; it should settle down nicely over the next year, but seems ready to reward mid-term cellaring. 

O’Dwyers Creek, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand, 2015 ($17): As with previous vintages, this delivers that iconic grapefruit profile of the Marlborough region, with some lovely peach and tropical notes and orange zest, with a grassy, slightly vegetal yet utterly appealing edge, bracing acidity, and good balance. Crisp, interesting, tasty and refreshing, this is a lovely wine that also delivers great quality for the price. (Mevushal)

Twin Suns, Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, California, 2014 ($24): Made from 90 percent Cabernet Sauvignon with 10 percent Syrah and aged for 12 months in French and Hungarian Oak, this is a straightforward, big, juicy, rich and fruity Cab with dark fruit aromas and flavors, a bit of charred oak, and a touch of spice. (Mevushal)

Twin Suns, Chardonnay, Monterey County, California, 2014 ($14): This charming, crisp, light bodied, Chardonnay runs a touch sweet and offers notes of citrus, granny smith apples, coconut juice, and ripe pineapple, with appealing hints on the finish of cream. (Mevushal)

Twin Suns, Grand Select, Paso Robles, California, 2013 ($37): A simple yet enjoyable full-bodied blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, this wine offers notes of cherry, plum, allspice, and oak, with an unusual but pleasant hint of eucalyptus mid-palate and a bit of chocolate on the finish. 

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