To assist me to identify the wine buyer this Passover, I am taking inspiration from the Four Sons in the Haggadah: the wise son, the wicked son, the simple son and the one who does not even know how to ask.
Lest it be thought I am encouraging underage drinking, let’s assume these are grown up sons, with responsibilities for purchasing wines for Seder night. Of course, we are not sexist at The Jerusalem Post Magazine. Women often have better palates than men, and believe it or not, probably most of the wine this Passover will be purchased by woman. So please forgive me for quoting the text literally, and feel free to substitute daughters every time I mention sons!
The wise son will understand wine and may be looking for something interesting, new to him, of good quality. However, he is smart. He is prepared to pay for quality, because you get what you pay for, but he is not going to pay over the odds. He likes to visit the wine shops, taste and buy something that he thinks is a good find.
The wicked son is less restrained and disciplined. He likes to overindulge and give an impression that he understands wine. He is not worried about price and often will buy the most expensive wine on a wine list because he wants to make a statement. He is a loud buyer, name-dropping wines he has drunk and eager to pontificate to an audience about his knowledge.
The simple son is careful and does not understand all the fuss about wine. He will buy wines on promotion, offering good quality per price ratio, and he is not bothered by status and labels. He will go to the supermarket, look at the deals and will not spend too much time in making a decision.
The fourth son simply does not know what to ask. Buying wine is a trial. He enters a supermarket and is dwarfed by a wall of wine. They all look the same. He does not understand wine and in fact does not want to understand wine. He is just not interested, but has to buy wine and will do so without any confidence that he is buying wisely.
I am making recommendations for all four types of sons.
If you read a wine column, you will probably be surprised to learn that most people fall into the fourth category. Let me acknowledge that, by first giving some recommendations for him.THE SON WHO DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO ASK – NIS 20 to 30
CARMEL, SELECTED SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018. Great value Sauvignon Blanc. Aromatic with fresh, crisp acidity. For those used to buying Selected, look carefully and please note the label has changed yet again!
TABOR, TIPSEY 2018. This looks like a fun wine… just look at the label and the name. It is a nicely balanced, fruity wine with a flowery aroma and is light and refreshing. Not demanding, easy to drink and no need to understand or explain. Recommended.
GOLAN HEIGHTS, HERMON MOSCATO 2018. Grapey aroma, semi-sweet and slightly sparkling. This is an anytime, any place wine that even the Great Aunt who hates wine may like. Furthermore, it is a low alcohol, which makes it an attractive option if you need to drink four glasses.
HAYOTZER, BERESHIT CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2017. This is a simple rendition of Cabernet, but what I like about it is that it is attractively fruity, and has mouth-filling flavor with an almost refreshing finish. It is a good drinking wine. THE SIMPLE SON – NIS 45 to 65
JERUSALEM, MONTEFIORE WINDMILL CHARDONNAY 2017. A beautifully balanced Chardonnay, part fermented in barrel and part stainless steel. It has a touch of the plush style of rich Chardonnay, but with an underlining acidity that makes it a good food wine. The wine is part of a boutique range made by talented Canadian winemaker Sam Soroka.
GOLAN HEIGHTS, GAMLA RIESLING 2017. Gewurztraminer is very popular. It has taken over from Emerald Riesling as the nationally preferred semi-dry wine. This Riesling is nothing to do with Emerald Riesling. It is made from the famous German grape variety. The wine is semi dry… but better described as “off dry.” It has a delicate white flower aroma, great acidity and the touch of sweetness that makes it so well balanced.
LES JAMELLES, CINSAULT ROSE 2018. I normally focus on Israeli wines, but had to put this one in. Les Jamelles are some of the best value wines available from the South of France and they have a following in Israel. Now they have come out with a series of kosher wines. This is a classic French style rose, made from Cinsault grape (very rare in Israel). It has that delicate onion-skin color, is clean, dry and refreshing. Look out for Les Jamelles… a fantastic addition for the kosher wine drinker.
DALTON, ESTATE PETITE SIRAH 2017. Petite Sirah is one of those unsung grape varieties that is very suitable for the Israeli climate. Dalton Winery struck gold with this. There are oodles of black berry fruit, with a hint of violets on the aroma. It is a big, flavorful wine that punches above its weight… and it is not Cabernet and Merlot!
NETOFA, DOMAINE RED 2017. This is a super, chewy Mediterranean wine – fruity, yet with a succulent meaty flavor and a clean finish. I tasted this wine and finished the bottle with my friends without even realizing. It reminded me that certain wines demand another glass, because they satisfy the thirst and are not too big and bombastic. If a good wine is an empty bottle, this is it!THE WISE SON – NIS 75 to 125 VITKIN, MASA ISRAELI 2018.
An exotic blend of old vine Colombard, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier and a little Gewurztraminer. It has a fresh, fragrant nose without being over tropical like so many Israeli wines. It has some weight in the mouth, with minerality and a expansive finish. The perfect wine with mezze. Vitkin is one of our best and most innovative small wineries. Kosher since 2015.
VORTMAN, SHFEYA VALLEY 2015. Vortman is one of my favorite unsung wineries offering very good, honest, authentic wines. Their whites are outstanding, but I have lately taken a liking to their reds also. This is a blend of Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is full bodied with deep blackberry and ripe plum fruit and has a great texture. It has layers of complexity and a long well-balanced finish.
SEGAL WHOLE CLUSTER PINOT NOIR 2017. Beautiful new wine from Segal, from a rare grape variety in Israel. Understated but sensual red fruit aroma, well defined in the mouth, with a clean, fresh finish. It is another sign of promising new changes in the Barkan – Segal empire under winemaker, Ido Lewinsohn. Look out for Segal’s Whole Cluster, Free Run and Unfiltered wines.
TURA MOUNTAIN HEIGHTS SHIRAZ 5775 (2015). This is a fruity Shiraz from Har Bracha in the Central Mountain region, grown at 850 meters altitude. It has exactly the spicy and black pepper character associated with the variety and the vanilla from oak aging provides a good backdrop. It shows itself well and it is a great example of Israeli Shiraz. Tura Winery is making some very good wines these days, too.THE WICKED SON – NIS 140 +PSAGOT, PEAK 2016.
This is arguably one of the finest Mediterranean blends in Israel. It is made up of Syrah, Petite Sirah and Mourvedre. The Syrah gives fruit, the Petite Sirah a flowery character, deep color and tannins, and the Mourvedre gives texture. It is a wine with great depth and complexity on nose and palate. A serious wine. If anything, it is still young and will benefit from time.
CASTEL, PETIT CASTEL 2017. This is such a great value wine. It has a superior black fruit and plum aroma, a mouth feel that coats your palate, yet it is elegant and leaves you thirsty for more. Due to all the attention the Grand Vin and C Blanc du Castel receive, people should not forget that this is a very, very good wine at, for what it is, a very good price.
TABOR, MALKIYA 2015. This is a single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon that has a sterling record over the years. The wine is elegant, focused with bright fruit, soft tannins, well integrated oak treatment and a long, lingering finish. Tabor Winery, usually known for white wines and great value at the cheaper end of the market, is making some pretty fine wines at the top end of the market, too. This is one to cherish.
GOLAN HEIGHTS, YARDEN BAR’ON VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015. The Golan Heights Winery is a master of Cabernet Sauvignon. Their Yarden and Gamla Cabernets are benchmarks for value and quality at their different price points. I also really enjoyed the new Bar’on vineyard Cabernet. It is full-bodied and displays black cherry, blackcurrant and ripe berry aromas, with earthy notes blanketed by hints of oak in the background. It concentrated and a closed fist of potential, which will gradually open.
WISHING EVERYONE a kosher and happy Passover. Choose carefully; you have to drink four glasses, so you might as well drink something you like. The writer has advanced Israeli wine for more than 30 years and is referred to as the English voice of Israeli wines. www.adammontefiore.com
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