Best Kosher for Passover Wines

I recently had the opportunity to taste several kosher-for-Passover wines with a small group of wine enthusiasts at an event hosted by editor Joel Magalnick and Publisher Karen Chachkes of JTNews, Washington State’s Jewish newspaper. Nine wines were poured by Michael Friend of Royal Wine Corporation, the world’s largest producer and importer of kosher wines.

It was quite clear that kosher wine has moved far beyond the sickly sweet bottle of Manischewitz. I liked some of the offerings better than others, but all of them were right in line with similar non-kosher bottles at comparable price points.

I’ll share my brief tasting notes here, and you should click over to JTNews for more in-depth analysis.

White wines:

Segal’s Chardonay/Columbard Fusion (Israel, $13.99) – crisp, acidic, not a lot of fruit. More tannic and bitter than I prefer.

Herzog Special Reserve Russian River Chardonnay 2007 (California, $34) – my favorite of the whites. Balanced, complex, with rounded tannins and a long finish.

Barkan Classic Sauvignon Blanc
(Israel, $11.99) – tingly, crisp, buttery and well balanced with mango/tropical fruit flavors. The best value of the whites.

Red wines:

Binyamina Yogev Cabernet/Merlot (Israel, 13.99) – cherry on the nose, rather tannic and harsh, not much fruit on the palate. Unbalanced.

Segal’s Specia Reserve Merlot (Israel) – funky smell, too acidic for me.

Elvi Wines Classico
(Spain, $12.49) – a distinct aroma of black olives, straightforward and enjoyable. My pick for best value in the reds.

Goose Bay Pinot Noir (New Zealand, $23.99) – it was an interesting sensation to switch to Pinot Noir after these darker, heavier wines. This one had a very specific aroma of sesame oil to me, which I found appealing.

Baron Rothschild Malbec (Argentina, $24.99) – probably the world’s only kosher Malbec. Young and aggressive. It reminded me of a teenager full of energy, but with some toasted notes as well. Enjoyable, probably my favorite of the reds.

Herzog Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Alexander Valley, California, $42) – the most expensive bottle we tasted, and the reason for that showed up in the complexity of black cherry and vanilla flavors. This is a powerful wine at 14% alcohol.