Seder Night Wine Choices
Passover is now basically around the corner, and I get many inquiries as to which wines are best to drink for the Seder. People ask that question all the time because:
- They’re confused. They walk into wine stores or go online but can’t make up their mind which wines to buy.
- We drink four cups for the Seder, and there are two Sedarim, first and second, night so that’s potentially eight different types of wine.
- Drinking that much wine, they are concerned with getting drunk.
- The wine of the 4 cups should be drunk quickly, people do not always want to “waste” expensive wine if it has to be gulped down.
So, which wines can be enjoyed and are relatively easy to drink without having 15% alcohol?
Taking all the above into account, here are three new wines that I recommend for the four cups:
Carmel, Kayoumi, Riesling 2013:
Many people make a point of using exclusively red wines for the Passover Seder. However, there also people who do not care and those that have the custom of drinking white wines only for the Seder, mainly Jews of German heritage (also known as “yekke”). Speaking of Germany, Riesling is one of the noble grape varieties and probably the one that represents German wines the most. While the Carmel is obviously an Israeli wine, this Riesling gives quite a fight against its German peers, despite the vastly different and hotter climate. As opposed to previous vintages, this one is bone dry and features the typical characteristics of the variety such as aromas of spring flowers and green apple peels as well as hints of petrol. The acidity is bracing, and this is certainly one of the better white wines. Truly a tremendous value as it retails under $25, and it has a reasonable Abv of 12.5%.
Goose Bay Reserve Fumé 2014:
This is kind of the big brother of the Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc. The main difference here is the aging in oak barrels. Aging a delicate variety such as Sauvignon Blanc in oak barrel requires high quality fruit as well as expert hands in white winemaking – something that Goose Bay and winemaker Phil Jones never fail to deliver! Indeed, there is always a concern that the oak may overpower the fruit, resulting in a wine with overly bitter notes. However, included among some of the world’s best wines are the great whites from Bordeaux, particularly those from the Graves region, home to the Pessac-Léognan appellation. Most those wines are based on Sauvignon Blanc and are aged in oak barrels, often for an extensive amount of time. New Zealand also has one of the best terroirs in the New World for growing Sauvignon Blanc and it shows clearly in this wine. Light to medium-bodied with notes of lime, grapefruit as well as freshly cut grass, the oak aging adds subtle yet lovely notes of toast and roasted almonds that are kept in check thanks to the mouth-watering, well-balanced acidity. A beautiful wine.
Château Yon-Figeac, Les Roches de Yon-Figeac, Saint-Emilion 2014:
Royal Wine Corps used to have the first wine, the Grand Vin, of this renowned estate in Saint-Emilion, in the right bank of Bordeaux. This is the second kosher run of their second wine, however it is not second at all in quality. This delightful wine is based on Merlot with a smaller percentage of Cabernet Franc. One of its most redeeming qualities is its approachability at a rather young age while having the structure to age for about a decade or so. It is also not too heavy and very aromatic. Featuring notes of red berry fruit as well as spices and tobacco, this medium-bodied and elegant wine is a food wine par excellence, as its tannins are soft and the acidity provides the backbone necessary to match a vast array of dishes. For instance, I would pair it with a 12-hour sous-vide seared duck breast served with a raspberry sauce. Talk about a match made in heaven…
Photography by Tzvi Cohen.