WBW 56 – Kosher Wine review

Chardonnay Wine Review – Kosher Wines for Wine Blogging Wednesday from Matthew Scott on Vimeo.

It’s time for another Wine Blogging Wednesday installment. This month’s topic comes from The Cork Dork, and he’s picked Kosher Wines, to coincide with month’s celebration of the Jewish holiday of Passover. For those of you who aren’t Jewish, please don’t turn away as these wines are not just Kosher, they’re pretty darned good. And with all of them coming in under $15, they’re pretty decent value wines, or good Quality to Price ratio (QPR) wines. And while Kosher wine may evoke thoughts of sickeningly sweet grape juice for some, I assure you none of these wines are of that caliber. The video, which had poor sound so please turn your speakers up, will have my tasting notes on the four wines. I tasted these wines prior to really doing in depth research on any of them. I was hoping to provide more information on each wine in the text part of the wine blog post itself. However, some information is lacking or non-existent, so please forgive me.  If I find reliable sources for information, I’ll amend the post.

Alfasi Chardonnay 2007

I am not going to try and educate people on what it means to be Kosher. I will simply say it’s the dietary law that some people of Jewish faith observe. It includes “rules” about dairy and meat products not mixing at a meal, the proper slaughter of animals, and animals that should not be consumed. People of the Jewish religion can observe various levels of “keeping Kosher”, from a complete Kosher diet inside as well as outside the home, to keeping a Kosher home but not eating Kosher outside the home, to not observing at all. There is usually Rabbinical supervision over the processing of foods that are Kosher, including a blessing over the food. That’s about as deep as I care to delve into the subject, and I hope you understand.

The first kosher wine reviewed in the video was the 2007 Alfasi Chardonnay, from Maule Valley, Chile. I’ve been enjoying various Chilean wines recently, and was excited to find a Kosher wine from Chile. Unfortunately, similar to another blog’s review of an Alfasi wine, I find very little information about the wine or the producing winery online. It’s bottled by Carta Vieja, but they do not list Alfasi as one of the wines they offer on their website. This wine is Mevushal, which according to the importer of wine, means it’s fit for even the most Orthodox wine lover. The Alfasi Chardonnay had a very fruit forward palate, with “Tree Fruits” such as pear and apple, though there was certainly some tropical fruits, pineapple perhaps, present. There was a good bit of acid on the back end, and I believe that’s where the citrus flavor I found came from. While certainly a Chardonnay, it reminded me, very much so, of a Sauvignon Blanc with the citrus and acid on the palate.  It’s a nice wine, definitely worth a shot at $11 retail. Another good value wine from Chile!

Ben Ami Chardonnay 2006

The second kosher wine for the Wine Blogging Wednesday review that I tasted was Ben ami Chardonnay, 2006, from Galil, Israel. The wine was made from 100% Chardonnay grapes and fermented in stainless steel tanks. Another disappointment when it came to searching for producer information. Nothing shows up about the winery. While I was able to find various stores selling the wine, and less than the $13 I paid in a local store, with shipping, it’ll net out to about the same price.  You may notice that in the video, I was quite underwhelmed by this wine.  The bouquet was uninviting, almost unpleasant and really didn’t start the tasting off on the right foot. This wine had plenty of tropical fruit on the palate, something I don’t normally look for in a Chardonnay. It had a heavy mouth feel, with that buttery quality to it. However, to me, it’s a pretty boring wine. The finish left me wanting something more, and I was disappointed.  That being said, when we talk about Kosher wines, and the fact that this is under $14, I would be able to bring it somewhere without feeling like I brought white grape juice. It’s definitely an attempt at a serious, structured wine, just not one that is to my palate. However, it’s inexpensive enough to give a try and make your own opinions of.

Baron Herzog Chardonnay 2007

This brings us to our third Kosher chardonnay of the evening, The Baron Herzog 2006 Chardonnay.  Thankfully, there is a website for Baron Herzog Wine Cellars, with information about their 2006 Chardonnay.  I had thought there was perhaps some Viognier blended into the wine to give it the floral component I noted in the video. However, there is no mention of blending of grapes on the website.  That leads me to believe it’s 100% Chardonnay, though I am not positive. The producer website says the wine could age well for two to four years, and given the fact that this retails for $13, I may put a bottle in the cellar to open in 2011 and re-review. This wine was certainly my favorite of the Kosher chardonnay wines, as the bouquet was quite inviting and aromatic, with a very interesting and enjoyable palate.  The Herzog Wine Cellar website has some very interesting information on it, about the history of the winery, their sustainable wine growing efforts, and even a nice, detailed education on what Kosher wine is. A nice wine with fruit and floral notes, definitely a wine I’d serve during a summer backyard party, Kosher or not. Of course, my tasting notes are in the video, but I’ll say that if you’re looking for a fruit forward, almost floral summer white, give the Baron Herzog Chardonnay a try. I think you’ll find that it’s an interesting wine that offers pretty good quality for the price.

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While that wraps up the three Kosher wines I tasted for the Wine Blogging Wednesday installment, it does not complete our world tour. While the mission of finding a well made, enjoyable Kosher wine was successful, certainly in the Alfasi and Baron Herzog wines, how did they stack up to a non-kosher wine?  Trying to stay within the price range, I selected a South African Chardonnay, the Graham Beck 2007.

Graham Beck Chardonnay 2007

Hailing from Robertson, Cape, South Africa, this Chardonnay has a lot to offer. Definitely my preference of the tasting, it certainly was a high QPR wine. With it’s darker color, approaching a light golden hue, the nose on this chard is typical butter and vanilla. While a portion, about 30% of the wine, is fermented in various stages of French Oak, the balance is in stainless steel with malolactic fermentation not encouraged.  This allows some of the butter and vanilla from the oak to show, without making it over oaky or masking the fruit, and offering crisp flavors in conjunction to the buttery nose, and palate.  There’s also a nice finish with some acid on it, that balances it all very well, and is a nice finish to a nice wine.  This wine is going to be splendid on its own, or great with a nice chicken dish, summer salad selection, and even fish of various types. I wouldn’t hesitate to break out a case of this at my next summer bash, and just might!

The Graham Beck Wines website is also chock full of interesting information. Like many wineries, they’re taking a responsible stance towards conservation and preservation of nature and the lands they use.  They talk about their biodiversity drive, and what they’re doing to try and help the environment while still making quality wines. While this is very noteworthy, as is the various technological methods Graham Beck uses to ensure the quality of their wines is up to their high standards, I saw nothing about being a “green” or “organic” operation.

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Thank you for visiting, and please let me know what you think of the video, and the blog post itself. I really threw all of this together within the last hour of my day, and apologize for the audio not being so hot, and the lack of techincal data on the wines. Let me know how I can improve my posts in the future, to make your wine experiences better!