I introduced my parents to the Jewish Week’s Grand Wine Tasting at City Winery a few years ago and it has become an annual tradition – what better way to celebrate my mom’s birthday each year! We both really enjoy the chance to find new wines for drinking, pairing and sharing, particularly in time for Passover.
I started with Recanti Special Reserve, White, 2011. I tend to be skeptical of wines named for their color rather than grape, but my doubt dissipated with this bottle. I was informed it is a blend of 50% Chardonnay, 25% Viognier and 25% Sauvignon Blanc, all from Recanati’s Manara vineyard. It is a well considered and successful blend. The wine was fermented and aged in French oak for eight months (followed by several more months of bottle aging). It was clearly an above average white. The wine had a great nose and some serious body with a touch of acidity which made me want to pair it with a light, but flavorful arugula salad.
One of the many advantages of wine-tasting: it can take you away on a “vacation.” This was the year that I traveled to a little winery in South Africa called Backsberg. Their 2011 Merlot has body and is the kind of woody and spicy that goes well with roasted mushrooms and brisket. The 2011 Chardonnay was crisp, light, flavorful with a touch of spice and it’s not oaky, which I appreciate. Serve it with a turkey or roast chicken, I’d baste it using the wine along the way.
I also enjoyed their Brut, but I’ll talk sparkling wines in a moment. This winery won’t be exotic for long. They seem to still be getting its legs here US market, but they’re looking to expand their reach so I recommend being in touch with them, and they’ll gladly be a presence wherever you are.
When we reached the bottle of Tabor Adama Merlot, 2010 my mother said “Oh, that’s what I bought for our first night hostess!” with so much excitement, that I went into pairing mode immediately. It’s rich flavors make me want to roast some root vegetables.
Admittedly, we jumped the gun and moved on pretty quickly to the bubbly wines. Not surprising, our favorite was a true French champagne that’s beyond the price point for most of my celebrations. The Laurent Perrier Brut Champagne was such a delight. I wouldn’t distract from it’s flavor with anything other than strawberries and chocolate. For a more affordable sparkling wine I recommend the Notte Italiana Prosecco which is a bit more my speed in terms of price. The Teperberg Brut was another great bottle I enjoyed and recommend highly for any upcoming celebrations.
What was missing? O’dwyers Creek Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, 2012 wasn’t on site this year (it was in the top ten last year), but having just tasted it again, I can tell you there were certainly a few spots it could have filled. This New Zealand wine with light, lychee flavors are bright and enticing and, quite honestly, I like to be drinking it all spring long.
Wishing you much luck and a hearty cheers as you select wines for your Passover celebrations. Salud!
Pronounced: KOH-sher, Origin: Hebrew, adhering to kashrut, the traditional Jewish dietary laws.
Pronounced: SAY-der, Origin: Hebrew, literally “order”; usually used to describe the ceremonial meal and telling of the Passover story on the first two nights of Passover. (In Israel, Jews have a seder only on the first night of Passover.)