Wine of the Month
Note: Create joy, one sip at a time.
Featured Wine: Yarden Galilee
Grape Variety: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Production Zone: Golan, Israel
Vinification: Grapes handled only by Shabbat observant Jews
Aging: 18 months in French Oak Barrels
Color: Deep Violet Red
Price: Around $35
Oy vah voy is it cold and windy outside! A perfect time to build a fire and sip a delicious, heavy red; this is why I opted to open a bottle of Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon. Don’t get me wrong, a Cabernet is great every season, but when it is cold, Cabs seem to pique my senses more; they warm me to my bones. Another reason I wanted to try this wine is because I have never had a wine from Israel, and the only Kosher wine I ever had, that I am aware of, was Manishewitz.
Growing up in Pittsburgh, I went to birthday parties, communion celebrations, Passover dinners; they were all fun to me, each in their own way. Jewish celebrations were enjoyable to me because I truly loved gefilte fish, smothered with super spicy, purple horseradish along with glasses of thick syrupy Manischewitz Wine. (Mind you, I am not sure I could stomach it now, but at the time, I was a teenager and was just thrilled to be given alcohol). And that is how I existed; each home, different customs, different foods, most of which I enjoyed.
What made this wine more interesting to me was that I read on the back, “This wine is not ‘mevushal’.” I had no idea what that meant.
Mevushal literally means boiled. Some Kosher wines, like Manishewitz, are mevushal, which somehow made it possible for non-Jews or non-Shabbat observant Jews to handle the wine without tainting it, making it non-Kosher. Nowadays, they use flash pasteurization. I was happy to learn that this wine was not mevushal, as that seems like a perfect way to deplete the wine of its many unique nuances. So, I decided to delve into this Israeli, Kosher, non-mevushal wine.
Yarden’s label is simple and pretty, an oil lamp decorated with mosaic, a symbol of ancient Israel. The nose is very typical of a Cabernet Sauvignon: black currant, black cherry, a bit of clove and oak. It is very pretty in the glass, especially by fire light; it clings to the glass just like a full-bodied wine should. As soon as Yarden hit my tongue, it felt like a race for the flavors. It is full of tannins that seem to encompass the fruit of blackberries, currant and plum. The finish is long and filled with a light oak. There are tiny little flecks of spice dancing around each sip, but very subtle.
This wine is very smooth and easy to drink alone, but with food is better. I first paired it with braised oxtail and a side of Brussels sprouts; that meal sealed the deal for me. This wine plus grilled or slow cooked meat is the way to go. If you are not in the mood for that, my second pairing is another great option; a simple blend of mushrooms sautéed with garlic and red pepper flakes over a bed of pasta with lots of grated parmesan and Romano cheese. That too was very, very delicious. Although I didn’t get a chance to do it, Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon would be incredible with a mushroom cheeseburger. No, it is not Kosher, but based on what I read, once I, a Gentile, poured this wine, it was no longer Kosher anymore and besides, I love a good cheeseburger paired with a hearty red.
Now that it is ridiculously cold here, it is hard for me to even imagine eating outdoors, but then again, being able to have a fire really does make up for the weather (almost makes up for it). Open this wine to make a casual night a little bit special, just you, or with the people and pets you love. Build a fire, watch a movie, get tipsy and full; you will be content.
Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon is good. Did it jump out and surprise me in anyway? No. It is a very well-rounded Cab. I have had better for a similar price. Maybe all of the steps that need taking to follow the Kosher guidelines cause an increase in price? What I do think is, if you are Kosher and want a good Cab, you’ve got it.