San Diego Wine Review Council
By Marie-Annick Courtier
March 26, 2017
On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I had the privilege to attend a Wine Council in San Diego. In the surprisingly large and tranquil garden of Marc and Robin’ home, large umbrellas and comfortable table settings awaited dozen of us. Before sitting down; cameras snapped shots of the garden, stately Buddha and colorful foods all of us brought for our wines review. Before starting our tasting, none of us resisted the temptation to surround a charming and amusing lounging frog with a few bottled of wines.
Each participant was required to research a wine, pair with an appetizer, and share the information with others during our tasting. All our wines were from Israel, mostly from the Galilee region and Jerusalem. Though they were kosher, our foods were not.
We started with Todd sharing some of typical Passover traditions. Then, he quickly explained the significance of the foods used during a Seder ceremony, pointing out a plate he specifically prepared for us. While some families choose to eat all the presented foods, some divide them into smaller plates to share with guests. Though all the food maybe eaten, sometimes some foods are not, lamb shank bone and roasted egg come to mind. Generally, on a Seder plate appears:
1. A shank bone, chicken neck or roasted beet (vegetarian) which commemorates the paschal (lamb) sacrifice made the night the ancient Hebrews fled Egypt.
2. A roasted egg which symbolizes springtime, renewal, and to some, the resilience of Jewish people.
3. Maror or Bitter Herb which recalls the bitterness of slavery in Egypt and inspiration to reflect on your personal enslavements.
4. Charoset (apples, nuts, wine and cinnamon) which represents the mortar used by the Hebrew slaves to make bricks.
5. Karpas (green spring vegetable such as parsley) which symbolizes either freshness of spring, nobility or aristocracy.
6. Charezet (a second bitter herb or leafy greens of horseradish or carrot plant) which has same symbol as Maror.
7. Salted Water which symbolizes the tears of enslavement and, paradoxically, purity, springtime and sea, the mother of all life. A single bowl of salted water will sit on the table and used for dipping karpas or other seder meal by each participant.
8. Three Matzah bread pieces covered with a cloth, one of the most important symbol on a seder table, which represent Kohen class (priest of ancient time), Levis (who support the priests) and Israelites (the rest of Jewish people). Sometimes, a fourth piece is added to remember all people who are not yet free to celebrate as they wish.
9. Small Wine Cups and Wines (participants will usually drink four small cups of wine during the ceremony) which represent the four biblical promises of redemption: I will bring you out from the suffering of Egypt, I will save you from enslavement, I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and I will take you to me as a Nation.
Finally, we were told that for a wine to be certified Kosher, it must be produced according to Judaism’s religious law and gone through a recognized certification agency. The wine making process has to be supervised and handled by Sabbath-observant Jews. Wine that is described as “Kosher for Passover” must be free from contact with grain, bread and dough. Now that we got our education out of the way, we were anxious to get to our six bottles of wines.
We started with a 2014 Flam Unoaked Blanc – Region: Judean Hills – 12.5% Alcohol - Average Price $ 31. Fermented in stainless steel vats for 4 weeks, this wine is a blend of 55% Sauvignon Blanc and 45% Chardonnay grapes. It appeared clear, limpid with a pale lemony color. The nose offered an interesting balance of citrus aromatic notes such as grapefruit. The mouthfeel was light, crispy with a refreshing acidity that confirmed grapefruit. With a slight zesty and grassy taste, the lingering finish offered a surprising smoother finish than I expected. It was well-paired with a creamy spinach, leek and potato frittata. Other possible pairings mentioned: ceviche, a vegetarian or fish dish and goat cheese.
2014 Matar by Pelter Sauvignon Blanc Semillon – Region: Galilee – 12.2% Alcohol – Average Price $33.
This wine is a blend of 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Semillon grapes. It appeared clear, light green with a slight hay color. The nose offered cantaloupe, grapefruit, honeysuckle and lemon peel aromas. The mouthfeel was light, crisp, slightly floral and grassy with definitively grapefruit and melon flavors. With too much acidity to my taste; the wine benefited from a surprising sweet touch of pomegranate and peach notes at the end. It was paired with the creamy spinach, leek and potato frittata. Other possible pairings mentioned: lemon or pomegranate sorbet or chicken curry.
2014 Teperberg Essence Chardonnay – Region: Ayalon Valley – 13.9% Alcohol – Average Price $19.
Aged in French oak barrels, this deep complex wine appeared slightly cloudy at glance with a golden hue. The nose offered citrus, pineapple and tropical fruit aromas. The mouthfeel was rather soft with buttery, pineapple and nutty flavors. A hint of bitterness lingered on the almost great smooth finish. It was paired with a gluten-free apple, grape, smoked salmon, Havarti dill cheese and fennel flatbread. Other possible pairing mentioned: Seafood dish, creamy tropical dessert, pineapple up-side-down cake.
2010 Carmel Winery Merlot Sha’al Vineyard – Region: Galilee – 14.5% Alcohol – Average Price $33.
Carmel Winery is one of the largest winery in Israel producing 15 million bottles a year. It was founded in 1882 by Baron Edmond de Rothschild, owner of Chateau Laffite (Bordeaux, France) and this wine is a great representation of Bordeaux style wines. After stainless steel fermentation, the wine was aged in French Oak barrels for 10 months. It had a deep rich ruby color with juicy plum and ripe red berries aromas. The mouthfeel offered good minerality (from rich volcanic soil of the region), a velvety tannic structure and smooth lingering finish. A well-rounded wine with aging potential of 7 to 10 years. It was paired with a ratatouille and beef roll bruschetta. A small amount of diced plums added in the ratatouille emphasized the plum wine aroma. Other possible pairing mentioned: Lamb, roasted duck, game, hard cheese (Cantal, Emmental, Manchego) and bittersweet chocolate.
2012 Netofa Tinto Basse – Region: Galilee – 12.5% Alcohol – Average Price $18.
A blend of 60% Tiouriga Nacional and 40% Tempranillo, this wine was aged in French oak barrels for 10 month. It had a dark ruby color and a light purplish hue. The nose offered blackberry, tart cherry, pipe tobacco and oriental spices aromas. The mouthfeel confirmed the nose with the addition of a slight licorice and coffee flavors. This medium to full-bodied wine was well-balanced and its lingering fruity tannic finish pleasing to most of us. It was paired with a Tofurkey Paella, smoked paprika, carrots and rice. Other possible pairing mentioned: spicy poultry or meat dish, Mediterranean Cuisine, mature hard cheese and fruit tart or cobbler.
And now our final wine, 2012 Tabor Adama Shiraz – Region: Galilee – Alcohol – Average Price $18.
A surprising blend of 90% Shiraz and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine was aged in French oak barrels for 12 months and 6 months in the bottle to add more complexity. It had a deep purple color, quite characteristic of Shiraz. The nose offered raspberry, mulberry and violet aromas with hints of cedar and oak. The mouthfeel confirmed our initial nose plus a slight hint of cedar and oak. Definitively a well-balanced, tannic and full-bodied wine which lingered nicely. It was paired with a tapenade on toasted baguette. Other possible pairing mentioned: Meat dish, game, dark fruit pies, mince pie and Christmas pudding.
Thanks to our wonderful hosts, Linda (our organizer), guests and Royal Wine Corporation (our gracious supplier of those delicious wines out of New Jersey); we all had a delightful experience. We all agreed that the "2014 Flam Unoaked Blanc" was our favorite white, and that the "2010 Carmel Winery Merlot Sha'al Vineyard" was our favorite red. Though those wines may be a challenge to find in your local stores, they can be easily purchased online.
Todd M. on Seder Ceremony, Google and Wikipedia
Kosher Wines provided by Royal Wine Corporation - https://twitter.com/RoyalWineCorp
Chef Marie is a proud member of The International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association - http://ifwtwa.org
Chef Marie's personal food and pairing wine guide "Food and Wine Pairing Demystified" is available on Amazon.