My top 30 kosher wines of 2019 including wine of the year, Winery of the year, and best wine of the year awards
Like last year, I wanted to make this post short and sweet – so the criteria are simple I could care less about price, color, or where it was made. All that matters is that it is/was available this year sometime to the public at large and that I tasted it in a reliable environment, not just at a tasting, and that it was scored a 93 or higher. Also, there are a few lower scoring wines here because of their uniqueness or really good QPR.
We are returning with the “wine of the year”, and “best wine of the year” while adding in a new category called “Winery of the Year”, and another new category, the best White wine of the year. Wine of the year will go to a wine that distinguished itself in ways that are beyond the normal. It needs to be a wine that is easily available, incredible in style and flavor, and it needs to be reasonable in price. It may be the QPR wine of the year or sometimes it will be a wine that so distinguished itself for other reasons. The wines of the year are a type of wine that is severely unappreciated, though ones that have had a crazy renaissance, over the past two years. The Best Wine of the year goes to a wine well worthy of the title, especially with its 2016 vintage.
This past year, I think I am pretty sure about my statement. In the past, I had not yet tasted the pape Clement or other such wines. However, over the past year, those have been covered, and they were a serious letdown. As stated in the article, I truly believe the entire kosher production of the Megrez wines, following the EPIC 2014 vintage of the Pape Clement and others, to be below quality and seriously overpriced and without value in every category, which is a true shame. The 2015 reds are all poor quality and the whites are not much better, in 2015 and 2016. The 2016 Pape Clement, while better, is a total ripoff for what it is.
There are also interesting wines below the wines of the year, think of them as runner-up wines of the year. There will be no rose wines on the list this year – blame that on the poor crop or rose wines overall, it was, by far, the worst kosher Rose vintage. Thankfully, the task of culling the bounty of great wines to come to these top wines was really more a task of removing then adding. I may have stated the obvious in my last post, about the state of kosher wine in general, and not all of it was very good. Still, as I stated, we are blessed with more QPR wines and more top wines, while the core pool of wines, which are horribly poor, continue to grow larger and larger.
The supreme bounty comes from the fact that Royal released the 2017 French wines a bit early! Throw in the incredible number of kosher European wines that are coming to the USA and being sold in Europe and this was truly a year of bounty for European kosher wines.
Now, separately, I love red wines, but white wines – done correctly, are a whole other story! Sadly, in regards to whites, we had no new wines from Germany. Thankfully, we had Domaine Netofa and Yaccov Oryah’s Orange and white Wines to come to the rescue. Throw in Vitkin’s good work, and more great work by Royal Europe, including the new Gazin Blanc, and others, and you have quite a crop of fun white wines!
Some of these wines are available in the USA, some only in Europe, and a few only available in Israel.
Finally, some of these wines are hard to find and they may have different siblings – but they are worth the effort. The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:
The 2019 kosher wines of the year – we have a four-way TIE all from Yarden!
Yes! You have read it correctly, the wines of the year come from Golan Heights Winery (AKA Yarden Winery), the 4th largest date juice producer in the entire world! The top date juice honor belongs to Barkan Winery, but I digress.
So, why is Yarden here, because albeit’s deep desire to throw away years of work creating very nice wines, at a reasonable price, with its wines from the early 2000s and before, it still makes the best kosher sparkling wines, and it is time that it receives its due.
As I stated in my year in review, the kosher wine public has finally awoken to the joy of sparkling wine! Last week I told a friend I popped a sparkler for Shabbat lunch and he replied in a sarcastic tone, “Oh only a sparkler”, like that was a crazy thing to do. I replied that the Gamla (AKA Gilgal) Brut costs less than most white wines do! Why not pop one with lunch on Shabbat??? Others tell me, yes there is more a public appreciation for Sparkling wines, but it is a different wine category. I do not agree! Sure, sparkling wine has bubbles, so yeah, it is different. However, that is EXACTLY what is wrong here, Sparkling wine is just white or rose wine with bubbles. Who cares? When it is well made, it is a wine like any other wine.
Baked Gefilte Fish Loaf, Stuffed Vegetables, Château Malmaison Baronne Nadine, Recanati Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamla Cabernet Sauvignon
We had our family over for the last part of Passover, and so we had a few dinners and lunches with guests and some alone, which were really nice. Anyway, we served the baked fish, which is described here, along with our now famous stuffed vegetables. This started a long time ago, when we had a group of people coming for a Passover meal, and we had no idea what to serve them. We were sick of roast or brisket, and did not want chicken or fish. We thought about the rudimentary meat loaf and such stuff. But, that got us thinking about stuffed vegetables that my sister once served us. They were crazy good, but man they sounded like a ton of work. So, unfazed by the potential madness that faced us, we pushed on unfazed, and found out that the work is just maddening. So here is the rough sketch of the recipe, but you can find out for yourself if it is worth the effort.
Meat Stuffed Vegetables Recipe
5 or more really large onions cored
3 large eggplant scooped until just the skin and a bit of flesh is left
3 large sweet yellow or red peppers
2 large green peppers
1 large can of tomato sauce
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 pounds of ground meat
3 tbsp Parsley
5 cloves of garlic – chopped
2 tbsp of sugar (or until it does not taste bitter)
Core the onions, which are crazy hard, with a large and strong spoon. Cut the top of the onion off, and then with a large spoon start digging into the onion from the top. Keep digging until you start to peel the onion from the inside out. Do not worry if you cut all the way through the bottom of the onion, I do that all the time, but I put a small thin sliver in the bottom to cover the hole, and it bingo – it is like nothing happened. Once you are done with the onions, move on to the eggplant by slicing them length wise, and coring them until there is just a drop of flesh and the skin left. Do not puncture this one – it is far more difficult to remedy! Drop the cored remnants and whole eggplants into a bucket of cold water to slow down their oxidation, which causes them to turn brown. Then core the sweet peppers by cutting the tops off and removing the ribs. Leave the peppers whole. Now take a deep roasting pan and place 1 inch of water at the bottom of the pan. Place the peppers and onions standing up in bottom of the roasting pan, along with eggplant lying skin down. As a heads up, the eggplant dos not cook too well, unless you spray the eggplant ahead of time with some olive oil.
OK, so now you have a bunch of vegetable remnants, which should be in separate buckets. So we now move on to cooking the meat and vegetable mixture that will be going into the vegetables to bake. Start off by taking all the remnants and chopping them up finely. Start off by placing 2 tablespoons of oil into a large Dutch oven and heating the oil until it shimmers. Next place the chopped onions into the Dutch oven and sauté the onions until golden brown. Once golden, add the rest of the chopped remnants and sauté them until nice and soft. Now add the chopped meat into the pot and cook the meat until it is browned. Now add in the tomato sauce and spices and simmer for 20 minutes. Now place the cooked mixture into the cored vegetables and put the roasting pan into a 350 degree oven for one hour.
With served an assortment of wines with the cooked vegetables. The wine notes follow below:
2002 Château Malmaison Baronne Nadine – Score: B
The nose on this garnet colored wine has blackberry, cassis, mounds of dirt, mineral, and graphite. The mouth on this soft but terroir harsh wine is really packed with earth, black fruit and oak. The wine is simple enough, but still gets your attention with mounds of earth that melds with acidity and oak. The finish is long and spicy along with more dark fruit. It should have been a better wine, but the wine was out of balance and too aggressive in its mineral notes.
2006 Recanati Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: B+
The nose on this purple colored wine with brown halos is hot out of the bottle, but calms down with oak, cranberry, dark plum, and roasted herbs. The mouth of this medium bodied wine follows the nose with cranberry and plum. The mid palate is packed with acid, spice, oak, and nice tantalizing tannins. The finish is long and spicy with more fruit and herbs.
2004 Gamla Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: B+
The nose on this garnet colored wine is classically Cabernet with dark cassis, blackberry, oak, and anise. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine follows the nose with black fruit and a semi complex mixture of spice, oak, and integrating tannins. The finish is long with more cassis, spicy wood, and chocolate.