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23 Kosher Wines for Passover

Winemakers from around the world try their hands at kosher wines

Posted: April 14, 2003

When many wine drinkers think of kosher wines, they only remember versions that may have been typical 10 or 20 years ago: heavy, overly sweet and stripped of their natural fruit flavors. Thanks to modern winemaking techniques, these descriptors are no longer standard for kosher wine, and many versions can be found that are indistinguishable from their non-kosher counterparts. For those of you searching for good kosher wines this holiday season, Wine Spectator has compiled a list of recently reviewed bottlings to look for in your local wine shop.

Several producers make both kosher and non-kosher wines, so it's important to check the back label of a wine carefully to make sure you're getting the kosher version, which will be marked as "Kosher" or "Kosher for Passover." Many kosher wines are also marked as "Mevushal." This means that they have been flash-pasteurized near the end of the production process, which allows them to be handled by non-observant Jews or non-Jews after production and remain kosher.

Today, kosher wines are made from a wide variety of grapes, in many styles. Our list includes some of the better-known winemakers who produce kosher wines, but it's not all-inclusive. Check with your local retailer for other kosher wines they may carry.

-- Alison Napjus

  • What makes a wine kosher?

    Wine Score Price
    NICOLAS FEUILLATTE  Brut Champagne Mevushal NV 88 $40
    A lush, creamy style, offering buttered brioche, lemon and hazelnut notes with a firm underpinning of acidity. Good intensity, with a sense of grace. From France. Drink now. -- B.S.
     
    HAGAFEN  Syrah Napa Valley 2000 87 $27
    Loaded with coconut macaroon and cedar flavors from oak, picking up focused black cherry and raspberry flavors. Firm tannin extends through the cedary finish. From California. Drink now through 2006.
     
    HERZOG  Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley Special Reserve 1999 87 $31
    Pleasantly balanced, with a mix of herb, olive, currant, cedar and tobacco, turning to dill with a touch of weediness. From California. Drink now through 2008. -- J.L.
     
    HERZOG  Cabernet Sauvignon Chalk Hill Special Edition Warnecke Vineyard 1999 87 $52
    Sleek and well-balanced, with layers of herb, dill, ripe currant and blackberry. Shows plenty of cedary oak on the finish. From California. Drink now through 2008. -- J.L.
     
    HERZOG  Chardonnay Russian River Valley Special Reserve 2000 87 $29
    A rich, well-oaked style, with pretty vanilla and buttery notes adding to the core of apple and pear flavors. Shows a trace of bitterness from oak. From California. Drink now through 2004. -- J.L.
     
    HAGAFEN  Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2000 86 $36
    Balanced and elegant, with solid complexity and aromas of blackberry, licorice and cedar. Tannins are slightly drying on the long finish. From California. Drink now through 2008.
     
    BARKAN  Merlot Galil Superieur 1998 85 $75
    Full-bodied, with dark cherry, plum and cassis flavors. Pruny notes mixed in. Rich cinnamon, herb and coffee notes build on the finish. From Israel. Drink now. -- K.M.
     
    BARON HERZOG  Zinfandel Lodi Old Vine 2000 85 $13
    Hearty and chewy, a pleasant Zinfandel, with a wollop of heavily toasted notes and cherry flavors. From California. Drink now.
     
    TIERRA SALVAJE  Cabernet Sauvignon Yecla 2001 85 $9
    This shows muscle and balance, with black cherry and lead pencil notes backed by firm tannins. Solid red. From Spain. Drink now through 2005. -- T.M.
     
    BARKAN  Syrah Dan 2000 84 $25
    Solid red, with good berry and red cherry flavors. Dark plummy notes. Smoky elements intensify on the finish. From Israel. Drink now. -- K.M.
     
    BARON HERZOG  Cabernet Sauvignon California 2000 84 $13
    Heavy on the toasty oak flavors, but a mouthful of simple Cabernet notes of cedar and currants. From California. Drink now.
     
    BARON HERZOG  Chenin Blanc Clarksburg 2001 84 $7
    Intense, a zingy mouthful of juicy lemonade and toasty oak flavors. From California. Drink now.
     
    TIERRA SALVAJE  Monastrell Yecla 2001 84 $9
    This beefy red offers characteristic sanguine and smoky flavors, with a core of ripe fruit and a thick, firm texture. Not complex, but has muscle. From Spain. Drink now through 2004. -- T.M.
     
    TIERRA SALVAJE  Tempranillo Yecla 2001 84 $9
    This compact red offers black cherry, herbal and licorice flavors over firm tannins, with earthy accents. From Spain. Drink now through 2004. -- T.M.
     
    ROBERTO COHEN  Aloxe-Corton 2000 82 $145
    Good fruit character in this '00 Burgundy, showing light cherry, spice and earth notes on a firm frame. Just lacks suppleness and length. From France. Drink now through 2004. -- B.S.
     
    HAGAFEN  Merlot Napa Valley 2000 82 $27
    Smoky, charry oak flavors dominate the simple herb-laced cherry notes. From France. Drink now.
     
    TEAL LAKE  Chardonnay South Eastern Australia 2001 82 $13
    Ripe, polished and perhaps a bit sweet, with a honey-caramel edge to the pineapple and citrus flavors. From Australia. Drink now. -- H.S.
     
    TIERRA SALVAJE  Cabernet Sauvignon Maule Valley 2001 82 $9
    Just a touch on the stewy side, but with enough cherry and prune flavors for a good little drink. From Chile. Drink now. -- J.M.
     
    BARKAN  Pinot Noir Negev 2000 81 $25
    Smoky, full-bodied red from Israel, with dark cherry and cinnamon flavors. Sweet, pruny notes on the finish. From Israel. Drink now. -- K.M.
     
    TIERRA SALVAJE  Malbec Mendoza 2001 81 $9
    A bit mature, with earthy notes running along the plummy, baked cherry flavor. Rustic finish. From Argentina. Drink now. -- J.M.
     
    TIERRA SALVAJE  Chardonnay Maule Valley 2002 81 $9
    A bit light, with pippin apple and fleeting floral notes. Clean, but not much depth. From Chile. Drink now. -- J.M.
     
    TIERRA SALVAJE  Merlot Maule Valley 2001 81 $9
    Light, with a mix of herbs, bell pepper and red fruit, with the herbal side winning out on the light finish. From Chile. Drink now. -- J.M.
     
    ROBERTO COHEN  Bourgogne Aligoté 2000 80 $18
    A tasty little white, lean and crisp, evoking greengage plum, straw and almond flavors upon a lightweight frame. Good aperitif. From France. Drink now. -- B.S.
     

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