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Wine Review: Celebrate Passover with these selections

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Last edited 9:26 a.m., Feb. 20, 2018

Now that Jerusalem has been anointed by some as the capital of Israel, there surely will be more interest in the products of the holy land and, as a corollary, its wines.
Have you ever wondered why the Israel puts so much interest into the possession of the Golan Heights? First and most important, it is the back door to Syria and has immense political and military value. Another reason is that it is the site of some of the oldest, continually operating vineyards in the world. It is from here that the sacrificial wines of the Bible — and most probably the wine that Jesus drank at the Last Supper — were made.
March 31 is the first day of the Jewish celebration of Passover, the reliving and retelling of the miracles that occurred resulting in the exodus of the Hebrew people from their bondage in Egypt. Often celebrated by both Christians and Jews, Passover is inaugurated by two days of feasting and remembrance in which wine is an integral part of the tradition. The beverage of choice is often the super sweet concord grape wine.

Interest in wine has increased exponentially in recent years, so there is no reason that a fine wine cannot be substituted for the uninteresting and uninspiring concord. While there are many wine grape growers on the Golan Heights, the one that is best known in the United States is Yarden.
Yarden 2010 Odem Vineyard Chardonnay ($21)
Here is a wine that displays all of the character and elegance of the fabled chardonnay wines of the burgundies of old. Apples and soft oak mark the aroma with just the faintest hint of citrus. There is oak to be found in this wine, but in delicate and pleasing amounts. The flavor is rich and features a buttery smooth sensation on the palate. There is no rule or reason why a white wine cannot be used as the Passover libation.
Yarden 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon ($31)
This cab is truly a treat. The wine takes on all of the nuances of the classical French Bordeaux chateau-style while maintaining all of the charm of a modern, full-fruit flavor wine. The wine has a deep red-purple color and a sparkling clarity. The aromas are equally as impressive: explosive berry along with oak and wild herbs. Much of these aromas carry over to the flavor along with an earthy component specific to the Golan Heights. The tannins are there, but they are not fierce or over-accentuated as often found in foreign cabs. The wine is drinkable now or can develop even more complexity with a little extra bottle aging.
Mount Hermon 2016 Galilee Moscato ($15)
If a low alcohol sweet wine is called for at the Passover table, this one will positively fit the bill. The Mount Hermon 2016 Galilee Moscato is a unique wine where the beautiful aromas of the moscato grapes are enhanced by a crisp acidity, a light fizz and the sweetness from the natural residual sugar. The bouquet is delicate, accenting aromas of grapefruit, guava, melon, peach, pear and the characteristic orange blossom fragrance of the moscato grape. There also is a fine creamy sparkle on the palate laced with summer fruit followed by a long, ripe peach finish. The low alcohol content makes it an easy and pleasant wine to enjoy.
Yarden Sparkling Blanc de Blanc ($31) and Yarden Sparkling Rose ($40)
Since Passover is a festive occasion, why not employ a festive wine? Both of these quality wines are worth far more than their affordable price tag and will add a touch of regal elegance to the event. Go ahead, give it a try — you may be making history.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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