Passover that big glass of red

Barque Smokehouse Miami Ribs PHOTO: Kevin Hewitt and Jill Chen (

Barque Smokehouse Miami Ribs
PHOTO: Kevin Hewitt and Jill Chen (

The Torah says, “Guard the month of the spring, and make [then] the Passover offering.” Meaning, Jews need to ensure that Passover is celebrated in the spring. In Canada that proclamation was in danger. Had Passover fallen in March, 2014 may just have seen the coming of the apocalypse.

An understanding of the rules and laws that govern wine on Passover is on a need to know basis. There are really just three key variants of information essential to purchasing and consuming on Pesach. This applies to Jews and non-Jews alike.

Number one. Passover wine is specific to a Jew’s level of Kosher. From Reform, to Conservative, to Orthodox, all Jews have different variances of belief. A Reform Jew will likely drink any wine on Passover and then again, may not. But, he or she will almost certainly not require the bottle to be Mevushal. A Conservative may only drink Mevushal but in more cases than not, Kosher is good enough. An Orthodox Jew goes it only one way, or the highway. Strictly Mevushal KFP, do not pass go, do not collect Afikoman (the broken Matzah) money.

I covered the gory and bitter (herb) details in last year’s Passover wine column. “All wines labelled “Kosher for Passover” are kosher, but not all kosher wines are kosher for Passover.”

Related – New wave under $20 wines go kosher for Passover

In 2012 I spent some time on the limiting, frustrating and constipating food component of the ancient Jewish holiday. “Try cooking with and having to eat nothing but Matzo, eggs and oil for eight days.”

Related – KP Duty – Kosher For Passover Wines

Kosher wines migrate bigger and bigger with each passing Lunisolar calendar year and their not so arbitrary inclusion or not of an intercalary month (shanah meuberet – Adar I) added in the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th and 19th years of the 19 year lunar cycle. Israel continues to race towards big, lush, often high alcohol reds. This trend could be seen as a masking or a compensating/mitigating strategy to oppose the rigors and past failings of making Kosher wine. It can also be viewed as a stylistic choice, to mirror what has taken place in Bordeaux, in California and in Australia for the past 20 years.

In Canada, Kosher wine selections are extremely limited. There are smaller, garagiste producers in Israel, especially in the hills surrounding Jerusalem, that are making fresher, less oaked reds, but good luck seeing them on shelves on this side of the ponds. It was refreshing, however, to find the Kosher contingent on the VINTAGES March 1st release to be Israel-focused. In past years the group was dominated by Australia, Italy, France and California. Israel is making the best Kosher wines on the planet. Go figure.

Barque Events offers a full Passover catering menu. View the selections. Here are six big reds and a token white tasted and recommended for the Passover table.

Golan Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Galilee

From left to right: Recanati Chardonnay 2012, Kosher For Passover, Non Mevushal, Upper Galilee, Golan Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Galilee, Galil Mountain Alon 2010, Kosher For Passover, Upper Galilee, Teperberg Family Estate Meritage 2011, Kosher For Passover, Elah Valley, Tabor Earth Series Shiraz 2011, Kosher For Passover, Upper Galilee, Saslove Aviv Marriage 2011, Kosher For Passover, Upper Galilee, Galil Mountain Yiron Kp 2009, Upper Galilee

Recanati Chardonnay 2012, Kosher For Passover, Non Mevushal, Upper Galilee, Israel (128322, $19.95, WineAlign)

Rich, unctuous and viscous. Soft and discreet, more like a modern, New World sketch of a Grenache Rhône-blend than a warm climate Chardonnay. There is little or no affront to this clement and polite Israeli of scant tension or acidity.   Tasted February 2014

Golan Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Kosher For Passover, Galilee, Israel (Vintage Wines – 611152, $26.95, WineAlign)

From winemaker Victor Schoenfeld, the stylish “G” will answer the pecuniary call for just about any Passover feast. Well-rounded, worldly, soft-spoken and generous of fruit. A 100 per cent Cabernet that knows its way around a blackberry, a ripe plum, a bouquet of violets and a chamber of faint tobacco smoke. Lush but not heavy, the only detractor is a slight caramel, oxidative note that indicates near-term consumption, which is basically a given anyway. The finish hints at a lava flow in the direction of the fourth cup, but because this G is so easy to drink, it should be enjoyed while still at the table.  Tasted April 2014

Galil Mountain Alon 2010, Kosher For Passover, Upper Galilee, Israel (354522, $20.95, WineAlign)

Alon makes use of Syrah to create its party mix, to work with 41 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 6 Petit Verdot and 6 Cabernet Franc. Another monster red blend, coming in hot and huge at 15.5 per cent alcohol. For the price, what more can you ask for? Passover may be a four glass exercise but two through four are top ups so it’s really a two glass night. This wine will not ruin your 2nd Seder morning wake-up after consuming a maximum two glasses at the 1st Seder. Rich, mocha berry driven shake, spicy and with non-invasive meaty aromas. Hot, sweet and bothered.  Tasted February 2014  @azureau 

Teperberg Family Estate Meritage 2011, Kosher For Passover, Elah Valley, Israel (157016, $23.95, WineAlign)

Proper Bordeaux aromatics, of tobacco, tea, black currant and grilled meat. Nothing gritty going on here, all four varieties playing a role and hanging together. With good tannins, sweet sinuous and slinky, this is a very versatile Passover red that will also benefit from a year or two in bottle. Better than average value.  Tasted February 2014

Tabor Earth Series Shiraz 2011, Kosher For Passover, Upper Galilee, Israel (356709, $23.95, WineAlign)

In an unusual turn of the earth, this smells like someone dropped a piece of Emmental to melt in the heat upon the must of this Shiraz. It does swirl away and a solid core of red berry remains, though for just a spell. Simple, semi-structured and proper, without hard edges or tannins, but falls quickly. Will work well with many Passover flavours but drink it up in 2014.  Tasted February 2014

Saslove Aviv Marriage 2011, Kosher For Passover, Upper Galilee, Israel (354514, $29.95, WineAlign)

This Aviv consolidates Bordeaux, Piedmont and the Rhône into one complex and perplexing blend within the confines of a single bottle. The Northern Rhône meatiness of the Shiraz stands out firm and at attention, essentially suppressing the Meritage marriage intent and thus renders the wine monochromatic. Still its lively and spicy, ready for the bigger and more pungent foods on the Passover table. The Shiraz might say, “this is a crisis I knew had to come, destroying the balance I’d kept.” The other varieties, meaning Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Nebbiolo are the silent partners in this polygamy of a wine marriage. They play their parts despite the joy division.  Tasted February 2014

Galil Mountain Yiron Kp 2009, Upper Galilee, Israel (95075, $34.95, WineAlign)

The Yiron is a beast but because I am so pleased to see the Kosher feature composed of all Israeli wines (as opposed to Australia, France, Italy, Argentina and Chile) I am focused and ready to work with anything on this table. Despite the 15.5 per cent alcohol and plethora of oak treatment, this blend shines in rich, meaty and anise-spiked flavours. The mix of Cabernet Sauvignon (60 per cent), Merlot (35) and Petit Verdot (5) may seem monstrous but it is not stupidly expensive now and in relation to what it cost in previous vintages ($50). Though certainly not a wine of elegance, grace and restraint, the Yiron pulls no punches and remains true to its warm climate conditions. It is what it is.  Tasted February 2014

Good to go!

Shinny Video, Sidney Crosby and the NHL Playoffs

April 10, 2012


City permit expires, mercurial ice melts, close of shinny season. Beer break, break from beer. Hockey void temporarily filled if only in a heteroclite dream of narrative embroidery. For one weekend in April a miraculous, synergistic trinity. Enmity gauged exodus out of Pharaoh’s desert, the heavenly ascension and an inexplicable blast out of the pine straw at Augusta National. The Paschal Flame, Burning Bush and Amen Corner of Jesus, Moses and Bubba now in the rear view mirror. Attention diverts to round one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The most exciting two weeks in sports television. 

At what twain do Shinny and the NHL meet? Does the amateur Thursday night skater dream of scoring the big goal to send his team to the second round? No. But does he wonder what wine to open when Crosby, Malkin and Fleury face the big bad Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night? Mr. Crosby has been accused of the whine and dive and having a little “punk in him.” Meanwhile, watch here as shinny guy goes five-hole on a Pinot and a CdP.


3630 Pinot Noir, Prince Edward County 2007 may just be the Barnyard Wine Company’s last red. Whites only going forward. No mistaking the lackey to Volnay. Medaille, metallica and silica. Enter Pinot Sandman. Turn the page and despite the nettles and bitter herb of oppression gone biblical on the buds, the black cherry fruit is cheery. Strong bones transition firm and fighting towards wizard chess end game checkmate.  87











Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2001 turns water into wine in a presentation of varietal ephemera. The La Crau plateau galets impart a puckish, stony and smokey cinnamon sensation upon the raspberry-scented fruit. Defends its terrior with Vezina and Norris ability despite costing well below the league average. Has a good five years left in its stride.  92




Good to go!

KP Duty – Kosher For Passover Wines

April 4, 2012


Lent? Forget about it. 12-day cleanses? Whatever. Try cooking with and having to eat nothing but Matzo, eggs and oil for eight days. To a Jew, Matzo is irresistible, consumed with über, hoover fervor and it leads to an awful syndrome. Matzo Belly.

(1998) Dry Bones cartoon: Passover, Pessach, Pesah, Holiday, Shuldig, Yom Kippur, over eating, over weight, dieting

Once a year due diligence calls so the apron goes on. Passover cooking is a science and an art unto itself. It is my form of penitence, tortuous, a culinary desert, horrific like a Fear Factor episode. Charred eggs, Haroseth, Chopped Liver, Kugel, Farfel Stuffing and desserts made with Cake Meal and Matzo Meal. My worst nightmare!

Recommending wines that are Kosher for Passover used to be similarly daunting but the field has certainly improved. Here five choices to get you through four cups, four questions, gamey gefilte and that wafer thin bread that tastes like forty year-old crackers. Be sure to click on the LCBO inventory links because the wines are only available in limited quantities and in specific stores.


ADAR DE ELVIWINES CAVA BRUT KP  (56737, $15.95) and its touch of residual sweetness will aid in the transition from a no beer, no scotch cocktail hour through to the traditional boiled potatoes and salt water. Why not go sparkling for Pesach?

HAFNER GRÜNER VELTLINER KP 2009 (157511, $12.95) is a newbie as far as Kosher for Passover is concerned. Touch of honey and upper level acidity is the key to this food and wallet-friendly Austrian white.

FIVE STONES SAUVIGNON BLANC KPM 2010 (218065, $23.95) may also be Mevushal but this Aussie SB is dry and worth the extra bucks. Beckett’s Flat is the producer of this aromatic beauty.

ELLA VALLEY VINEYARDS EVER RED KP 2007 (687897, $23.95) delivers the goods when the brisket comes to the Seder table. Ella Valley is Israel’s most consistent Kosher producer at a level most can afford. Their straight Merlot is their best but costs $10 more than this Bordeaux Blend.

GALIL MOUNTAIN YIRON KP 2006 (95075, $33.95) is the clear winner in VINTAGES Kosher choices for 2012. Tannins resolved, fruit still shining like the Galilee sun, Cabernet and Merlot lifted by the addition of Syrah.




Good to Go!