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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

As the beginning of April approaches every year, it is not only accountants who find themselves in an annual crunch. The month between Purim and Pesach is the busiest period of the year for those who work in the ever-growing kosher wine industry. Wine producers and importers rush to get their new wines on the market, and many wine merchants will sell more kosher wine during this four-week period than they sell in the other 48 weeks of the year combined.

In the past six weeks, to prepare for my Pesach wine writing, I’ve tasted in excess of 300 wines. Some were unbelievably good, while others were barely potable, and so many were just simply forgettable. Here though are four wines that stuck out in my memory during the tastings, all of which are worth seeking out.

Domaine d’Ardhuy, Les Combottes, Ladoix, Grand Vin de Bourgogne, 2014: With a medium-to-full body and ruby color this delightful burgundy, made from Pinot Noir grapes grown in the Les Combottes vineyard, has a lot to offer. Look for an herbal, flowery bouquet with notes of cherries, currants and rhubarb. Flavors of cherries and currants play against an earthy backbone, with a mild bit of spice on the finish. Well structured, with an abundance powdery tannins, this wine is ready to drink from release until at least the end of the decade. One of the best kosher burgundies I’ve ever tasted. Score A/A- ($59.99. Available in very small quantities directly from the importer, www.liquidkosher.com.)

Recanati, Wild Carignan, Reserve, Judean Hills, 2014: This full-bodied, dark-purple-colored wine was made from Carignan grapes grown in a non-irrigated vineyard on vines that were planted more than three decades ago. The nose is complex with notes of cherries, cranberries, blackberries and oak, with an intriguing whiff of Earl Grey tea. Look for flavors of cherries, cassis, blackberries, cranberries, plums and espresso, with notes of anise and allspice all built upon an earthy, oaky background. Well balanced, with powerful-yet-supple tannins, this wine should drink well until 2022 or 2023. Score A-. ($64.99. Available at FillerUp Kosher Wines, 174 West Englewood Ave, Teaneck, 201-862-1700)

Covenant, Neshama, Sonoma County, 2014: While Covenant Wines has focused almost exclusively on varietal wines, their new Neshama blend is a truly delightful departure. A cuvée of 60% Petit Verdot, 25% Malbec and 15% Syrah, this dark-garnet-colored, full-bodied wine has a luxurious bouquet of cherries, plums, raspberries, bramble and oak, with just a whiff of mellow tobacco. The flavor has elements of cherries, blackberries, plums, cranberries and cassis with an intriguing note of menthol towards the back of the palate. Look for a flavor undertone of chocolate and oak. Well structured, with an abundance of powdery tannins, the wine is approachable now, but still needs a bit more time in the bottle. Best 2018-2022 or longer. Score A-. ($72.00. Available only from the winery, www.covenantwines.com)

Louis Blanc, Crozes-Hermitage, 2014: Louis Blanc has long been one of France’s better kosher negociants/winemakers; unfortunately, their wines are not frequently imported into the US. However, recently Monsieur Touton has begun importing a handful of Louis Blanc wines, including this very enjoyable Crozes-Hermitage. Garnet colored and medium bodied, this delightful Syrah was made from grapes grown in the northern end of the Rhône Valley. Look for flavors and aromas of cherries, blueberries, black pepper and smoke, with a rich earthy element and just a hint of pastrami. Drink now until the end of the decade. Not widely distributed, so I could not find any stores already selling this wine in Northern New Jersey, but it is available across the Hudson. Score B+ ($29.99. Available at Heights Chateau, 123 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn,
718-330-0963)

Wines are scored on an “A”-“F” scale where “A” is excellent, “B” is good, “C” is flawed, “D” is very flawed, and “F” is undrinkable. Prices listed reflect the price at the retailer mentioned.

By Gamliel Kronemer