Fill Your 4 Cups with Hagafen
By Guest Columnist Eileen Goltz
For those for whom purchasing wine makes them feel like the simple son, the uncomplicated explanation for the difference in wines is:
▪ Red wines are made from black (red) grapes fermented with the skin in the mix. The red skin is what gives the red color to the red wine.
▪ White wines are made from either black (red) or white (green) grapes, fermented without the skin in the mix.
▪ Sparkling wines (which can be made with either white or red grapes) like Asti and Champagne contain carbon dioxide that add the bubbles that we all expect in a sparkling wine. The preferences as to which you will prefer takes time and tasting. Lots and lots of tastings.
A few weeks ago I was able to spend some time with Ernie Weir and his staff, touring and tasting at his Napa Valley, CA winery, Hagafen Cellars. Let me be perfectly clear − this talented vintner doesn’t just make great kosher wines; he makes great, award−winning wines that are kosher. In fact, Hagafen wines are so exceptional, they received numerous awards and terrific reviews from wine critics in papers like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times as well as being selected, on numerous occasions, to be served at the White House.
There are dozens of distinctive wines created at the Hagafen winery and they are sold under three different and distinct labels. They are Hagafen, Prix, and Don Ernesto. I can say, without hesitation or reservation, that every single wine I tasted was wonderful. In the end, after 3 hours of tasting and touring I had to pare my favorites down from 7 to 4 but the 4 wines I’m going to be serving at the Seder (yes I ordered them on the spot) are going to be served at many a meal AFTER Pesach too.
The wines I’m recommending all have a price point range from $24.00 to $36.00 a bottle and are available online at a variety of websites; but for the best selection and immediate shipping, I suggest you order directly from Hagafen at Hagafen.com. Their website is very easy to navigate and in the event you have questions or need further information you can call them at 707.252.0781 and an incredibly knowledgeable staff is ready to spend as much time as you need to get just the right wine for your Seder, Shabbos, special event, or drinking pleasure.
My 4 wines choices for this year’s Seders are (with food parings suggestions for after Pesach):
2009 Hagafen Cabernet Franc (red)
I tasted cherries in this smooth and mellow red with a hint of a currant at the end. This wine is terrific now and I’m convinced that it will be even better in a year or so. Serving this wine with a grilled steak (with a salad and baked potato) or ribs would make a good meal great.
Suggested Price: $36.00
2009 Hagafen Estate Bottled Napa Valley Syrah (red)
This rich and deep flavored wine has a cherry overtone with a subtle chocolate layer that makes this complex flavored wine excellent for just about any part of the meal. Great with appetizers as well as a hearty vegetable soup, chicken, beef and lamb. Made from organically grown grapes.
Suggested Price: $32.00
2012 Hagafen Dry White Riesling Napa Valley (white)
A brightness with grapefruit and Meyer lemon notes float through this dry (but not too dry) very drinkable Riesling. An excellent wine to serve with soup, salad of fish or cheese. Also a wonderful wine to pare with hearty salads, oriental and Mexican dishes .
Suggested Price: $24.00
2011 Hagafen Napa Valley White Riesling (white)
Peaches and apricots with a hint of a Clementine’s sweetness are what impressed me most about this dry-ish wine. A good choice for those who struggle about what type of wine they want to serve with heavier chicken or vegetarian dish. Wonderful with cream or red sauce pasta.
Suggested Price: $24.00
Bonus pick and my favorite:
2006 Prix Reserve Napa Valley Merlot: Vichy Vineyard
This was the most incredibly delicious (and not inexpensive @ $55.00 a bottle) wine I’ve tasted in years. It’s has a deep, smooth chocolaty taste with a hint of cherry. Smooth finish and will compliment any rich beef or lamb meal or as a great stand alone celebratory glass of wine.
And what wine will Ernie Weir be serving at his family Seder? "Either or both our Estate Bottled Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, perhaps one Hagafen and one Prix Reserve. But first, Hagafen Sauvignon Blanc with Gefilte Fish, of course." But, of course!
Meet Ernie Weir, Hafagen Cellars
About the Author
Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer who was born and raised in the Chicago area. She graduated from Indiana University and the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. She lectures on various food-related topics for various newspapers, magazines and websites across the U.S., Canada, and South Africa as well as the OU Shabbat Shalom Website. She is the author of Perfectly Parve Cookbook (Feldheim) and is a contributing writer for the Chicken Soup for the Soul Book Group, Chicago Sun Times, Detroit Free Press and Woman’s World Magazine. You can visit Eileen's blog at CuisinebyEileen.com.
March 6, 2013