Don Ernesto, Hagafen, Recanati
In the Jewish holiday cycle, the Passover Seder provides a setting in which wine is as important as the food, or perhaps maybe even more so. What wines will you drink for the four cups this year? Here are some suggestions. In our opinion, they are exceptional within their category for Passover or any occasion. All prices listed are approximate.
DON ERNESTO WINES
Who would have ever guessed that Don Ernesto is a kosher label—and that the company from which it came is 30 years old? Not KosherEye! The name Don Ernesto, its labels, and especially its wines make us smile. Don Ernesto’s mission says it all: "Good wine shouldn't be complicated, it should be purely about enjoyment: no attitude, no posturing, and no problems.”
So, who is Don Ernesto? None other than Ernie Weir, winegrower and owner of world renowned Hagafen Cellars, located in the Napa Valley in the heart of California's premier wine country. Founded in 1979, Hagafen is owned and operated by Irit and Ernie Weir. The company produces only 8,000 cases of wine per year. Some of its labels, such as Don Ernesto, are available only by direct purchase from Hagafen or by joining one of the Hagafen wine clubs; some labels are distributed to select retailers and restaurants internationally. Hagafen wines have been served to visiting dignitaries on numerous occasions at the White House.
Our “tasting panel” (yes, very difficult job) enjoyed sipping these bright, varietals. They are wonderful, value-priced table wines. A pleasure and a treat! (Prices approximate)
2006 CRESCENDO! The label is colorful, lively, and friendly, the name emphatic. And that is exactly how we would describe this red table wine—perfect for happy occasions, any time, any day. From the vintner: “Crescendo! is all about combining fruit and spice in an explosive combination. It will make you want to finish the bottle and open another.” (We did.) $24
2008 COLLAGE NORTH COAST WHITE TABLE WINE. More “fun in a bottle.” Golden, fruity, medium body, dry friendly, this wine is good to share with family and friends. Once again, we even love the label. $15
2008 NAPA VALLEY VIN GROS ROSE. This pinot noir rosé is a blush that combines a “fruit basket of fun,” including strawberry, lemon, cherry, and pink grapefruit with a hint of cinnamon. The 2007 vintage was awarded 90 points by tastings.com and two stars by the San Francisco Chronicle. $15
2005 HAGAFEN PRIX MELANGE, NAPA VALLEY. The Hagafen Prix wines are made in small lots, with limited availability and noted by many experts for excellence. Several wine experts give this particular wine high scores and consider it a joy to consume. Only 300 cases were produced. It was awarded 93 points by Daniel Rogov; 92 points in the world wine championships, and double gold in the Tasters Guild competition. $75
2006 LATE HARVEST CHARDONNAY. This unique wine is fruity and smooth with a touch of natural sweetness, due to its late harvest. It is a gold-medal winner (Indy International Competition), and was awarded 93 points (exceptional) at the 2008 World Wine Championships. Our tasting panel “loved the wine....fabulous, especially for dessert!” $36 (half bottle)
2009 HAGAFEN LAKE COUNTY WHITE RIESLING. From the organically certified Devoto vineyards, this wine has a light, sweet taste, combining white peach, mandarin, apricot, pineapple, and papaya. Pair it with meals for an aperitif or a bit of sweetness. $18
Recanati is an artisan winery founded by Lenny Recanati, fulfilling his lifelong dream of connecting the land of Israel with his passion for fine wine. Today, the Recanati winery is the 6th largest winery in Israel. The wines are available worldwide.
Recanati Yasmin wines are delightful. Produced in Israel, the Yasmin line is once again going to be on our Passover table. The taste and quality of both the white and the red are on par with costlier choices and both are value priced. Yasmin wines are mevushal (boiled, therefore kosher no matter who serves it) and have become popular choices for large receptions and events.
RECANATI YASMIN RED. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Shiraz is light, fruity, medium-bodied, and versatile. $11
RECANATI YASMIN WHITE. This blend of Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Colombard is medium-bodied, refreshing, and fruity. It pairs well with appetizers, poultry, fish, and vegetarian entrees. $11
Recanati also offers some exceptional, collectible wines and we have selected three to share:
CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE 2007. We have recently tried this superb wine. This full-bodied red is fine to drink now, but according to the winemaker, it “should age well over the next decade.” This is one to collect and store. $25
PETITE SIRAH RESERVE 2006. This is another exceptional choice from Recanati, made from select grapes from the slopes of the upper and lower Galilee. Perfect with rich stews and hearty dishes. Decant one hour before drinking and serve at cool room temperature. $26
DIAMOND SERIES ROSE is an enjoyable, very light choice, on the sweet side. Pair it with fish, poultry and vegetarian appetizers. We think that it is perfect to pack for a spring picnic–even if you’re eating matzoh sandwiches. $15
As we drink the four glasses at our Seders we relive our past and pray for renewed peace, spiritual growth, unity, and freedom for the Jewish people everywhere.
*Kiddush Cup, The Jewish Museum, New York
Ottoman Empire, 1803 (date of inscription)
Gift of Loretta Kaufman in memory of her mother, Marga Samoje, 1999-48a-c