Toast 5779 - Wines for the New Year
As we head toward the Jewish holiday season, we will be sharing suggestions for wines to pair and enjoy with Yom Tov meals. We start our series with Covenant.
Jeff Morgan of Covenant Winery provided us with a few of his favorite wines for tasting. The company offers wines in the splurge category of $150 + along with more affordable vintages from $20-$40. We requested wines in the latter price range, and think that they are exceptional wines to consider for your holiday table.
After an 8 year writing stint at Wine Spectator magazine, which included an assignment to write about kosher wines, Jeff Morgan went on to found the much acclaimed Covenant Winery,
When writing for the magazine, Jeff often wrote about kosher wines and learned that they can be made just like non-kosher wine—no boiling or sweetness required. Both he and vintner Leslie Rudd decided that “with top-notch Napa Valley Cabernet, they could produce the greatest kosher wine in 5,000 years.” The two colleagues decided to give it a try.
Jeff and Leslie are both Jewish, but neither was Sabbath-observant. To keep Covenant kosher, the partners needed a fully Sabbath-observant crew in their cellar. Jeff believed that Herzog Wine Cellars, in southern California, was the only California winery with a kosher cellar crew able to follow his winemaking protocols. Nathan Herzog agreed to help, and in doing so, changed Leslie’s and Jeff’s lives profoundly. Not only did they begin to make kosher wine, but they were also drawn closer to their Jewish heritage—in spirit and in practice.
From the very beginning, Covenant was critically acclaimed by such reviewers as Robert Parker and Wine Spectator. In 2014, Jeff and his wife Jodie decided it was time to build a new urban winery in Berkeley, California, close to their vineyards. The 7,000-square foot winery is now situated in a neighborhood that is also home to other urban wineries and breweries. Across the street is an organic farm and Jewish cultural center called Urban Adamah. In Yiddish, this would be described as “beshert”—meant to happen.
In 2013, Jeff expanded the company, and teamed up with Israeli/American winemaker Ari Erle—to create Covenant Israel. Today Covenant is the only American winery making wine in both California and Israel.
We have included our personal thoughts about these wines, as well as some professional tasting notes from Covenant. Enjoy!
We tasted Covenant Israel BLUE C Viognier.. “a vintage created from one of the premiere white grapes from France’s Rhone Valley, Viognier, and now from the hills of the northern Galilee” We found it fruity and refreshing and think that it makes a lovely pairing with appetizers or poultry. C Viognier ($28)
Covenant Israel BLUE C Adom ($40) is modeled after the RED C wines made at Covenant California, “A blend of Syrah and Cabernet, the wine offers easy-drinking enjoyment in its youth; but can also age well.” We found this wine exceptional—served alongside a grilled rib steak. ($40)
Covenant - California
The Tribe® wines are made with a flash-détente technique which allows flash-heating grapes straight out of the vineyard. The wine itself is never heated.. The Tribe® Proprietary Red 2016 is sourced from a single vineyard in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley. This is a velvety blend of Syrah, Petite Syrah and Zinfandel all picked together and co-fermented, showing elegant, ripe red fruit flavors highlighted in silky tannins. Rated 93 points by Wine Enthusiast ($38)
The Covenant Mensch Roussanne 16 (Don’t you love the name?) is a crisp, light white wine – with hints of fruit, citrus and jasmine, sourced in Lodi California. The 2016 is said to be its best year yet, at a very affordable price ($20).
Congrats to Covenant winemaker Jonathan Hajdu for just being selected one of Wine Enthusiasts 40 under 40 tastemakers of the year!
For more information, see our previous article about Covenant wines HERE: THE COVENANT KITCHEN