Wine writing is something that I take pleasure in ordinarily. It allows me to crystallize my thoughts about whatever topic it is that I am writing about. If I happen to be writing about specific bottles, as opposed to a general topic, it actually helps me to commit the notes to memory – as well as the circumstances in which they were tasted – whether they be a winery visit, a festival, or a wine dinner. And therein lies the reason I have not written these last few weeks. These are times that I really would rather forget.
We are all living in a surreal period. While Pesach (Passover) is a time where families and friends come together, this year, many of us will be spending the holiday with only our nuclear families. I consider myself lucky in that regard. We are six – with my wife, three daughters and my son, and we have been treating the last few weeks as a bonding experience. There are many seniors and singles who will be by themselves. And even they are lucky, as many families have suffered tragic losses these last few weeks. On top of that, the hospitality sector, which includes the food and wine industry, is perhaps the hardest hit outside of the airlines – and I count many winemakers, restaurateurs, and cooks among my friends who are having a very difficult time. And so, these are times that I would rather forget than commit to memory.
Having said that, a number of people have written to me asking me to post a Pesach wine list. As in previous years, I will leave that to my friends David Raccah and Yossie Horwitz, each of whom has published their picks for purchases this year. Instead – what I will try to do is provide some sort of strategy for the unique situation we are in.
Regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in, we have a commandment to drink the four cups at the Seder – and the Seder is supposed to be a festive meal. As most of us are likely having scaled back Sedarim with fewer participants this year, an adjustment is likely necessary in the number of wines we open over the course of the meal. And so I will give you my strategies depending on how many bottles you intend on opening. In general though, I tend to stick with lighter bottles, as there is a lot to drink, eat and much to discuss -so Rosés and Pinot Noirs usually for the center of attraction.
1 Bottle Seder
If it will just be one or two people celebrating – one bottle may very well do it. In that case, you want to go with something that will be universally drinkable and refreshing, regardless of which point in the evening you are drinking. Taking into account the requirement that the wine be red, I would recommend going with the fabulous new NV Drappier, Rosé de Saignee, Champagne – the bubbles keep it lively while the heft of this wine make it appropriate to have even with a main dish and beyond.
2 Bottle Seder
Whenever you have more than one bottle, I would suggest the first be a Rosé. This year the Rosés haven’t been up to par overall IMHO – still there are a couple of really nice options. If you are only drinking one Rosé, then one of my favorites is the 2019 Recanati Gris de Marselan. In case you don’t have access to that bottle, this year the regular baseline 2019 Recanati Rose is also highly recommend. For the second bottle, I would likely move to a Pinot Noir. Vitkin puts out a really nice Pinot each year and the 2018 would make an excellent choice.
3 Bottle Seder
Again, I’d start with a Rosé. The 2019 Vitkin Israeli Journey Pink is a winner. For the Pinot, the 2017 Jean Philippe Marchand Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Nuits is an excellent choice and is hitting its stride right now. The 2019 Covenant Israel Rosé is wonderful selection to bat clean up, with just a hint of sweetness to close out the evening.
4 bottle seder
If your nuclear family is big enough to handle it – or you simply want to drink the night away (in my case both) – then here are my choices for a full blown Seder lineup- and this is what I will be drinking. First bottle will, of course, be Rosé. One of my favorites this years is the 2019 Cantina Giuliano Costa Toscana Rosato. Absolutely in the top five for this season. Light, tart, bright, and refreshing. An excellent way to open the evening. Gvaot is known for putting out a wonderful Pinot Noir year in and year out. This year, though, the 2018 Gvaot Gofna Reserve Pinot Noir is on another level. It is absolutely the most varietally true PN that Gvaot has put out to date. For the third cup, back to Rose – sort of – with the 2018 Ya’acov Oryah Pretty as the Moon Yes, it’s a 2018. Why am I still drinking it even though we are a year later? Because it was originally mean to be a Blanc de Noir that just came out pink instead of white – and so I have no problem bending the rules a bit here. It should have actually gained a bit of complexity and depth and therefore will not be drinking like a Rosé at all but more like the BdN it was meant to be. If you are lucky enough to still be holding, it should be a treat. For the last cup, I like to finish off sweet – and send myself to the stratosphere a little – and so I end with a port. This year it will be the 2012 Netofa LBV which is just a beautiful port style wine.
So there you have it. Hopefully, the news of the last few days that the virus may have peaked both in Israel and in the NY metro area is true, and we can begin took forward to a return to normalcy in the near future.
Wishing you all a HEALTHY Chag Kasher V’Sameach.