Seder 2022

Matar, Rose, 2021; Ya'acov Oryah, SOB, 2017; Rose du Castel, 2021; Netofa, Fine Ruby, NV;

Finally, things in Israel at least have basically returned to normal. The airport is fully open, and people citizens and tourists alike are free to come and go as they please. Incredible!

As I try to do each year, I will give you my strategy for wine selection for the Seder. If you are looking for a Pesach wine buying guide – this is NOT it. My friends Yossie Horwitz and David Raccah take care of that each year, and between them you are getting choices that are varied enough to fit every palate. Instead, this post will just focus on what I personally plan on drinking with my guests.

My strategy remains the same. For the first cup, I stick to a nice rosé, one which is light and refreshing and a great way to start the night. My second cup, which leads into the meal, is usually either a Pinot Noir or another wine that is not too heavy yet complements the food being served during the meal. For the third cup, coming right after the meal, I go back to rosé as a palate cleanser. Luckily, the 2021 vintage is shaping up to be FAR more successful than the 2020 vintage was, and there are some nice rosés to choose from. For the final cup, I go with a port-style wine – it basically closes the night for me on a sweet note and with that extra alcohol makes the singing at the end of the Seder that much more enjoyable. As I can finally host guests for a Yom Tov meal, the other criterion was that I have multiples of each bottle of any wine I serve so that everyone at the table can enjoy the same wines. So here we go:

First Cup

Matar, Rosé, 2021 – A blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Counoise, this salmon-colored rosé comes in at a beautifully light 11% ABV – perfect for the first cup when drinking on an empty stomach. The nose has light notes of red berry, lemon, and hints of crème fraiche. In the mouth you get raspberry, grapefruit, and some nice bitter pith at the end. The fruit is expressive, but the acid keeps it in check. Really enjoyed this one and my favorite rosé of the season so far. A very nice bottle indeed. 91

Second Cup

Ya’acov Oryah, SOB, 2017 – I have written about this wine a few times now. It is a blend of 22% Grenache, 21% Petite Sirah, 20% Carignan, 19% Pinot Noir, and 18% Syrah.  It is drinking beautifully now with tannin that has integrated, acid still present. Some of that cherry has come back, but it not over the top now and instead fits right in with the dark plum, excellent rich chocolate, tobacco, all with a nice earthiness  that has asserted itself. Pretty sure the wine is at peak now – and I look forward to having it at the Seder with the meal consisting of a nice chicken dish as well as Raccah’s famous brisket. 90+

Third Cup

Rosé du Castel, 2021 – As always, this wine is a blend of Merlot, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc. On the nose, we have nice red berries – mostly strawberries. In the mouth, while I usually find this wine lacking flavor, the 2021 vintage has no such problem. Excellent tart red berries, wonderful citrus, and great acidity. Really nice and balanced at 12.5%.  A great way to keep things lively after that huge meal. 90

Fourth Cup

Netofa, Fine Ruby, NV – This is another wine I have written about many times and drink often. A traditional blend of 80% Touriga Nacional and 20% Tempranillo, the wine comes in at a rocking 20% ABV. On the nose, prunes, raisins, chocolate, sweetened berries, ginger, and nutmeg. In the mouth, we have luscious dried fruit – mostly prunes and raisins but also some candied cherry with incredible rich chocolate, baking spice, a little bit of leather, and some sweet tobacco way off in the background of the mix. In terms of baseline ports, they really don’t make them any better. This will make for a wonderful end to the Seder. 91+

I hope you all enjoy your Seders as much as I plan to.

Chag Kasher V’Sameach!

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