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Kosher Cabernet Comes of Age


Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely planted red wine grape in the world.  Cabernet dominates the Bordeaux appellation of France, home of the most prized wines in the world and it has the fortitude to thrive in almost every wine growing region.  The tannins allow for extended aging potential and it often takes five to seven years from release for a Cabernet to show off all its flavors and complexity.

The quality of kosher Cabernet has been growing exponentially over the past decade, mirroring the increasing demand for fine wine from the observant community.  Napa Valley and the wine growing regions of Israel produce Cabernet Sauvignon with complexity and character that have been recognized by critics and lauded in mainstream wine publications.  Covenant is widely considered the finest kosher wine in the United States and receives scores from Robert Parker that are the envy of non-kosher winemakers.  B.R. Cohn’s limited release earlier this year was an instant best seller and received overwhelming praise from kosher wine lovers.

Other grapes are frequently blended with Cabernet to add additional subtleties that might otherwise be overshadowed by the powerful grape.  For example, the traditional Bordeaux consists of a blend of Cabernet and a combination of one or more of the following grapes: Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Carmenere and Malbec.

There are a variety of taste characteristics that are ascribed to Cabernet Sauvignon, depending on the region and wine maker’s style, including: black cherry, blackberry, oak, vanilla, leather, olive, bell pepper, earthy, cedar, tobacco, black currant, wood, and spice.

I wanted to share some recommendations and tasting notes from a recent tasting of a few kosher Cabernet wines from California and Israel:

2007 Barkan Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Galilee); $24. Twenty months in French oak yields a complex wine with raspberry and black cherry, vanilla and toast and a long finish.

2006 Herzog Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa); $30. This fruit forward wine is aged for 18 months in oak and is showing concentrated blackberry and plum flavors with toasty oak.

2007 Weinstock Cellar Select Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa); $23. A soft and easy to drink Cabernet with black cherry blackberry and tobacco notes against a gentle oak background.

2007 Binyamina Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Galilee); $20. Aged 18 months in French oak, this is a dark, full-bodied berry heavy wine with some punch.

2006 Carmel Appellation Cabernet Sauvignon (Galilee); $22. Aged for 14 months in French oak, this is a rich red with plum, blackberry and cherry flavors leading to a smooth finish.