It’s not as high-profile as Hannukah or Yom Kippur, but Purim might be the best Jewish holiday of all. Sure, it celebrates the deliverance of the chosen people from Persia, but for most modern-day Jews it’s all about eating, drinking, and making merry. The festivities kick off tomorrow, so how about a lovely kosher wine to pair with your Purim feast.
There’s no denying that decent kosher wine is hard to come by. Those of Galil Mountain winery, located on the slopes of Upper Galilee, include the usual: a Chard, a Pinot, a Cab. But what distinguishes these — or the reds, at least — from other bottlings is a complete lack of oak. In other words, the winemaker forgoes barrel aging, which results in a pure expression of fruit.
The 2007 Pinot Noir ($18) is made from hand-harvested grapes (they grow on a craggy part of the mountain, difficult to negotiate by machine) and is fermented using natural yeasts. It’s full of cherry and plum flavors with notes of leather, moss, and clay — like all good Pinots should be. Surprisingly, it snows atop those mountains, and Pinot Noir thrives in such harsh weather.
The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($15) won’t please those who are accustomed to big California Cabs. It’s so juicy and fruity that you’d be hard pressed (no pun intended) to guess the varietal. Earth, stone fruit, and candy aromas permeate this wine, which is surprisingly light in body.
The winemaker, Micha Vaadia likes a hand-off approach in an effort, he says, to remain “unpretentious.” On a recent trip to New York, he was asked about difficult vintages in recent years. “2006 was a difficult vintage,” he responded. “Mostly because of the war with Hezbollah. We couldn’t work in the vineyards for a month. But we were lucky: we were able to harvest the Pinot Noir two days after the war ended.” We’ll drink to that.