March 30, 2009

Keeping it Kosher - Wines for Passover


In order for a wine to be kosher, it must be created under a rabbi's immediate supervision, with only Sabbath-observant Jewish males touching the grapes from the crushing phase through the bottling. While all wines require some sort of mold (yeast) for fermentation, kosher for Passover wine must be made from a mold that has not been grown on bread (such as sugar or fruit) and must exclude several common preservatives. All Israeli wines are Kosher for Passover and most (but not all) kosher wines are kosher for Passover. To be sure, check the label for the P. (from

Passover is quickly approaching and while I am by no means an expert on Kosher wines, I have tried quite a few and thought I'd pass along some reliable choices that are also budget friendly. There are a lot of online resources for Kosher wines these days and I've included a few links at the bottom so you may browse at your leisure.


hagafenSB.jpgHagafen Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2008 $17
On the nose, this highly aromatic Sauvignon Blanc shows pineapple, key lime, and mandarin orange. This bracing, mouth-watering wine fills the palate with a well integrated and creamy mix of apricot, citrus, grapefruit, and tangelo. This Sauvignon Blanc is produced from a well-established vineyard in the Eastern foothills of the Napa Valley, where the hot days and cool nights are ideal for creating crisp, clean, long-finishing food friendly wine. (from Wine Chateau)

recanatiChard07.jpgRecanati Chardonnay 2007 $16
This Chardonnay was made from Upper Galilee Chardonnay vineyards and aged sur lies, a technique used to produce wines that are buttery, complex and rich in flavor. These Chardonnay grapes were harvested in the earlymorning hours in Recanati's Upper Galilee vineyards at Kibbutz Manara and Kerem Ben Zimra, at the foothills of Meron mountain. These well-nurtured and quality vineyards, with their high quality low crop load, are characterized by scents and flavors of white flowers, grapefruit, pineapple and tropical fruit. The wine remained with its sediment and developed flavors and scents of vanilla, butter and toasted bread that combined with the wine's fruit flavors and full, robust body. (from Astor Wines & Spirits)

galil_voig_LRG.jpgGalil Mountain Viognier 2006 $13
Bright, golden straw-like color. Peach, ripe apricot and orange peel aroma with a refreshing blossom-like fragrance and hints of oakand butter characters. A medium-to-full bodied wine with balanced and gentle acidity and a long, pleasant finish. 60% of the wine underwent cold fermentation in stainlesssteel, with the remaining 40% fermented in new French oak barrels.The barrel-fermented wine aged on yeast lees for six months. The cold fermentation enabled the wine to preserve the variety's fresh characters, while wood and yeast characters were added to the barrel-fermented wine. (from

herzogChenin07.jpgBaron Herzog 2007 Clarksburg Chenin Blanc 2007 $8
Looking for a dry but soft, easy-drinking white wine that everyone can enjoy? Nice clean flavors with hints of melon, stone fruits, and savory herbs are wrapped in a smooth, medium-bodied package that is delicious on its own, but will also pair beautifully with a wide range of lighter foods. A terrific everyday white wine that's also easy on the wallet. (from The Wine Country)


galilpinot.jpgGalil Mountain Pinot Noir 2006 $17
Perfumed and silky with typical aromas of wild berries, violets and hints of tobacco and oak. Aged for 10 months in French oak barrels. Delicate and well balanced with an elegant structure and a fresh pleasant finish. (from

gamlamerlot.jpgGamla Merlot 2006 $17
Gamla Merlot was produced from Merlot and a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon, all grown in the Golan Heights. The cool climate, rocky volcanic soil and high altitude are ideal conditions for growing these classic varieties. Aging in oak barrels, mostly French with a bit of American, rounds out the berry floral and spice characters in this approachable and elegant Merlot. (from

golanCab.jpgGolan Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 $13
The Golan Cabernet Sauvignon offers ripe berry and plum fruit notes rounded out with rich vanilla, spice and oak. This aromatic, medium-bodied wine finishes off with loads of fruit. Although immediately approachable, it will age well over the next five years or so. We recommend drinking it with boldly-flavored foods, such as spice-rubbed well-marbled grilled steak or eggplant parmesan made with plenty of fresh herbs. The fruit comes from several vineyards in the central Golan Heights. The wine aged for six months in American oak barrels. (from

tishbiPS.jpgTishbi Cabernet Petite Sirah 2007 $10
Cabernet Petit Syrah Dry red wine Appelation: Zichron Yaakov & Kfar Tavor This young, refreshing wine is made of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah grapes. Fruity and fresh, it carries an aroma of strawberries and herbs. (from

Other great resources:
Kosher Wine Society
Online Kosher Wine

Main bottle image via Giora's Kosher Food Blog

Noël Wallace Permalink social bookmarking

March 24, 2009

Hermanos de Villar Ipsum Verdejo 2007

ipsumverdejo.jpgVARIETAL: Verdejo
REGION: Rueda, Spain
PRICE: $13

After a lovely morning hike through a desert preserve, the dashing Mr. CheapFunWines and I decided to spend our rare, kid-less Saturday afternoon meandering through Central Phoenix, exploring the fun and funky shops we would otherwise avoid with our 3-year-old in tow. And so we decided early on that our afternoon pilgrimage of all things "grown-up" must end at a wine bar.

We chose Postino--mostly because I was hungry for good panini--but were disappointed that the Postino Central location had yet to open. So, bellies rumbling we headed for Arcadia and the original Postino location, located in the old Arcadia post office building.

Since this isn't CheapFunRestaurants, I'll skip the lengthy description of the atmosphere and menu, except to note that we loved the casual vibe and lovely patio (where we found our perch) and though the menu is limited to panini, bruschetta, salads and a few appetizers, everything we tasted is excellent. As for the wine list, the by-the-glass list is diverse and interesting, and the bottle selections are displayed on racks as you enter the restaurant. You can browse those at your leisure and the knowledgeable and friendly wait staff is eager to assist in decision making. Glass prices are a little steep for my taste, unless you go between 11 am and 4 pm (every day) when glasses are only $5.

I chose the verdejo because it was a hot day and I thought it might be a lovely complement to the vegetarian panini... And I was not disappointed. In the glass it has a clear green-gold hue. Grass and citrus blossom and lime are the initial aromas that yield to crisp green-apple freshness and soft stone fruit and melon undertones on the palate. I love how the clean, vibrant energy of the Ipsum plays with soft, fruity delicacy and finishes with a clean, herbaceous zing. Pretty refined for a simple Spanish white.

Noël Wallace Permalink social bookmarking

March 20, 2009

Swanky meets Rummage Sale - Wine Enthusiast Scratch 'n' Dent Cellars

031909_Scratch_Dent_23.jpgIf you are in the market for a wine fridge, now just might be the time to buy. If you're a bargain hunter and and don't mind a slightly imperfect model (we've all shopped at TJ Maxx, right?) then check out the Scratch 'n Dent sale at Wine Enthusiast. You can peruse the outlet options via the link below--prices range from $329 to $4495--then call the 800-number and mention the code for scratch 'n dent savings:

What are Scratch 'n' Dent Cellars?
Scratch 'n' Dent Wine Cellars are like-new units that may have some cosmetic flaws but are guaranteed to work perfectly and include the full manufacturer's warranty. Prior to purchase, we'll provide you with a concise description of the cellar's blemishes.
Call a Wine Storage Consultant today and find out about additional savings on Scratch 'n' Dent cellars. Mention code
E0309C. 800.377.3330

Via Wine Enthusiast

Noël Wallace Permalink social bookmarking

March 11, 2009

Wine Cube South Australia Shiraz 2007

Once again, the dashing Mr. CheapFunWines and I were enticed by the lure of novelty and a cheap price tag. Since our previous experience with the Wine Cube (the Sauvignon Blanc) was pretty positive, we decided to give a red a try. In deciding which red to try, it was mutually understood that often cheap shiraz is marginally more appealing than say, cheap cab or merlot (why, I don't know... I think we were trying to give purpose to something rather arbitrary). And there ends our agreement on the subject.

While Mr. CFW found the shiraz to be bold and spicy with generous fruit, I rather found it to be a bit lacking. I'll admit it smelled pretty good... the promise of ripe dried berries and spice, but the little flavor I got when I first tasted it, virtually disappeared on on my palate before I could identify any interesting characteristics. I kept trying, though... sip after sip, swirling, slurping and praying for something even remotely distinctive to report. I gave up when my first glass was empty.

I will concede that it wasn't unpleasant. It just wasn't particularly flavorful, which is something I find desirable, even in cheap wine. The price tag, $14.99 for the equivalent of 4 bottles, is certainly a great selling point and I think for a big bash, or for the novice wine drinker this is a good buy. Perhaps we should have tried a blend.

If you're interested, you can find it--and an assortment of other flavors-- at your local Target. I think I'll let Mr. CFW polish this one off while I dig into my order from My Wines Direct.

Noël Wallace Permalink social bookmarking

March 9, 2009

Epicuro Vermentino 2007

epiVermentino.jpgVARIETAL: Vermentino
REGION: Lazio, Italy

Well it isn't the most interesting of the Italian Vs (Vernaccia, Verdichio, etc) but the Epicuro Vermentino is pretty pleasant for $4.99. Hailing from Lazio, which is the region containing Rome that geographically makes up the shin of the boot, all of the depth of this wine is in the aromatics-- bright melon and floral notes are abundant, layered with ripe stone fruit and just a hint of citrus. But the flavor profile is a bit more shallow. On the palate this Vermentino hints at the flavors that you associate with the aromas, but it never quite makes it to the party. Still, it is light and bright and pleasant. There is certainly nothing bad about this one and I think, for the money, it would make a lovely summer party wine. Stock up at your local Trader Joe's or wherever you can find Epicuro wines.

Noël Wallace Permalink social bookmarking
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