Monday, January 18, 2021

At our first-ever Jewish Link Zoom wine tasting, I was pleasantly surprised to find my wine-tasting friends ready and able to adapt to our current reality: to taste a few 2019 rosé wines en masse with an eye to help curate, in a small way, our community’s wine choices. We tasted three wines together and had the opportunity to share thoughts on other recently released kosher rosés. It was almost like being together!

The tasting could not have happened without the help of Mendy Mark of Teaneck’s FillerUp Wines (thank you!). Mendy helped create an affordable package of three wines that each taster could order from the store, before our tasting, and have delivered to their homes. It was an absolute pleasure to have six couples join the tasting, and, as always, their palates and words were as on target and insightful as they are in person. While we were limited by the pricepoint of a tasting in which each participant (or pair) had to make a duplicate wine purchase, we did our best to choose a variety of wines, in the areas of region, style and color.


We were unfortunately prevented from tasting any French wines (specifically from Provence, the birthplace of the classic rosé, that accounts for 75% of their wine production) because of higher price points. We also discussed several other wines that some tasters had tried in recent weeks, which I then tasted on my own. I added them to the article toward the end, to give a slightly wider perspective on the 2019 rosé landscape. Also, with thanks to Royal Wines’ Gabriel Geller, I received 2019 pinks from Netofa (Israel), Château Roubine (France/Provence) and Elvi Herenza (Spain) shortly before our print deadline, so I will work to include those in a later article.

First we tasted a California wine, the Herzog Lineage Rosé 2019, which retails for $18.99 (case price $17.09). This wine generated the most passionate discussion of the tasting. Best served ice-cold, this refreshing ever-so-slightly-pale-pink wine was all fruit, with a thin viscosity and no dryness at all. The wine boasts a nose of peach, ripe strawberry and cotton candy. “It reminds me of the sparkling Kedem peach grape juice, but without the bubbles,” said Ari.

“There was no loser in this lineup, but compared to the others, some might find this wine sweet and a little flabby,” said Greg.

Daphna answered back that this wine had already found an enthusiastic audience with the younger (21 and over, of course) attendees of our tasting, as curious adult children checked out our Zoom meeting and tasted the new wines. “It’s a great choice for people who don’t have a lot of experience with different kinds of wines. It’s a perfect entry-level rosé for people who are partial to the Bartenura blue bottle,” said Daphna. “It’s simple, but sometimes you don’t need more than that. Perfect for summer. Drink it really cold, outside,” she added.

Though many wine lovers prefer rosé to be bone-dry and generally would pooh-pooh such a fruity wine, all of us agreed the wine was immensely drinkable and fun. “Rosé needs to be fun, so this fits that qualification,” said Greg. The group also felt this wine could be consumed as an aperitif, without food, or to round off a meal, as part of dessert, added Chana. This was the only wine in our tasting that was mevushal.

Next, we tasted the Italian Cantina Giuliano Rosato 2019 ($18.99, case price $17.09), a product of a very small family-owned kosher vineyard in Tuscany. This beautiful slightly-darker-than-a-ballet-slipper wine was the undisputed winner of the tasting. It has a lovely nose of cherry, berry and citrus, with slight dryness and “a much different mouthfeel, more robust and with a bit more oomph” when compared to the Herzog, said Ari (there were two Aris attending our tasting). Some notes of red grapefruit were detected by Shannon as well, and all described the smooth, easy finish. The taste, while initially pleasing, grew even better as the wine warmed up slightly.

Finally, we tasted the Israeli Tabor Adama Rosé 2019. While this wine was the same price as the other two ($18.99 with a case price of $17.09) this was the most sophisticated and multidimensional wine of our tasting, and it had the darkest color of all the wines in the tasting. A deep pink and very pretty. For Greg, it called to mind a Recanati rosé made with Barbera grapes that came out in 2006, during the war with Lebanon. Tabor’s advertising materials indicated that the grapes for this limited-production rosé were grown in a specially cultivated plot of only Barbera grapevines in the Ramat Sirin vineyard. The Barbera grapes may explain the different experience we had with the nose and mouthfeel, which was richer and had some spice notes, herby or with a whisper of vanilla, along with the more traditional notes of cherry, raspberry and grapefruit, with refreshing acidity and some nice dryness. We wondered whether this wine, like Covenant Red C’s Rosé 2019 ($35.00), could possibly be aged in oak, which is something not traditionally done with rosés. An email to Royal’s Geller, however, indicated that this was not the case.

On to the wines not part of our Zoom tasting: Several of the group had tasted the Dalton Rosé 2019 ($17.99) and Ari, in particular, found it to be miles higher in quality and enjoyability yet less expensive than most others. I immediately set out to taste it. The most gorgeous nose of any rosé I tried this season, the Dalton has a truly intoxicating scent of passionfruit, lemon and green herbs. It is definitely higher on the acidity scale than many of the others, and certainly one of the bigger Israeli rosé triumphs of the season, certainly for its price. As it warmed up, the acidity mellowed out, the finish became smoother and the wine was just fast going down.

The Dalton is likely only beaten, in flavor, quaffability and finish, by the higher-priced Bat Shlomo Rosé 2019 ($29.99, with a case price of $26.99). I enjoyed the Bat Shlomo at my Pesach Seder. While it’s significantly more expensive than the kosher rosés we tried, it’s a lovely cool wine with notes of strawberry and citrus, with a real punch of flavor, but delivered with lightness, acidity and loveliness that befits the higher price. Bat Shlomo is known for elevating white wines and this one is no exception.

Mendy Mark also mentioned his favorite rosé of the year had been the Lueria Rosé 2019 ($17.99), imported by Red Garden, FillerUp’s in-house importer. I found it to be medium bodied, eminently drinkable, with a nose full of tropical fruit like pineapple, and with a more bracing and sustained acidity than most of the others I’ve tasted of the 2019 vintage, and a more fruity finish. This wine is one of the only rosés in this tasting that share the breakdown of the grapes, other than Tabor’s 100% Barbera. The Lueria, made in the Galilee, is 40% Barbera, 30% Sangiovese and 30% Pinot Grigio.

Two other wines I didn’t have a chance to taste were the Red Garden imports of the Ella Valley EverRed Rosé 2019 and Adir Kerem Ben Zimra Rosé 2019 (both $17.99). I look forward to featuring them in another tasting soon.

By Elizabeth Kratz