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Monday, March 27, 2023
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In time for Sukkot, Twin Suns has released two robust red wines from Lodi, a growing region in San Joaquin County in the Central Valley of California, one of the zinfandel grape’s most successful growing regions. Grown in Italy and known there as the primitivo grape, zinfandel, and especially zinfandel grown from old vines, are vibrant, juicy and tend to have flavor notes of raspberry and other berries. There have been very few old vine zinfandels from the Lodi American Viticultural Area (AVA) available as kosher reserve wines.

Larissa Nahari, one of Twin Suns’ owners with her husband Ami, and the marketing lead for both Twin Suns and its distributor, The River Wine, said that the two new zinfandel releases are made from the same crop of Lodi old vine grapes. “Old vines have a lower yield and therefore the grapes are more concentrated and flavorful,” Nahari told The Jewish Link.

Shimon and Gabriel Weiss, the winemakers behind the Shirah Wines label, are the winemakers for Twin Suns, a joint project between them and the Naharis. Contributing his expertise on this project was also Harry Parducci, Jr., director of winemaking at California’s Agajanian Vineyards, which has operations in both Madera and Napa. “Larissa and Ami have been working with Agajanian Vineyards since 2014 and they came to us in 2021 with this zinfandel project. They wanted to make it special and unique, so we recommended one of our longtime growers in Lodi with an old vine zinfandel planting. The true advantage of old vine zinfandel is that the vineyard ripens evenly,” said Parducci.

“It produces some of the best zinfandel around with the same grower family taking care of the vineyard for over 100 years. These two wines exhibit a concentration and intensity of flavors that are unique to this vineyard and are expressed wonderfully in these wines.”

Nahari explained that the two wines are the Twin Suns Reserve Zinfandel 2021 and a Twin Suns Special Edition Zinfandel 2021, the second of which is finished in sorghum whiskey barrels. Sorghum, an ancient grain related to millet, can have some of its byproducts certified kosher for Passover as per the OU, though the grain itself is kitniyot. Last year, The River Wine made Ethan’s Reserve KP Sorghum Whiskey, and it was a big hit for Passover 2022. The OU certified it with its regular OU-P designation, not OU-P Kitniyot.

Whiskey is usually made from barley or wheat, and in some cases corn or rye, but none of these grains are considered kosher for Passover. “There’s a trend in the non-kosher world to finish wine in bourbon or whiskey barrels, typically zinfandel or cabernet sauvignon, which stand up well to finishing. There’s been no way to make wine like that kosher because the OU will not put a hechsher on it; it would make it confusing for Passover,” explained Nahari.

“Since we made Ethan’s Reserve KP sorghum whiskey last year and had the empty barrels, Ami said, ‘Why not ship these to California and put some of our zin in it?’ The result was pretty incredible,” said Nahari. “It’s unique and follows a cool trend not seen often in the kosher marketplace.”

The zinfandel that’s not finished in sorghum whiskey is bursting with fruit and velvety tannins, and it has its share of oaky perfume, whereas with the whiskey-finished zinfandel, the smoky, woody, perfumed flavor sort of smacks one in the face, which renders a more intense wine.

It was fascinating to try the reserve zinfandel and the whiskey-finished zinfandel alongside one another, as they show the effect on barreling. The non-sorghum aged wine was aged in a combination of new and old Shirah wine barrels for 12 months. The reserve retails for $29.99 and the whiskey-aged wine is $45.

By Elizabeth Kratz

 

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