One small region for a kosher wine-maker to tackle, one giant leap for kosher wine drinkers to enjoy!
It’s hard to find any Alsatian wines that embody traditional winemaking styles at affordable prices, but I recently found several bottles at around $20.
And they’re kosher.
Some of the best values in kosher wine today come from one of the most celebrated regions for white wines.
Nestled amid the French, German and Swiss border, Alsace is a beautiful swath of mountainous terrain, better known for its historical significance in 20th century disputes between Germany and France than for its brilliance in the production of high-quality white wines.
Straddling multiple climates and cultures, Alsatian winemaking reflects a diversity of tradition. Influenced heavily by Germanic winemaking traditions, the region’s grapes are almost exclusively German in origin, its varietals rarely blended and its aging process almost completely devoid of oak.
Yet the verve, structure and body of Alsatian wines express a decidedly French sensibility, which is ultimately more pronounced in the final product. Unlike German Rieslings and Gewurztraminers, which are notorious for having high degrees of residual sugar and for retaining a delicate and fruity character, Alsatians are celebrated for their steely backbone, their acidic grip and their dryness.
These flavor profiles are ideal in complementing the hearty meat and cheese dishes typical of the region. Not many whites can stand up to this challenge, but local winemakers, in a climate too cold to produce robust red wines, have ensured that Alsatian whites can. The result is some of the most memorable white wine in the world. What’s more, it pairs beautifully with almost any dish you could serve at your table.
Abarbanel and Willm are two companies that launched its Alsatian venture with a collection of still white wines, still red, and one bottle of sparkling Cremant (a French word for sparkling wine made in the traditional Champagne method).
That’s a lot of wine. The challenge is to find it.
Below, I’ve listed some of the wines from this world-renowned region. The whites are the best, and you should attempt to track them down.
Abarbanel Gewurztraminer — This is a fantastic example of an Alsatian style Gewurztraminer with an intense nose of ginger and spice, and lingering cloves and incense on the finish. Well-balanced with a round, rich mouthfeel, this wine is a true delight. You can serve this wine with almost everything.
Abarbanel Cremant d’Alsace NV — Good luck with finding this wine outside of New York, but if you do you should grab it. It’s a medium bright wine, lemony color with mid-sized bubbles — very creamy green apple and pear on the nose. It offers soft and creamy sparkler with good structure and balance.
Willm Pinot Blanc — While I prefer Italian Pinot blanc, this wine is medium-bodied and gentle on the nose and palate. Crisp acidity makes it a refreshing summer beverage and a wonderful match to seafood dishes.
Willm Riesling — Typical of a Riesling, this wine smells of flowers. It’s a fun dry wine, very acidic, with lots of green apple and pear on the palate. Refreshing, but with a short finish and slightly bitter mid-palate.
(Uriel Marcovitz, a Downtown Pittsburgh restaurateur and recognized wine expert [who dabbles in beer] can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)