TIME TO REDISCOVER YOUR SPARKLE
THE CHAGIM are over, winter is not here yet and Chanucah and the new year are still only a faint glimmer on the horizon, so no style of wine automatically suggests itself. What better time to discuss kosher sparkling wines?
To be honest, I am not a big fan of champagne and other sparklers at festive meals. If someone has gone to the trouble of preparing a multi-course feast, one should try to find a wine that will complement the food, whereas champagne and its cousins always seem to upstage it. For me, the pop of the big cork is always an event in itself, an optimistic ritual in the middle of our grey humdrum existence, something for birthdays and other celebrations.
There is a problem with writing about kosher champagne. The half-dozen houses bottling kosher editions of their bubbly tend to issue bottles of widely varying quality which are very hard to track over the years.
Add to that the kosher mark-up that means that they cost the same as wildly superior nonkosher champagnes, and you understand why I am reluctant to recommend them. There are a few kosher cavas and proseccos from Spain and Italy but none of them particularly worthy of mention.
In the past, Israel offered two “champagne-style” sparklers. The Carmel President Wine, which resembled lemon-flavoured mouthwash, and the superlative Golan Heights Yarden Blanc de Blancs, which can hold its head high in the company of the French originals but is prohibitively expensive.
Now both these wineries have released mid-market bubblies, both entirely satisfying within the £20 mark. The Carmel Private Collection Brut NV is a cava-style wine, lively and fruity and will appeal to those who don’t drink regularly. The Golan Heights Gamla Brut NV is drier and slightly more complex with a clean, citrusy flavour and a sharp and dry finish.