Royal­man­who makes Barons

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

KOSHER WINE has come a long way. The days of sweet, red kid­dush wine are long gone. It is pos­si­ble to fill your kid­dush cup with some of the best wines in the world, in­clud­ing some of the top Bordeaux vin­tages. T h e man re­spon­si­ble for over­see­ing the kosher ver­sions of th­ese world-class kosher wines is Me­nachem Is­raelievitch, chief kosher wine­maker for Royal Wine for all of France, Italy, Spain and Por­tu­gal.

As he ex­plains, th­ese winer­ies and oth­ers in the re­gion pro­duc­ing top qual­ity wines don’t need to boost their sales.

“In Bordeaux, they sell their wine al­most be­fore it’s made.”

Yet sev­eral of th­ese top-flight winer­ies now pro­duce a kosher vin­tage — nor­mally a di­rec­tion taken by non-kosher winer­ies to tap into a niche mar­ket in or­der to boost sales.

The process of kosher wine pro­duc­tion in­volves far more than sim­ply al­low­ing Is­raelievitch and his team of 30–40 shomers ac­cess to the winer­ies to check the rules are be­ing ad­hered to. It’s more of a to­tal han­dover.

“To en­sure wine is kosher, it must be made ex­clu­sively by Jewish hands,” ex­plains Is­raelievitch. “The wine­mak­ers may not touch it, so the mash­giach (shomer en­sur­ing kashrut) must do it all — al­though the wine­maker still makes all the de­ci­sions.”

Even so it’s a huge leap of faith for the wine­mak­ers: “Th­ese bot­tles come out un­der their la­bel, which means it re­flects on them, and their chateau is judged by the wine that we pro­duce. The bar­rels and the grapes are for them like chil­dren which need con­stant at­ten­tion and warmth. And then we come in and tell them that they can­not touch the bar­rel from the be­gin­ning un­til the end of the process; it’s a very dif­fi­cult propo­si­tion.”

Is­raelievitch was born and bred in France’s City of Light. He spent his early education in a yeshivah in south­ern Is­rael but wine al­ways had its place in his life.

“I would come back each year for two months at grape har­vest time. When I was 16, a friend sug­gested I go with him to work as a mash­giach, which I did. I found it in­ter­est­ing and so ev­ery year dur­ing my va­ca­tion I did this job. When I fin­ished at the yeshiva hin 1999, I took over the re­spon­si­bil­ity for vini­fi­ca­tion for the Loire Val­ley all year round and looked af­ter all the wines in the Loire and in Bur­gundy.”

At that point, Is­raelievitch was em­ployed by Royal Wines to over­see the three winer­ies in the Loire and four in Bur­gundy who made kosher vin­tages, with a team of men who helped cover the large ge­o­graph­i­cal area. He and the oth­ers vis­ited each win­ery reg­u­larly to en­sure kosher pro­duc­tion.

“We have to be there for each step — for the rack­ing, for the ad­di­tion of each in­gre­di­ent for ex­am­ple.”

In 2009, he stepped up into the shoes of his pre­de­ces­sor and men­tor, Pierre Miodown­ick, who was in charge of Royal Wine’s kosher wine pro­duc­tion for two decades, and who ini­ti­ated the pro­duc­tion of kosher wine in France.

“Miodown­ick pro­duced the first kosher French wine for Chateau de Paraza in 1982 and in 1986, he per­suaded the mak­ers of one of the most fa­mous es­tate wines in France, Baron Ed­mund de Roth­schild, to make a kosher wine.”

Miodown­ick es­tab­lished the re­la­tion­ship for Royal Wine with many chateaux in Bordeaux and the wine­mak­ing re­gions. “When he made aliyah I took over charge of pro­duc­tion of Royal’s wines in France and Spain,” ex­plains Is­raelievitch.

Now, with 40 years of ex­pe­ri­ence and end­less cour­ses in oenol­ogy un­der his belt, it is Is­raelievitch who is re­spon­si­ble for main­tain­ing the re­la­tion­ship with the wine­mak­ers. “Rather than pop in at har­vest time, I re­tain a per­sonal friend­ship with the wine­mak­ers through­out the year.”

“It has al­ways been with re­luc­tance that they have taken us in; they are very proud wine­mak­ers. How­ever, and this has been the se­cret of our suc­cess, Royal Wine has be­come known through­out the world as a com­pany with se­ri­ous re­spect for wine and wine­mak­ing tra­di­tion.”

It is a mark of Royal Wine’s suc­cess that the mak­ers of Cham­pagne Barons de Roth­schild — a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween three great Chateaux: Lafite, Clarke and Mou­ton Roth­schild, ap­proached them to make a kosher vin­tage of their cham­pagne.

His re­mit also in­cludes sourc­ing new wine mak­ers to make wines specif­i­cally for the kosher mar­ket.

“In that sit­u­a­tion I am the wine maker. I know the kosher mar­ket and what my cus­tomers like to drink. I have to take de­ci­sions on the style and type of wine. Each win­ery has a dif­fer­ent method of work­ing, so I’m con­tin­u­ally learn­ing.” Is­raelievitch is a con­stant vis­i­tor to the vine­yards and winer­ies. a kosher Barons de Roth­schild champage is now avail­able

In or­der to source new non-kosher wines when ne­go­ti­at­ing a kosher vin­tage, Is­raelievitch and his team need to taste them.

“Kosher rules al­low us to taste the wines but not swal­low them,” he ex­plains. “That’s the best way to taste wine any­way.”

As there are very few, if any, Jewish com­mu­ni­ties in the wine heart­lands he spends a lot of time trav­el­ling be­tween the dif­fer­ent vine­yards. “I have 25 to visit this year, and as they can­not do any­thing in the process with­out us there, that keeps me and my team very busy. The ex­tent of our in­volve­ment is what keeps kosher wine prices up, as it takes so long to pro­duce. It can take two years to make a wine, from the har­vest through to it be­ing bot­tled; and we may have to visit two or three times a week at some points of the process.”

The French kosher wine mar­ket is still grow­ing and it seems that kosher wine drinkers are get­ting a taste for the finer wines. “Last year Royal’s French wine mar­ket grew by 20 per cent and the top end wines grew by 30 per cent whereas their kosher wine mar­ket world­wide grew by 10 per cent.”

Is­raelievitch, be­lieves that as peo­ple have be­come more in­ter­ested in wine gen­er­ally, they are drink­ing more wines from France.

“It is the source of wine­mak­ing, where all the tra­di­tion and tech­nique is handed down from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion.” Me­nachem Is­raelievitch will be at the Ke­dem Food and Wine Ex­pe­ri­ence 2016. De­tails at: kfwelon­

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.