Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Iron Chef Passover and Wine Tasting 2018 - video and reviews!

This year's pre-Passover program went beyond the wine department. Yes, we partnered with Toni deLuca at Julio's Liquors again, bringing back some favorites from the past couple of years and adding in some new selections. But this year was made extra-special by the incredible foodie contributions of Rabbi Sharon Sobel and her brother Ari, along with our very own in-house chef Rabbi Joe, who contributed to the wonderful dessert options. In the space of less than 2 hours, a number of menu items were showcased to bring fresh ideas and deliciousness to your Passover Seder. And everyone present got to taste everything! Thank you to Temple Beth Am of Framingham for partnering with Congregation B'nai Shalom for this special evening.

At the bottom of this post is the livestream archive of the whole evening for your viewing pleasure. But first, my reviews of this year's wine tastings.
Wine Reviews

Notte Italiano Prosecco - Italy  $16.99
Joseph Mellot Sancerre – France $31.99
Terra  Vega Rose – Chile $7.99
Louis Blanc Cotes du Rhone Rouge - France $14.99
Terra Vega Pinot Noir - Chile $7.99
La Citadelle de Diamant Caesar Red Blend – Israel $29.99
Bartenura Brachetto - Italian sweet red, lightly sparkling

We've enjoyed several of these wines in previous years' tastings but we brought them back as some of the best of the batch. 
The light Prosecco is a lovely way to kick of Passover - we served it as an aperitif as people arrived and tasted charoset and appetizers before the main program began. It has light notes of pear and is medium dry.  

The Sancerre is the priciest wine on the list but it is the most complex and well-balanced wines on the list that we served. It remains one of my favorites. 

Over the past couple of years, we've enjoyed the Terra Vega offerings. A couple of years ago we had their Carmenere, which is more often a grape that is used in smaller quantities in a blended wine. But it stands out on its own in a very easy-drinking wine. Their Rose is bright and fruity, fun to drink and an unbeatable value like the rest of their line. 

I had tasted the Louis Blanc Cotes du Rhone prior to our evening but we didn't actually serve it on the night as the distributor wasn't able to get it to us for orders for Passover. It is smooth on the palate, low in tanins, with dark blackcurrant fruit notes. Instead we served the Terra Vega Pinot Noir at our tasting. Like the rest of the Terra Vega range, it is very easy-drinking and an excellent value. It did not have the character that the Carmenere or the Rose had, in my opinion, and was a little light for a Pinot Noir. It might be a nice red option if you are serving a chicken dish with a richer sauce but could easily be overwhelmed by brisket or meat stew.  

The Citadelle de Diamant Caesar Red Blend was the fullest bodied red of the night. Some tanins and big flavors in the mouth, it will pair well with beef dishes. 

The final taste of the night was a substitute for what we originally had on the tasting menu - Vino Sweet Red (Italy). The Vino had been a big hit last year for those who actually enjoy Manischewitz and are looking for a slightly more sophisticated and lighter sweet wine for Seder. Our batch arrived 'corked' - a number of the corks had come into contact with something that damaged the cork and, therefore, damaged the wine. We did a last minute switch to the Bartenura Brachetto. I, personally, am not a big fan of these sweet options (I'd prefer to go for a Muscat dessert wine, of which we've had the Butcher's Daughter Muscat from France in previous years). However, the Bartenura doesn't have the syrupy sweetness of the Vino and was a light, fun wine for those who enjoy the sweeter experience for their Passover Seder.