Jeff Morgan is responsible for Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon, widely regarded as the greatest kosher wine made in the United States – and sometimes the world. It is certainly the greatest kosher wine I have ever tasted. So he seemed an ideal person to answer questions about kosher wine-making.
The first concerned pricing. Kosher wines are often relatively expensive, and I assumed that the wine-making requirements acc-ounted for the extra cost.
Not necessarily, says Morgan. There are additional expenses, such as paying the local certifying rabbinate and buying equipment to perform mechanised operations automatically on Shabbat. But they are not that important.
Keeping kosher in the winery, he went on, is less about expense than inconvenience. Finding Sabbath-observant Jews who know their way around fermentation tanks and barrel cellars – that’s a problem. Many holy days fall in the winemaking season – that’s a problem.
Morgan says that these are “the greatest challenges”. He wonders “what God was thinking” when He made those scheduling decisions.
My other big question was about mevushal — wine that is flash-pasteurised so that it can be handled after bottling by gentiles, such as staff in restaurants. Covenant’s wines are not mevushal, and I wondered if Morgan thought that wines that underwent the pasteurisation process were inherently inferior. Not at all, he says.
“Some are very good. The issue is not whether mevushal is bad. The issue is, why jeopardise the wine using an unnecessary technique?”
Morgan would rather avoid that intervention, out of a respect bordering on reverence for the Napa Valley grapes he uses. And I suspect that using the method would not do his wines any favours if he did.
Covenant Cab – and some of their four other wines – can found at retailers such as www.kosherwineuk.com and www.kosherwinecellar.co.uk. It is definitely not cheap, at £80-85. But it is kosher, despite the difficulties.
And it’s really, really wonderful.
Splurge and find out for yourself.