Canada’s Summerhill Pyramid Winery has released its first kosher wine.
And not just any ol’ kosher wine. One that hasn’t been heated or flash-pasteurized — a process that, many critics say, destroys the taste of good wine.
Tiferet — Hebrew for “beauty” — is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
Only 1,200 bottles were made, and each sells for $100. The wine is only for sale at Summerhill Pyramid Winery in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada.
A collaboration between the winery and Rabbi Shmuly Hecht, Tiferet was made with the winery’s finest grapes, and then aged in 100 per cent new French and American oak barrels.
“The desire to share a great wine with my dear friend Rabbi Shmuly Hecht was the original inspiration to create Tiferet,” says Summerhill’s CEO Ezra Cipes. “Rabbi Shmuly would invite me over to taste these kosher wines which had all been cooked. In my opinion it ruins the wine, and I realized that Rabbi Shmuly didn’t know what wine is supposed to taste like.”
Very few wines in the world are labelled kosher; to be correctly labeled kosher, it must be produced following strict Jewish dietary laws known as kashrut.
Eric von Krosigk, Summerhill’s multiple-award-winning winemaker, worked on the project by giving hand-off advice only. That’s because in order for a wine to be declared kosher, it must be made by a Sabbath-observant Jew — in this case, Hecht, who recently moved to the Okanagan from New York City.
“The rabbis were the only hands to touch the wine, or any unsealed vessel that contained the wine,” according to a news release from Summerhill. “They operated all of the equipment and performed every task that required contact with the wine itself. The wine was produced in a single bay garage on the Summerhill property as a private ‘temple’ of wine.”
The resulting wine is unfined and unfiltered. It has been pyramid-energized (in true Summerhill style!) and, like Summerhill’s other wines, it is certified organic.
It has also been declared “non-mevushal kosher under the authority of Rabbi Levy Teitlebaum of Ottawa Vaad Hakashrut,” according to the news release.
Hecht also hand-sealed each bottle with wax “with the hechsher (“seal of approval”) of Ottawa Vaad Hakashrut, which certifies that the wine is indeed kosher.”
More from Summerhill on the subject: “To remain kosher, the wine must also be opened, handled and poured by Jews. An exception exists, where if the wine is ‘cooked’ to near-boiling temperatures, the wine can then be handled and poured by non-Jews. The resulting wine is called ‘mevushal’ and is popular at catered events where Jews and non-Jews would be present. Most mevushal wines have been observed to have poorer quality, so to maintain the integrity of the wine (and to preserve the flavours and aromatics), Summerhill decided against heating the wine, which means Tiferet kept its overall flavour profile and tannic structure intact.”
Handout photos from Summerhill Pyramid Winery