Another great addition to the world of kosher wine comes to us from New Zealand, from the Rapaura Marlborough wine-growing region, where O’Dwyer’s Creek Vineyard is situated.
Owned and operated by Lindsay and Trish Dahlberg, the brand name “O’Dwyer’s Creek” is named after their sustainable certified vineyard on O’Dwyer’s Road, near the town of Blenheim. Marlborough is widely considered one of the premium wine regions of the world, particularly for sauvignon blanc. Established in 2002 as a grower supplying grapes to other wineries, the Dahlbergs decided to launch their own brand in 2010. Though not Jewish, the Dahlbergs began by producing kosher wine.
Lindsay Dahlberg told me that their Jewish friends “wondered whether we could produce kosher Marlborough wines to match the premium Marlborough non-kosher wines. We decided we could, with their assistance in getting the kosher expertise we needed, provide a quality product to what we saw as a niche market.”
As O’Dwyer’s Creek is a vineyard that makes wine in a nearby contract winemaking facility, rather than an estate winery as such, it cannot rightly be called a fully kosher winery — even though it produces only kosher wines (certified by the OU and the local Kiwi Kosher).
All their wines are kosher 100 percent single estate Marlborough wines. The O’Dwyer’s Creek sauvignon blanc (ranges from $15-$19, depending on the market) is consistently a delightfully bracing and refreshing wine, vintage to vintage — though best when consumed within one to two years of the vintage. The Dahlbergs also produce a chardonnay which is not exported and, starting with the 2013 vintage, they began producing pinot noir at the request of their Australian importer. Finally their pinot noir is being imported into the United States.
O’Dwyers Creek, Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand, 2014 (mevushal; $30): This pinot is fabulous. It is beautifully fresh, almost beguilingly breezy, with clean, robust, bright and yummy cherry, sour cherry, raspberry and strawberry aromas and flavors; lean floral notes; hints of oak and traces of mocha. It is wonderfully balanced, lightly tannic with nice acidity, all seamlessly integrated, making this a real pleasure to drink. Excellent now, but should continue to develop a little over the next three years or so. Served slightly chilled.
Spirits-wise, I recently tasted a relatively new American whiskey brought to us by the great David E. Scheurich.
Fellow whiskey geeks surely recall that Scheurich, who began in the whiskey industry in 1969 with Seagram, was awarded the Whiskey Advocate’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 for his efforts establishing Woodford Reserve at the old Labrot & Graham distillery. He retired from Brown-Forman and Woodford Reserve at the end of 2010 and started a consulting business called High Spirits Enterprise, LLC.
Apparently he is also now the master distiller for Boondocks, though I suspect the title in this case is really just marketing-speak for “selector of sourced whiskeys.” No matter, it is still enjoyable.
Boondocks American Whiskey, aged in Kentucky, 11 years old (47.5 percent abv.; $40; OU kosher certified): This light but nicely aromatic whiskey starts with a slightly candied and somewhat grassy nose, with sweet cereal grain, citrus fruit notes and a distinct whiff of baked goodies. The palate delivers much of the same, but with more pronounced caramel notes, though it begins to grip the tongue a bit and overwhelms the clipped, lightly warming finish with over-oaked spice notes — a tell-tale sign of over-aging. Not overly complex, and probably better at cask strength, but for the price this makes for a very agreeable change of pace in American whiskey with a bit of age. L’chaim!