We had a very successful run this year in sampling local Kosher for Passover VQA wines. I picked up a bottle of Kosher for Passover Tzafona Cellars Cold Climate Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 on the same LCBO run as their Chardonnay we reviewed yesterday. It set me back $29.95 – which is a pricepoint that is a little higher than I’m comfortable with most of the time. At that price, I really hope I’ve bought something of quality.

All of the other VQA Kosher wines we have reviewed over the years (umm… there are not many) have been white wines. Truth be told, Seders in my mind involve a lot of brisket. A slice of brisket, a dash of guilt, a splash of wine. For the uninitiated, wine is integral to the Passover Seder. Traditionally, a Seder requires 4 glasses of wine, paced throughout the evening. Beer is off limits as it is a leavened product. And the Haggadah tells you when to drink, although if you’re a lush bringing your goyim husband to dinner like me, four glasses won’t come close to cutting it. No wonder my family rationed out shot glasses of grape juice when I was a kid. They knew what was happening and wanted to be sober enough to watch me find the hidden matzos, called afikomen.

Now where was I going with all of this? I don’t even remember anymore, sorry guys. Oh right. I wanted some red wine to serve with my brisket and guilt. The Chardonnay is the more popular Tzafona Cellars product, but Rabbi Avraham Gislason is quite fond of his red creation, the Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2014 vintage found a chillier and snowier winter than average, with a fairly cool summer that allowed for slower maturation of the grapes. It works – if Cabernet Sauvignon matures too quickly on the vine, pyrazines dominate the flavour and the wine is faulty. 2014 had a later than average harvest in October, once the grapes had fully matured. I tend to prefer red wines over white, as I am particularly sensitive to any residual sugar. This is another vegan-friendly wine, so pour your favourite niece another glass and listen to her tell you about her art piece.

Appearance: Medium-minus ruby with a developing rim.

Aroma: Vanilla, black currant, cherry, black plums, leafy carrot greens, hint of green bell pepper.

Palate: Crunchy red cherry, sweet tobacco leaf, crunchy green pepper, with cocoa powder on the finish.

Acidity: Medium plus acidity with low residual sugar.

Body: Medium body. Soft tannins – I would have liked a bit more tannin.

Aftertaste: Plum and cedar, black pepper. Not overly complicated.

Suggested food pairings: Bubby’s brisket. Borscht. We had it with lamb chops, roasted potatoes and a kale salad for dinner, and it was a solid pairing.

Overall: This wine is a fairly good example of cold climate Cabernet Sauvignon. The years spent barrel aging and the Kosher rabbinical supervision drive up the pricepoint a bit higher than other Ontario Cabernet Sauvignons from the same vintage, but it works. This is definitely not for your little cousin in university – save this for the wine geeks at your Seder. L’Chaim!

Shawna O'Flaherty

Shawna is a 30-something Montreal native transplanted to Toronto in 2010. Wine loving, beer sniffing and rum swilling come naturally to her, and she is also a certified Irish whiskey taster. She has hosted beer and cheese pairing events in the past.

Shawna has visited vineyards in 6 countries on 3 continents, and has a knack for finding the hoppiest beers around. A dedicated Booze Hound, Shawna completed the Wine Specialist Certificate at George Brown College in 2018.

She can be found drinking alka-seltzer and coconut water in the morning.

Email: shawna@torontoboozehound.com