Wine of the week: Covenant Red C Red, 2020 Red Blend, Sonoma County
Jeff Morgan tasted an Israeli Bordeaux blend in 2002, and it set him on a quest to make a stellar kosher Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon.
“The irony is that the Bordeaux blend wasn’t kosher,” he said with a laugh.
Nonetheless, the bottling inspired Morgan and his business partner, the late Leslie Rudd, to create the brand Covenant, with their first vintage in 2003.
Today, Morgan is behind our wine of the week winner — the Covenant Red C Red, 2020 Red Blend, Sonoma County, 14.8%, $44. The kosher blend has high-toned red fruit, with a streak of tangy cranberry. Balanced and buoyed with crisp acidity, this blend is impressive.
With a nod to Passover and Easter this week, we added a couple kosher options to our blind tasting.
Morgan explained that what makes this bottling kosher is that it’s handled by Sabbath-observant Jews up until bottling. These Jews don’t work on the Sabbath and they keep kosher with food and drink.
This week, many Jews will be observing Passover, the Jewish holiday commemorating the Hebrews’ liberation from slavery in Egypt. The highlight of the holiday is the ceremonial seder, a feast and service rolled into one. Sipping kosher wine is tradition during the seder.
With its flagship Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon, the brand is “a bellwether for kosher wines all over the world,” Morgan said. Bottles are sold internationally, including in France, England and Mexico, among many other countries.
Stateside, Covenant is available at esteemed restaurants like Yountville’s French Laundry and San Francisco’s Perbacco, which serves Italian cuisine.
The Covenant Red C Red is a blend that hails from Dry Creek Valley. Its grapes are groomed in two vineyards — the Richard Monts Vineyard and Somers Vineyard — and the blend is 35% petite sirah, 25% zinfandel, 25% grenache and 15% syrah.
The biggest portion of the blend is petite sirah, which makes sense, Morgan said, because Dry Creek Valley is the capital of petite sirah.
“The house style is more a reflection of the terroir (site, land and climate), with the hope to be true to it,” he said.
Morgan, along with his wife and co-owner, Jodie, produce about 8,000 cases of wine a year at Covenant Winery in Berkeley, plus 1,000 cases a year at a facility in Israel.
Well-known winemakers guided Morgan, now 69, as he made his mark in the wine industry. Among them was
vintner and winemaker David Ramey of Healdsburg’s Ramey Wine Cellars. Morgan calls him both a friend and a mentor, with incredible winemaking chops.
“I’ve also had phenomenal terroirs to work with, both in California and in Israel,” he said.
Being a winemaker today, Morgan explained, requires more than winemaking chops. It requires courage.
“We California winemakers have been dealing with a lot of challenges over the last five years due to the vicissitudes of what I attribute to climate change,” Morgan said. “But we’re all still making great wines. We should all be grateful and proud of that fact.”
You can reach Wine Writer Peg Melnik at 707-521-5310 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @pegmelnik.
Wine, The Press Democrat
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