By Simone Black
Entering the Museum of Jewish Heritage, I was warmly greeted with a chilled glass of Judean heights Chardonnay. I was pleasantly surprised by how well it was drinking, fruity, dry, and an excellent start for a wonderful evening.
While sipping my Chardonnay, a waiter passing by, offering me a delicious hors d’oeuvres consisting of London broil with hickory sauce. Before I had a chance to turn around, I was offered some more hors d’oeuvres.
The chicken drumettes with sweet sesame sauce, pulled beef taco, and turkey almandine over citrus quinoa were so delicious that I had to refill my glass a couple of times. The generosity of the Happy Hearts employees was a sheer delight.
The ballroom, which overlooks the Hudson, was lit in soft dim lights, an elegant setting with some three hundred people who attended this event.
The tables were dressed festively. A choice of multiple wine glasses and elegant china adorned every seat. The first course was served in a triangular white china plate. It was encrusted salmon served on a bed of tri-color grilled vegetables, topped with white wine and citrus glaze.
Chef Tuli Guttman is a gifted individual and each of the courses was outstanding.
Every table was appointed with a frum wine pourer to pair the wines to the courses. Ruti Schvarcz, head sommelier for Happy Hearts, poured and explained the wines at our table. To the salmon, she poured Elonei Mamrei Chardonnay. It was a full body, extremely buttery Chardonnay that enhanced the salmon.
We were then offered a choice of Judean heights Petite Syrah or Petite Verdo. I chose the Verdo, which was smooth, with lots of flavor and a nice tangy finish. I then tasted the Syrah and found that it was of a fuller body and had great fruity aromas with a hint of spice on the finish.
The winery owner, Michel Marciano, enlightened us with the story of the winery, and his wonderful technics, which produce the high-quality wines. He introduced the wine to be paired with next course of the gnocchi with duck confit. It was the Jerusalem Heights 2002 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I was amazed by its color. I expected an 02 vintage to be somewhat brown, but was delighted to see the vibrant color of purple in my glass. It was a straight hit, possibly my very favorite wine.
We were then introduced to the Pardess Merlot. A true Merlot in all its glory, it had a glamorous trip of tannins, commencing with front palate, and carrying through the back palate. Pardess will definitely be on my shopping list.
Along came the next course: rosemary marinated baby chicken steak with exotic sides. They could’ve paired it with many different varietals, but they blew our palates. Ruti poured us a 2004 Pinot noir, which was off the charts. Pinot noir, which is traditionally a light wine, was just right on the oak, full bodied, scrumptious, and bursting with lots of flavor of dark fruit.
This Pinot has an interesting background. Michel explained the story behind it. After waiting the mandatory four years, the Arab neighbors took him to court, claiming that the vineyard was on Arab property. They won the case and came with bulldozers to uproot the vineyards. A small batch of about 300 bottles was saved. Finally just released, it will be available for Purim at a $200 retail.
With the next course, a personal rack of lamb, they paired the Elonei Mamrei Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. This is a new wine being introduced to our market. It is a full body Cabernet aged 26 months in French oak. If I were to rate this wine from 1 to 10, I would give it a 20.
Thinking that the meal was over, out came fillet mignon with Merlot reduction.
Pomme de Terre fritters were paired with Abir Yaakov, a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 0% Petite Verdo which has been aged 30 months in French oak. Seems like the quality on Hevron Heights’ wine keeps escalating. This blend was a real party on my taste buds. The fullness of the Cabernet Sauvignon along with the silkiness of the petite verdo creates a great finish.
I had never attended a wine event of this caliber.