05/21/14
Jewish Week Online Columnists
New Blend, Ancient Winery

The royal line of Abarbanel continues.

Photo Galleria: 
Courtesy of Abarbanel Wines
Courtesy of Abarbanel Wines

The Abarbanel Wine Company traces its family roots from the biblical King David to Don Isaac Abarbanel, the leader of Spanish Jewry at the time of the 1492 expulsion. Born in Lisbon, Don Isaac was a scholar, philosopher and prodigious author who also served as treasurer for the Portuguese King Alfonso V, and subsequently for the Spanish royal family. He lent large sums to the Spanish throne during their battles with the Moors, and their reluctance to repay him likely contributed to their decision to expel the Jews at the war’s end.

Today there is a branch of the Abarbanel family living in Cedarhurst, NY. Around 1990, Howard Abarbanel established the Abarbanel brand of kosher wines when the Manischewitz division of Canandaigua Wines (now Constellation Brands) was eager to push kosher wine out of its Concord grape doldrums. As Abarbanel put it, “in a felicitous and serendipitous confluence of interests I got together with them to create great varietal kosher wines.” 

The Abarbanel brand wines debuted in 1992 in time for Passover. A few years later, in 1995, Abarbanel took total control of the brand and built a wide portfolio of wines, as well as a wine import and distribution company. Although he eventually closed the import and distribution business, he kept up the family brand itself, and today it is imported and distributed by Admiral Imports of New Jersey.

Adorned with the family crest awarded by the Spanish royals, the Abarbanel selections have received numerous accolades and awards. A recent release is their Abarbanel Cabernet-Merlot Blend, Batch 58, 2011 (mevushal, $15) created from a fifty-fifty blend of grapes grown in France’s Languedoc region.  Value-priced, medium bodied and built for early enjoyment, it displays plum, red berry and cassis flavors accented with hints of leather and herbs. Consider serving it with roasts, simply grilled foods and aged cheeses.

Abarbanel Batch 58 2011 is available at Square Wine and Spirits

Last Update:

05/21/2014 - 17:44

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