First Press News Vol. 26 No. 02

Alavida Malbec: USDA-Certified Organic and Kosher

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Origins Organic Imports confirms the U.S. release of the debut 2021-vintage Alavida Malbec, Argentina’s first USDA-certified organic and kosher wine and one of few wines worldwide to attain this unusual dual status. Alavida Malbec is also vegan, gluten-free, and Ecocert-approved.

The Alavida name is a riff on “A la vida!” Spanish for “To life!” and itself a riff on the traditional Hebrew toast “L’chaim!” Origins Organic is owned by husband-and-wife team Labid al Ameri and Anne Bousquet. “Argentina is a nation rich in diversity, and our own multi-cultural family has been making certified organic wines in Argentina since 1997,” al Ameri observes.

Of necessity, fruit for Alavida must be of exceptional quality, with good concentration and balance of acidity (a natural preservative). Why? Because USDA regulations prohibit the addition of sulfites (SO2) in winemaking. Sulfites are commonly used as a form of preservative or to help conceal natural flaws.

The new wine hails from high-altitude vineyards in the Uco Valley, an area identified with a growing number of the Mendoza region’s finest quality wines. Grapes grow at 4,000+ feet in the Andes foothills, where daily temperature swings of up to 60° F deliver more sugar (hot days) and more acid (cold nights). By omitting SO2, the Uco Valley’s high-altitude, cool-climate terroir characteristics are heightened and enhanced. As a result, the purity of fruit, aroma, flavors, and freshness becomes even more apparent.

The winemaking process for Alavida is almost identical to that used in making a non-kosher wine, with two exceptions. Ingredients such as yeast must be kosher, and the wine physically made by a sabbath-observant Jewish team under the supervision of a rabbi. For Alavida, that means double the number of people involved: a Jewish team member to handle grapes and wine, paired with a home team member standing alongside and directing. For Alavida, that entailed five duos! Winemaker Rodrigo Serrano gave the work orders; his Jewish counterparts executed them.

Once the truck filled with grapes arrived at the winery, the Jewish team took the grapes from the truck, used the forklift, pressed the on/off button at the sorting table, and so on. Though the visiting team members were experienced winemakers, they had never worked at this quality level. At the end of each day, everything was locked by the rabbi. If winemaker Serrano wanted to take a sample, he could not do so. Indeed, if a non-Jewish person were to stumble and accidentally touch a tank, the wine is no longer kosher – representing a potential loss of 4,700 liters of wine! At the end of the process, the rabbi pronounced Alavida the best kosher wine he had ever tasted!

Alavida Kosher Malbec from Origins Organic Imports / SRP $19

Now available in D.C., DE, CA, CT, FL, IL, MD, ME, NJ, VT, and W.A.

Plus NY and OR, effective April 1

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Penny is a wine, spirits, food, and travel writer. Her sensory examination and evaluation of wine and food are noteworthy. Penny has a popular website called The WineKnitter that takes you with her to discover wine/spirits, travel, food, and culture worldwide. She began her serious foray into the world of wine in the early 1980s, where she was part of three very successful family-owned restaurants in NYC and "cut her teeth,” so to speak, with wines such as Petrus, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Haut Brion, Cristal, etc. Penny has an extensive presence on many social media sites, and her education is ongoing with wine seminars, wine tastings, and culinary delights from around the world. She studied at the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, completed WSET Level 2 Certification with Distinction, and is continuing with Level 3, advanced certification in wine. Penny is a member of The Wine Media Guild.

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