Beaujolais Nouveau With a Twist--It’s Kosher
When the first bottles of this year’s fruity red Beaujolais Nouveau wine are uncorked worldwide Thursday, one will be a little different. It’s kosher.
Yves Roye makes the only kosher Beaujolais Villages, one of France’s first new wines of the season. This year, by government decree, these wines can be popped open around the world starting Thursday.
Roye started making kosher wine seven years ago. This year he hopes to sell 50,000 bottles. About 90% is exported, mainly to the United States, where it sells for about $5 a bottle.
Besides being the only kosher vintner in the Beaujolais region, north of Lyon, he also is the only vintner in the area who cannot handle his own wine.
“I’m a goy (non-Jew),” explained Roye with a wink. “I’m not allowed to touch the wine no matter what happens. Otherwise it wouldn’t be kosher.”
Jewish law states that only certain foods are kosher, or permitted. For a product to be kosher it must be made by a specially trained rabbi under rigorous sanitary conditions.
Rabbi Takes Over
After the gamay grapes are harvested in early October, Roye turns over his vats and wine press to Rabbi Jacques Poultorak of Lyon, who camps out in Roye’s 30-room 18th-Century estate during the October wine-making season.
While Poultorak and two of his assistants make the wine, the 33-year-old Roye stands aside, guiding the men through the pressing and fermenting process.
“It’s just a question of hygiene,” Roye explained.
The kosher quality of Roye’s wine is ensured by a meticulous cleaning. Poultorak and his assistants scour and wash the vats, tubes, press and filters with water. Only kosher products are used, including beet sugar that boosts the alcoholic content of the wine to the allowable level of 13%.
Even the bottles, seals, corks and labels are kosher.
Roye keeps a Jewish calendar at home and is anxious on Fridays, he says. The rabbi must stop work at sundown Friday for the Sabbath.
“Last Friday night, we had to sacrifice some wine because Rabbi Poultorak couldn’t finish the bottling,” he said.