“Mitzvah,” Yarden Merlot 2014

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I suspect, though I’m not terribly driven to think hard about it, that I initially got into the wine industry for what were likely somewhat self-serving reasons. As a writer for an array of local, national, and international publications, I’ve rarely paid for anything in wine for years now, and have so many samples shipped to my home at this point that I’ve had to start asking people to stop sending me unsolicited wine. It’s a good problem to have, of course, and I enjoy being able to support those who create wine with my writing.  But more recently, I realized I could do great things with the connections I’ve amassed within my own community as well, and I’ve eagerly started to work in that direction. The most obvious example, I think, is VinNEBRASKA (.com), an amazing and longstanding event that I am terribly proud to be a cog in. Last year, we raised nearly $300K for a great charity, Partnership 4 Kids, and this year we will do it again, but for the Omaha Public Schools Foundation. It’s terrific fun, and does as much good as anything I’ve ever been a part of.

With that in mind, today was special for me. I’d been approached by a close friend who asked if I could help out with an event in support of the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL has been an important part of my upbringing into the world of human rights and education, of Holocaust studies, fighting antisemitism, and so much more, so naturally I jumped at the chance to be of assistance to such an important organization. In addition, I was excited because I got to share a producer that I had just helped bring into the state, The Golan Heights Winery from Israel, whose flagship Yarden labels are extraordinary. I was introduced to this wine by my friend Odedi, a fellow wine writer, and have been a fan ever since. Today’s event lasted two hours, and some five cases were poured. There were some eye-opening and inspiring speakers — including a college bound girl who had just graduated high school and was a Darfuri refugee. There was also wonderful food and great conversations to be had. I’m excited to hear how much was raised, and I’m grateful to those who included me in the process, as well as to the Golan Heights Winery for their generosity with the wines.

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I got home tonight and was tired, but needed to cook dinner for the family. I marinated some ground pork in oregano and garlic salt, tossed in some button mushrooms, and then mixed the whole thing in vodka sauce and poured it over pasta. It was pretty good. And, of course, I paired it with wine. The 2014 Yarden Merlot was my favorite wine poured today, so of course we had that. Another “Suck it, Sideways” example of the varietal, the wine is dark and dense, chewy yet velvety in the mouth, and elicits flavors ranging from dark chocolate to cedar to herbaceous qualities, blackberry, vanilla, and more. Eighteen months on French oak does much for the complexity, while cool climate, high altitude, and volcanic soil render fruit with enough character to be worth thinking about. At 14.5% ABV, it’s a big wine with a distinctly Middle Eastern vibe, and it’s something I enjoyed all afternoon and into the evening.  I recommend it, and if you’re in or near Omaha, there will be a free wine tasting event at The Winery in Clock Tower Village on Wednesday night from 5-7PM, so I’d strongly encourage you to go.

One of my personal goals before I turn forty is to help raise a million dollars for charities I love, admire, and support. Presently, I’m at around $350K, with today’s addition hopefully being substantial. I like that I can use the contacts and friendships I have developed over time to be of use to people who are doing great work. If you’re looking to join me at such events — and help me raise the next $650K, I’d love to have you there. Thanks, as ever, for your readership and support.

Cheers to good wine, and to the good things we can do with it,

Mark

 

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