New and Classic Kosher Wines
By Guest Oenophile & KosherEye Friend, Yossie Horwitz
While the majority of kosher wine sold in the United States every year is sold in the weeks between Purim and Pesach, a substantial amount is also sold in the weeks leading up to Rosh Hashanah. Given the holiday’s title of the Jewish New Year and its propensity towards new beginnings, the industry attempts to introduce some new kosher wines to the market during the weeks leading up to the holiday. As the kosher wine offerings from around the world continue their exponential growth in quality, quantity and diversity, the available offerings from which to choose are truly enormous.
As a lover of wine, I have never felt (and still don’t) that there could ever be too much of a good thing with respect to quality kosher wines but realize that the number of wines and wineries can be daunting!
For this holiday column, I have selected a number of wines, which I think you, and your families will enjoy. In keeping with the holiday’s juxtaposition of two overarching characteristics – new (for the Jewish new year) and family (to which we tend to gravitate on holidays), in addition to a number of new offerings, I have also included some of my old favorites as well, in a range of prices from value to luxury.
1848 Winery, Reserve, 2007: While a new wine from a new winery, the Shor family proprietors draw from over 160 years of Israeli winemaking experience in their other wineries. A full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, blended with 10% Merlot and 3% Petite Syrah which spent 25 months in French oak, but thankfully doesn’t have the excessive woodiness one would expect. Give the wine 15-25 minutes in your glass to open up and you will be rewarded with a nice nose of blackberries, currants, lavender, cherries and plums with hints of smoky oak on both the nose and palate. $35
Psagot, Merlot, 2009: The past few years have been excellent for Psagot as they propelled themselves from the good to the great. A medium bodied wine with well-integrated tannins making for a delicious, round and slightly earthy wine. Plenty of raspberry, cherry and red plums tinged with subdued white pepper, leather and some cedar wood. Delicious right now, the wine should cellar nicely for four years or more. $22
Covenant, Red C, Sauvignon Blanc, 2010: A new addition to the Covenant family! Holds up nicely with the white peaches, mango, papaya with hints of lime and grapefruit as well. Not as crisp as some other Sauvignon Blancs I have enjoyed, relying more on its easy drinking/mouth filling abilities to be a pleasing addition to my table – and succeeding very nicely. Also, easily the most affordable of Covenant’s wines as well! $20
Domaine Netofa, Red Blend, 2009: While the winery is relatively new, for many years the winemaker (Pierre Miodownick) was making the French wines for Royal Wines. An easy-drinking, medium bodied blend of Syrah and Mourvedre (a grape which seems to be doing really well in Israel). While on the light side, the wine shows plenty of character and is truly a delight to drink culminating in a medium finish with hints of chocolate lingering on. $22
Recanati, Special Reserve, 2006: Among the best-priced “Super-Israelis” and a longtime favorite of mine, the Special Reserve continues to go from strength to strength. This year’s vintage is comprised of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18% Merlot that was aged for nearly two years in oak. The wine has finally come into its own and it is drinking amazingly well right now (but will continue to improve for years to come. $40
Carmel, Mediterranean, 2007: A leading wine in the drive to produce wine reflective of Israel’s unique Mediterranean terroir. An interesting and elegant blend of 37% Carignan, 26% Shiraz, 20% Petit Verdot, 15% Petite Sirah and 2% Viognier, with the various varietals coming together beautifully making a wine whose sum is far greater than the parts. A long and caressing finish rounds out this delightful wine. $50
Ella Valley Vineyards, Cabernet Franc, 2007: Classic aromas of blackberries, raspberries, tobacco leaf (delightfully pleasant whether you are a smoker or not) and those lovely green vegetal notes so characteristic to the grape on the nose with a palate packed with juicy fresh blackberries and tangy raspberries melded nicely with velvety tannins and wood leading to a long and mouth filling finish with more of the fruits together with wild anise, forest floor and espresso. $25
Yatir, Forest, 2006: The flagship wine of Israel’s best winery – Yatir. A blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Petit Verdot and 12% Merlot long, lingering finish wraps you in chocolate, wood, vanilla, spice and all that is nice. $80
Shana Tova fromYossie Horwitz
About the AuthorYossie Horwitz, a card-carrying oenophile for more than 20 years has been writing a weekly newsletter – Yossie’s Wine Recommendations – on kosher wines, wineries and other wine-related topics for five years. Sign up for his free weekly newsletter at www.yossiescorkboard.com and follow Yossie on Twitter @yossieuncorked, where he dispenses daily wine recommendations and tips as well as other oenophilic tidbits. Yossie and his newsletter have been mentioned in the New York Times, the Jewish Week and the Canadian Jewish News.
September 21, 2011