This article is cross-posted on joyofkosher.com.
On Rosh Hashanah we are asked to reflect on two thoughts, the year that came before and the year to come. As wine lovers, we hold these same thoughts in our glass. 5771 is shaping up to be a wonderful year, with exciting new releases from some of our favorite wine regions: Australia, California, Israel and Italy. As you finalize your guest list and prepare your menu, joyofkosher highlights several new wines for the new year that would feel right at home on your holiday table!
Our friend, Daniel Rogov,wine and restaurant critic for the Israeli daily newspaper HaAretz, graciously offered to share his tasting notes for our wine selections. Rogov is the author of a number of wine and culinary books, including Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Wines 2010 and Rogov’s Guide to Kosher Wines 2010 and his frequent musings on the world of wine and food are available at: http://www.wineloverspage.com.
Shiraz (the same grape as Syrah grown in France’s Rhône Valley) was one of the first varieties to arrive in Australia in 1832 and has become the grape most closely associated with Australian wine. It is spicy and fruity and can take on mint, chocolate and leather flavors. Kosher wine lovers have long been deprived premium Australian Shiraz, but that is about to change. The Harkham Windarra Winery, situated in the Hunter Valley, is creating unique wines with a natural philosophy. Since the Harkham family took over the estate in 2005, they have upgraded the facilities and focus on small batches of hand selected grapes from hillside vineyards in the Hunter Valley.
2009 Harkham Windarra Shiraz (Hunter Valley); $N/A. Garnet towards royal purple, medium-bodied, opening with cherry, raspberry and cranberry fruits, those supported by notes of milk chocolate and exotic spices. After minutes in the glass takes on a note of stewed fruit compote.
If you are looking for a burst of Northern California sunshine this holiday, uncork a bottle of Hagafen Cellars sparkling wine. Under the direction of owner and winemaker Ernie Weir, and using the traditional method, Hagafen created a festive, food-friendly choice for Rosh Hashanah that pairs well with most dishes.
2007 Hagafen Brut Cuvée Sparkling Wine (Napa); $35. Made by the méthode champenoise, a blend of 78% Pinot Noir and 22% Chardonnay. Light gold with orange and green tints, medium-bodied, with a long mousse and well focused bubbles that linger nicely. On first attack citrus and citrus peel, papaya, raspberries and chocolate, those followed by notes of cantaloupe melon and black tea. Long and generous.
Israel continues to make great wines, many of which just so happen to be kosher, with more on the way. Flam, Saslove and Tulip recently announced their plans to produce their critically acclaimed wines under kosher supervision beginning from this year’s harvest. While we anxiously await these new arrivals, below are some new choices you should be able to find at your favorite wine shop.
2009 Domaine Netofa (Galilee); $20. A Rhone blend of Syrah and Mourvedre. Medium to full-bodied, with chunky tannins that give the wine a country-style. On the nose and palate: blackberry, cassis and dark chocolate, all with a lightly spicy note.
Further north, the Golan Heights Winery continues their successful run of organic viticulture with the release of two new organic single vineyard wines.
2006 Yarden Merlot Odem Organic Vineyard; $N/A. Developed in French barriques, 2/3 of which were new for 14 months, showing much as at an advance tasting. Dark, almost inky purple in color, with gently mouth-coating tannins and sweet and smoky oak and black cherries on the first attack, those parting comfortably to reveal blackcurrants, blackberries and notes of both Mediterranean herbs and espresso coffee that linger nicely on a long and generously mouth-filling finish.
2008 Yarden Chardonnay Odem Organic Vineyard; $19. Living fully up to its pre-release promise. Bright burnished gold in color, full-bodied, opening with a note of butterscotch on the nose. On first attack summer fruits and pears, those yielding to notes of citrus and crème brulee. Gentle wood and a near buttery-texture balanced finely with acidity. Not a lively wine but indeed destined to be complex, mouth-filling and, for lack of a better term, delicious.
While a tour of Tuscany may be an extravagance, a taste of Tuscany is well within reach. A new line of wines from Bartenura arrive stateside under the ‘Ovadia’ label providing the kosher wine drinker with a trio of appealing choices for the new year. These wines are perfect with pizza and pasta and would pair nicely with a brisket or any rustic slow-cooked meat.
Bartenura Ovadia Estates Barbera D’Alba; $20. Medium-bodied, with soft tannins and quite generous acidity, opens to reveal raspberries, cassis and pink grapefruit on the nose and palate. Uncomplicated, but clean and pleasant.
2009 Bartenura Ovadia Estates Chianti; $12. Ruby to garnet in color, medium-bodied with soft tannins and an appealing berry, black cherry personality. Not complex but easy to drink.
2009 Bartenura Ovadia Estates Morellino di Scansano; $20. Made from Morellino grapes (the name for the Sangiovese grape in the Maremma district), showing dark royal purple in color, medium-bodied with soft tannins and with appealing plum and blackberry fruits. Quite pleasant but meant for early drinking.
Shanah Tovah and Lechaim!