I’m sorry for the delay in writing this post. I have gotten MANY requests for my Rosh Hashana suggestions. I’m pressed for time (aren’t we all) so here goes…
I decided not to write about wines that typically retail for more than $30. If you are spending in the $30+ price range please feel free to contact me through the site and I’d be more than happy to discuss your best options with you.
I also decided not to write about wines that most people know about or have had a million times. No Merlots (OK, maybe 1) and no Cab’s (OK, maybe 1 or 2). A favorite Cabernet of mine is the Yarden Cabernet. The 2003 is drinking great, the 2004 is delicious and the just released 2005 is gorgeous. But EVERYONE knows about this wine and that is not why you are here. (Plus it is often sold for over $30/bottle.)
Let’s start with Carmel. Yes, that Carmel (snicker, snicker). Carmel has made leaps and bounds in terms of the quality of many (but sadly not all) of their wines. And two wines in their appellation series that are of interest are the Carmel “old vine” Carignan & the Carmel Petit Sirah. Both of these wines are lush and concentrated wines that provide a change from the usual Cabernet’s.
Staying with the theme of uncommon varietals is the Recanati Reserve Cabernet Franc. A very well made yet restrained wine, the Cab Franc is much lighter in body than most Cabs, Merlots, or Syrahs, and is a great choice for your lighter holiday meals as the wine will not overpower the food as might be the case with the bigger bodied wines.
I couldn’t stay away from my beloved Bordeaux varietals for long. When speaking of Bordeaux varietals we are referring to the 5 varietals permitted in a Bordeaux wine. Those are: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot & Malbec.
Let’s begin with some blends. The Dalton Alma, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, is a nice wine that is priced right. I have yet to try the Tepperberg “Meritage”, but I have heard good things. Finally there is the Galil Mt. “Yiron”, a favorite of mine for many years, whose 2004 vintage includes Cabernet, Merlot and a touch of Syrah (not technically a Bordeaux varietal).
Staying with Galil Mt., the winery does produce several other wines that have been of particular interest of late. Beginning with the Galil Mt. Pinot Noir, which is aged in old (often referred to as neutral) oak barrels, this Pinot is elegant and made in an old world style. It is perfect with Turkey and at about $20/bottle a steal in my (moderately humble) opinion . Also from Galil Mt. are their single varietal Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz. Yes, I said I was not going to write about these single varietal wines but these are different. These wines are very affordable and represent great QPR (quality price ratio) wines, like all the wines from Galil Mt. That they are so affordable makes sense when you learn that these wines were NOT oak aged. They were fermented & aged in stainless steel tanks. Not only does this keep the cost of producing the wine down, but it prevents the wines from being overpowered by oak – allowing a beautiful purity of fruit to show through. While these wines probably won’t age for long periods of time, they are drinking very nicely now and I strongly recommend them.
The last Israeli wine I want to mention is a wine I recently tried for the first time, the Golan Cabernet Sauvignon. The Golan Cab was featured by wine writer Howard Goldberg in the NY Times in August, and as it turns out is a damn good wine. Often overlooked by Israeli wine lovers given its perception as the entry level series from the Golan Heights Winery, this wine is a very nice example of an Israeli Cab and Goldberg suggests pairing it with duck breast & braised short ribs (**note to those I’m eating holiday meals with**).
Two other wines I want to briefly mention are kosher wines NOT from Israel. The Capcanes Peraj Petita is a lighter and more affordable wine than its older sister the “Peraj Ha Abib” but is a lovely wine itself. While the Goose Bay Pinot Noir is a very nice Pinot Noir made much like the Galil Pinot in an elegant, old world style.
In addition to the wines above, I suggest giving a look at my friend and colleague Avi’s blog for his recommendations here…
My warmest wishes for a Happy & healthy New Year to all!
Happy Holiday Wine Tasting!