Starting The Season Off — With Flavor
A variety of new wines, and new vintages, add joy to the Jewish New year.
A quintet of new wines for the New Year.
A quintet of new wines for the New Year.
On Wednesday, Aug. 22, in synagogues around the world, the first of the pre-Rosh HaShanah shofar blasts were blown, to note the beginning of the month of Elul. For the kosher wine industry, those shofar blasts were like a starters’ pistol, marking the beginning an annual race to bring the new crop of kosher wines to the market. During the next month (and during the month before Passover) more kosher wine will be sold than at any times during the year.
Over the past few weeks I’ve tasted a number on these new wines. Some of them are altogether new, while others are simply new vintages of familiar wines. The following five would all be good choices for toasting the New Year.
Capçanes, La Flor del Flor, Montsant, 2012: I was blown away by this elegant wine when I first tasted it earlier this summer during a visit to the Capçanes winery, which is picturesquely located in the hills above Barcelona. I’ve since had a chance to re-taste it in the U.S., and I remain very impressed. Dark and inky garnet in color, and made from 100 percent Grenache grapes grown on vines that are between 80-110 years old, this wine is full bodied yet restrained. The nose, which is still tight, is redolent of cherries, raspberries, toasty oak and pencil shavings. The flavor has notes of cherries, raspberries, blackberries, tobacco, spice and toasty oak. While certainly enjoyable now, this wine still needs a few years to fully develop and integrate. Best 2017-2023.
Score A (This vintage will be making its way into New York area stores within the next few weeks, but is currently available online from Liquidkosher.com for $74.99.)
Chateau Moulin Riche, Bordeaux, Saint Julien, 2011: Moulin Riche is the second wine from the fabled Chateau Leoville Poyferre, and the recently released 2011 vintage is both elegant and affordable (at least compared to similar quality Left-Bank kosher Bordeaux). Composed of 71 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 29 percent Merlot, this full-bodied, dark garnet-colored cuvée has a rich bouquet of cherries, cassis, toasty oak, pipe tobacco and brier, with a whiff of eucalyptus. Look for flavors of cherries, cassis, and mocha on the front of the palate; boysenberries, plums and eau de vie on the back of the palate, and a nice layer of oak running throughout. This wine, which has an abundance of youthful tannins, is drinking well enough now, but will start to show at its best in about a year, and should then cellar well until 2018.
Score A- ($56.99. Available at Skyview Wine & Spirits, 5681 Riverdale Ave., Riverdale,  548-3230.)
Herzog, Variations, Four, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, 2012: Herzog Wine Cellars has come out with a new series of Californian Cabernet Sauvignon cuvées that blend together Cabernet grapes grown in different regions of the state (i.e., Variations Three has grapes from three different regions, Variations Four has grapes from four different regions, etc.). While all of the Variations were of a similar quality, perhaps the best is Four. Made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Paso Robles, Santa Ynez, the Alexander Valley, and the Napa Valley, this youthful, dark garnet-colored, full-bodied wine has a bouquet of cherries, red currants, and oak with notes of cedar and violets. Look for flavors of currants (both red and black), cherries, blackberries, and oak, with a note of cherry liqueur on the finish. Well structured, with silky tannins, this wine is ready to drink now until 2018.
Score A-/B+ ($26. All three Variations will be making their way into New York area stores within the next few weeks.)
Baron Herzog, Pinot Noir, California, 2012: Medium bodied and ruby colored, this approachable Pinot Noir has a green, earthy nose with elements of cherries, currants and wild flowers. The flavor is reminiscent of juicy red cherries and currants, with a lovely herbal undertone. Simple but well made, this wine should be consumed within the next two years.
Score B/B+ (This vintage will be making its way into New York area stores within the next few weeks, but is currently available online from Kosherwine.com for $15.49.)
Barkan, Special Reserve, Chardonnay, Winemaker’s Choice, Judean Hills, 2012: Aged for six months in a mixture of new and old oak barrels, this almost-tawny, straw-colored, light-to-medium-bodied Chardonnay has a fruity bouquet of apples, peaches, gooseberries, honeysuckle and oak. Look for flavors of apples, apricots and citrus, with a creamy undertone, a hint of malt on the finish, and a rich layer of oak. Best now until 2016, and perhaps longer.
Score B/B+ ($19.95. Available at Skyview Wine & Spirits, 5681 Riverdale Ave., Riverdale,  548-3230.) n
Please note: Wines are scored on an ‘A’-‘F’ scale where ‘A’ is excellent, ‘B’ is good, ‘C’ is flawed, ‘D’ is very flawed, and ‘F’ is undrinkable. Prices listed reflect the price at the retailer mentioned.