Bring California Into The Sukkah | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Bring California Into The Sukkah

Bring California Into The Sukkah

Twin Suns’ Pinot Noir and its Chardonnay are among a new crop of attractive kosher wines.

Twin Suns, a new name in kosher wines from the Golden State.

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The most drastic change to the kosher wine industry in the last decade has been how Israeli wines have come to dominate the market. Today, for many consumers, “kosher wine” and “Israeli wine” are all but synonymous. Yet as little as 15 years ago, if you wanted good kosher table wines, you’d look primarily to France and California; and while all the attention these days may be focused on Israel, both France and California continue to produce some very good kosher wines.  

One of the newest kosher producers in the Golden State is Twin Suns, a collaborative venture between River Fine Kosher Wines, a relatively new boutique kosher wine importer, and winemaking brothers Gabriel and Shimon Weiss.   

Twin Suns’ lead winemaker, Gabriel Weiss, 36, started his love affair with wine while living in Lakewood, N.J. “We [my brother Shimon and I] just started tasting wine, we thought it tasted good, and it got us all fired up.” In 2004 Gabriel moved to California after a friend “suggested that I should go and work for Herzog.” Weiss worked at the Herzog Wine Cellars for three years, and his brother Shimon, 33, whose background is in construction, followed him to California in 2005.   

It was in that year, while he was still working at Herzog, that Gabriel, with the assistance of a few friends, made his first wine. “It was an amazing [abundant] harvest. ... In November we contacted this vineyard in San Luis Obispo, and they [having a lot of un-harvested syrah grapes left on the vine] said if you want it come pick it.” Gabriel ended up making the wine in a gutted former lavatory that he and Shimon converted into a temporary winery. “It’s a pretty good wine.”  

In 2011 the brothers began selling their own wines commercially.  Their company, Shirah Wines (whose wines are currently distributed by River Wines), has developed a well-deserved reputation for producing interesting wines from Rhône Valley varietals. In 2012 the brothers began their work on what became one of Twin Suns’ first wines.

Larissa Nahari, River Wine’s marketing director, told me earlier this year that the goal of Twin Suns is to create a line of approachable, easy-to-drink wines. Having recently tasted all of Twin Sun’s current releases, I believe that goal has been reached.

Twin Suns, Reserve, Malbec, California, 2012: Barrel-aged for 14 months, this garnet-colored, full-bodied wine has flavors and aromas of cherries, cassis, blackberries, oak and cedar, with a pleasant note of raspberries on the finish. This wine is very approachable, with smooth, well-integrated tannins. Drink within the next three years.

Score B/B+. ($28.99. Available at Best Buy Liquor, 1613 Neptune Ave., Brooklyn, [718] 265-4350)

Twin Suns, Reserve, Pinot Noir, Central Coast, 2013: Ruby in color, with a light-to-medium body, this Pinot Noir has a fruity bouquet of cherries, currants, plums, smoky oak and spices, with just a whiff of bananas. Look for flavors of cherries, currants, plums, and oak, with a green note mid-palate. Light, and enjoyable, this wine would be a great choice for dining alfresco or in a sukkah.  Drink now until 2018.

Score B/B+. ($29.99. Available at Suhag Wines & Liquor, 69-30 Main St., Flushing, Queens [718] 793-6629)

Twin Suns, Grand Select, Paso Robles, 2013: This dark-garnet-colored, full-bodied wine has a nose of cherries, plums, allspice, and oak, with a hint of eucalyptus. The favor starts with cherries and plums on the front of the palate, moving towards oak and spice, with a slight note of chocolate on the finish. With supple tannins, and a smooth mouth-feel, this wine is pleasing, but a bit lacking in complexity.

Score B/B+. Drink within the next three to four years. ($36.95 Available at Skyview Wine and Liquor, 5681 Riverdale Ave., Riverdale, [718] 601-8222.)  

Twin Suns, Chardonnay, Monterey County, 2014: Straw colored and light bodied, this delightfully crisp, semi-dry Chardonnay has flavors and aromas of pineapples, lemons, apples and coconut.  Look for hints of cream and hay on the finish. Icy cold, this would be a very refreshing wine on a hot autumn day. Drink within the next 18 months.

Score B.  ($13.95 Available at Skyview Wine and Liquor, 5681 Riverdale Ave., Riverdale, [718] 601-8222.)  

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.

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