A Liquid New Year
Six new wines under $40 for 5777 for Rosh Hashanah.
Six new wines under $40 for 5777 for Rosh Hashanah.
As with the run-up to Passover, the weeks before Rosh HaShanah are some of the busiest for those in the kosher wine trade. Wine producers and importers rush to get their new wines on the market, and many wine merchants will sell more kosher wine during this period than they sell in the preceding four months. The influx of new wines makes this a particularly good time to step back and take a broad look at the market.
In the past week I tasted 19 newly released wines, and the results were very mixed. While some were excellent, there seems to be an increasing number of kosher wines that, while quaffable, are both uninteresting and overpriced. Regardless, there are certainly numerous new wines, including the following, which are worth seeking out for your holiday table.
Hagafen Cellars, Syrah, Coombsville, Napa Valley, 2014:
While Hagafen’s syrahs are consistently good, this new vintage is the best in recent years. Inky garnet in color, with a full body, this charming wine has a rich nose of Bing cherries and lavender, with just a whiff of smoky oak. Look for flavors of ripe cherries, damson plums, smoke and coffee, a note of white pepper on the finish, and restrained woodsy undertone running throughout. Well-structured, with a goodly amount of satiny tannins, this syrah is ready to drink now and for the next eight years.
Score A/A- ($36. Available directly from the winery, hagafen.com,  424-2336.)
Yatir, Mt. Amasa, Judean Hills, 2011:
Traditionally, wines have been released shortly after bottling, and it was incumbent upon the consumer to let the wine age until it was ready to drink. However as most wine is now opened within days of purchase, it is becoming far more common for wineries or distributers to warehouse wines until they are nearing their peak. This medium-to-full-bodied, garnet-colored wine is composed of 37 percent cabernet sauvignon, 30 percent merlot, 25 percent shiraz, 5 percent petite verdot and 3 percent malbec, each aged separately for one year in small oak barrels before being blended and bottled in 2013, and then released only recently in the US. The complex bouquet is redolent of smoky pipe tobacco, cherries and cedar, with a not unpleasant note of barnyard funk. Look for flavors of cherries raspberries, cranberries, toffee and smoky oak with a surprising note of ground cherries on the finish. Drink by the end of the decade.
Score A- ($35.99. Available at Westchester Wine Warehouse, 53 Tarrytown Road, White Plains,  824-1400.)
Pascal Bouchard, Chablis le Classique, 2015:
Made from 100 percent chardonnay grown in the Chablis region of Burgundy, this light straw-colored, medium-bodied wine is both elegant and restrained. The nose has elements of apples, gooseberries, Meyer lemons, hay, and cream. The flavor is both subtle and complex with apples, quince and gooseberries at the front of the palate, cream and citrus mid-palate, and a slightly astringent note on the finish. Drink within the next five or perhaps six years.
Score A-/B+ ($36.99. Available at Chateau de Vin, 544 Central Ave. , Cedarhurst,  374-9643.)
Teperberg, Inspire, Devotage, Israel, 2014:
Part of Teperberg’s new Inspire series of wines, this is a blend of 60 percent malbec grown in the Negev, and 40 percent marselan (a cabernet sauvignon and grenache hybrid grape) from the Judean Hills, which was aged for eight months in French oak. Garnet colored with a medium to full body, this fruit-forward wine has flavors and aromas of cherries, mulberries, blueberries, plums, espresso and tobacco smoke. Look for a note of cherry liqueur on the mid-palate, and a touch of spice on the finish. Drink now and for the next four years.
Score B+ ($20.99. Available at Best Buy Liquors, 1613 Neptune Ave., Brooklyn,  265-4350.)
Pavillion de la Rotonde, Grand Vin de Bordeaux, 2014:
One of a growing number of moderately priced kosher French wines, this medium-bodied, rustic, ruby-to-garnet-colored wine has a still tight nose of cassis, cherries, bramble and smoky oak. Look for flavors of cherries and cassis, with notes of mocha, leather and spice, and an abundance chunky tannins. This wine still need NEEDS another six to eight months before it starts to show its best, and should then cellar well until 2020.
Score B/B+ ($19.95. Available at Columbus Wine and Spirits, 730 Columbus Ave., Manhattan,  865-7070.)
Leibale, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shishis Vineyard, Galilee, 2014:
Dark ruby in color, this medium-to-full-bodied Cabernet was aged for six months in American oak. The bouquet has elements of cassis, cherry oak, and pipe tobacco, with a green note. Cherries and cassis play nicely in the flavor with vanilla, oak and smoke. Look for a light touch of citrus at the back of the palate. Youthful and fun, this wine was not made for long aging. Drink within the next three years.
Score B/B+ ($19.95. Available at Skyview Wine and Spirits, 5681 Riverdale Ave., Riverdale,  759-8466.)
Please Note that wines were 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.