Chardonnay: Apples And Honey In A Wine
And 5 bottles under $50 we recommend.
And 5 bottles under $50 we recommend.
Every year, as Rosh Hashanah approaches, I look for special wines to serve at my holiday table. I used to select big, full-bodied, red wines; however in recent years I’ve found that after a long morning in a stuffy synagogue, a chilled, refreshing, white wine, really hits the spot. On special occasions such as Rosh Hashanah, one good choice of white wine is almost always the deservedly popular Chardonnay.
Chardonnay is the great white wine grape of Burgundy and Champagne, and in recent decades Chardonnay has become the world’s most popular, and most planted, white wine grape. Chardonnay is a very versatile grape, which can grow in a wide range of climates, and produce wines is a wide range of styles: from light and elegant, to big and oaky, from dry and bubbly, to sweet and heavy. Although Chardonnay produces a wide range of flavors, two of the most common are flavors which are associated with Rosh Hashanah—apples and honey.
In preparation for Rosh Hashanah I have identified five delectable kosher Chardonnays, made in a wide variety of styles, all of which should be special enough to serve at your holaday table.
Vineyards, Reserve Chardonnay, Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley, 2015. Prix, Chardonnay, Reserve, Napa Valley, 2007: When most Americans think of Chardonnay, they think of the New-World Chardonnays from northern California, and this wine is one of the best kosher exemplars of this style currently available. Tawny-straw in color, with a medium-to-full body, this wine has a charming bouquet of apples, heather, and toasty oak, leather, with just a whiff of citrus, and a slight but pleasant note of funk. Look for flavors of baked apples, quince, honey, oak, and freshly churned cream, with notes of lemon and grapefruit mid palate, and just a light touch of spice on the finish. With rich mouth feel, this Chardonnay is drinking very well now and should continue to do so for at least another three years. Score A- ($40.00. Available directly from the winery: www.hagafen.com,  424-2336.)
Herzog, Special Reserve, Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, 2015: Another excellent Californian Chardonnay, this particular vintage of Herzog’s reliably enjoyable Chardonnay is truly unique. Aged eighteen months in a mixture of French and American oak barrels, this dark-straw colored, medium bodied wine has a tropical-cocktail like bouquet of apples, pineapples, bananas, and coconut. Look for a creamy mouthfeel, and flavors of apples and key limes at the front of the palate, and flavors of banana and coconut towards the back of the palate. Ready to drink now, this wine should cellar well until the end of the decade. Score B+ ($29.89. Available at Ninth Avenue Vintner, 669 9th Ave [Manhattan],  664-9463)
Pascal Bouchard, Chabils, la Classique, 2016 [Kosher Edition]: Burgundy’s Chablis region is home one of the most traditional, and arguably one of the very best, expressions of Chardonnay—and this particular bottling is good example of that traditional expression. Crisp and bone dry, this light-straw colored, medium bodied, elegant wine has a bouquet redolent of apples, gooseberries, Meyer lemons, hay, and cream, with herbal and earthy notes in the background. The flavor is both subtle and complex with apples, quince and gooseberries at the front of the palate, a light creamy note mid-palate, a citrusy finish, and good mineral content. This vintage is Pascal Bouchard’s best kosher release in a decade. Drink now until 2020 and perhaps a bit longer. Score A/A- ($37.99. Available online from www.Kosherwine.com,  567-4370.)
Matar, by Pelter, Chardonnay, Golan Heights/Judean Hills, 2014: Made from Chardonnay grapes grown in vineyards in the Golan Heights and in the Judean Hills, this straw colored, medium bodied Chardonnay is very appealing. Look for flavors and aromas of apples, hay, honey, citrus blossoms, and Meyer lemons, with a hint of minerals. Drink until the end of the decade. Score A- ($36.97, Available at Wine Chateau, 85 Central Avenue [Metuchen, NJ],  423-8079)
Domaine du Castel, “C” Blanc du Castel, Chardonnay, Judean Hills, 2014: Aged for twelve months sur lie in French oak barrels, this full bodied, dark-straw colored wine, was the biggest, richest, creamiest wine in the tasting. Look for a bouquet of apples, oak, lemons, cream, and caramel, with just a whiff of tropical fruits. The apple-like flavor is dominated by elements of oak, cream and freshly churned butter. Look for tropical notes towards the back of the palate. Drink now until 2021. Score A/A- ($42.95 Available at Skyview Wines & Spirits, 5681 Riverdale Ave. [Riverdale, NY],  759-8466)
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 are the prices at the retailer mentioned.