Wines And Spirits On Our Radar This Holiday Season
So much booze…so little time.
So much booze…so little time.
It’s that time of year again: the Jewish month of Elul. The end of summer, the start of fall, and the approaching holidays mark a time of transition. This is traditionally a time of reflection in which we are encouraged to contemplate our decisions and, more importantly, our mistakes — to learn from our actions and misdeeds, and the impact these have had on our lives and on the lives of those we interact with. Hopefully, a little self-knowledge and wisdom has come from these experiences. With additional effort and focus we can hopefully transform and improve ourselves as we recommit to doing it all, at least a little bit, better. I am, of course, talking about booze — choosing the most appropriate drink for the moment.
What? You were expecting something different? Sure, the Yamim Noraim — “Days of Awe” or “High Holy Days”, as you prefer — augur changes of a more substantive, and sober, personal, reflective, introspective, even metaphysical, level. But this column is called “L’Chaim” not “Torah Thoughts,” got it?
So much booze, so little time… Over the next few weeks, I’ll endeavor to approach the new year ahead with a focused, fresh, revitalized attitude towards my wine choices. Here are some fine options:
Matar by Pelter, Sauvignon Blanc – Sémillon, 2014 ($32; non-mevushal): this is a lovely, summery, fresh, crisp, and aromatic blend of 80 percent Sauvignon Blanc (SB) and 20 percent Sémillon. The SB is touch muted, but the Sémillon helps contribute to a different overall personality, making for an especially rewarding finish—before which come delightful aromas and flavors of various citrus and some tropical fruits, straw, with some grassy undertones, and nicely bracing, balancing acidity. It’ll hold for a while, but demands drinking now. Yummy, fresh, and refreshing.
Karmei Yosef Winery, Bravdo, “Coupage,” Samson, 2013 ($35; non-mevushal): this nicely balanced blend of 40 percent Cabernet Franc, 33 percent Shiraz and 27 percent Cabernet Sauvignon—aged for 12 months in a 70/30 mixture of new French and American oak—is fairly elegant and tasty, if a bit beefy (but nicely dry, and not flabby or sweet), offering complex flavors of mixed berries, plums, currants, and dark chocolate, all with hints of herbs and a whisper of black licorice. This is drinking well now, and should continue to do so for a few years yet (drink through 2024).
Psagot, “Edom,” Jerusalem Hills, 2013 ($35; non-mevushal, though mevushal version is also available): this medium-to-full bodied blend of 63 percent Merlot, 16 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 11 percent Petit Verdot, and 10 percent Cabernet Franc is rich, complex, and silky, with intense and luscious dark fruit, tobacco, and mild leather aromas, which extend into flavors of dark currants, sweet red berries, blackberries, plums, vanilla oak and spicy chocolate along with some earthy and smoked meat notes, and some vibrant hints of Mediterranean herbs. The finish is satisfyingly long with just a touch of heat; the tannins are drying and a bit dusty. This wine craves flesh. Delicious.
Spirits-wise, try the new Kilbeggan Single Grain Irish Whiskey (43 percent abv; $29.99): marketed as both a cocktail and sipping whiskey, sweet, light, easy drinking non-age-statement whiskey was distilled from 94 percent corn and 6 percent malted barley — in Irish whiskey speak, the “single” refers to the producer, i.e., a single distillery, rather than the “grain”, which simply means not a “malt” whiskey — this Bourbon-like whiskey was matured in ex-bourbon oak barrels, and then finished in a mix of ex-bourbon and ex-various fortified wine barrels. With a soft nose of vanilla, caramel, citrus, and oak, and a palate of spicy, oaky vanilla, caramel, coconut, and a touch of preserved berries; fairly long and spicy on the finish, with a hint of maple and cherries. This is a bit of change from the Kilbeggan brand, which has heretofore only offered traditional blended Irish whiskey, and should be thought of as an enjoyable hybrid of Irish and Bourbon whiskies. L’Chaim!