The Yummiest of the Shivat HaMinim
Wine glasses. (Erik F. Brandsborg, Flickr)
Sukkot wine options
Sukkot wine options
Sukkot is just around the corner, and the weather seems to have already switched gears a bit. So with the prospect of additional lavish outdoorsy holiday entertaining on the horizon, a little seasonal wine and food thinking seems in order.
We are entering a season, after all, that seems well suited for some deeper, more complex wines that may seem more appropriate to the shorter, less sunny days. After all, the fall brings cooler weather and the concomitant seasonal produce like squash, pumpkin, various root vegetables, and the like. As autumnal dishes are generally more robust than the summer fare we’ve been having, it is only logical that we shift into selecting wines that follow suit. But the transition can, and perhaps should, be gradual — no need to jump right in with big, bold and heavy wines. It is probably time to drink up—if you’ve any left—all those young rosés and other lighter summery type wines; cling to those summer memories while they last.
Here are some great options to consider as you plan not only your upcoming holiday meals, but contemplate stocking your seasonal wine larder:
Hagafen, Chardonnay, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, California, 2016 ($30; mevushal): opulent, oaky, and creamy with aromas and flavors of butterscotch, vanilla, citrus, apple, pear, pineapple, and kiwi, with a lengthy, enjoyable, rich, clean, and beautifully refreshing finish that includes notes of melon, vanilla, toasty oak, and mild baking spice. Classic Napa Chard. Just wonderful.
Vignobles David, Le Mourre de l’Isle, Blanc, Côtes du Rhône, 2017 ($16-19): This dry, light-bodied, balanced, floral, crisp and refreshing blend of 40% Roussanne, 30% Viognier and 30% Grenache blanc offers aromas of acacia flowers and peaches, with strong notes of white-fleshed stone fruits on the palate, as well as some lovely mango, citrus and apricot amid a slightly earthy yet floral backdrop. This invigorating, generous and tasty wine is both serious and seriously delicious -- and is something of a new favorite I keep getting drawn back to. Not to be missed.
Golan Heights Winery, Mount Hermon, Red, 2016 ($12.99, though often found for less): This enjoyable and pleasant medium-bodied blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, and Petit Verdot is, as always, flavorful, and fruit forward, with ripe red and black fruits (cherry, raspberry, currant, blackberry), and just enough of an herbal backdrop note to vaguely anchor it in Israel’s Galil region.
Borgo Bella, Chianti, DOCG, 2017 ($15-17; mevushal): this is a really lovely, fresh, young, uncomplicated, everyday style of Chianti that is very appealing and oh so very quaffable. Food-friendly, but equally nice on its own too. This should make a very good restaurant, catering, and house-pour option.
Golan Heights Winery 2010 Gilgal Syrah ($17): This is rich, fresh, and juicy, with aromas and flavors of ripe blackberry, plum, and black cherry, with additional notes of black pepper, coffee, anise, and subtle menthol flitting around in the background. Interesting and enjoyable.
Dalton, Estate, Grenache, Galilee, Israel, 2016 ($18-19.99): Dark ruby in color, this medium-bodied, food-friendly wine, has an enticing aroma of strawberries, raspberries and oak, with a hint of watermelon and a slight green tinge. The flavor has elements of cherries and strawberries, with notes of oak and vanilla and just a hint of Meyer lemons. Drink within the next three years.
Dalton, Estate, Petite Sirah, 2016, Shimshon, Israel ($18-19.99): As with past vintages, this is an aromatic, rich, and velvety beauty with sweet, raspberry, dark berry fruit, orange zest, and spice notes, some earthiness, and a lovely finish with additional notes of black pepper, sage, lavender, perhaps a touch of menthol, and vanilla. With pleasant though very present tannins, and a nice, satisfying, long finish offering additional notes of espresso.
Cantina Giuliano, “La Gioia,” Costa Toscano i.g.t., Tuscany, 2016 ($19.99-$22.99): This fun and well-made "Super Tuscan" blend of 60% Sangiovese and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon not only has greater weight and heft than the previous vintage, it also has greater finesse. This is a lovely, fresh, energetic, fruity (black cherry, sweet cassis), and nicely balanced distinctly Tuscan offering that is thoroughly enticing now, but should also evolve and improve with a couple years of cellaring—if you can wait that long.
Dalton, Alma, Crimson, Galilee, Israel. 2016 ($22-$24.99; mevushal): This lovely, if distinctly carnivorous, red Bordeax-style blend offers nice balance and structure, with alluring if straightforward notes of black cherry, blackberry, plum, pomegranate, chocolate, as well as violet, lavender, and something like juniper. The tannins are supple, the balance is nice, the body is medium, and the finish offers some agreeable dry herbal Mediterranean notes. Yet another winner from Dalton.
Jerusalem Wineries, Jerusalem Vineyard, 4990 Reserve, Single Vineyard, Petit Verdot, Shomron, Israel, 2016 ($26-$29.99): A pleasing, if fairly inky, entry grown in from Zichron Yaakov, offering mostly black fruit (plum ,blackberry, blueberry) aromas and flavors, along with some decent herbal and floral notes, like dried sage and lavendar; an appealing if subtle earthy quality creeping in too. This is still a bit young, but is nonetheless enjoyable as is. Serve with meaty (especially lamb and veal), and rich-sauce dishes.
Uva, Montepulciano D'Abruzzo, Limited Edition, 2013 ($27.99): Still clean, fresh, tasty, and alluring, with tart cherries, freshly crushed blackberries, purple plums, tobacco leaf, a decent earthiness, a smidge of licorice, and hints of savory herbs. This offers some subtlety and delicacy to those seeking it, but enough simple, up-front pleasures to satisfy the thirsty masses. Enjoyable on its own, but really made to wash down good food despite its comparatively low-acidity. This is a very yummy and offers excellent value for the price.
Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014 ($32.99): This latest vintage is a solid entry—better than the 2012, though not quite as good as the 2013—and another fine example of the flagship quality Israeli Cabernet from GHW that first put Israel on the quality map back in the 1980s. Rich, beefy, and creamy, with notes of ripe and juicy blackberry, cherry, plum, herbs, cocoa, some anise and a little mint, all bounded by still integrating, grippy tannins, and noticeable but not over-the-top oak influence. Drinking very well now, but should reward additional cellaring. A serious wine that craves some serious flesh.
Château Clarke, Listrac-Médoc, Bordeaux, France 2016 ($50): Though this estate has been producing kosher wines since 1986 under the Barons Edmond & Benjamin de Rothschild Haut-Médoc label for the Herzog’s Royal wine Corp., this is their first kosher effort under their own brand. It is fabulous, with an appealing red and dark berry fruit nose with a whisper of smoke just a hint of green tobacco; the palate has additional notes of plum, graphite, and dark chocolate. Medium-bodied, with medium acidity, fine tannins, and exceptional balance. This is elegant and refined; a superb wine. It’ll reward real ageing, but can be properly enjoyed starting in 2022 or so.