For my 5773 list of suggested wines for the High Holidays, I decided on some changes on how I picked my wines from previous years. First, I decided to try to mix up the price points a little so there were some affordable wines for everyone to choose from and I decided to suggest some Israeli non-certified wines (NK). By non-certified I mean that the wines haven’t any kosher supervision but they were made by Jews, just not sabbath observant Orthodox Jews and that these wineries to the best of my knowledge don’t do anything in their winemaking that different from kosher wineries that would make a wine non-kosher except for who handles the wine and what days the winery is open. Since these wines have an audience with Jews in Israel and overseas, I don’t want to make believe they don’t exist although for Passover I might still suggest only kosher for Passover wines since even non-religious Jews seem to get more restrictive on their diet during that holiday.
Also, I wanted to suggest some wines I’ve tasted most recently so readers may bring in the New Year with wines they may not have tried before. Whichever of these wines you choose, I’m confident they can impress your guests or host as part of your festivities.
Chilled whites are a nice way to greet guests as they enter or as you start your meal. If you’re not serving beef or lamb, you might even serve white throughout the meal.
2011 Vortman Shfeya Valley 75 NIS (NK) Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon
A classic blend of white Bordeaux grapes. Crisp acidity is great match for poultry, pasta, fish or salads . Also check out a similar version by Tzuba (K) or Asif (K).
2011 Saslove Lavan 84 NIS (K) Viognier, Gewurztraminer & Sauvignon Blanc
White blends are getting more popular as premium wines instead of just less inexpensive blends. Also check out Dalton’s White Alma & Recanati’s White Special Reserve.
2011 Tzuba Chardonnay 89 NIS (K)
A fruity “non-malo” Chardonnay, a style becoming more popular in Israel in contrast to more buttery Chards. Also check out Lewinsohn (NK) & Odem Mountain’s (K) examples.
It’s more traditional to serve red wines during holiday meals but this year try something different other than a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot to bring in the the New Year.
2010 Flam Syrah Reserve 125 NIS (K)
Flam’s first release of a kosher reserve wine shows the potential of Syrah in Israel. Also try Carmel’s award winning 2008 Kayoumi Shiraz (K) (Shiraz & Syrah are the same grape) or 2010 Saslove Aviv Shiraz (K).
2006 Somek Carignan 90 NIS (NK)
“Old Vine” Carignan’s are becoming popular as hearty reds that are great matches for beef and lamb. Vitken ,Smadar (NK), Recanati, Binyamina & Carmel (K) are good examples.
2010 Alona Cabernet Franc 75 NIS (NK)
Acidic & fragrant Cab Franc’s are a great food friendly red for the dinner table. Ella Valley, Psagot, Carmel and Recanati (K) or Vitkin & Margalit (NK) offer a range of good choices.
Nice way to start a meal or a segue from whites to reds. There was so much bad Israeli rosé 20 years ago, many winemakers stayed away. Plenty of good ones now available.
2011 Recanati Rosé 65 NIS (K)
Dry rosé as tasty as the bottle is pretty. Consistently one of Israel’s best.
2011 Castel Rosé du Castel (K) 90 NIS
When one of Israel’s best boutique wineries makes a quality dry rosé, serve it proudly
Try Flam’s (K) or Chateau Golan’s Rosé (NK) for other premium dry rosé examples.
2011 Tishbi Blush 35 NIS (K)
An inexpensive semi-dry rosé nice for lunch, with salads or gazpacho. Dalton, Barkan & Binyamina also have inexpensive rosés in their portfolio.
The acidity of sparkling wines can make for one of the most food friendly styles of wine but avoid the common wedding mistake of pairing dry sparkling wine with desserts.
NV Tishbi Brut 85 NIS (K) 100% Colombard Bottle Fermented
Sparkling wines can be a great wine to serve throughout a meal especially with salty fare.
NV Gamla Brut 69 NIS (K)Bottle Fermented featuring Pinot Noir & Chardonnay.
Israel’s most authentic “Champagne-style” sparking wine.
2011 Teperberg Moscato (K) 39 NIS sweet moscato’s are a nice aperitif or dessert wine or a match with spicy fare. Dalton, Golan & Carmel also have affordable (K) versions.
When serving wine with dessert try to serve a wine sweeter than the dessert or the wine will taste muted. Red based dessert wines match red & black fruit based desserts as those with chocolate, pecans or walnuts. White dessert wines pair well with white or tropical based fruit desserts or cheese plates or almonds, cashews and peanuts.
2007 Avidan Gran Soliel 99 NIS (NK) Late Harvest Chardonnay 500ml
A Late Harvest Chardonnay more reminiscent of an aromatic white than a Chardonnay.
A nice match with almond, citric or honey based desserts. Tzuba has a (K) offering.
2008 Yarden T2 Touriga Nacional & Tinta Cao 190 NIS (K).
Fortified red wines in the style of Port are becoming more popular. Odem Mountian, Tzuba & Tishbi have other (K) examples all from different red grape varieties.
2011 Odem Mountain “Cherry Wine” Sweet & Sour Cherries 60 NIS (K) 500 ml.
Although many wine snobs don’t consider “fruit wine” to be wine. There are more & more “fruit wines” being released every year in Israel. Rimon, Rimonim, Boutique & Gardenia all make interesting Pomegranate dessert fruit wines.