April 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Alsatian (Style) Whites: Perfect for Shavuot

Springtime is upon us, and while the weather may have been rather erratic of late, the forecasters are predicting some truly dulcet weather for Shavuot. With warm, clear days; flowers in bloom; and dairy dishes on the menu, it will be a great time to enjoy some white wines and rosés.

One good place to seek that special wine for Shavuot is the Alsace region of France. The Alsace, located in eastern France along the upper-Rhine river, which separates France from Germany, has, for more than a millennium, been home to a large and largely traditional Jewish community. The Alsace is famous for its white wines, which are largely made from either Gewürztraminer or Riesling. Gewürztraminer produces spicy, perfumed wines, which are often dominated by lychee and rosewater flavors and aromas, while Riesling can create complex, long-lived wines that have honey and floral elements in the bouquet, citrus flavors and crisp acidity.

So in honor of Shavuot we’ve found some good Alsatian and Alsatian-style whites that would make a lovely addition to your Yom Tov table.

Hagafen, Dry White Riesling, Napa Valley, 2016: Light-to-medium bodied, with a bright-straw color, this dry Riesling has a delightful floral bouquet with elements of pears, peaches and longans, with a whiff of spice. Look for flavors of apricots, peaches and Seville oranges, with a touch of spice on the finish. Crisp, well balanced and refreshing, this wine should drink well for the next three years. Score A-/B+. ($24.00. This latest vintage has not made it to New Jersey wine shops yet, but is available direct from the winery: www.hagafen.com, 888-424-2336.)

Hagafen, White Riesling, Lake County, 2016: While probably a tad too sweet to be considered a true Alsatian-styled Riesling, this crisp, semi-dry Riesling has a lot to offer. Look for flavors and aromas of apricots, peaches, kiwis, Meyer lemons, honeysuckle and honeydew. Well structured, this versatile, food-friendly wine should make a good accompaniment to a broad array of dishes, from beef burritos to cheese fondue. Drink within the next three years. Score B+ ($24.00. As with the preceding wine, this latest vintage has not made it to New Jersey wine shops yet, but is available direct from the winery: www.hagafen.com, 888-424-2336.)

Koenig Riesling, Alsace, 2014: The only Riesling from Alsace in the tasting, this crisp, dry, easy-to-drink wine is quite appealing. Bright straw colored and light bodied, this wine has a bouquet of cantaloupe, pear and honeysuckle, with flavors of apricot and grapefruit. Drink within the next year. Score B/B+ ($17.95. While I could not locate this wine at any New Jersey stores, it is available across the Hudson at a number of places, including, Sherry-Lehmann Wine and Spirits, 505 Park Ave. in Manhattan, 212-838-7500.)

Tzafona, Cold Climate Riesling, Niagara, 2014: While many don’t think of Canada as “wine country” our neighbors to the north actually produce about 50,000 metric tons of wine each year (about 10 times Israel’s annual production). Light-bodied, with a dark straw color, this, crisp, off-dry Risesling has a floral nose, with elements of apricot, cantaloupe, heather and honey. Look for flavors of apricot, honeydew and sour citrus, with a grapy note on the finish. Drink within the next year. Score B/B+ ($21.00. Available at FillerUp Kosher Wines, 174 West Englewood Ave., Teaneck, 201-862-1700.)

Jerusalem Vineyards, Gewürztraminer, Special Edition, Judean Hills, 2014: This light-bodied, straw-colored wine has a grapey nose with whiffs of peaches and lychees, and just the lightest note of rose petals. Look for flavors of peaches, apricots, lychees and lemons, with a light but pleasant note of spice on the finish. While still enjoyable, this wine appears to be nearing the end of its life. Drink up. Score B. ($19.99. While this wine does not seem to be available at the moment in New Jersey, it is readily available in New York at a number of wine shops, including, Gotham Wine & Liquors, 2517 Broadway i n Manhattan, 212-932-0990.)

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 reflect the price at the retailer mentioned.

By Gamliel Kronemer

For the past dozen years Gamliel Kronemer has written about kosher wine, spirits, food and cocktails in a variety of Jewish publications. When not writing or tasting, Gamliel is employed as an academic archivist at a university.

 

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