Sukkot, for me, has always been a time for true relaxing and real joy. While this year will be quieter and definitely lonelier, I hope everyone will have the opportunity to sit and make meaningful brachot in their sukkah, eat something comforting and contemplate this strange past year while looking forward to a new and hopefully better 5781. Sukkot is a good time to pull out those great wines that pair well with comforting foods, so there are mostly reds here as a nod to the expectation of cooler temperatures. These wines are all tried-and-true crowd pleasers and many have appeared in my reviews (sometimes repeatedly) over the past few years, because these are just impossible to not like and really go well with food.
The Netofa Latour White 2017 is made with 100% chenin blanc, a variety originating from France’s Loire Valley, and aged in French oak barrels. This Israeli wine is typical of “godfather of French kosher wine” Pierre Miodownik’s flair for a full taste experience from nose to finish. This easy-drinking yet immensely structured wine is bright straw in color with aromas of fresh spring flowers, straw, tart strawberry and green apple. It is medium-bodied, with minerality; it has medium acidity, with hints of sweet melon and green apple on a long, lustrous finish. The finish lingers intensely, in a good way. Great to eat with fish and chicken dishes. Cook with foods featuring lemon, garlic and herbs de Provence.
Tura Mountain Vista Snow 2018 is extremely refreshing—light and crisp. A blend of viognier, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, this dry, slightly buttery white has citrus aromas and mineral notes. The color is almost clear. The nose is sweet but light, very summery. The finish is short with a hint of minerality; perfect with salads, or with fruit or fruit-based desserts. I really enjoyed meeting and speaking with Vered Ben Sa’adon at Kosherfest last year, and really liked hearing about this winemaking family's Zionism and bigger goals at their winery. My tasting team also strongly recommends their Tura Heartland 2017 at all times. Heartland is basically the favorite among the original women members of my tasting group.
I was favorably impressed with the Twin Suns Special Edition Mourvèdre 2015, a single varietal wine from two unique vineyards in Paso Robles and Cuyama, in California. Made by cult favorite winemakers Shimon and Gabriel Weiss and imported by Ami and Larissa Nahari, this is a great wine for drinking and enjoying now. Flavors suggest blueberry, blackberry and plum with notes of violets and roses, offset by smoke and black pepper. Aged in 100% French oak. Great with slow-roasted meats, barbecued chicken or layered vegetable dishes.
Dark-ruby in the glass, the Bin Nun Winery Cuvee 2018, made by Lewis Pasco, is an overall winner. It received a 91 point score in Wine Spectator Magazine. This wine has a nose of black plums, raspberry and a very slight hint of menthol. It is well balanced, with gentle but present tannins, flavors of raspberry, black cherry and floral essences. An interesting finish. Great with slow-cooked meats like brisket/pot roast and lamb.
Deep bright bordeaux in color, the Galil Mountain Winery Merlot 2018 is accompanied by rich fruity aromas on a background of fresh herb, clove and tobacco characters. The medium-to-full-bodied wine is a classic merlot that will not make anyone except the guy in the movie “Sideways” want to scream. (If you don’t get my reference, watch the movie on Chol Hamoed.) This wine consistently earns around 89 points in scores in wine magazines, but it’s also available at a great price of around $17. Perfect for cholent, stews, shepherd’s pie and roast chicken.
The Five Stones DvsG (David vs. Goliath red blend) 2016 wine is a beautiful blend of Mediterranean varieties: 40% shiraz, 24% marselan, 24% carignan and 12% petite syrah, matured in French oak barrels, 30% of them new, for about 10 months. The wine has a red-purple color, black plum aromas, violets and spices that blend well with the fruit flavors, round tannins and the scent of oak. The wine is complex and elegant, with a rich, immensely enjoyable finish. This wine goes with everything and is a great kiddush wine.
Sourced from a single vineyard in San Benito County, California, and fermented with 40% whole clusters, the Hadju Grenache 2018 is now available in wine stores/distributed through Royal Wines, after being only a club or online product previously. Jonathan Hadju of Covenant Wines really shows what he can do with offbeat blends and his offerings are really fun. Look for cherry licorice and roses on the nose, followed by firm yet silky sweet tannins, leather and spices on the palate. I like grenache with lighter foods like salmon, fresh tuna/sushi. Call me crazy.
Gvaot Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 is one of my favorite wines of all time. The depth of color, the aroma of dark berries, sweet spices and intensive lingering mouthfeel abound. Just a great table wine for always. Eat this with roasted beef and potatoes, or chicken cooked with tomato products.
As always, with all wines, I hope our readers will enjoy them responsibly, cognizant that our children are present and ever-watchful. Shana Tova U’metuka!
By Elizabeth Kratz