With Rosh Hashanah already upon us, we have all been reflecting on the past year while looking forward to the next one. Every year—and even every day and every moment—we always have the opportunity, the choice, to do better, to be better. Growth is a necessary goal to achieve, both as people and as individuals, as decline is the only alternative. Now is the time to get a fresh start.
The entire Seder of Rosh Hashanah, with its many beautiful minhagim, is all about symbols. Each fruit and vegetable symbolizes a dimension of spiritual growth for the year ahead. These are all things that we can see with wine as well. When one puts away a special bottle of wine to open at a child’s or grandchild’s wedding or bar mitzvah, he/she is also looking for the wine to “grow” inside the bottle, to improve so it will be even better than it was when he/she acquired it.
Winemakers also thrive with every harvest and vintage, aspiring to have better grapes and make better wine than the preceding one. However, as we know well, the future is uncertain. We must do our part and do it to the best of our ability, but the rest is in Hashem’s hands. One way we do our part as a company is to bring newer and better kosher wines to the market every year.
This year for Rosh Hashanah, we not only have one, but two great new wines from Herzog Wine Cellars. The Herzog Special Reserve Russian River Méthode Champenoise is a Champagne-style sparkling wine made from 100% Chardonnay grapes, one of the three main grape varieties used in the Champagne region of France. It is an opulent, complex and delightful wine with sharp bubbles, bracing acidity and notes of golden apple, ripe lemon and freshly baked sourdough bread. It is hard for me to think of a better wine to kick off the year 5782!
Herzog also released the Herzog Special Edition Chardonnay Chalk Hill 2020. That harvest was challenging for California wineries due to the devastating wildfires that destroyed some vineyards and smoke-tainted the grapes in others. Baruch Hashem, the fires did not affect the Chardonnay grapes for this wine. Instead, we have a superb, layered, scrumptious, creamy and fluffy wine, without a doubt one of the best kosher white wines out there.
Good wine needs not cost a lot; many delicious new wines are affordable. Faustino VI Rioja 2020 is made from Tempranillo grapes. This wine is the first kosher wine produced by one of the most famous Spanish wineries. It is a juicy, medium-bodied wine with notes of purple fruit, spices, herbs and a smooth finish.
From Israel, we have the unique new wines from Nana Estate, a winery located in Mitzpe Ramon, growing pristine vineyards in the hot and dry Negev Desert, of all places. These challenging conditions, coupled with the innovative methods and technology employed by the winery, have already caught the attention and interest of multiple mainstream international and American media. The Nana Cassiopeia 2019 is a red blend based on Syrah, which displays meaty, earthy and black fruit notes with hints of oriental spices.
For a sweet new year, let us not forget about a terrific dessert wine. Château de Rayne-Vigneau 2018 is one of the greatest kosher Sauternes ever produced. A decadent, luxurious dessert wine with notes of apricot jam, dried pears, sugar-coated almonds, candied ginger and maple syrup with balancing acidity, which is great to enjoy now and will become even more significant over the next two or three decades if stored properly. Just as this wine can get so much better for many years to come, so can we all have a great year and many more if we keep ourselves in check and focus on doing only good for others and ourselves. Shana Tova!
Gabriel Geller is director of public relations and wine education for Royal Wines.