It’s that time again. As Elul comes to an end, many kosher wine lovers will find themselves visiting wine shops, or digging through their cellars, in search of that special bottle of wine with which to inaugurate the new year. Many will be drawn to big, powerful, fruity, full-bodied Cabernets and Merlots. Fortunately for the kosher consumer, there continue to be a growing number of excellent wines of this type. However, for this Rosh Hashanah, as a change, I have decided that instead I’d rather serve something a bit more subtle and elegant—I decided that I’d like to serve a Grenache.
Grenache is one of the world’s most-planted red wine grapes, but most of its expressions are rather unremarkable. However, when harvested from heavily pruned old vine-stock which was planted in arid, rocky soil, it can produce some truly remarkable wines. If one were to think of Cabernet as being a masculine—and a good Cabernet as being tall, dark and handsome—then one should think of Grenache as being feminine—and a well-made Grenache as being coy, statuesque and alluring.
So, in preparation for Rosh Hashanah I tasted a handful of varietal Grenaches and Grenache-based blends and found four very good or excellent wines, any of which would be an elegant addition to your Yom Tov table.
One of the best wines in the tasting was the 2012 La Flor del Flor de Primavera from Capçanes; I was blown away by this elegant wine when I first tasted it during a visit to this Catalan mountain winery last summer. I’ve tasted it twice in the U.S. since then, and am very impressed with how it’s been developing in the bottle. Bright garnet in color, and made from 100 percent Grenache grapes grown on vines that are between 80-110 years old, this wine is full bodied, yet restrained. The nose, which is continuing to develop, is redolent of cherries, peaches, plums, boysenberries, violets, toasty oak and pencil shavings. The flavor has notes of cherries, plums, blackberries, boysenberries, tobacco, mocha, spice and toasty oak. With a creamy mouth-feel and well-integrated tannins, this wine is very enjoyable now, but could still use a few years to develop. Best 2017-2023. Score A. ($80.00. Available at FillerUp Kosher Wines, 174 West Englewood Ave, Teaneck,  862-1700.)
Also excellent was Vignobles David’s 2012 Les Masques Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Châteauneuf-du-Pape (which literally means the Pope’s new castle) is an appellation in the south of France’s Rhône Valley which is named for a nearby town that once held the papal summer residence. The soil there is rocky and arid, making it a great location for growing Grenache. This dark garnet-colored, full-bodied wine—made from a blend of 85 percent Grenache, 10 percent Mourvèdre, and 5 percent Syrah—has a complex bouquet of cherries, plums, blackberries, lavender and orange blossoms, with notes of oak and cedar, all overlaying a layer of wet gravel. The flavor is complex, with cherries and currants giving way to notes of pipe tobacco, toasty oak, truffles and spice. Look for hints of raspberries and citrus on the finish. Well structured, with an abundance of rich powdery tannins, this wine is drinking well now, but could use a bit more time to develop. Best 2017-2021. Score A. ($78.00. Available at FillerUp Kosher Wines, 174 West Englewood Ave, Teaneck,  862-1700.)
A lighter expression of Châteauneuf is Domaine l’Or deLine’s newly released 2012 Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Aged for eight months in new oak barrels, this ruby colored, medium- to full-bodied wine has a nose of plums, cherries, smoky oak and wet gravel. The flavor is dominated by plums and cherries, with notes of chocolate and oak, and a slight herbal element. Look for a bit of spice towards the back of the palate. Light and elegant, with supple tannins, this wine should be consumed within the next three years. Score B+/A-. ($40.00. Available at FillerUp Kosher Wines, 174 West Englewood Ave, Teaneck,  862-1700.)
The budget choice of the tasting was Vignobles David’s 2012 Reserve Côtes du Rhône Villages. Made Domaine de la Clastre in the south of France’s Rhone Valley, this blend of 60 percent Grenache and 40 percent Syrah has a garnet color and a medium to full body. Look for flavors and aromas of cherries, currants, cranberries, mocha, black pepper and leather, with a light mineral layer in the background. Drink within the next two or three years. Score B+. ($19.99. Available at Bayway World of Liquors, 639 Bayway Ave, Elizabeth,  353-6300.)
I wish you all a very happy and healthy year.
Please Note: 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