Friday, May 29, 2020

5776 is almost here. And so is a bevy of new wines from around the world.

When it comes to wine, tastes vary greatly—so we’ve expanded our selection of new arrivals. This coming new year brings a fresh array of wines, giving wine lovers an opportunity to not only enjoy the latest vintage of their tried and true favorites, but to also discover something new.

Washington is the second-largest wine-producing state after California. Washington wines are known for their bright fruit flavors and crisp acidity, as well as for the unique terroir of its vineyards. Terroir is a French wine term which very loosely translates as “a sense of place” and refers to the sum of the interactive effects on the final wine of its unique local growing conditions—everything from the soil, micro-climate and weather, to the vineyard management and methods of production. Climates of individual Washington wine regions differ dramatically, and are cut across from north to south by the Cascade Mountains, resulting in some wonderful diversity. In general, Washington wine regions rely upon drip irrigation, enjoy consistent temperatures and benefit from an extra two hours of daylight over California during the growing season. All this helps contribute to amazingly vibrant grapes. With more than a dozen different wine regions in Washington, some find this diversity confusing, but the terroir shines through and lends itself to exceptional, rich, full, sometimes wonderfully subtle and complex wine. New from Pacifica, the sister winery to Goose Bay located in New Zealand and the first all-kosher winery in the Pacific Northwest, is the Columbia Gorge Rosé. Made from a blend of Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Merlot and a touch of Zinfandel grapes all grown along the Columbia River on Underwood Mountain, this fabulous Rosé is a luscious, higher-acid Rosé made in a dry style with just a touch of sweetness, crisp and flavorful.

France is perhaps the most prestigious and well-known growing region, and while its history dates back many centuries, it is not actually the oldest wine-producing region. (That honor properly goes to Israel, where wine grape cultivation originated, but more about that later!) It is said that Rashi grew grapes and produced wine in France, and some of the most prestigious French vineyards can trace their wine-growing lineage back more than 500 years. This rich history and heritage of wine production gives France much of its wine prestige, not to mention that France continues to produce long-lived, world-class wines. Today, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, among other classic grape varieties, are predominantly grown in around the Bordeaux area; Burgundy and Southern France grow primarily Pinot Noir and Chardonnay; and the Rhone Valley grows varieties such as Mourvedre, Grenache and other varieties that have been ideally matched to the local regional terroir over the centuries. One particular new and notable wine from France is the Château Tertre Daugay—Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Class which is made from 60 percent Merlot and 40 percent Cabernet Franc. The grapes were grown in complex soils that feature slate and red dense clay, and were manually harvested, and fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, and then aged for 14 months in oak, of which 50 percent were new barrels, for a wine that features black fruit, blackberries, pepper that is full-bodied and lush on the palate. Established in the mid-19th century, wines from Château Tertre Daugay are some of the most sought-after in Saint-Émilion, with this one in particular receiving a 91 rating (out of 100) from Stephen Tanzer in his prestigious bimonthly International Wine Cellar.

Israel, which started popping up on the radars of many wine connoisseurs only recently, is arguably the oldest wine-producing region in the world! The varied terroir—with cooler weather and volcanic soil in the north and generally warmer weather and red, clay and loam soils in the central and south part of the country—allow for a wide variety of flavors and tastes in wine. Couple the diverse growing conditions with the most up-to-date winemaking techniques and Israeli ingenuity (for example, drip irrigation was pioneered in Israel), and you have a recipe for some of the finest wines available today. Some exciting new releases for the holiday season from Tabor Winery are Tabor Gewurztraminer—an off-dry white wine, perfect for a Rosh Hashanah lunch or a warm day in the sukkah. Another new release is Tabor 562, a delightful sparkling wine made with fine, early-harvested Chardonnay for richness, and French Colombard for structure and lively fruit flavors; perfect for celebrating the Jewish New Year.

From the Tulip Winery comes Tulip Espero. Espero comes from the international auxiliary language of Esperanto and means “hope,” it is homage to the winery’s special relationship with Kfar Tikvah (Village of Hope), a unique community that is home to emotionally and developmentally disabled adults. The Tulip winery is not only located in Kfar Tikvah, but also employs many of the residents. Blended from Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, Tulip Espero is at once complex but inviting, round, soft and flavorful. It is limited production, so try it before it is too late!

Italy’s tradition of winemaking dates back centuries, and is influenced by its long and varied coastline, surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea. Of the hundreds of different grape varieties for which Italy is justly famous, its real claim to fame, and the pride of Tuscany, is Sangiovese. The Terra di Seta winery, Italy’s only all-kosher winery, offers a delicious twist with its new Meshi Toscana Rosé (Meshi is modern Hebrew for “silk). This delightful boutique wine is made from 100 percent Sangiovese grapes, the same as the great Chiantis of Tuscany, and as its name indicates, it is silky smooth and balanced by intense berries and fresh, lively acidity. Unlike classic Chianti, which Terra di Seta also produces a fabulous example of, the Terra Di Seta Meshi Toscana Rosé is off-dry and perfect for Shabbos lunch or a Yom Tov afternoon meal.

By Jay Buchsbaum