Wine expert Gabriel Geller recommends special wines suitable for Rosh Hashanah celebrations.
New Year celebrations and bottles of fine wine go hand in hand, as families and friends toast what they hope will be a sweet and bountiful 12 months ahead. But, choosing the perfect kosher tipple to share around the dinner table, or as a Rosh Hashanah gift, can be tricky with so much choice out there.
To that end, Gabriel Geller, a wine expert and blogger, recently compiled a short list of wines for the Rosh Hashanah table – two Israeli, two French, and one from California – that aren’t necessarily fancy or expensive, but are worthy of the celebration. The following wines are distributed by the Royal Wine Corporation, which its sister company, Kedem Europe, operates in the UK.
Gabriel’s first recommendation, Carmel’s Selected Mediterranean Blend 2016, is a great choice for the New Year. “If there was a single winery that has always known how to reinvent itself while retaining the lessons from its rich history,” he explains, “Carmel is the one.”
Carmel, one of Israel’s very best wineries, recently released a line-up of eight wines in its Selected series that Gabriel says are “very much affordable and quite pleasantly drinkable”. The Mediterranean Blend in particular is a “delicious, inexpensive, food-friendly” follow-up to Carmel’s successful, award-winning Mediterranean, which includes varieties such as Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Viognier, and Petit Verdot. Pair it with lamb stew.
In the Spirit
The custom of taking inventory of the past year during the holidays requires a certain measure of humility. So Geller focuses on two French wines that are not considered extravagant, yet bear the same features and qualities of some of the country’s most prestigious vintages.
The new Château Royaumont 2014, a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc from Vignobles Péré-Vergé in Pomerol, is remarkably complex and has the potential to be cellared for 10 years or more after harvest. Serve it with foods such as caramelised duck breast in a raspberry coulis.
Gabriel, who is also the director of public relations and client services at The Royal Wine Corporation, recommends keeping an eye out for the Pascal Bouchard Le Classique 2016, from the Chablis appellation in Burgundy: “Unlike most kosher Chardonnay wines, this one is unoaked and radically different, style-wise.”
Showcasing a bright citrus and green apple profile with notes of saline and earthy minerals and “lip-smacking acidity,” he says it’s a perfect foil for a fish dish like Dover sole in an almond butter sauce.
Gabriel suggests comparing the Pascal Bouchard side-by-side with another excellent but very different Chardonnay, such as the Matar Chardonnay 2014 from Israel. Its slightly creamy texture and buttery notes work beautifully with balsamic glazed chicken.
For a Sweet New Year
The tradition of indulging in sweet fruits and treats on Rosh Hashanah represents hopes of being granted a sweet New Year. So Gabriel turns to Herzog Wine Cellars for its stellar Late Harvest series of dessert wines. His personal favorite is the Chenin Blanc 2015, grown in the Herzog Family’s vineyard in Clarksburg, California from a variety originating in France’s Loire Valley. He says the wine has “a luscious, almost oily texture reminiscent of quince jam, pear, and lemon drops with hints of dried apricots and honeysuckle,” making it the perfect companion for a pudding like apple pie.
Because Rosh Hashanah is such a special time for family and friends, Gabriel also provides tips for affordable favourites to serve with festive meals or bring along as gifts. “The word is finally getting out that excellent wine doesn’t have to be expensive wine,” he says. His picks include the aforementioned Carmel Selected Series, Chateau Trijet, and Terra di Seta Chianti Classico, as well as wines from the Herzog Late Harvest Series.
For more information, visit Kedemeurope.com.