Special wines for a special holiday

When it comes to wine, too many people who say they don’t understand wine will simply buy the cheapest the supermarket has to offer.

September 26, 2019 10:39
3 minute read.
Special wines for a special holiday

Barkan Winery’s Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. (photo credit: BARKAN)

There is a tradition that our behavior on Rosh Hashanah is a sign of our behavior for the whole year. Some are careful not to get angry, while others don’t take a nap for fear they will sleep too much in the coming year.

I suggest a new Rosh Hashanah tradition: splurge on a more expensive bottle of wine.

While many of us will spend a lot of money on expensive cuts of meat or fancy cheese for Rosh Hashanah or Sukkot, when it comes to wine, too many people who say they don’t understand wine will simply buy the cheapest the supermarket has to offer.

However, with wine – as with most things in life – you often do “get what you pay for.” Following is a list (in no special order) of good wines that can be bought in Israel for 70-150 shekels. It is a chance for you and your guests to taste some of the best of what Israel has to offer. Most of these will necessitate a visit to a wine shop. Don’t be intimidated!

People at wine shops love introducing people to wine. Tell the clerk what menu you are planning, or what kind of flavors you like, and ask for suggestions. Here are a few of mine, five reds and a rosé that are worth the money.

1. Barkan Special Reserve, 2016 (75 shekels) This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon comes from vineyards in the Upper Galilee. It was aged for 18 months in oak barrels, including one-third new barrels. It smells and tastes like a typical Cabernet, with strong flavor of black fruits like blackberries, along with sweet spices like cloves and cinnamon. The oak gives a nice flavor of chocolate and mocha.

2. Petit UF by Segal, 2017 (120 shekels) This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is unfiltered, meaning you will find sediment in the bottle. It comes from vineyards in the Galilee and was aged for 18 months. It offers strong fruit flavors of plum and blackberries and spices like thyme and rosemary.

Note to aspiring wine geeks: it would be fun to compare wines 1 and 2, as they are both 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and aged for a similar amount of time.

3. Nahal Yatir, 2016 (150 shekels) I have never had a bottle of wine from Yatir that I did not enjoy, and this bottle is no exception – an interesting combination of Syrah (76%), Malbec, (12%) and Tannat (12%). The aroma is amazing, and the taste is of black cherry, cassis and a little pepper. The wine was aged in large oak barrels for a year, which give the benefit of aging without any taste of oak. The wine was aged in bottles for another two years.

4. Jezreel Valley, Nahalal, 2018 (80 shekels). Jezreel Valley is a boutique winery in the Galilee making unique “Israeli-style” wines. Nahalal, named after one of the first Jewish settlements in the valley, is a blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Carignan. The two components were aged for 14 months and blended afterward. The wine is mellow, with a touch of spice.
Note: It would also be interesting to compare these two wines as they are predominantly Syrah.

5. Covenant Syrah, 2015 (280 shekels). This is a splurge, but like most splurges it’s worth it. The grapes are from the Tel Fares Vineyard in the Golan Heights, with its volcanic soil. It is 100% Syrah, and aged in oak barrels for 18 months. The wine is full-bodied, and intensely flavored. It will change in the glass as it opens up.

6. Blue C Rosé, 2018 (90 shekels) Rosé is known as a summer wine, but in Israel summer can stretch well into October. This rosé resembles its cousin from France. It’s made mostly of Syrah, and is fresh and light. It would go with almost any food.

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