A liquid new year

A liquid new year

Eight new wines under $50 for 5779

As with the run-up to Passover, the weeks before Rosh HaShanah are some of the busiest for those in the kosher wine trade. Wine producers and importers rush to get their new wines on the market, and many wine merchants will sell more kosher wine during this period than in the preceding four months combined. 

In the past week I have tasted nearly two dozen new wines, and was delighted to find that all of them were enjoyable, and many were very good. Below is a selection of whites and reds that are sure to make a delightful addition to your holiday table. (Please note that some of these wines are so new that they are, at press time, only available through large online wine shops, if at all. However, all of them should be in area stores within the next few weeks.)


Drappier, Brut Nature, Champagne, Non-vintage: This is a truly delightful addition to the growing number of kosher champagnes.  Made from 100 percent pinot noir, this dry, dark-straw-colored, medium-to-full-bodied blanc de noirs has a thick, almost beer-like mousse of large active bubbles. The complex nose has a strong mineral element, with whiffs of apricots, apples, Chinese winter melon, honeydew, and wild flowers. The rich flavor moves from citrus at the front of the palate, to apples and melon mid-palate, to a mineral and cream-like finish. This is one of the best kosher champagnes I’ve tasted in recent years.

Score A.  ($48.99. Available online at kosherwine.com.)

Jean-Pierre Bailly, Pouilly-Fumé, 2017. This Loire Valley sauvignon blanc has a straw color with a light-to-medium body. Both the bouquet and the flavor are redolent of ripe grapefruit, with elements of flint, lavender, and leather. Look for a hint of butter on the finish. Drink within the next 18 months.

Score A-. ($45. Available at Taste Wine Company, 50 Third Ave., Manhattan, [212] 461-1708.)

Covenant, Zahav, Late Harvest Botrytis Chardonnay, Sonoma Mountain, 2016: This full-bodied, dark-straw-to-gold-colored dessert wine has a perfumed nose of honey, honeysuckle, Seville orange peel, and mandarins, with notes of ginger and botrytis mustiness. Look for a flavor moving from cantaloupe at the front of the palate towards citrus, quince, and honey flavors, with a musty note on the finish. Well-structured, and — with 147 grams per liter of residual sugar — decadently sweet, the wine’s only fault is that it does not have quite enough acid to fully balance the sugar. Drink now and for at least a decade.

Score A-/B+. ($28 for a 375-ml. bottle. Available direct from the winery, covenantwines.com.)

Vignobles David, Le Mourre de l’Isle, Blanc, Côtes du Rhône, 2017: Made by and Frédéric David, an independent winemaker working with organic vineyards in the Rhône Valley, this blend of 40 percent roussane, 30 percent viognier, and 30 percent grenache blanc is light-bodied, straw-colored, and has a bouquet of honeysuckle, peaches, and mango on a floral background. Flavors of peaches and mangos play against apricots and brier, with notes of earth and citrus. Crisp, dry and refreshing, this wine would make a delightful aperitif. Best within 12 to
18 months.

Score B+. ($17-$19. Available soon.)

Herzog, Special Reserve, Albariño, Edna Valley, 2017: Albariño is a somewhat obscure Spanish grape, grown in small quantities in California, and this is the first kosher varietal albariño wine ever produced.  Dark-straw-to-light-peach in color, this light-bodied wine has flavors and aromas of peaches, limes, guavas, and heather, all on a lightly vegetal background. I know too little about this grape to hazard a guess as to its drinking window, but look forward to seeing how the wine develops in the next few years.

Score B+. ($29.99. Available online at onlinekosherwine.com.)


Vignobles David, Oz Reserve, Côtes du Rhône, 2016: This dark-garnet, medium-to-full-bodied red is composed of a cuvée of 40 percent syrah, 35 percent grenache, and 25 percent mourvèdre, which was aged in 100 percent French oak barrels. Look for flavors and aromas of cherries, blackberries, fennel, and spice, with hints of black pepper and smoke on the finish. Well-structured, with supple, well-integrated tannins, this wine is ready to drink now and for the next four years.

Score A-/B+.  ($22.99. Available now) 

Bin Nun Winery, Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, Judean Hills, 2017: Made by Lewis Pasco, Israel’s maverick winemaker, this fruit-forward blend of 37 percent cabernet sauvignon and 63 percent merlot was fermented in stainless-steel and then aged for 10 months in French oak. Full-bodied and dark-garnet-colored, this wine has a still tight nose of cherries, cassis, blackberries, and oak. For such a young wine the flavor is surprisingly open, with elements of cherry, cassis, crème de cassis, blackberries, raspberries, and mocha, all on an oaky background. Enjoyable now, this wine can probably use another six months in the bottle to show its best, and should then drink well for another two to three years.

Score A-/B+. ($29-$30. Available soon.)

Jerusalem Vineyards, Marselan, Special Edition, Givat Nili, Judean Hills, 2016: Aged 10 months in French oak, this garnet-colored, medium-bodied wine was made from marselan, a cross between cabernet sauvignon and grenache. The bouquet is redolent of red cherries, boysenberries, violets, tobacco, and smoky oak.  Cherries, raspberries, and plums dominate the flavor, with hints of chocolate, pencil shavings, and vanilla, all on a mellow, oaky background. Drink now until 2022.

Score B+. ($20. Available soon.)

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.

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