Wine choices for Rosh Hashanah aren’t just from Israel
Rosh Hashanah (head of the year) starts the evening of Monday, Sept. 26, and ends at sundown Sept. 27. Although it’s known as the Jewish New Year, there are several other faiths which cherish the Old Testament and observe this joyful holiday. Each evening, candles are lighted prior to sundown by women of the family. Kiddush (sanctification prayers, don’t confuse with Kaddish, mourners’ prayer) are said over wine and bread, and before the meal. Some traditional fare is challah bread/honey, and pomegranate and sliced apples, also dipped in honey. There is quite a bit of traditional activity. One that most may be aware of is sounding of the shofar, a ram’s horn trumpet that is said to have been blown at Jericho, according to Book of Joshua, Chapter 6 of the Old Testament. Rosh Hashanah introduces the 10 days of reflection which culminate with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. To wish your Jewish friends a happy new year, say, “Shana tova u’metuka.” On Jan. 1, the secular New Year’s Day holiday, simply say “Shana tova.” Those who wish in-depth information on Kosher wines can access KosherWine.com. Those who buy a well-chosen, curated case receive free access to their six-week Academy 101 course, running each Thursday at 8 p.m. starting Oct. 20. Delaware signup deadline is Oct. 18. Very well-done course.
Those who haven’t shopped for wines yet can find Laurent-Perrier, Tabor, Barkan, Herzog, Yarden and Carmel labels locally. All meet dietary restriction (mevushal) guidelines. Not all Kosher wine comes from Israel. I also recommend: Clos des Lunes Bordeaux Blanc; Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand; Napa’s Hagafen Cellars Oak Knoll Chardonnay; and Coombsville Pinot Noir and Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc for the sweet crowd. Another upscale sweet option is Chateau Petit Guiraud Sauternes 2018-19, 91 McD, $35, great value. Those looking at top-line red Bordeaux can serve Chateau Pontet-Canet 2016, $169, or 2018 or ‘19, both $136, all 97 McD; Smith Haut Lafitte 2015, available in N.J. and at Pa. liquor control under $150, 95 McD. Be very careful of 2017 Bordeaux. A bad-weather year started with a spring freeze which lowered production over 40%. As always, a few experts or those just plain lucky produced wonderful wine. There is a lot of review puffery, in my opinion. My guru Jancis Robinson quotes Gavin Quinney of Chateau Bauduc, “A good, bad and ugly year.” You can read the full report here: jancisrobinson.com/articles/bordeaux-2017-harvest-and-weather-report. For Red Burgundy, Jean-Philippe Marchand Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 2018, 93 McD or his Gevry Chambertin will fill the bill. Point of information: If wine is available in NJ and PA, your local wine store pal can probably get you some. Be patient and buy six or 12, or a split case, please.
Cellarers, keep a sharp eye out for upcoming high-price wine bargains when the nascent recession hits. Few who drink expensive wine seem to cellar. More’s the shame, as great wine properly cellared in the 10-20-year time horizon frequently beats appreciation in stock and bond markets. Buy a case and sell six bottles get free wine. I mention this because I recently sampled Chateau Cantenac Brown 2018 at $99, the ‘19 at $75 and ‘20 at $53, and all scored 92 McD. Margaux has been having largely successful recent vintages. I’ve shopped and found several outlets in NY, NJ and Cali. have Chateau Giscours 2014, 93 McD, in the under-$80 range. Those who wish to see what properly aged, great Bordeaux presents as should look into these. The Chateau Pape Clement 2014, a Pessac-Leognan written of here in 2016 and purchased for $24, is divine. It has 58% Merlot, 38% Cab and Petit Verdot, aged in 60% new French oak. It is better than the vaunted 2009/$249 and 2010/$287 vintages. You can buy it for $118. Still can rest a few more on the shelf. Can’t wait? Decant, wait two hours, and be sure to use a proper glass with a generous bowl.
God Rest Queen Elizabeth in Peace. I’m not much of a royals watcher, but she was a truly remarkable person in many respects. I remember her early public life and coronation as seen on TV and in the news. Can any of us imagine living in the aquarium her life was while maintaining such dignity and aplomb? Remarkable indeed!