Rosh Hashanah is a time when Jewish people reflect on the past and look toward a brighter future, so it’s only fitting to consider these themes when sharing special holiday meals with family and friends.
Wine expert and blogger Gabriel Geller, director of public relations and client services at The Royal Wine Corp., 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.
Lessons from history
Geller’s first recommendation is Carmel’s Selected Mediterranean Blend 2016 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, Carmel is the one,” he said.
Carmel, one of Israel’s very best wineries, recently released a lineup of eight wines in its Selected series that are “very much affordable and quite pleasantly drinkable,” he said.
The Mediterranean blend is a “delicious, inexpensive, food-friendly” follow-up to Carmel’s award-winning and high-end Mediterranean, which includes Petite Sirah, Mourvedreand Viognier and Petit Verdot. Pair it with lamb stew.
In the spirit of humility
The custom of taking inventory of the past year during the High Holy Days requires a certain measure of humility. In that vein, Geller focused 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 complex and has the potential to be cellared for 10 years or more after harvest. Serve it with caramelized duck breast in a raspberry coulis.
Geller also 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,” he said.
Showcasing a bright citrus and green apple profile with notes of saline and earthy minerals and “lip-smacking acidity,” he said, it’s a perfect foil for Dover sole in almond butter sauce.
Geller suggested comparing the Pascal Bouchard side-by-side with another excellent but very different Chardonnay, such as the Matar Chardonnay 2014 from Israel.
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. Geller turns to Herzog Wine Cellars for its stellar Late Harvest series dessert wines.
His personal favorite is the Chenin Blanc 2015, grown in the Herzog Family’s vineyard in Clarksburg, Calif., from a variety originating in France’s Loire Valley. He said 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 an apple pie.
Great values under $20
Because Rosh Hashanah is such a special time for family and friends, Kedem/Royal Wine asked Geller about affordable favorites 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 said.
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.