The 9 Days are over and the summer is winding down, so here are three more summer wines to enjoy before the season ends. Cheers!
If you want to try something light and refreshing, with easy fruit and great for finishing any meal, you’ll want a pinot noir. Light, easy drinking but if the devil’s grape is done right it’s superbly structured and phenomenally complex.
Yarden did something that is extremely hard to do – make a good pinot wine in Israel. The “devil’s grape” or pinot noir is known to be notoriously difficult to grow, with the best pinots coming mostly from limited regions in Burgundy, France and maybe some spots in Napa Valley, California, and Oregon. The grapes need nurturing, they need time and love, they are fragile and need to be coddled into growing properly. They also require a specific climate, which make for extremely difficult for producing excellent pinot in Israel. But Yarden does it. Yarden is known for their super duper wines. They are known simply by their vineyards, and these names create shockwaves through the kosher wine market: Yonatan Vineyard, Elrom, and Katzrin. These names bring goosebumps to kosher enophiles. Yarden is currently the third biggest producer of wine in Israel (as part of the Golan Heights Winery which also produces Galil Mountain wines) and they show no signs of slowing down. Their wines are quality across the board and have significant aging power. Earlier this year I enjoyed a Yarden Merlot from 2003, far older than what I would recommend for drinking an Israeli wine, and yet it still had punch, it was a touch sweeter than I would like, but definitely not date juice. This specific Yarden here is 13.5% alcohol and non-mevushal. It is produced entirely from pinot noir grapes grown in the Golan Heights, a region that can grow these grapes more easily due to its cool climate, rocky volcanic soil, and high altitudes. It is aged in French oak barrels for sixteen months which produces a complex wine layering fruit, floral, and spice characters with that of rich oak and nuances of vanilla. The flavors are sweet but not overpoweringly sweet, with strong red fruit including cranberries and maraschino cherries, possessing a very good mouthfeel with powerfully smooth acid at the end. This is an “end of meal” wine as it’s almost dessertish and can provide a sweet aftertaste to the end of a party. This pinot can be paired with lots of food from pasta and fish to turkey and chicken. It’s a good food wine that I personally enjoyed with my turkey last year at Thanksgiving. Currently sold on kosherwine.com for $22.99.
If notes of cherries and cranberries are just not going to do it for you, then there is another excellent type of wine to try, and that is Bordeaux. Any region in Bordeaux will do: St. Emilion, Margaux, Pomerol, pick your poison, they will all do the trick. These wines stray from fruit as the dominant component, they have an attack less like a fruit bomb, but will have terroir as the dominant aroma and flavor. What is terroir you ask? Terroir is the whole atmosphere of the wine, the essence of the wine, or in more down to earth (no pun intended) terms, the actual earth, the actual ground that the grapevine was planted in. Bordeaux wines have the ability to capture terroir better than any other wine in the world. You can sense the earth, the dirt, limestone, clay, and pebbles, and their aromas contain the dominant profile of the wine. So if you are in need of escaping another fruit forward wine, then a wine from Bordeaux is your go to.
This is a Bordeaux wine located on the right side of the Gironde River in the Listrac Medoc region. Allow me a quick word about the geography of Bordeaux as it’s necessary to understand the makeup of the wine and the grapes used. There are three parts to Bordeaux. First, there is the left bank of the Gironde river, where this wine comes from, regions like Haut Medoc and Margaux and if you continue traveling south you will hit Sauternes. Next, there is the middle region of Bordeaux which is called the Entre-Deux-Mers, or in between two rivers as this region is literally between two offshoots of the Gironde River. The middle isn’t classified by region as the two other sides of the river are, and the wines are labeled as being from Entre-Deux-Mers. On the right side of Entre-Deux-Mers we have regions such as Pomerol and St. Emilion. Now on the left side where our wine hails from is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon growing. The terroir is dirtier and limestone is perfect for growing these grapes. The right side is more merlot territory. The little pebbles on the ground help grow some of the best merlot grapes in the world. The wine that we have is a classic Bordeaux blend of 44% Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with 10% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. The wine has 13% alcohol and is not mevushal. The wine pours a deep garnet color, with aromatics of blackberry, spice, cigar box, and fresh asphalt. The palate currently shows ripe fruits such as plum and currant, with well-integrated oak influences. This wine is a great example of a Bordeaux nose and palate with earth and terroir more dominant than fruit. The sublime nature and beautiful earthy structure make it a great aperitif. It’s clearly not a fruit bomb and can allow the palate a touch of a break from perhaps stronger fruit wines you may have sampled earlier during your meal or party. This wine would go great with a deep earthy food such as lamb stew or spaghetti and meatballs. Currently selling on kosherwine.com for $31.99.
The Matar winery is the brainchild of the Pelter Distillery as they threw their hat into the kosher wine producing market in 2010 after eight years in the non kosher market. Their wines immediately became all the rage due to their powerful fruit and well-balanced acid and tannins. Matar is also a family run winery with all members helping to harvest the wine, make the wine, and distribute worldwide. Matar is creating a cult following with their wines including a wine that literally does not stay on the shelves. It is their flagship wine Matar CB – which stands for Cumulonimbus, or storm cloud. This specific wine featured from Matar is a blend of of 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Semillon grapes that are grown in the Galilee. Tasting notes from this wine are as follows: Observe a clear color, with a tinge of light green and a hint of hay color. The smell is enticing, full of grapefruit and melon, cantaloupe, honeydew, honeysuckle, fresh lemons, and lemon zest. There is not a lot salinity or minerality, just clean fruit, super light-bodied, very floral mid-palate, more melon, more grapefruit, and nice acid – strong but not bracing. This is a balanced wine with a finish that leaves your mouth feeling super refreshed. If I had a criticism it would be maybe just a touch too much acid, but this wine is super dee duper. Serve it with a light fish such as tilapia or sea bass, but it would also pair well with hard cheese and some desserts. You can find it on kosherwine.com for just $31.99.
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