Wines For An Early New Year

Wines For An Early New Year

Top picks to serve during a summery Rosh HaShanah.

For the first time in decades, Rosh HaShanah falls during the very early days of September, and in New York, that usually means we’re in for a hot and humid holiday. When it comes to choosing wines to serve on that first night of the New Year, the wine lover will likely find himself in a quandary: On the one hand, traditional dishes such as brisket and tongue call for full-bodied red wines; on the other hand, a glass or two of a really big wine can make the summer heat seem even more oppressive. The trick is to find wines with enough body to stand up to traditional fare, but not so much body as to make the weather seem overbearing.

This month’s Fruit of the Vine features six newly released kosher reds; any of them should make a good addition to your holiday table, whatever the weather.

One of the best wines in the tastings was Agua Dulce’s 2010 Syrah. This wine is made by Craig Winchell, the onetime owner/winemaker of the late, lamented Gan Eden Winery. In 2010 Winchell was tapped to lead the winemaking team at Auga Dulce Winery, which is located in Los Angeles County’s Sierra Pelona Valley, and in this position Winchell has begun to produce a small amount of kosher wine. This Syrah is one of the winery’s first kosher releases. Medium to full bodied, with a youthful bright-garnet color, Winchell’s Syrah has a big nose of cherries, red currants, smoky oak, black pepper and spicy pipe tobacco. The flavor is dominated by cherries but has notes of black pepper, oak, violets, and herbs. This Syrah also has a nice level of tannin. While drinking well now, it will be at its best between 2015 and 2017 and perhaps longer.

Score A-/B+ ($35. This wine is not yet distributed in the greater New York area, but can be ordered directly from the winery:, [661] 268-7402.)

Also very good, and certainly the most interesting wine in this group was the 2010 Tzafit, from Barkan’s new Assemblage Series. Made of 15 percent Pinotage (a South African hybrid grape) 53 percent Marselan, 20 percent Caledoc (both French hybrid grapes) and 12 percent Carignan, all of which were grown in the Judean Hills, this wine has a dark-garnet color, an almost-full body, and a bouquet of blackberries, black currants and oak, with notes of cedar, pipe tobacco, and field greens. Look for flavors of cherries, cranberries, cassis, and oak, with a hint of mocha. While drinking well now, the Tzafit will only start to be at its best in another six to eight months, and should then drink well until at least 2017.

Score A-/B+. ($28.95. Available at Skyview Wine & Spirits, 5681 Riverdale Ave., Riverdale, Bronx, [718] 601-8222.)

Another notable wine from Barkan’s new Assemblage series is the 2010 Eitan. Made from grapes grown in the Judean Hills, this blend is composed of 52 percent Syrah, 30 percent Merlot, and 18 percent Cabernet Sauvignon; each of them was independently fermented and barrel aged for 10 months before blending. Look for an herbal bouquet with notes of cherries, blackberries, raspberries, cassis, and spice. The flavor has elements of cherries, blackberries and cassis, with notes of oak, citrus and spice. Ready to drink now and for the next four years.

Score B+ ($28.95. Available at Skyview Wine & Spirits, 5681 Riverdale Ave., Riverdale, Bronx, [718] 601-8222.)

Returning to California, another wine worth considering is Wienstock’s 2011 Cellar Select Petite Sirah. With that rich purple/garnet color to be found in good to Petite Sirahs, and a medium to full body, this wine has flavors and aromas of cherries, cranberries, cherry brandy, cedar, chocolate and a hint of allspice. While lacking in complexity, this fruit forward wine is well structured, and ready to drink. Best now-2016.

Score B+ ($19.99. Available at Astor Wines & Spirits 399 Lafayette St., Manhattan, [212] 674-7500.)

Those seeking a more moderately priced red for Rosh HaShanah may want to consider the Teal Lake’s 2012 Special Reserve Shiraz. This medium-to-full-bodied, dark garnet-colored Australian red has flavors and aromas of cherries, and red currants with notes of fennel, allspice and black pepper. Well structured, with a gentle layer of tannin, this is the best wine I have tasted from the Teal Lake series in several years. Drink now-2016.

Score B+ ($15.99. Available at Chateau du Vin, 544 Central Ave., Cedarhurst, L.I., [516] 374-9463.)

Another good, moderately priced choice is Ramon Cardova’s 2011 Garnacha. Made from Grenache grapes grown in the Rioja region of Spain, this medium-bodied, garnet-colored wine has flavors and aromas of cherries and mixed berries, with hints of wood and oriental spices. Simple but lively and well made, this wine should drink well for the next two years.

Score B ($16.95. Available at Skyview Wine & Spirits, 5681 Riverdale Ave., Riverdale, Bronx, [718] 601-8222.)

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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