Fall is a busy season on the Jewish calendar, even beyond Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. The fifth day after Yom Kippur marks the beginning of Sukkot, a joyous weeklong harvest celebration. The festive Simchat Torah and Shmini Atzeret are celebrated on the same day in Israel—the eighth day counting from the beginning of Sukkot. While traditional holiday foods may have remained the same, kosher wines have not.
Kosher wines—made mostly in accordance with the Orthodox standard of kashrut—have never been better. Though kosher wines were once sweet, simple wines produced from Concord grapes, the majority of them are now made from fine-wine grapes, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Many are also sourced from top growing regions, including Napa Valley in California, Bordeaux in France, Rioja in Spain and Piedmont in Italy.
We recommend that you try one of the kosher wines recently sampled by Wine Spectator's tasting department. All six have been rated either good or very good. One of our selections—a Sauvignon Blanc—is from Napa Valley's Hagafen, a large winery founded more than two decades ago by Irit and Ernie Weir. Our other white and four reds are from Recanati in Hefer Valley, Israel. The winery was established at the turn of the millennium; Recanati's head winemaker, Lewis Pasco, is a Napa Valley transplant.
|HAGAFEN Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2005||88||$15|
|Racy, with a wide range of exotic pineapple, papaya and mango flavors and a dash of lemongrass. Drink now. 1,232 cases made.
|RECANATI Sauvignon Blanc Shomron 2005||86||$13|
|A crisp, firm white, with touches of richness and plenty of almond and citrus flavors. Smoky notes fill the finish. Drink now. 500 cases imported.
|RECANATI Petit Syrah-Zinfandel Galilee Reserve 2004||84||$22|
|Spicy aromas, with upfront flavors of roasted plum and berry, which quickly fade on the slightly stewy finish. Drink now. 300 cases imported.
|RECANATI Barbera Galilee 2004||83||$15|
|Earthy aromas, with loamy flavors. Good concentration to the plum flavors, but not much finesse. Drink now. 250 cases imported.
|RECANATI Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee 2004||83||$15|
|Firm and focused, yet heavy on the green bean and pepper, which dominate the core of plum and cherry flavors. Drink now. 3,000 cases imported.
|RECANATI Merlot Galilee 2004||83||$15|
|On the herbal side, firm and structured, with red plum and raspberry flavors. Drying tannins on the finish. Drink now. 3,000 cases imported.
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