Kosher Wines for the High Holidays
A selection of top bottles, plus videos, recipes and more
In 2008, Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, begins at sunset on Monday September 29 and concludes at sunset on October 1. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, begins at sunset on October 8 and concludes October 9. Together, these are known as the High Holidays. For those hosting a gathering or looking to bring a gift to one, we've put together a list of some of the best-rated kosher wines we've tasted recently. As we never grow tired of saying, kosher wines have come a long way from the collective memory of sticky-sweet table wines, as you'll see from the list below.
If you're planning to entertain for the holidays, you'll want to check out our recipe archive, full of great ideas for your holiday table. The food and wine matching tool will help you make decisions about which types of wines to serve with your dishes. If you'll be travelling to be with family, take a look at our hotel guide.
In his recent article, "Israel's Moment in the Sun," and accompanying "Israel Shines" video, Wine Spectator managing editor Kim Marcus finds that a new generation of Israeli winemakers is leading a quality revolution from the Golan Heights and Galilee to the Negev Desert. Be sure, too, to check out our kosher Bordeaux video, featuring Jean-Luc Thunevin of Château Valandraud and Wine Spectator European bureau chief James Suckling. If you're interested in learning more about kosher wine, check out our kosher ABCs of Wine Tasting course at the Wine Spectator School.
To all of our readers celebrating the upcoming holidays, we raise a glass and say l'shana tovah.
GOLAN HEIGHTS Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee Yarden 2004 Score: 90 | $27
Rich and refined, showing focused flavors of red plum, berry and spice, with appealing herbal overtones. Has excellent balance and structure, backed up by crisp acidity. Mineral and smoke notes fill the firm finish. Kosher. Drink now through 2012. 13,000 cases made. —K.M.
GOLAN HEIGHTS Chardonnay Galilee Yarden 2005 Score: 90 | $16
Rich and well-structured, with ripe apple and apricot flavors accented by mineral and citrus notes. The crystalline finish ends with spice and hints of sea salt. Kosher. Drink now through 2011. 6,971 cases made. —K.M.
GOLAN HEIGHTS Gewürztraminer Galilee Yarden Heights Wine 2005 Score: 90 | $23 / 375ml
Thick and rich, showing luscious flavors of glazed apricot, pineapple, baked apple and spice, with a very long and honeyed finish. Kosher. Drink now through 2015. 967 cases made. —K.M.
CARMEL Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee 2004 Score: 89 | $35
This lush red is filled with dark fruit flavors and lively chocolate notes that extend with spice and cream on the long finish. Kosher. Drink now through 2011. 1,200 cases imported. —K.M.
DOMAINE DU CASTEL Grand Vin Haute-Judée 2005 Score: 89 | $68
A ripe, mature style, showing well-rounded flavors of dried plum and cherry, with concentrated mineral and savory herb notes. Has a smooth finish, with supple tannins. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Kosher. Drink now through 2010. 800 cases imported. —K.M.
GALIL MOUNTAIN Shiraz-Cabernet Galilee 2005 Score: 89 | $18
A plush, voluptuous red, with fresh flavors of red plum, berry, mineral and spice. The clean, minerally finish features notes of mocha and red cherry. Kosher. Drink now. 5,500 cases made. —K.M.
RECANATI Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee Reserve 2005 Score: 89 | $25
This is firm and juicy, with good density and structure to the dark plum and dark cherry flavors. A lively mix of mint, chocolate and lavender fills the finish. Kosher. Drink now through 2010. 4,500 cases made. —K.M.
BARKAN Cabernet Sauvignon Galil Altitude Series +624 Reserve 2005 Score: 88 | $38
Has a spicy aroma, with plush flavors of plum, red cherry and berry. Cream and coffee notes fill the supple finish. Kosher. Drink now through 2010. 600 cases imported. —K.M.
GALIL MOUNTAIN Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee 2006 Score: 88 | $15
Offers an aroma of blueberry, with fresh raspberry and red plum flavors. Quite muscular on the finish, with notes of stone and spice. Kosher. Drink now. 17,000 cases imported. —K.M.
GALIL MOUNTAIN Viognier Galilee 2006 Score: 88 | $15
Firm, focused flavors of peach, spice, apricot and smoke give this medium-bodied white plenty of freshness and personality, with a long finish of cream and honey. Kosher. Drink now through 2010. 2,000 cases imported. —K.M.
RECANATI Syrah Galilee 2005 Score: 88 | $16
An aroma of rose petal leads to concentrated flavors of raspberry, cream and spice. There's plenty of iron and mineral on the finish. Kosher. Drink now. 2,400 cases made. —K.M.
YATIR Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot-Shiraz Judean Hills 2003 Score: 88 | $30
Dense and ripe, with dark plum and chocolate flavors. Shows savory herb and olive notes as well, with hints of mint. Kosher. Drink now through 2010. 1,000 cases imported. —K.M.
HERZOG Syrah Edna Valley Special Reserve 2005 Score: 85 | $32
Complex and deeply concentrated, with a mix of beefy wild berry, sage and dusty berry flavors that have a touch of herb and tomato flavors. Kosher. Drink now through 2011. 896 cases made. —J.L.