It is almost time to start thinking about which wines to serve at the upcoming holiday meals. When being invited out, bringing a good bottle of wine is always welcomed, and even if your hosts are not wine drinkers, at the least you will enjoy a glass of good wine with your meal. As holiday banquets often include multiple diners, with your long lost cousins, neighbors or family friends joining in for the feast, this is also a good opportunity to uncork several different bottles of wine throughout the course of the meal.
As I have mentioned in that past, pre holiday season is also a good opportunity to stock up on your favorite wines as beverage stores and wineries offer specials that can be pretty tempting. It is important to note that not all wines are age worthy and some are meant to be consumed upon release. There are various factors that influence the aging potential of a vino, including: tannins, balance, acidity, grape variety and more. If you are looking for a bottle to keep in your cellar, I would recommend searching on line or asking the salesperson and your local wine store for some suggestions.
Following are several wines which are rather approachable now but should also keep and in some cases benefit from an additional 2-5 years of aging.
Barkan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, 2008 – 88% Cab and 12% Merlot from vineyards in the Galilee, the wine was oak aged for relatively long periods of between 18-22 months. Barkan’s Cab Reserve is full bodied, suggesting generous aromas and flavors ripe red fruits followed by notes of toasted oak and black pepper. I also enjoyed the Pinotage Reserve 2007 and if you could still find a bottle, I would also recommend trying the Caringan Reserve 07 from the same label, ~ NIS 70. Barkan’s Cabernet Sauvignon wines from the winery’s Altitude label are also worth trying.
Galilee Mountain, Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz, 2008 - also available in half bottles (375 ml.), an ideal solution for a couple dining alone who only feel like having one glass of wine with their meal. 50% Shiraz and the balance Cabernet Sauvignon, dark purple, medium to full bodied, the wine was aged for 10 months in American oak barrels. On the nose and palate, ripe plums and cherries followed by sweet vanilla and slight toasty notes ~ NIS 61. From my experience the wine goes very well with grilled red meats and the winery suggests serving it alongside a juicy burger or steak or with a rich meat ragu.
Tulip, Shiraz, Mostly, 2009 – 85% Shiraz and 15% Cab developed separately in oak barrels for 6 months, blended and then aged for an additional 9 months in both American and French barrels. Since the wine contains 85% Shiraz, it can be considered as a varietal Shiraz wine and the name ‘Mostly’ refers to the fact that it is blended with another grape variety. Dark ruby with purple reflections, medium leaning towards full bodied, on the attack primarily showing concentrated black berry fruits followed by notes of fresh herbs and spicy oak all leading to a long finish. By the way, as of 2010 all of Tulip’s wines will bare kosher certification. The winery’s White Franc 10 and the White Tulip 10 are both Kosher. ~ NIS 75.
Golan Heights, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, 2008 – the Gamla series is often overlooked by wine aficionados and in my opinion there are several wines from the label that are among the top choices in their price range – try the Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Merlot 08 or the Riesling and Sauvignon blanc that will get you a change from NIS 45. The Merlot 08 is medium bodied with pleasant aromas of red and black berry fruits, cherries and subtle notes of pepper, vanilla and warm spices (cloves and cinnamon) come to mind) leading to a long finish. ~NIS 70
Teperberg, Shiraz, Reserve, 2009 – 100% Shiraz, the wine was aged in barriques (both new and second round) for 18 months. Dark purple in color, the wine is full bodied and while still firm suggests aromas and flavors of raspberries, plums, purple flowers and a touch of chocolate covered orange peel leading to a long finish. ~NIS 100. Teperberg wines have recently improved dramatically and in my opinion are offering good wines in all price categories. The winery’s Late Harvest dessert wine from the ‘Silver’ label is one of the best in its price category - serve with apple and honey on Rosh HaShana.
Binyamina, Reserve, Carignan, 2009 – 12 months in oak, dark purple towards garnet in color, medium leaning towards full bodied, the wine displays pleasant aromas of ripe plums, black cherries, sweet spices, vanilla and slight smoky notes leading to a pleasant finish. This is the first varietal Carignan wine produced by Binyamina and joins a few other Carignan vinos currently on the market. ~ NIS 79
Other good Carignan wines include: Vitkin's Carignan, Carmel Carignan, Old Vines, Appellation Series, Yaffo Carignan 2009, and the Barkan Carignan of the winery's Reserve label.