This year Channukah and Thanksgiving coincided, and apparently this was a pretty big deal in North America. A new name was coined for this “double header” holiday – Thanksgivukkah; people built turkey shaped menorahs and the comedy shows really had a ball. Since we moved to Israel, we didn’t really celebrate thanksgiving, but from time to time my grandmother would come to visit and prepare a proper thanksgiving feast – roasted turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce that she would shlep with her on the plane. But how is this connected to wine, you ask? Well, it is much easier to pare wines roasted turkey then with sufganiot (special Channukah dognuts) and latkes.
Following are a few wine suggestions for a festive Thanksgivukkah meal.
Dalton Winery - founded in 1995, the Dalton winery was one of the first to recognize the Upper Galilee's tremendous potential as a prime winemaking region. Winemaker Na’ama Mualem produces quality wines under the Dalton label and from the entry level Cna’an, through the Estate, Reserve and Single Vineyard wines over the past few years, some Dalton’s wines are among the best in their prices categories. I recently sampled the Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2011 - still rather firm but with good structure, fruit and balance, I’m sure that this will develop into a very enjoyable wine. The Merlot Single Vineyard, Ben Zimra 2011 would also benefit from a bit of cellaring but is already approachable and after aerating in the glass for a while opens to reveal concentrate layers of fruit, spice and dark chocolaty notes leading to a long finish.
Tulip Winery - the Tulip Winery is situated in “Kfar Tikva” (the village of hope) adjacent to Kiryat Tivon. Kfar Tikva is a unique community in which people with disabilities and special needs can develop and realize their potential. The winery has become an integral part of the village and currently employs several members of the community, providing them with an opportunity to take part in the growing Israeli wine industry. Tulip recently launched three new wines: Espero (hope in Esperanto) 2011 – a pleasant and approachable blend comprising Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Merlot , Black Tulip 2010 – the winery’s flagship vino, this is the first kosher edition. This is a ‘big’ full bodied wine, suggesting plenty of ripe dark fruit plums, toasted oak and notes of warm spices leading to a long and mouth filling finish. Creation DNA 2011 – this is a blend made up of grapes from all off Tulip’s vineyards and grape varieties and hence the name DNA. An interesting marketing effort and while I was a bit skeptical at first, the result is an elegant, interesting and very enjoyable wine.
Golan Heights Winery – a winery that is often considered as the main catalyst behind the quality revolution and rejuvenation of the Israeli wine industry, head winemaker Victor Schonfeld and his team manage to produce excellent wines across all price & style categories. Apropos marketing efforts and gimmicks, for years the winery’s Mount Hermon Red was branded as part of the award winning Yarden label and while this was an entry level wine by any means, it still featured the Yarden Logo and name. Last year, Golan Heights decided to create a separate label for the Mount Hermon vinos, including two reds a white wine and the most recent addition, a light and slightly fizzy, Moscato dessert wine from the 2013 vintage. Serve chilled, this is a fruity and fun wine; the low alcohol level combined with the pleasant sweetness and refreshing acidity. We served it with cheesecake and a fresh fruit platter and the bottle was finished in no time.
L’Chaim and Happy Holidays!