Shavuot is not an eight-day long Yom Tov like Sukkot or Pesach, yet it is no less important. Indeed, as we celebrate Matan Torah, we also have special Yom Tov meals, which means special wines are in order, as well. While the minhag in many communities is to eat a milchig meal, whether it is followed by a fleishig one or not, let’s for once this coming Shavuot not exclusively focus on white or rosé wines.
The wines from Bordeaux in France have a special aura which is looked up to by winemakers all over the world. For now close to a thousand years, the wines from Bordeaux have been representing the best of the best in terms of quality, knowledge, tradition and craftsmanship. Baruch Hashem, some of the best wines from Bordeaux have been regularly produced in a kosher version for the past 30 years or so, and the selection grows almost on a yearly basis. Despite the obvious global climate changes that we have been noticing in recent years, the weather in Bordeaux is still not as predictable and consistent as it is in California, or in Eretz Yisrael. Bordeaux however has been blessed with good to great conditions from 2014 through 2018, each of these vintages having produced excellent wines.
Top-shelf red Bordeaux wines are typically aged for 12 to 24 months in oak barrels, followed by at least one more year at the winery once bottled. Therefore the current vintage on the market now is 2016. For those of you who are really familiar with these wines, you certainly have noticed the Château Giscours 2016 from Margaux. Arguably their best wine so far, and considering the previous vintages, that’s quite a statement. There is also the second kosher release of Château Lascombes which is truly impressive, as well. And then there is Château Montviel, an amazing wine from Pomerol, a.k.a. the kingdom of Merlot. The novelty this year is Château du Tertre, a “fifth growth” (a highly rated regional bottle classification, unique to Bordeaux) Margaux. It is a supremely elegant wine, already showing its promise and which should age wonderfully for many years to come.
The aforementioned Bordeaux wines will grace the Yom Tov table as the perfect wines to best celebrate Matan Torah. The weather has also warmed up quite a bit, and therefore here are some excellent white and rosé wines to pair with your appetizers, milchig meals, fish and perhaps even more important, to drink as a cool refresher.
Take for instance the Elvi Vina Encina Rosado 2018. Made from Tempranillo grapes, this Spanish Rosé has a beautiful intense pink color, as well as a great aromas and flavors of strawberries, raspberries and watermelon. It would accompany some light snacks such as olives and pickles, but also would be a wonderful accompaniment to a goat cheese salad with cranberries and sun dried tomatoes.
Pacifica winery in Washington State makes an impressive off-dry Riesling 2017, it is simply gorgeous, very much affordable under $20, and a crowd pleaser, liked by sophisticated and casual drinkers alike. I love riesling because of its versatility with food. With its great acidity, mineral/earthy notes, subtle sweetness, as well as with its apple and Meyer lemon aromas, it can be sublime with a full-flavored cheese such as an aged pecorino as much as it can cut through the savory flavors of a veal risotto.
The Tabor Adama Sauvignon Blanc 2018 is yet another success for this excellent producer in the Galilee. While its compatibility with roasted chicken is undeniable, it would shine best when paired with soft cheeses and fresh sourdough bread. Light to medium-bodied, with notes of ripe lemon, kiwi and freshly cut grass. It is downright delicious and amazingly refreshing also on its own.
The Domaine Bailly Pouilly Fumé 2018 is also a sauvignon blanc but its aromatic profile is very different than the Tabor. The style of the wines from Loire Valley’s Pouilly Fumé appellation in France are more floral and mineral than the fruit-forward character of sauvignon blanc from Israel or California. Medium-bodied with complex notes of lime, spring flowers, grapefruit, flint with a core acidity that should allow this wine to age for a few years.
Last but not least, dessert. The Herzog Late Harvest Orange Muscat 2018 which is simply perfect to sip alongside a piece of cheesecake. It is light and delicately sweet with aromas of ripe apricot, orange blossom and quince jam with excellent acidity which is just perfect to cut through the creaminess of the cake. The thought of this combination alone is mouth-watering.
Chag Sameach! L’chaim!
Gabriel Geller is a wine consultant for Royal Wines.
By Gabriel Geller