Several holiday meals this year, one at home, others at the homes of friends. Although I do not maintain kashrut, it seems appropriate during the holidays, especially with guests to offer entirely kosher wines, in this case, two kosher editions from France and the rest Israeli.
Château Léoville Poyferré, St. Julien, (Kosher Edition), 2000: Full-bodied and well balanced, with firm tannins and spicy wood integrating nicely now. On the nose and palate blackberries, currants, chocolate and garrigue, all leading to a generous and mouth-filling finish. Drink now–2015, perhaps longer. Score 92.
Château de Valandraud, St. Emilion, (Kosher Edition) 2001: Dark garnet towards royal purple, opens with firm tannins and super-generous smoky and spicy wood, but given time in the glass (or perhaps the decanter) opens to reveal that those tannins and wood are now integrating nicely, even softening on the palate, and revealing near-sweet plum, berry and cassis fruits along with hints of white chocolate. Long and generous. Drink now–2014. Score 92.
Bustan, Merlot, 2005: Full-bodied, with deep, near-sweet and gently mouth-coating tannins, a muscular but simultaneously elegant Merlot. On the nose and palate, wild berries, currants, spices, Mediterranean herbs and garrigue, all coming together as a coherent whole. Long and generous. Drink now-2014, perhaps longer. Score 92.
Carmel, Limited Edition, 2005: A Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Cabernet Franc (65%, 17%, 15% and 3% respectively). Dark ruby towards garnet, medium- to full-bodied, with generous soft tannins and reflecting its 15 months in barriques with light toasty and spicy oak. Blackberry and black cherry fruits on first attack, yielding to blackcurrants and appealing hints of lead pencil and vanilla and, on the moderately long finish, a near-sweet and elegant tobacco note. Drink now–2013. Score 92.
Domaine du Castel, Castel, Grand Vin Castel 2005: Dark toward inky garnet, with just a bit of clearing at the rim, with firm tannins now integrating nicely with spicy and smoky oak. Deeply aromatic, opens in the glass to show a nose and palate of black currant, blackberry and purple plum fruits on a background of roasted herbs and near-sweet tobacco. On the long finish hints of citrus peel, anise and cherry-flavored dark chocolate. Drink now–2012. Score 92.
Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005: Brooding dark ruby-red, full-bodied, with near-sweet tannins and spicy oak wrapped around blackcurrants, berries, spices and a hint of dark chocolate. Look as well for enchanting hints of citrus peel and vanilla on the long finish. Fine balance and structure bode well for the future. Drink now–2018. Score 92.
Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Cabernet Sauvignon, Elrom Vineyard, 2001: Dark, almost impenetrable garnet-purple, full-bodied, with finely tuned balance between generous well-integrated tannins and judicious oak, this exquisite wine shows complex tiers of aromas and flavors of red currants, berries and spices on the first attack, those opening to include light earthy and herbal overlays. Plush and opulent, with a long, complex finish. Among the best ever made in Israel. Indeed, the only wine in the country to earn such a score from me. Drink now–2013. Score 95.
Domaine du Castel, “C”, Chardonnay, Blanc du Castel, 2005: Developed beautifully, still a peaches and cream wine but now in place of the youthful citrus, figs and summer fruits, notes of ripe peaches, pears and toasty oak, all coming together beautifully and leading to a long and elegant finish. Not for further cellaring. Drink now. Score 92.
Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Chardonnay, Odem Organic Vineyard, 2006: Full-bodied, opening with subtle aromas of figs, pears and apples, going on to show a generous dash of smoky, toasty oak and then blossoming forth with pineapple, citrus peel and minerals leading to a long finish that is simultaneously creamy and bright. Drink now–2013. Score 92.
Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Viognier, 2006: Calls to mind the white wines of Condrieu and shows a thoroughly traditional Viognier personality. Following an aromatic and floral nose, flavors and aromas of ripe Anjou pears, peaches, spring flowers and minerals, along with hints of citrus. Lively, clean, fresh and long. Drink now. Score 91.
One Sparkling Wine With Which to Open
Golan Heights Winery, Blanc de Blancs, Yarden, 2001: The best Blanc de Blancs to date from the winery. Made from Chardonnay grapes by the traditional methode champenoise, this medium-bodied sparkling wine shows just the right balance between yeasty sourdough bread, peaches, citrus and minerals. With a generous mousse and sharp, well-focused bubbles that go on and on, this crisp and sophisticated wine goes on to a long, mouth-filling finish. Drink now–2012. Score 92.
And one Dessert Wine With Which to Close
Golan Heights Winery, Heightswine, Yarden, 2005: Made entirely from Gewurztraminer grapes frozen at the winery. Pale gold in color, with a complex nose and palate that offers up pineapple, citrus, litchi, orange peel and floral aromas and flavors, those with a light hint of sea water that adds to the wines charm and complexity. Drink now–2012. Score 91. K