By Gabriel Geller
With Rosh Hashanah coming around and the constant reminders about self-introspection, we look at the source for all that is true and good for the world and ourselves: our Torah. When you know where you come from, you are better equipped to understand where to go. There is indeed a source for everything, and obviously, the source for wine is grapes. Some of the best wines are those that are made from estate-grown grapes. Those are grapes planted, grown, harvested, and crushed by a winery. European wines are most often estate wines. Such wines are less common in new world wine regions such as Israel or California.
For many years, the Herzog family did not own vineyards in California. Instead, the winery would source grapes from trusted growers with whom they have agreements. A bit over ten years ago, the Herzogs decided to start purchasing vineyards. There are many arguments in favor of this decision. First, it allows for absolute control over the quality of the fruit—which grape varieties to grow, how to tend to the vines, and when to harvest. The cost of land and grapes has been rising for many years. Owning a vineyard is both a real estate investment and insurance of a dependent, consistent, and reliable source of grapes.
Estate-grown wines are most adequate for Rosh Hashanah. The Herzog Lineage Choreograph 2021 is a medium-bodied, fruit-forward, juicy, flavorful, affordable, and versatile red wine made of about a dozen grape varieties. However, all those grapes grow in the Herzog family’s Prince Vineyard, located in Clarksburg, CA. This vineyard is the first one that the Herzogs purchased in California.
Tura Winery in Eretz Yisrael is not only one of few estate wineries there. It is also the source of grapes for many others. Tura Mountain Peak 2017 is the flagship wine. It is a Bordeaux-style blend with a great depth of flavors and notes of toasted oak from the barrel-aging.
Carmel Winery is one of the largest and oldest wineries in Israel. Since its inception in 1882, it has reinvented itself several times while retaining the lessons from its prestigious past. While not an estate winery, Carmel has successfully identified some of the country’s best vineyards. Those vineyards constantly produce high-quality grapes, from which Carmel crafts excellent wines. The Carmel Signature Single Vineyards Carignan 2019 is sourced from the Mileck Valley in the Shomron region of Israel. It is a concentrated wine with notes of ripe raspberries and cherries, with hints of oriental spices and roasted herbs.
Now let’s review a classic, old-world estate: J. de Villebois. Established less than two decades ago, this Loire Valley winery produces stellar wines from its Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir estate vineyards. The J. de Villebois Pouilly-Fumé 2021 is an aromatic, crisp, and complex Sauvignon Blanc with an earthy mineral character and refreshing acidity. The perfect combination of attentive growing practices and winemaking skills.
Last but not least, dessert is significant on Rosh Hashanah to give us a taste of the sweet year ahead. Also from the estate Prince Vineyard, the classic, delicious, sweet dessert wine: Herzog Late Harvest Chenin Blanc 2020. More than most grape varieties, Chenin Blanc is at the core of many remarkable wines, which range from bone-dry to sweet treats. It should be a reminder for us that whoever we are and wherever we come from, we will reach our potential if we follow the right path.
Happy and sweet new year to all, Shanah tovah!