By Gabriel Geller
Hundreds of millions of Americans celebrate the national holiday of Thanksgiving. On that day, those who celebrate it express their gratitude for all the good they have in life. The believers thank Gâ€‘d; others thank their family or their friends.
Personally, as a Swiss-born and frum Jew, I do not celebrate Thanksgiving. I consider every day Thanksgiving, as we thank Hashem many times a day for all the good in our lives, in which every detail matters. We bless Gâ€‘d multiple times a day in each of the daily tefillos as well as for our food and drink. The Torah offers us a way of life that is not a routine–on the contrary, it is a constant renewal of our commitment to Gâ€‘d through mitzvos and berachos which are the concrete expressions of our gratefulness for Gâ€‘d’s goodness towards us. That culminates every week on Shabbos, with Kiddush.
The Kiddush is made on wine, and while I enjoy a glass of good wine almost every night with my dinner, the wines that I choose for Shabbos are usually extra-special. I often think about the fact that until only a few years ago, the selection of quality kosher wines was rather limited–and that is an understatement. When I pour myself a glass of wine, I try to remember how blessed our generation is for being able to enjoy such a wonderful and diverse collection of wines!
There is a wine that I was truly thrilled to drink recently: the Carmel Kayoumi Riesling from Israel. I am a huge fan of white wines in general, and of the Riesling variety in particular. The Kayoumi vineyard is situated in the upper Galilee, and it has produced the grapes for some of the country’s best wines for over a decade, including some of the most refined Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz out there. This Riesling is such a treat, as it is dry yet full of fruit flavors such as green apple, grapefruit, and peaches, and its refreshing acidity makes it the perfect companion to a hearty fall dish of smoked turkey, mushrooms, and quinoa.
Netofa is a winery that is located at the foot of Mt. Tabor, in the lower Galilee. The wines made by Pierre Miodownick are unusual in Israel as if you taste them without looking at the label, you might well believe that they’re French, and not Israeli. It is not so much of a surprise once we know that for many years, Pierre made most of the kosher runs of the finest French wines such as ChÃ¢teaux Giscours, Montviel, and Malartic-LagraviÃ¨re. The Latour Netofa, however, calls to mind the wines of the southern RhÃ´ne valley rather than those of Bordeaux. It is a blend of Syrah and MourvÃ¨dre that features aromas of roasted meat, leather, and ripe raspberries. Full-bodied and velvety, it is even better when sipped while enjoying a plate of lamb shoulder roast or a beef bourguignon.
Netofa winery happens to have another boutique winery as a neighbor, the Or Haganuz winery. Or Haganuz grows its vines on the slopes of the mountains surrounding Mt. Meron. The grapes yielded by those vines are concentrated in their juices, and the wines are big and bold, ripe with lots of oaky flavors. Their Marom Cabernet Franc from the Evyatar vineyard is no exception, and it is an interesting wine which I recommend to try, as Cabernet Franc is a grape variety that shows fascinating characteristics in Israel.
Italy is an old-world country that makes me dreamy. The beautiful vineyards of Tuscany are home to Terra di Seta, the first fully kosher winery in the country. I am truly grateful for the possibility of enjoying a special wine, the new Terra di Seta Gran Selezione Assai Chianti Classico. I am well aware of the fact that many wineries often use words such as “Reserve” or “Superieur” mainly for marketing purposes. Having said this, in this case the “Gran Selezione” moniker is one that cannot be used without being truly deserved. The “Gran Selezione” denomination designates the wines that have been recognized of the highest quality in the Chianti Classico appellation by an official committee of wine experts. These wines must be aged for a minimum of 30 months, including at least three months of bottle aging prior to release. Only the best Sangiovese grapes of the region can be used to produce a wine that will be a candidate for the prized and coveted “Gran Selezione.” This wine truly is a pleasure to drink now, when properly aerated beforehand, but will likely improve and develop further complexity and flavors for years to come.
Celler de CapÃ§anes in Spain have released this year La Flor del Flor Samso. Samso is Catalan for Carignan. This is a wine that has the potential to reward those who are patient with an extraordinary wine once it reaches its peak, and I am looking forward to enjoying and watching its evolution over many years to come. Made from old vines–some are over 100 years old–this powerhouse of a wine explodes with aromas of blackberries, olives, earth, and espresso. Once again, I am thankful for the opportunity to enjoy such a unique and amazing wine.
The berachos that I say to thank Hashem before and after drinking wines make them even more special, even though I say them practically every day. I wish for you all to say Kiddush on great wines every Shabbos, and to be thankful to Hashem for all the good he grants us every instant of our lives. L’chaim!