Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, it is only natural that our thoughts drift between self-reflection, philosophic contemplation and an abiding concern for others: Why do I love pinot noir? Can a good, reasonably priced kosher burgundy still be found? Will this wine also please the discerning palates of my guests?
Thankfully, I have found the answer to all three questions: the kosher edition of Domaine Gachot-Monot, Bourgogne, 2010.
For those familiar with burgundy, the regular nonkosher wines of Damian Gachot are imported by Kermit Lynch, the Berkeley, Calif.-based importer, author and winemaker. The Gachot-Monot wines have developed a reputation for quality at the value end of the burgundy spectrum. A fifth-generation vigneron, Damien and his wife, Lise, farm 12 hectares (just under five acres) in the village of Corgoloin, between Nuits-Saint-Georges and Beaune.
According to Lynch, Gachot consistently manages to make a wine “taste better than the pedigree of its soil would allow” and purportedly produces “a Côtes de Nuits Villages that tastes more like Nuits-Saint-Georges than village burgundy” — which, if true, is much more than just a neat trick. This particular kosher edition is, alas, just a lowly appellation bourgogne, but it is great.
Domaine Gachot-Monot, Bourgogne, 2010 ($35; imported by Rashbi Wines): This lovely bourgogne rouge is vibrant, fresh, fruity and really lovely; a great working man’s burgundy, with proper bourgogne rouge characteristics of pungent farmyard on the nose, leading to a surprisingly rich mouthful of typical cherry and raspberry fruit. The slightly grippy tannins help drive the long finish home, while preparing the appetite for another bite. Finally, a really decent, properly representative, and relatively affordable kosher burgundy.
Spirits-wise, and sticking with France here, I find that the apples-and-honey motif of Rosh Hashanah that my kids love always brings my thoughts to Calvados. So I thought I’d once again reconsider some fine premium Calvados like the Boulard Grand Solage VSOP ($50) and the Boulard Calvados XO ($90).
Calvados is basically apple brandy, or distilled hard apple cider, made in the Normandy region of northwest France. Think of it as the working Frenchman’s cognac — though these days prices are keeping pace with that more luxury-branded, grape-based libation.
Calvados is more often than not semisweet with aromas and flavors of apples and other fruits and spices. A youngcalvados can be harsh and feisty, like a young whiskey but, like whiskey, mellows and matures beautifully with barrel aging.
Boulard Calvados is among the super-premium end of the quality spectrum. Boulard Calvados comes from the famed Pays d’Auge district of Normandy, known for its tradition of quality apples, refinement and double distillation in alembic pot stills.
The list and price of available kosher cognacs makes Liebling hard to argue with on this. Suffice it to say that if a glass of cognac is supposed to conjure up images of a visit with French aristocracy, a glass of Calvados reminds one that schmoozing with the hired help is likely to be more diverting. Without further ado:
Boulard Grand Solage VSOP (40 percent abv; $50): This is unctuous, heady and bittersweet, with hints of almonds, vanilla, allspice and ginger wrapped in a slightly woody box.
Boulard Calvados XO NV (40 percent abv; $90): This is a full-bodied, rich, velvety smooth, elegant spirit with aromas and flavors of apples, sweet vanilla, cinnamon, toasted nuts, raisins, allspice, toffee and tart citrus fruits, with a lovely toasty, oily and spicy apple cider finish. A bit more spirity than appley, but so absorbing. L’chaim!