For those who enjoy wine on a regular basis, belonging to a wine club is an excellent way to keep an adequate supply on hand. Many wineries run them. The wines are customarily selected especially for subscribers and the wineries provide discounts, early releases, special events and often a variety or blend that may not be available to the general public.
For the more limited kosher market, private wine clubs are currently run out of California by the Hagafen Cellars in Napa, the Covenant Winery in Berkeley and the Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard. All are outstanding producers of kosher wine with worthwhile wine clubs.
Brick-and-mortar retailers have also joined this trend with bundles of selected wines with special pricing, wine tasting events and by establishing their own membership-based wine clubs. There will soon be a local kosher option through Moti’s Market in Rockville.
We recently enjoyed a wonderful example of a wine-club exclusive bottling of kosher wine with the Herzog Limited Edition Lodi Zinfandel 2003. Recently opened, it displayed rich and spicy aromas and a balanced structure that belied its age. It was still fruity and showed the characteristic dark and red fruit flavors, pepper, anise and spiciness with hints of oak in the unexpectedly lengthy finish. Certainly mellower than younger zinfandels and also lacking any burn despite its 14.5 percent alcohol, it was a delightful surprise and further evidence that consumers can truly benefit when the winemaker delivers a distinctive selection.
Spirits-wise, with the High Holidays rapidly approaching, we thought it useful to remind ourselves that some things in life should not be taken too seriously — and booze is certainly one of those things. So we thought we would once again consider two great, if otherwise inconveniently named spirits. While American Jews do not often agree on ideological and religious matters, we can all agree, at least, that our tradition has never thought well of eating pig. Drinking it, however, may not always be a problem. Here then, we present WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey ($70+) and Pig’s Nose Blended Scotch Whisky ($35) for your consideration.
WhistlePig is a Canadian import that is bottled on a former dairy farm in Shoreham, Vt. Aged 10 years, WhistlePig is 100 proof (50 percent alcohol by volume) and 100 percent rye whiskey. WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey offers interesting, lively spice notes of mint, clove, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon, with dried orange peel, vanilla, toffee, hot chili peppers, caramel and butterscotch, with a long, dry spicy finish. This is a rich, full and delicious rye whiskey.
Leaving rye for Scotch while sticking with porcine names, Pig’s Nose is a sensational blended Scotch whisky.
The name is explained on the bottle: “In Gloucestershire ’tis said that our Scotch is ‘as soft and smooth as a Pig’s Nose.’ ” We’ve no idea exactly what that means, but this 5-year-old blend of Lowland, Speyside and Islay single malts and grain whiskies is certainly smooth.
It is also wonderfully drinkable — big, rich and malty with seductive notes of caramel, vanilla, unripe apple and pear, oat and malted barley, raisins, apple, candied orange peel, orange marmalade, brown sugar, baked honey, a touch of cinnamon, black pepper, an acidic touch reminiscent of cider vinegar, and a slight but pungent whiff of coal smoke. The finish is moderately long and drying, and it improves with a splash of water. This is an excellent, if slightly harder-to-find, blended Scotch whisky. L’Chaim!