This is traditionally a time of reflection. Over the next few weeks, I’ll endeavor to approach the new year ahead with a focused, fresh, revitalized attitude toward my wine choices. Here are some fine options:
Matar by Pelter, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, 2014 ($32; non-mevushal): This is a lovely, summery, fresh, crisp and aromatic blend of 80 percent sauvignon blanc and 20 percent sémillon. The sauvignon blanc is a touch muted, but the sémillon helps contribute to a different overall personality, making for an especially rewarding finish — before which come delightful aromas and flavors of various citrus and some tropical fruits, straw, with some grassy undertones and nicely bracing, balancing acidity. It’ll hold for a while, but demands drinking now.
Karmei Yosef Winery, Bravdo, “Coupage,” Samson, 2013 ($35; non-mevushal): This nicely balanced blend of 40 percent cabernet franc, 33 percent shiraz and 27 percent cabernet sauvignon — aged for 12 months in a 70/30 mixture of new French and American oak — is fairly elegant and tasty, if a bit beefy (but nicely dry, and not flabby or sweet), offering complex flavors of mixed berries, plums, currants and dark chocolate, all with hints of herbs and a whisper of black licorice. This is drinking well now, and should continue to do so for a few years yet.
Psagot, “Edom,” Jerusalem Hills, 2013 ($35; non-mevushal or mevushal ): This medium-to-full-bodied blend of 63 percent merlot, 16 percent cabernet sauvignon, 11 percent petit verdot, and 10 percent cabernet franc is rich, complex, and silky, with intense and luscious dark fruit, tobacco and mild leather aromas which extend into flavors of dark currants, sweet red berries, blackberries, plums, vanilla oak and spicy chocolate, along with some earthy and smoked meat notes and some vibrant hints of Mediterranean herbs. The finish is satisfyingly long with just a touch of heat; the tannins are drying and a bit dusty. This wine craves flesh.
Spirits-wise, try the new Kilbeggan Single Grain Irish Whiskey (43 percent abv; $29.99): Marketed as both a cocktail and sipping whiskey, this sweet, light, easy drinking non-age-statement whiskey was distilled from 94 percent corn and 6 percent malted barley. In Irish whiskey speak, the single refers to the producer — a single distillery, rather than the grain, which simply means not a malt whiskey.
This bourbon-like whiskey was matured in ex-bourbon oak barrels, then finished in a mix of ex-bourbon and ex-various fortified wine barrels. It has a soft nose of vanilla, caramel, citrus and oak, and a palate of spicy, oaky vanilla, caramel, coconut and a touch of preserved berries; fairly long and spicy on the finish, with a hint of maple and cherries. This is a bit of change from the Kilbeggan brand, which has heretofore only offered traditional blended Irish whiskey, and should be thought of as an enjoyable hybrid of Irish and Bourbon whiskies. L’chaim!
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