Being the cradle of civilization as we know it, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that grapes and vines have been grown in Israel since biblical times. In the Old Testament’s book of Deuteronomy, grapes were listed as one of the seven ‘blessed species’ of fruit found in the land of Israel (Deut. 8:8).
Baron Rothschild (of Bordeaux’s first growth Ch. Mouton-Rothschild) is the founder of the modern day Israeli wine industry which grows international grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Muscat and Sauvignon Blanc. There are no varietals indigenous to Israel.
There are a great many co-ops as well as private wineries in the region’s 5 main grape growing areas. The top 3 include Galilee (and the Golan Heights), Samaria and Samson.
Israeli wines have seen a quality revolution since the 1980s when great investments were made in winery equipment and vinification methods. Many of the products meet kosher standards.
This is a kosher wine from Galil Mountain vineyards in Galilee made of Syrah. It’s clear and bright, has legs and a pretty shade of ruby. The nose is clean and developing with medium plus intensity and aromas of raspberry, black cherry, some dried herbs (rosemary and thyme) and sweet vanilla.
The palate is dry with medium acidity, medium body and medium ripe dusty, almost flat tannins. The alcohol is high and the wine has medium plus intensity with flavours of more ripe red fruit – raspberry, black cherry, purple plum – light kid glove leather, vanilla and clove. The finish is just average.
This wine is WSET Good. The alcohol is slightly heavy and unbalanced on the nose and the body is quite slender while the finish comes up short. The fruit is fresh, concentrated and elegant, but there is little secondary development.
Serviceable and after several swirls and a little time, the initial alcohol hit thankfully dissipates. This is a good deal that is drinking now, but it won’t benefit from further ageing. Meh – it’s wine and it does what it’s supposed to do.
Open a bottle if you can find it (it’s one of those orphans that sits waaaay in the back of the store on a dusty shelf) and enjoy with the first BBQ of the season.