Founded in 1995, the Dalton winery was one of the first to recognize the Upper Galilee's tremendous potential as a prime wine-making region. After training in Australia and Northern California, the young and talented Na’ama Mualem returned to Israel and in 2002 began producing quality wines under the Dalton label. Dalton currently produces both varietal as well as blended wines in several series relying on: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Mourvedre and others. Over the years production levels have constantly been on the rise and while current production is set at approximately 800,000 bottles per annum, Mualem suggested that in the near future Dalton will reach the 1,000,000 bottle mark.
In honor of the winery's 15th anniversary, I was recently invited to partake in an intimate dinner and wine tasting headed by Mualem. The event took place at the beautiful Mamila Boutique hotel which is situated in the heart of Jerusalem, on the crossroads between the old and new parts of the city.
Iftach Lustig, in charge of the wine and alcohol department at the hotel, mentioned that "our goal was to expose Jerusalemite wine drinkers to the people behind the wines, allowing them to fully understand and appreciate the process and effort that is put into every bottle. We purposely limit the number of participants enabling an intimate and personal conversation between the guest and the winemaker".
We started off with Dalton's un-oaked Chardonnay 2009 served alongside several different starters prepared by house chef Roi Antebi. Light and refreshing as one would expect, showing pleasant aromas of white fruit, flowers and a touch of spice, the wine would go very well with light and grilled fish dishes, lean cuts of beef or traditional Spanish tapas.
From there we continued with some of Dalton's recent red wine releases: Alma 2008, a Bordeaux style blend based on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc; the Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2007; an interesting and promising barrel tasting of the Alma 2009, a Rhone Valley inspired blend based on Syrah, Mourvedre and Viognier; and, for the grand finale, the winery's new Flagship Vino - Matatia 2006.
Named after the winery's founder Matatia (Mat) Haruni, I first sampled the wine a few months ago and think that this is among the best wines ever produced by Dalton. Since we already sampled several wines by the time we reached the Matatia, I decided to include my previous tasting notes. An elegant and well balanced Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc – full bodied and almost garnet in color, the wine offers layered aromas of various black and red fruits: plums, cherries and blackberries come to mind, along with hints of fresh herbs, black pepper and dark chocolate all leading to a long and satisfying finish.
By the way, on the 22nd of July as part of the "White Nights on the Kineret" festival the "Tzel Tamar" restaurant will be hosting a wine tasting of several white, rose, dessert and sparkling wines produced by some of Israel's top wineries. The event is scheduled to begin at 19:00 and will include live music, unlimited wine tastings and an assortment of hor deurves from Tzel Tamar's kitchen. For further details, please contact: 04-675-6688.
Enjoy and L’chaim!