When I first planned the topic and selected wines for my Shavuot column, I was thinking of writing an article with suggestions of both red and white wines, pairing each wine with a different cheese. Full bodied reds with aged hard cheeses, chilled white wines with soft and fresh cheeses and maybe even a nice port style wine with a potent blue cheese. The recent heat wave resulted in a change of plans and I found myself drinking only chilled white wines and a couple of roses.
Following are my favorite picks, refreshing, offering good value (ranging from NIS 35-80) and all go well with a variety of cheeses or dairy and fish based dishes:
Galilee Mountain, Rose, 2012 – while it seems that there are very few good Israeli rose wines, the Galilee Mountain’s version is one of the best on the market and every summer I usually end up getting a case at my local wine shop. Comprising Sangiovese, Grenache, Pinot Noir and Barbera grapes this is a dry rose suggesting strawberries, flowers and slight peppery notes with plenty of supporting acidity and a clean finish. With only 11.5% alcohol this is also a very easy-drinking wine so if you open a bottle with friends, make sure you have another one on ice.
Tulip, White Tulip 2012 – a refreshing and aromatic blend comprising 70% Gewürztraminer and 30% Sauvignon Blanc, the wine was recently awarded an impressive 90 points from wine critic Mark Squires. Generous notes of tropical fruits, lime, cloves and good balancing acidity all come together nicely. Tulip, White Franc, 2012 - a semi-dry and unusual blend based on 65% Cabernet Franc and 35% Sauvignon Blanc. Bronze with orange reflections, the wine suggests aromas and flavors of strawberries, nectarines and citrus blossom. I looked over my notes from last year and again noted that personally I would have preferred a bit more acidity for balance, but putting this aside, it is a fun and tasty wine that will definitely go well with the hot Israeli summers.
Dalton, Muscato, 2012 – light, fun, refreshing – everything that one would expect from a classic Muscato wine. A bit fizzy on the palate, sweet but not too sugary, fruity, notes of honey, flowers and dried apricots. Serve cold with a fruit platter, cream pies, cheeses or other fruit based desserts and even the “non wine aficionados” among your guests will enjoy this one. Another recent release from Dalton showing good value is the Can’an, White, 2012 – a blend based on five different light skinned grape varieties (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon, Muscat and Viognier) of varying proportions, this is a light and refreshing semi-dry white vino suggesting an array of aromas and flavors of white flowers, citrus zest and summer fruits leading to a clean finish.
Tavor, Adama, Roussanne, 2012 – a new release from the Tavor winery which recently unveiled several white vinos from the Adama label. The Roussanne is a new addition to the Tavor portfolio and the first varietal Israeli Roussanne based wine that I have sampled. The result is quite impressive – a clear, crisp vino with generous aromas and flavors of tropical fruit, guava, green apples and citrus zest leading to a long and well balanced finish. Serve chilled on a warm spring/summer afternoon and you’re in for a pleasant surprise.
Binyamina, Bin, Viognier, 2012 - the term bin is often used in Australian wineries referring to a storage area in a wine cellar and I have to admit that it is a rather catchy name. A light skinned grape variety commonly seen in the Rhone Valley, this is the first Viognier (100%) based wine in the label and the result is quite good. Typical notes of white flowers, honeysuckle, apricots and peaches with good supporting acidity and a slightly bitter aftertaste. The wine should go well with pasta salads, ceviche and even mild blue cheeses.
Carmel, Single Vineyard, Riesling, 2011 – in my opinion, one of the best Israeli Rieslings of recent years. 100% Johannesburg Riesling from the renowned Kayoumi vineyard. Off-dry, bright straw with green reflections, suggesting very pleasant aromas and flavors of green apples, lemon zest, grapefruit, honey suckle followed by a touch of minerals and light petrol notes; good balancing acidity and a long and clean finish make this a very enjoyable vino.