Passover is just around the corner and judging from the amount of wine advertisements and promotions on TV and the various media websites, one might think that Israeli wine consumption has doubled. While consumption of wine per capita is still relatively low in comparison to the US or Europe (consumption of vodka and other clear spirits on the other hand is considered very high) and is estimated between 5-6 liters per annum, we are seeing a growing interest and emphasis on quality among the Israeli wine consumer. So even if the liter average per person has not increased significantly, the quality of the wines that people choose to buy and consume is somewhat on the rise. A good sign to be sure.
Following are several white and red Israeli wine suggestions for the upcoming seder:
Dalton, Alma, Ivory, 2015 – Dalton’s recently rebranded Alma label consists of various red and white blends and alongside the winery’s Shiraz Reserve, these are probably my favorite wines from Dalton. The Ivory is a refreshing blend of Semillon, Pinot Gris and Viognier. Semillon is most commonly cultivated in France and Australia and used in a wide variety of sweet and dry white wines. Medium bodied with aromas and flavours that bring to mind green apples, pears, white flowers and a touch of honey and spice leading to a medium-long crisp finish. The winery suggests pairing with fish dishes or soft cheeses. A quiche Lorraine would be a great choice, though for those who keep kosher, you will have to wait until after the holiday.
Golan Heights, Yarden, Gewürztraminer, 2016 – 100% Gewurtz grapes from vineyards in the Golan Heights, this is a medium bodied aromatic white with generous tropical and flowery notes that bring to mind pineapple, lychee, nectarines and a touch of spice coming together nicely to a clean and refreshing finish. Should pair well with Asian dishes, piquant Moroccan salads and I would dare to try it alongside some gefilta fish with horseradish as well.
Tulip, White Franc, 2016 – this is a semi-dry blanc de noir vino referring to a white wine produced from dark skinned grapes, Tulip’s White Franc relies on Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes from vineyards in the Judean Hills and Upper Galilee. This is a very refreshing and easy drinking wine suggesting pleasant notes of red berry fruits, apples and white flowers leading to a medium finish. Very enjoyable on its own as one of the 4 seder glasses or alongside your tzimmes.
Teperberg, Inspire, Famitage, 2016 – this white wine seems to have been getting allot of attention from colleagues and local wine aficionados, primarily due to Teperberg’s use of Dabouki grapes, an ancient local grape variety which is being cultivated and experimented with. Teperberg’s Famitage 2016 is an aromatic white relying on Dabouki, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer grapes and the result is quite enjoyable. Medium bodied, the blend is rather aromatic with notes of summer fruits, white flowers, honeysuckle and sweet spices coming together nicely on a clean and dry finish. The wine would pair well with vegetable based Mediterranean starters as well as light fish or chicken dishes.
Avidan, Reserve, 2014 – primarily Cabernet Sauvignon with almost equal proportions of Merlot and Barbera grapes make up Avidan’s full bodied red reserve vino. 18 Months in French oak, the wine opens with notes of toasted oak followed by dark berry fruits, plums and sweet cherries alongside cloves, roasted coffee and dry herbs leading to a medium-long finish. Serve with rich meat stews or roast beef.
Barkan, Assemblage, Reichan, 2013 – a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot, 12 months in a mix of French and American oak barrels. Medium bodied, the wine opens with pleasant notes of tart berry fruits, cherries those followed by dark chocolate, herbs and a refreshing touch of anise leading to a long finish with a slightly bitter after taste. Try serving alongside grilled or baked lamb dishes as well as Middle Eastern meatballs in sauce.
Carmel, Appellation, Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz, 2013 – Carmel recently embarked on a rebranding effort with a new look and feel to some of the wineries classic wine labels. The Appellation label has been known for its consistency, quality and good value for money and I have always enjoyed their Petite Sirah, Carignan and Cab-Shiraz with the 2013 edition being one of the best choices in its price category. Medium-full bodied, bright berry fruits, plums, Mediterranean herbs and dark chocolate and a refreshing dose of balancing acidity on the medium and clean finish.
Drimia, Sfar, 2013 – this is my first encounter with the Drimia Winery which relies on grapes from the Yatir Region between the Southern Tip of the Judean Hills and the Negev. Winemaker Elad Movshovitz who comes from a family of vintners studied at Tel Hai and trained at the Yatir Winery before starting to produce his own wines. The Sfar 13 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot grapes, 18 months in French Oak, the result is a full bodied red, good structure on the palate with layered aromas and flavors of dark berry fruits, plums, flowers, dark chocolate and a touch of sage leading to a long and mouth-filling finish. Would pair well with grilled beef fillet, roast-beef, hard cheeses or mild lamb dishes.