Red, White and more…

From Golan Heights’ Yarden Vintage Wine and Culinary Festival to the Herzliya Marina wine & cheese festival to sampling whites and roses, the weeks leading up to the Shavuot holiday have made wine writer Yonatan Sternberg a busy wine tasting bee…

Not that I’m complaining, but I’ve been pretty busy over the past week: I attended the Golan Heights’ Yarden Vintage Wine and Culinary Festival, sampling their new premium wine – Rom (Hebrew for elevation or altitude) and then spent a couple of days sampling a variety of new white and rose style wines in preparation for the Shavuot holiday.

For those of you who were lucky enough to get tickets, I’m sure you’ll agree that the Yarden Vintage is one of the culinary pinnacles of the year. This year’s theme was “taste the place” emphasizing the unique terroirs and the excellent produce grown in the northern parts of Israel. Almost 90 chefs from Israel and other countries were brought in to demonstrate their cooking prowess and the dishes were paired with wines produced by the Golan Heights and Galilee Mountain Wineries.

At the event, the Golan Heights Winery also released a new flagship wine titled Rom, produced with the assistance of internationally recognized wine consultant Ms. Zelma Long. A full-bodied concentrated blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (34%), Merlot (29%) and Syrah (37%), Rom 2006 offers various dark berry fruit aromas, plums, cherries while in the background hints of fresh herbs and a touch of cloves. While it is clear that the Rom is not yet at its peak, it is not every day that we find a wine of this quality that is genuinely approachable upon release. Chapeau!

With Shavuot literally just around the corner and (judging from the past couple of days) temperatures on the rise, I thought it might be a good idea to include several white and rose wine suggestions.

Recanati Rose 2009 – produced using Barbera (70%) and Merlot (30%) grapes, judging from the 2008 and 2009 releases, in my opinion Recanati’s rose wines are among the best produced in Israel. Light and refreshing, the wine is showing pleasant aromas of strawberries, cherries and just a touch of citrus. Serve chilled, the winery suggests serving the wine alongside Asian style dishes or potent cheeses.

Villa Wilhelma, Floral Blanc, 2007 – An off dry blend of Riesling (40%), Sauvignon Blanc (40%) and Semion (20%), this is a light, refreshing and very aromatic wine suggesting aromas of green apples, citrus and white flowers.

Tishbi, Sauvignon Blanc, Estate, 2009 – Recently released, Tishbi’s Sauvignon Blanc is blended with a dash (4%)Viognier giving it an interesting twist. Light straw with golden reflections, the wine offers typical lemony and freshly cut grass aromas. Serve chilled, the winery suggests serving the wine alongside herb crusted grilled fish dishes.

Dalton, Viognier, Reserve, 2008 - showing tempting aromas of white peaches, candied pineapple, flowers and various spices. Slightly creamy on the palate, the wine will go very well with various fish dishes and should also hold its own when paired with chicken or even lean cuts of beef.

By the way, if you happen to be in the centre of the country on the 12th and 13th of May, the Herzliya Marina will be hosting a wine & cheese festival dedicated to white, rose, sparkling and dessert wines. On both days the event will start at 18:00 and tickets will be available on site for NIS 49.