“This full bodied rich white is offering aromas of toasted brioche, butter, white flowers, fruits and hints of vanilla all leading to satisfying finish.” Yonatan Sternberg politely asks for seconds once the tasting work is done at Domain du Castel, a boutique winery in the Judean Hills near Jerusalem.
Last Tuesday I made my way through the picturesque winding road leading up to the village of Ramat Raziel to meet marketing manager Adi Perry for a personal tour of the Domaine du Castel winery. To those of you who aren’t familiar with the name, what started off as a garage winery producing wine for personal and social consumption is considered by many as one of the top boutique wineries in the country. Founded in the early 90’s by Mr. Eli Ben Zaken, the name Castel has become synonymous with high quality vinos.
With production levels at about 100,000 bottles per annum, Castel, under the guidance of owner and winemaker Eli Ben Zaken offers wines produced in three series. The winery’s white wine, simply titled “C” is very French in style and one of my favorite Israeli chardonnays. Castel also produces two red wines: Petit Castel and a sophisticated Bordeaux style blend titled Castel Grand Vin (GV).
After touring the grounds and visiting the winery’s impressive barrel room, it was time to move on to sample some of the winery's offerings. This year, for the first time, Castel also released a very refreshing limited edition (3,000 bottles) rose wine from the 2009 vintage. Produced using 100% merlot grapes, showing pink and bright orange in color, this rose suggests generous aromas of strawberries, lychee and citrus leading to a pleasant finish. Served chilled, this wine will go very well with grilled fish or fish based tapas dishes.
The “C” 2008 was also very enjoyable and after taking down my tasting notes for all of the wines, I politely asked for seconds. This full bodied rich white is offering aromas of toasted brioche, butter, white flowers, fruits and hints of vanilla all leading to satisfying finish.
Petit Castel 2008, a traditional Bordeaux style blend based on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot, this wine is reflecting the 16 months spent in barriques. Dark purple, full bodied, with generous dark berry and spicy notes alongside cherries and green pepper. In my opinion the wine should go very well grilled prime cuts of beef.
Castel Grand Vin 2007 - Full bodied and well balanced, this elegant red blend offers layered aromas of various black and red berry fruits, plums, chocolate covered citrus peels while in the background hints of fresh herbs and just a touch of anise.
By the way – since the 2003 vintage all of the Castel wines have received kashrut certification.
Domain du Castel Ramat Raziel, Judean Hills