Sparkling Vinos

...Come New Year’s Eve most people just have to have a bottle of the bubbly, Yonatan Sternberg tells of some of the Israeli winery offerings.

I am unsure as to when or where the tradition began, it seems to me that come New Year’s Eve most people just have to have a bottle of the bubbly. All around the world, people consider Champagne, Cava, Prosecco and their other sparkling siblings to be celebration wines and, as such, are usually uncorked on special and celebratory occasions.

Over the years Israeli wineries have also began producing sparkling wines of their own, using both traditional and modern production methods. Today, alongside celebrated, and often pricey, French Champagne brands including Lanson, Krug, Veuve Clicquot, Billcard Salmon and a wide variety of Cava, Proseco and Lambrusco wines usually offering very good value for money, the Israeli wine consumer can find a growing number of Israeli bubblies.

While New Year's Eve is still a couple of weeks away, I decided to provide an overview of some of the Israeli sparkling wines currently on the shelves.

Yarden, Blanc de Blancs, 2005 – Blanc de Blancs, or white of whites, means that the particular sparkling wine is made exclusively from white grapes, in this case 100% Chardonnay. Considered by many to be Israel’s top champagne-style wine, the Blanc de Blancs 05 is the first of this label released by the Golan Heights Winery since the previous 2001 version. I recently sampled the wine and will include tasting notes in one of my future articles; however, in the meantime if you happen to see it on the shelves, I highly recommend picking up a bottle or two.

Gamla, Brut, Non Vintage (NV) – Another bubbly from the Golan Heights winery, the Gamla Brut is a very dry and refreshing sparkling wine. Produced from 50 % Pinot Noir and 50 % Chardonnay grapes, light gold in color, the wine suggests aromas of flowers, tart red berry fruits and citrus. The winery recommends serving the Gamla Brut as an aperitif or alongside light fish dishes. It is also available in half bottles (375 mL).

Tishbi, Brut, 2009 – Similar to previous years, Tishbi's bubbly is produced using 100% French Colombard grapes grown in vineyards surrounding Zichron Ya’acov. Light straw with in color, it has mild aromas of lemon zest and green apples. Serve chilled (winery recommends 5-10 degrees Celsius) in a tall flute alongside light starters, smoked salmon or even sushi.

Private Collection, Brut, NV – A blend of French Colombard, Chardonnay, the Private Collection NV is produced by the Carmel Winery. The wine suggests pleasant aromas of green apples lemon zest and just a touch of yeast leading to a clean and refreshing finish.

Tabor, 562, Blanc, NV – Named after the altitude of the Tabor Mountain situated at 562 meters above sea level, this bubbly was produced from 80% Chardonnay grapes and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon in the Charmat method (AKA Metodo Italiano). In this method, the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in large stainless steel vats and is then bottled under pressure. The winery also released a 562 sparkling red wine produced from Barbera grapes.

Happy New Years!