White Wines in Winter

Drink more white wine during the winter season!

I recently came across an interesting initiative by several Israeli wineries, importers and restaurants to encourage people to drink more white wine during the winter season. While it snowed a couple of times this winter, we live in a country with an average of 300 sunny days a year! I too feel that we should be drinking more white vinos. It better suits the climate, it pairs well with the cuisine, and in recent years, there is a growing number of excellent white wines of varying styles available on the local market.

The initiative was led by Doron Rav Hon from the Sphera Winery; Eran Pik from Tzora; Ido Lewinson from Parage de Papa and Eldad Levi who imports interesting wines from Italy and Austria as well as boutique Champagnes. While I didn’t get a chance to taste all of the white wines that were promoted, following are several white vinos that I sampled over the past couple of weeks.

Sphera, White Concepts, Chardonnay 2012 – even back at the Ella Valley winery Doron Rav Hon’s white vinos were among the best in the country and it was not surprising that when he established his own winery – Sphera – he decided to focus exclusively on white wines, showing good fruit, minerals, honeysuckle and balancing acidity leading to a clean and pleasant finish. Sphera’s Riesling 2013 has been getting allot of praise so if you come across a bottle, I would definitely try it as well.

Zimbalista Winery, Sauvinyahli, 2013 – I saw the Zimbalista wines on several occasions and even sampled one of the vinos at a recent wine festival but haven’t had a chance to do a proper tasting. An interesting winery from Moshav Avigdor (between Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi) and like Sphera, it focuses exclusively on the production of white wines. 100% Sauvignon Blanc, medium bodied, this is a crisp and very refreshing vino suggesting notes of citrus fruits, flowers and green melon leading to a pleasant finish.

Zimbalista Winery, Muscato, 2013 – 100% Muscat Alexandroni grapes result in a semi-dry but not overly sweet wine. Generous tropical fruits on the nose and good balancing acidity make this a very enjoyable vino. Serve chilled as an aperitif or with mildly sweet desserts.

Binyamina, Reserve, Roussanne, 2012 – 90% Roussanne, 5% Marsanne and the balance Viognier come together nicely. Tropical fruit, sweet apricots, lemon zest and flowers on the nose and palate, good texture and a pleasant medium finish.

Tulip Winery, White Franc, 2013 – not quite white but still a very enjoyable vino. A semi-dry blend based on 75% Cabernet Franc and the balance Sauvignon Blanc. Bronze with orange reflections, the wine suggests aromas and flavors of strawberries, raisins, summer fruits and citrus blossom leading to a pleasant finish.