Wines from the Land of Milk and Honey

One of the oldest wine producing regions in the world is producing some great new wines.

Israel is no longer the land of sweet, syrupy wines.  Today Israel’s wines are winning medals and finding their way onto wine lists at top restaurants.

Though winemaking in Israel goes back to biblical times, Israel is considered a producer of “New World” wines.  It really wasn’t until the 1980s, with the influx of new technology and more popular grape varietals, that Israel came onto the world wine scene.  Boutique wineries have been popping up since the 1990s and today the government estimates there are more than 200 wineries.

Wineries in northern Israel are making very tasty wine.  Upper Galilee in particular is well-suited for winemaking with a high elevation, cool breezes and rich soil.

For a taste of Israel’s impressive reds try Yarden’s Cabernet Sauvignon.  The wine is aged for 18 months in French oak barrels.  It has big flavors of blackberries, cherries and cassis with a hint of vanilla and spice that lingers in the finish.  This wine pairs nicely with steak and lamb dishes.  A bottle of the 2004 Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon costs around $27.

A less expensive alternative is the Yarden Mount Hermon Red, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc fermented in steel.  Wild berry and cherry flavors are complemented with a hint of herbs.  Serve this with grilled meats, duck or pizza.  A bottle of the 2005 Yarden Mount Hermon Red costs around $12.

Another great value is the Galil Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.  It’s 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and fermented in steel.  This big, juicy red has flavors of ripe plum and blackberry with a hint of bell pepper and spice.  This wine goes well with beef, lamb and hearty chicken and pasta dishes.  A bottle of the 2005 Galil Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon costs around $14.

On the white side, the Golan Moscato makes a great aperitif or dessert wine.  It’s 100% Muscat Canelli and made in the style of Moscato d’Asti.  The sparkling wine has mouthwatering floral and honeysuckle notes.  Tiny bubbles and a crisp finish make this wine light and refreshing.  A bottle of Golan Moscato costs around $12.

A bonus to all these wines — they’re all Kosher.  So you don’t have to drink Manischewitz ever again.