Grape expectations

With such an array of kosher wines, this may just be a pass-out Passover.

Passover is about many things – getting together and eating with family and friends, recounting the biblical story of leaving Egypt, and of course, drinking wine. This year at the seder table, drink your four glasses of wine from some of Israel’s best wineries. Enjoying wine is an incredibly subjective experience; it is about subtle flavors, personal taste and the occasional surprises. There are so many great wines around that it is hard to narrow it down to the best, but here are a few that I really enjoy. 
NAVE Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2007, Bashan Winery
Bashan is a boutique kosher organic winery founded by Uri Rapp and Emmanuel Dassa and located in the southern Golan Heights.  As far as I know, they are the only organic winery in Israel which grows all of its own grapes.  I highly recommend their wines in general and this wine in particular.  Their Nave is a medium bodied blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The taste is soft and round with a hint of berries and cedar wood. Because it is organic it has no added sulfites which means that it might not keep as long as traditional wine – but I doubt that will be a problem as it is too good to stay in the bottle.

Erez Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, Zion Winery
Zion winery has a loyal following and I can understand why.  The Shor family, which owns the Zion winery, opened the first recorded winery in Israel (then Palestine) in 1848 in an alley of the Old City next to the Western Wall.  The family has continued the tradition and three generations of the Shor family currently work at the Zion winery.  The wines are both excellent and affordable.  This is an excellent dry red wine from the Galilee with a taste that is mix of blackberries and slight flavor of tobacco.  It has an earthy flavor and is soft on the tongue.  
Chardonnay, 2007 Katamon Winery
The Katamon winery was started in Avital Goldner’s basement with his five children who helped him press the grapes which he bought at the farmer’s market. After studiously developing his craft, Goldner’s winery has begun to make its place among Israel’s promising new wineries. The 2007 Chardonnay has a slightly nutty aroma and tastes of wildflowers and caramel.

Rose 2007, Shiloh
Shiloh winery is located on land that has been used for vineyards for thousands of years.  With optimal altitude and climate, they produce some of the best grapes in the region.  The cold night air, which is warmed by the desert sun during the day give the grapes a signature flavor. This Rose smells of tangerines and rosehips, the taste is slightly astringent with a hint of cherries.

Vineyard Dance 2008, Gvaot
Gvaot is another boutique winery.  They produce only 12,000 bottles peryear.  Gvaot uses a unique slow fermentation process at lowertemperatures, in order to extract the most flavor from each grape aspossible. Vineyard dance is a wonderful name for this wine.  Like itsname, the wine communicates the atmosphere of dancing through thefields, running with joy and then, out of breath, you sit on a woodenbench beside a long wooden table and you have a glass of wine. The winetastes adventurous and woodsy, with a hint of cherry and birch.

Altitude Cabernet
Sauvignon 2007, Binyamina
The Binyaminawinery is one of Israel’s oldest and largest wineries.  Establishedsoon after the founding of the state, David Ben-Gurion interceded onits behalf in early years to make sure the winery was allotted enoughgrapes to create the wines. Today it is a leading winery with the helpof Chief winemaker Sasson Ben-Aharon . The Altitude reserve is afull-bodied wine with a flavor of cherries, dark chocolate and a hintof mint. This wine is perfect for Pessah, but I must admit, it is awine to be sipped, and in the rush to get through four cups of wine itwould be a shame if this one was gulped and not savored and enjoyed.