Grapes of Zion

Spring's new wines should please even the pickiest wine drinker.

galil wine 88 298 (photo credit: Ofer Zemach)
galil wine 88 298
(photo credit: Ofer Zemach)
Zion Winery, established by the Shor family in Jerusalem in 1848, is the oldest winery in Israel. With more than 160 years of winemaking experience behind them, in 2004 the owners decided to start producing three series of modern table wines: Erez, Tidhar and Armon. All the wines in the new series are made from quality grapes harvested at vineyards in Lower Galilee and the Judean Hills, and are approachable to all consumers. The winery is now launching its 2006 harvest with three wines in the Tidhar series and three in the Erez series. Boasting new labels, the bottles in both series feature young, refreshing and fruity table wines ready for drinking. The wines in the Erez series (NIS 45) have been aged for 12 months in oak barrels and include Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot made of a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot and 5% Petite Syrah grapes, all grown in vineyards at Kfar Tavor and Ram-On. The wine is characterized by black fruits with notes of currants and bitter chocolate. Petite Syrah-Merlot: Dark red, nearly purple in color, this wine is full-bodied with aromas of blackberries, pepper and oak. Cabernet Sauvignon:Fairly soft in the mouth with a smooth texture. The mixed plum fruit on the palate is juicy, yet not jammy or overripe. A nice Cabernet, with an even nicer price. The winery's Tidhar series is offered for NIS 35 and includes Cabernet Sauvignon; made of grapes grown in Lower Galilee and the Judean Hills this is an easy-to-drink wine, standard, but very good. Merlot: Made of 90% Merlot grapes, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petite Syrah. Aromas of strawberries are distinct and defined, while hints of red cherries can also be noted. Finishes strong, maybe a little sharp, but with full flavors. Carignan-Merlot: made of 70% Carignan, 25% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from vineyards at Kfar Tavor and Zichron Ya'acov. A rich yet soft wine with short but pleasant flavors of black cherries and dried herbs. The Armon series, which forms the Zion Winery's flagship series, is released only in vintage years. A number of other wines have been making their debut in the past few weeks: Mony Vineyard Winery has released two new wines in its Reserve series. The kosher winery, located at the Deir Rafat Monastery near Beit Shemesh, is owned by the Artul family, an Arab-Christian family from Galilee. Nur, who studied agronomy at the Hebrew University's Rehovot campus, is the winemaker and runs the winery with his two brothers and their father, Shakib. Shiraz Reserve 2005: Made entirely from Shiraz grapes this full-bodied red has aromas of cherry and red fruit followed by notes of vanilla and tobacco. NIS 59. Merlot Reserve 2005: This Bordeaux-red colored wine has subtle aromas of spice and plum. The sip is bright and rich with more flavors of cassis, oak and herbs. NIS 69. The Carmel Winery has launched the Sauvignon Blanc 2007 in the Private Collection series. A dry white wine featuring fruity aromas of melon, lime and green grass all held together with plenty acidity. Notes of apple and spice make it taste more like a Chardonnay than a Sauvignon Blanc. NIS 38. Four new wines have been added to the Barkan Winery's Classic series. Two are white from the 2007 harvest, and the other two are reds from the harvest of 2006. Classic is Barkan's best-seller series offering good value for money. The new bottles launched are adorned with redesigned labels that put emphasis on binding the series with the winery. Emerald Riesling 2007: Light-bodied wine featuring very sweet first notes, almost honey, with aromas of citrus and flowers. NIS 29. Chardonnay 2007: crafted by cold fermentation in stainless-steel tanks, a winemaking method best for keeping the fruit aromas, this wine has a beautiful harmony of fruit centered on white peach and pears. NIS 29. Cabernet Sauvignon 2006: A medium-to full-bodied wine. Ripe fruit aromas feature red berries, cherries and currants with layers of vanilla and oak. NIS 41. Merlot 2006: Made of 100% Merlot grapes this medium-bodied wine has rich aromas of black cherry, berries, and some earthy component. NIS 41.