The holidays are around the corner, and the shelves at every supermarket and wine store are loaded with the offerings of the local wine industry. With eye-catching labels, Israeli wineries offer the wine lover an enormous range of bottles. As the quality of local produce improved dramatically in recent years, most Israelis are now used to a higher standard when choosing a bottle of wine. Rosh Hashana is the time of the year when wineries launch their new products, and a number of worthy wines focused on Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are coming out this year (all wines listed are kosher). The Carmel winery has launched three new wines from its regional series, reflecting the best wine-growing regions. Carmel, Merlot 2004, upper Galilee: Dark red in color, this ripe Merlot has black plum and cassis aromas, as well as flavors of raspberry and cherry. Aged for 12 months in French oak barrels, it is full bodied and balanced, with some vanilla and mint on the finish. NIS 75 Carmel, Petit Syrah 2004, Judean Hills: Tastes so young and jammy, it's like it just came out of the barrel. Loaded with blackberry and cherry flavors, it also boasts a slight finish of coffee - a big, rustic, hearty wine meant to accompany similar fare. NIS 68 Carmel, Carignane 2004, Zichron Ya'akov: A surprisingly rich and interesting wine for this "lesser" varietal. The grapes come from old vines planted 30-40 years ago near Zichron Ya'acov. Bursting with intense berry flavors, it's just about as ripe as red wine gets, yet it's balanced and harmonious, and the finish lasts forever. NIS 65 Another release for Carmel is the Sauvignon Blanc 2005 Ramat Arad, which belongs in the winery's premium series Kerem. The wine is slightly gold in color, with sharp aromas of grapefruit and lime. It is round yet minerally in the mouth, with spicy freshness and acidity. NIS 55 Dalton, Chardonnay reserve 2005: This white crafted by Na'ama Mualem, Dalton's winemaker, is full of peach aromas, and you'll find accents of oak, caramel and lemon. If that sounds heavy, it's not. In fact, this wine shows excellent balance. The palate is pure, with sweet apricot and nectarine. And the finish is flattering; the mineral, chalky quality is just right. NIS 55 Dalton, Sauvignon Blanc reserve 2005: This is a full and rich style of Sauvignon Blanc. Creamy and loaded with pineapple, fig and grapefruit flavors. There's a hint of honeyed ripeness, and the finish is refreshingly zingy without being overly acidic. Beautifully balanced. NIS 47 This is the second harvest for the Yogev (vintner) series at Binyamina winery. The winery named this series as a tribute to its vintners. Two wines in the series (Rose and Sauvignon Blanc-Chardonnay) were launched in April, and two reds are now being released: Binyamina, Yogev Cabernet Sauvignon- Merlot 2005: Made of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon from the vineyard of Eli Heiman in Karmei Yosef, and 50% of Merlot from Dror Eliraz's vineyard in Lachish. Each of the wines was aged for eight months in oak barrels. It features nice aromas of blackberry and notes of fresh green herbs. NIS 55 Binyamina, Yogev, Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2005: The Shiraz grapes for this appealing blend are from Yossi Abrasman's vineyard in Kfar Kish, and the Cabernet grapes were grown in Karmei Yosef by Zvi Shoseyov. Rich in red berry and cherry fruit, this medium-bodied wine has a touch of oak and vanilla, with a lingering finish. NIS 55.