Singularly spectacular

The release of "Kerem," the series of Single Vineyard wines in 2003, marked the beginning of an exciting new chapter at Carmel, the oldest winery in Israel.

wine gamla 88 (photo credit: )
wine gamla 88
(photo credit: )
The release of "Kerem," the series of Single Vineyard wines in 2003, marked the beginning of an exciting new chapter at Carmel, the oldest winery in Israel. Grapes from outstanding vineyards around the country received special care throughout the winemaking process, and the resulting wine made it to the winery's top-of-the-line series. These wines represent Carmel's finest achievement in decades of winegrowing in Israel. "Single Vineyard" wines contain grapes from one vineyard and have a taste unique to that vineyard, as opposed to wines made of grapes harvested in different areas. While they spare the winemaker the trouble and risk of blending, Single Vineyard wines are usually more expensive than blends and are more appealing for wine collectors. Carmel Winery is now releasing two wines from the Kerem series: Single Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon Kerem Zarit 2004: This vineyard is located in the northern part of Upper Galilee. I love the purity of this wine, the way it captures the elegance and the Cabernet character that is so important, particularly the blackberries and cherries. It is an elegant rather than powerful wine, with a green character - probably from the cold winter that year. The tannins are very precise and fine, with blackcurrant flavors rounding the wine off. NIS 99. Single Vineyard, Merlot Kerem Ben-Zimra 2004: This is a really fine full-bodied wine featuring aromas of ripe plums, cherries and herbs. Soft tannins give the wine good structure and a long finish. It was aged for 12 months in French oak barrels which contributed a vanilla accent. This Merlot is a joy to drink right now with an hour or so of breathing, but will continue to drink well for at least five years. NIS 100. Viognier: A fast-rising star, and a grape from Chianti The Golan Heights Winery has just released two new wines that might appeal to the more daring wine drinker. If you consider yourself a little more on the cutting edge than the typical consumer of expensive Cabernets, here are two alternatives: the first is Viognier, a white wine grape from the Rhone Valley in France; the other is Sangiovese, based on grapes from Tuscany. Yarden, Viognier 2005: The Viognier grape is fast growing in popularity among drinkers and growers alike. The last 10 years has seen a massive increase in Viognier production throughout the world and more recently we have begun to see bottles on our own supermarket shelves. This is the second harvest for the Golan Heights Winery of this grape grown at the Odem vineyard. It is an aromatic wine with honeysuckle and orange blossom notes layered with apricot and peach flavors. The juicy fruit character is balanced with a crisp acidity for a refreshing finish that lingers. I found it a little too fruity, but seemed overall very clean and quite pleasant without much complexity. NIS 72. Gamla, Sangiovese, 2004: Sangiovese are black grapes that are widely grown in central Italy. They are sometimes referred to as Chianti grapes because they are the main ingredient in Chianti wines. Sangiovese grapes produce wines that are fruity with moderate to high natural acidity. These wines are medium bodied, ranging from firm and elegant to robust. The aroma of wines made from Sangiovese grapes can be those of strawberry, blueberry, floral or plum, and the finish can be slightly bitter. Made from grapes picked at the vineyards of Ein Zivan and El-Rom in the Golan Heights, this Sangiovese has a rich, deep flavor with medium acidity that goes well with almost any red meat dish. It has a dark color with black plums and hints of citrus on the nose. In the mouth the wine is soft and gentle, with a tannic bite in the finish. NIS 68.