Wine Cellar: Baby, its cold outside

Doron Rav-Hon, chief winemaker at the Ella Valley wineries, is now presenting the Syrah 2006.

Doron Rav-Hon 88 248 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Doron Rav-Hon 88 248
(photo credit: Courtesy)
When the weather turns cold and windy, one of my favorite things to do is warm up the house with a thick lentil soup, then curl up in front of the TV and enjoy a hearty glass of red wine. While there are many wonderful choices of bold red wine, including Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, this week I'd like to focus on some other varietals offering some great new surprises. If you think Petite is just small, you've got plenty to learn. In its Appelation series, Carmel is releasing Petite Sirah - Old Vines Judean Mountains 2006. The term "old vines" on a wine label generally means that the particular wine was produced from vines that are at least 35 years old. Is it good? As a vine ages, it produces less fruit, but the fruit that is does produce is generally more concentrated and intensely flavored. So the resulting wine is more flavorful. Not much attention was paid to the true identity of Petite Sirah until the 1960s and 1970s, and there have been many incomplete stories and half truths about this Rhône varietal throughout the general wine literature. The story of Petite Sirah has been cleared up by research done in 1977 at the University of Davis in California revealing the source of the grape, which in France is named Durif and is a cross between Syrah and Peloursin. With similar names and styles - inky-purple color, black raspberry and pepper flavors - Syrah and Petite Sirah wines can be so close in texture that even experts have a difficult time telling them apart, and the better the wine, the more this is true. This is the third harvest of this grape for the Regional series at Carmel, and fans of this variety will find something really interesting here. While the wine has the typical blueberry, leather and spice flavors that Petite Sirah so dependably produces, it also has a nice balance with thick tannins. The wine has already won a gold medal at the 2008 Terravino contest, and with a price tag of NIS 80, you don't have to break the bank for an interesting new experience. Recanati winery is introducing two new wines in its Reserve series: Petite Sirah-Zinfandel 2006. A blend of 80 percent Petite Sirah and rest of Zinfandel, this wine has deep purple color with flavors and aromas of fresh plums and hints of hazelnut. With grapes picked in two different growing regions and separately fermented, this is a unique blend that can go nicely with spicy cheeses or dark chocolate desserts. NIS 89. Cabernet Franc 2006: This is a single vineyard wine from Manara in Upper Galilee, located at 800 meters above sea level. Bursting with distinctive aromas of rosemary and eucalyptus, this is a robust aromatic wine with flavors of red fruit and soft tannins. NIS 95. Doron Rav-Hon, chief winemaker at the Ella Valley wineries, is now presenting the Syrah 2006. A medium-bodied focused wine with flavors of red berries, oak and minerals, there's also a fair amount of spice on the nose. But it's not just the inviting scents that make this wine so good, it's also the fine tannin-acid balance. The wine is lushly fruity, yet structured. Good now with robust foods, but should soften and sweeten for three or four years. NIS 118.