Sip This: The wine list

The Israeli wine world gets very busy as Passover approaches, offering newly launched wines and many specials. We sipped some of the wines offered for this holiday and here are our recommendations.

Passover (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
This year, as part of our annual wine-tasting for Passover, we decided to rate the wines according to price, dividing them into three categories – under NIS 60, including the popular three for NIS 100, NIS 60 to NIS 120, where most wines are found, and the special, exclusive wines for those willing to spend more. Lehaim! NIS 60 AND LESS Binyamina – The Binyamina Teva Shiraz 2015 won Best Value Gold Medal in the reds under NIS 60. It is a rich wine, with pretty purple color and long finish. From the same line, the merlot is also good value. Holiday special price NIS 19.90.
Derech Eretz – The Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 is fresh with typical aromas and dark red color. Enjoy it now at the special holiday price of NIS 30.
Carmel – Private Collection 2014. This year, Carmel Wines decided to focus mostly on their leading Private Collection series.
Purchased at three for NIS 100, the wines in the collection offer something for everyone.
Try the Chardonnay or the Sauvignon Blanc with fish and salads, the Shiraz, Merlot or the popular Cabernet Sauvignon with main dishes, and don’t forget the semisweet Emerald Riesling Colombard or the lovely Muscat with dessert. There is also a dry sparkling wine in the collection if you’re looking for a celebratory aperitif.
Golan Heights – Mount Hermon Alut. The Golan Heights winery has created a special edition of its Hermon collection for the holiday, joining hands with Alut, the Israeli Society for Autistic Children. The special editions of the popular Hermon collection – Red, Indigo, white and muscato – will be adorned with labels painted by autistic children. The bottles will be sold for NIS 35, and part of the proceedings will be donated to Alut.
The Jerusalem Wineries – Premium Shiraz 2013 was noted recently as one of 100 best wines in the world by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, getting 92 out of 100 for quality, taste and price. “Aromas of blueberry and clove, with a soft hint of cinnamon set the scene for flavors of blackberry, anise, black pepper, vanilla and white chocolate,” the magazine noted. “A grid of smooth tannins makes way for a finish dotted by flavors of dark berry, spice, and cranberry sauce.” Pick it up this holiday for NIS 45.
Hayotzer – a new branch of the veteran Arza winery, announced by the owners as their outlet for reasonably priced premium wines, under the Hayotzer label. The Bereshit line – based on three reds, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz, as well as one white Sauvignon Blanc – is sold at NIS 40, and the Virtuoso collection of three single vineyard red wines, aged in oak barrels for 28 months and introduced in very handsome French bottles adorned with gold and reliefs, is NIS 50.
The Golan Heights – Gamla Hashmura Viognier-Chardonnay is a fresh and aromatic dry white wine with medium body that goes beautifully with fish as well as soup or chicken. Excellent choice for a warm night.
NIS 55 Avidan – Red Tag 2014, a Cabernet Sauvignon blend, with 6% Petit Verdot and 12% Syrah. Good value at NIS 60 Imported from France Part of a new kosher range by Les Domaines Pierre Chavin 2014, a dry white wine, this French Chardonnay presents floral aromas and typical herbal flavors. A refreshing wine to pair with salads, fish and spicy food (NIS 40).
NIS 60 TO NIS 120 Dalton – Dalton Petit Syrah 2014, aged 12 months in American barrels, red color and medium-light body, very good value (NIS 65). The Dalton Pinot Gris 2015, an aromatic white wine with good acidity and round body, will go well with an aperitif, cheese and salads (NIS 65). The Alma Vin Gris 2015, a new and interesting wine to enjoy all summer, is made from 91% Grenache Noir. It is a well-constructed dry rosé wine that is refreshing and well balanced, with a lovely light pink color (NIS 75).
Segal – Rechasim Cabernet Sauvignon Dishon 2012 by Segal was declared the best Israeli wine at Terravino 2015. The grapes come from Dishon, in the Upper Galilee, and the wine is aged 18 months in French oak barrels. Full-bodied and fruity aromas make it a perfect wine to enjoy with meat stews (NIS 75). Another very good wine from the same winery, the Single Vineyard Rechasim Dovev Merlot, is very dark red in color, with typical merlot aromas of berries, wood dry fruit and spice (NIS 75).
Vitkin – White Masa Yisraeli 2015, a lovely blend of White Grenache, Roussanne, Viognier and Colombard, this aromatic fresh wine has green fruit aromas that make it a perfect pairing to salads, fish and chicken (NIS 75). Another perfect summer wine is the Masa Yisraeli Rosé 2015, made from Grenache Noir and some Carignan, which is salmon-pink with fruity-herbal flavors that make it a good pairing for fish, smoked meats and as an aperitif (NIS 75).
Barkan – 2012 Assemblage collection – The 2012 Reichan red blend is dark burgundy in color, with fruity aromas of red plums and fresh herbs, medium body and nice acidity. The 2012 Eitan classic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz is a well-balanced red with fresh fruity aromas and good acidity. The 2012 Zafit is a surprising wine that presents rich, complex berry-fruit aromas (NIS 79).
Binyamina – The winery offers special prices for its Hoshen collection, between NIS 80-100. The Hoshen 2012 Yahalom is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz from the Upper Galilee and the Golan Heights, as well as the Northern Negev. The dark-red wine has aromas of black cherry with hints of coffee, herbs and earth. It is a full-bodied rich wine that pairs very well with meats and stews. Tarshish Cabernet 2011, which is very dark in color, is well balanced and perfect with heavy beef or lamb stews or with sharp cheeses.
Tishbi – 2012 Tishbi Estate Syrah is a rich, full-bodied velvety and well balanced wine, with fruit and toffee aromas and dark color, and a good value at NIS 85.
Hayotzer – The winery’s prestigious line, called Lyrica, focuses on Mediterranean varietals, offering three wines – Lyrica Argaman, an Israeli varietal, Syrah and Mourvedre, and one classic GSM blend (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre). The wines are aged in oak barrels for 24 months (NIS 89).
Ella Valley – This winery constantly offers good wines that are easy to drink. The winery’s Chardonnay 2014 (NIS 85), is very dry with medium body and well-balanced acidity and typical aromas of butter, nuts and not too much vanilla. The Ella Valley Cabernet Franc 2012 is a dry and full-bodied dark burgundy wine, with typical aromas of pepper and cherry (NIS 107).
Golan Heights – The Yarden Pinot Noir 2011 is an elegant wine that suites the holiday dinner, especially if your main dish is salmon or roast chicken. The medium-bodied wine is full of flavor and very enjoyable (NIS 90).
Ben Haim – The boutique winery suggests for the holiday its 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Tradition, an upscale full-bodied wine with rich flavors and aromas, and a long finish (NIS 99).
Drimia – A new branding for Shokek winery, which has launched a few new wines for the holiday: The 2012 Shiraz Very Israeli wine (NIS 105) – fruity and full bodied and well balanced, and the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (NIS 105). Another, more expensive limited-edition wine from the winery is Sfar, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, a full-bodied, fruity wine to savor.
Bazelet Hagolan – Located on the Golan Heights, the winery has produced the Negev-Golan Chardonnay Blend 2014, made from 30% Chardonnay from Ramon vineyard in Mitzpe Ramon and 70% Chardonnay from Bazelet Vineyard located in the Golan Heights. The wine is light and easy to drink. It retails for NIS 100, or special holiday packages of 2 for NIS 130.
Trio – Secret 2013 is a red blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot from the Upper Galilee vineyard in Kadita and Kerem Ben Zimra, and 10% Marselan from the Jezreel Valley. The wine is aged in oak barrels for 12 months, and is fruity and well balanced (NIS 110).
Tzuba – The Tzuba Metzuda red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, aged in oak barrels for 24 months, is full bodied, with a dark red color and aromas of red fruit, spice and a very long finish (NIS 119).
Adir – The Galilee winery has launched two new blends, White and Red, in its A series. The white is a blend of Chardonnay (90%) and Sauvignon Blanc, an elegant wine, fresh with good acidity and harmonious balance between wood and fruit. The A red 2013, a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, is aged 20 months in oak barrels. It is a very dark medium-full bodied wine, with rich aromas of red berries, green herbs, pepper and clove (NIS 120).
Teperberg – Two new wines were launched by Teperberg for this holiday in its Essence collection: Chardonnay 2014 (NIS 70), a complex and rich wine with typical aromas of citrus and tropical fruit, is very smooth in the mouth with nice acidity; and Essence Malbec 2013 (NIS 100), which is well-balanced, deep and powerful with a full body and fresh fruit aromas.
Barkan – The Altitude collection is a study of terroir. The three different Cabernet Sauvignons in the collection are named according to the altitude of the vineyards.
Barkan Cabernet Sauvignon Altitude +585, a deep burgundy color, has rich aromas of red fruit with green notes and spice, rich fruity flavors, medium body and low acidity. The Barkan Cabernet Sauvignon Altitude +624 is very different, with sweeter aromas and fresh acidity, and the Barkan Cabernet Sauvignon Altitude +720, which is a “cooler” Cabernet Sauvignon, has aromas of red apples, cassis and mint, and even hints of tarragon.
The flavor is fruity with noticeable oak. A very good wine that will definitely age well.
All the wines in the series are NIS 120.
Yaffo –The boutique winery (which incidentally is located in the Judean Hills), suggests a package of wines including the 2014 Gewürztraminer, a very fresh semi-sweet white wine, which is aromatic and very well balanced, and the 2015 Syrah Merlot, a darkred elegant wine with hints of raspberry and violets, to be paired with beef stews and rich dishes. NIS 180 for the package.
Harey Galil (Galilee Mountains) – This winery has launched a gift box for the holiday including four wines labeled Ahava, Yetzira, Simha and Hashra’a (Love, Creation, Happiness and Inspiration). The wine is a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah, aged in oak barrels for 13 months. NIS 290 IMPORTED FROM FRANCE Last but definitely not least in this group is the 2012 Chateau Nerbesson Bordeaux, a kosher red blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. If you like Bordeaux wines, this may be a good choice for you at the very affordable price of NIS 80.
MORE THAN NIS 120 The wines in this section are for special occasions. If all you bring to the Seder table is a bottle of wine, look into these options and your hosts will thank you.
Castel – The 2014 Petit Castel is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Perceived as Castel Grand Vin’s younger brother, it is the product of a different winemaking philosophy, with more fruit and more tamed and elegant tannins, making it a hearty wine. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, it has a full body and deep purple color, followed by rich black fruit, cherry and plum flavors and a long finish (NIS 123).
Yatir – The acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Petit Verdot. The blend changes each year in accordance with the character of the harvest. The different wines were aged separately in oak barrels for a year before they were blended. The wine is burgundy in color with aromas of ripe berries and a fruity flavor with pepper and nice, round astringency in the mouth (NIS 129).
Vitkin – The winery’s special for this holiday is the 2014 Grenache Noir Collector’s Edition. With a bright, deep red color, the aromas of this wine are typical of the grape – strawberry, cherry and floral scents – with complex fruitiness and herbs, as well as sweet spice flavors. Only 985 bottles of this wine were produced (NIS 140).
Bravdo – The Bravdo Shiraz 2013 Single Vineyard was aged 12 months in oak barrels, most of them French oak and some American oak, creating a good balance between the fruit and the wood aromas.
It is a harmonious wine, with a bright red color and fruity flavors of plum and dark cherries, spiced with mint and pepper. A medium-full bodied wine that resembles Australian Shiraz (NIS 130). The Bravdo 2013 Coupage is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon from a single vineyard. A complex wine with layers of flavor and aromas that reveal themselves slowly, and sweet scents of raspberry, plum and green pepper in the nose, and blackberries and herbal notes in the mouth (NIS 149).
Hameara (The Cave) – Owned by Binyamina Winery, Hameara wines are for those willing to splurge. Hameara 2012 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The burgundystyle blend opens with powerful aromas of red berries, tobacco and tar. It is a rich and well-balanced wine that will age well but can also be enjoyed now (NIS 220). This year the boutique winery launched an even rarer version, one made only from old vines that will be sold at NIS 380 to NIS 400. The Hameara 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Old Vines is aged more than two years in new French barrels and one more year in bottles. It is an elegant wine, complex and well balanced, that according to the winemakers will age well. Open at least an hour before drinking.
The Golan Heights – The exclusive Yarden Rom 2012, the result of a joint effort of the winery’s head winemaker Victor Schoenfeld and Zelma Long, an internationally renowned wine maker, was recently added to the winery’s portfolio. The wine presents typical fruit aromas of raspberry and plum, with a backdrop of smoke, earth, anise, tobacco, sage and black tea.
An elegant blend with long finish that pairs well with beef and lamb or heavy stews. NIS 465.
NOT KOSHER De Martino – Imported from Chile by Israco, the Carmene’re Alto de Piedras is made from 100% Carmener grapes, offering rich and spicy aromas. The wine is well-constructed and balanced, and pairs very well with meat such as lamb and beef (NIS 139). Another wine from De Martino winery is the Syrah Alto Los Toros, a typical Syrah, which presents complex aromas and will pair very well with red meat and hearty dishes. This wine is part of the winery’s exclusive line (NIS 139).
Masi – Lovers of white Italian wine will enjoy the Masi Classico 2014 Soave Levari, a gentle, fresh white wine that is a perfect aperitif on a hot evening and pairs well with fish and antipasti.
It has a yellow straw color with green flashes, a floral-fruity bouquet of ripe pears and peaches, fresh flavors and good acidity.