Over the years, the local wine & alcohol industry is becoming more and more versatile. Today one can find wines of all styles and using and increasing number of grape varieties, locally brewed beers from micro to large breweries, tasty liquors, brandy and even whiskey that while not produced entirely from raw materials grown in Israel, is aged and matured in the holy land.
There are also several local port style wines on the market and as a fan of the genre; this is definitely a welcomed trend.
To those who aren’t familiar with the history of Port vinos, it all started in 1678 when Britain declared war on France and blockaded French Ports. Since the British wine drinkers were mostly dependent on French wine, the Britons were forced to search for other sources to saturate their thirst. In 1703 Britain and Portugal signed the Methuen Treaty. This treaty included a specific article referring to Port wine export/import. The terms of the treaty stated that Portuguese wines imported into England would be subject to substantial tax breaks. In return exports of English woolen cloth would be admitted into Portugal free of duty.
During the long journey from Portugal to England the wine would often spoil. To that end, the winemakers began fortifying the wine in order to prolong its shelf life and ensure that the Port will arrive in tact. Port received its name from the city of Oporto which is situated on the mouth of the 560-mile long Rio Douro (“River of Gold”). Similar to the laws regarding the production of Champagne, the strict usage of the terms Port or Porto refer only to wines produced in Portugal.
The continued British involvement in the Port trade can be seen to this day in the names of many Port shippers including: Cockburn, Graham, Osborne, Sandeman, Taylor and others.
Probably the most common match for Port wine is the Stilton blue cheese. The richness of the wine is enhanced when serving it alongside nuts, dried fruit, potent cheeses, pate of fois gras (goose liver), and dark chocolate.
Some of the Israeli wineries producing fortified, port-style wines include: Carmel Winery, Golan Heights Winery relying on Portuguese grape varieties, Tinta Cao and Touriga Nacional; Teperberg Winery, Psagot Winery labeling their version as Prat – named after a stream thet runs below the villag;, Har Odem, Saslove Winery, Tishbi Winery – if you happen to be at the visitor’s center, try to taste the port style wine with excellent Valronah Chocolate; Katlav Winery in Nes Harim and several others.