Holiday season is soon approaching and as usual, wineries are releasing new wines and investing heavily in advertising campaigns while wine shops across the country are offering special prices that are often hard to resist. Of course it all depends on your budget and audience, but when buying wine for a festive family meal, I usually suggest to try to pick up at least one “interesting” or “special” bottle of wine for everybody to try and even talk about. For the rest of the meal, it is important to try to find a balance with the food served, the number of diners, the progression of the meal and again, budget.
Following are several tasting notes and recommendations for wines which I have tasted in the recent weeks, white, red and even one rose:
Dalton, Alma, White, 2015 – an interesting and aromatic white blend from Dalton’s Alma label. Relying on Semillon, Pinot Gris and Viognier grapes from vineyards in the Upper Galilee, medium bodied, the wine suggests aromas and flavours that bring to mind green apples, apricots, peaches and tropical fruits alongside delicate vanilla and buttery notes leading to a medium - long finish. Just a touch of minerality and a good dose of balancing acidity, make this a very enjoyable wine.
Avidan, White Tag, 2015 – this time, a blend of Viognier, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc from vineyards in the Judean Hills and the Galilee. Deep straw in color, medium bodied and good texture on the palate, the wine first opens with buttery-apple notes, almost like a tart tatin, followed by notes of peaches, flowers and sweet vanilla coming together nicely for a medium and slightly bitter finish.
Maia, Mare White, 2015 – a blend of Marsanne, a white wine grape variety, most commonly found in the Northern Rhône region and French Colombard grapes. Straw with golden reflections, suggesting tangy citrus notes followed by apples and green almonds leading to a medium finish with a pleasant bitterness. Very refreshing and approachable, the winery suggests serving alongside light seafood or vegetable dishes.
Psagot, 7, White, 2015 – a new brand from Psagot to mark the recent “shmita year”. Often translated as the "Sabbatical Year," Shmita literally means to “drop” or “release.” This term is of biblical origin, and marks the final year of a seven year calendar cycle, where Jewish farmers in Israel are meant to “release” their fields and lands, not planting new crops or pruning the vineyards. Psagot’s blend comprises Chardonnay and Viognier grapes from various vineyards. Primarily developed in stainless steel vats with 15% in Hungarian oak barrels; the result is a medium bodied wine with pleasant notes of honey suckle, citrus fruits and peaches. Good balance and medium-long finish, with 12% this also a very refreshing and easy drinking wine.
Ella Valley Vineyards, Ever Red, Rose, 2015 – primarily Merlot grapes with 10% Cab Franc, bright salmon-pink in colour, a very light and refreshing wine suggesting red berry fruits, grapefruit, tart plums and pleasant green notes leading to a clean finish.
Golan Heights, Yarden, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013 – 30 years after its first release from the 1983 vintage, Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon is considered by many as a quality benchmark and go-to-wine that has demonstrated quality and consistency over the years. 18 months in barriques, full bodied, a bit firm when first poured then opening nicely to reveal layered aromas and flavours of plums, dark berry fruits and cherries those followed by notes of black pepper, fresh herbs, tobacco and dusty oak all coming together nicely on a long finish. Enjoyable now but based on my experience with other Yarden Cabs, definitely worth picking up a bottle or and two and trying again in a few years.
Tulip, Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014 – 90% Cabernet Sauvignon with the balance equally divided between Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, 18 months in French oak barrels, full bodied, the wine suggests concentrated notes of dark berry fruits, plums, warm spices and sweet oak leading to a long and pleasant finish. Enjoyable but would probably benefit from another year or two in the bottle.
Teperberg, Legacy, Cabernet Franc, 2014 – 100% Cabernet Franc grapes, 18 months in French Oak, medium-full bodied, the wine suggests aromas and flavours that bring to mind tart berry fruits, plums, mild oak, anise and pleasant green peppery notes which are typical to this variety leading to a long and slightly bitter finish.
Trio Winery, Spirit of Jerusalem, 2014 – comprising Shiraz, Petit Verdot and Merlot of varying proportions; the wine is dark ruby in colour, medium leaning towards full bodied with juicy notes of plums and dark berry fruits followed by fresh herbs and mild notes of toasted oak leading to a long and pleasant finish.
Recanati, Upper Galilee, Shiraz, 2015 – previously known simply as the Recanati label and since the 2013 vintage the winery’s Upper Galilee label, the “series” comprises classic varietal wines, including: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Deep purple in color with a medium body, this Shiraz is very approachable with pleasant notes dark berry fruits, purple flowers and just a touch of leather and smoke leading to a medium-long finish.
Ella Valley Vineyards, Syrah-Petite Sirah, 2013 – almost equal proportions from each variety, a bit alcoholic when first poured, full bodied with concentrated aromas and flavours of black berry fruits, tart cherries followed by dry herbs, black pepper and earthy notes on the medium-long finish.