Wine From the Land of the Maccabees | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Wine From the Land of the Maccabees

Courtesy Flam Winery

Nine Israeli wines to serve at your Chanukah bash

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One aspect of Chanukah that tends not to get as much emphasis in Diaspora communities is the centrality of the Land of Israel to the holiday. The historic fight, after all, was not about freedom qua-freedom, but about Jewish religious freedom in the Holy Land, specifically in Judea. The very name Chanukah is derived from the Hebrew verb chanac, meaning to dedicate, and refers to the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem following the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire.

So an in an effort to thrust Judea and Israel, more generally, back into one’s thought on Chanukah, I thought an Israeli wine focus was in order. Consider these options for the remaining days of Chanukah:

Rosé Options:

Tabor, Adama, Barbera Rosé, Lower Galilee, Israel, 2017 ($20): Bright, crisp, and refreshing with notes of strawberry, watermelon, raspberry, bramble, cherry, and citrus. Mouth-watering and flavorful.

Carmel Winery, Appellation Rosé, Judean Hills, Israel, 2017 ($20): This enjoyable off-dry 70/30 blend of Grenache and Tempranillo offers aromas and flavors of strawberry, raspberry, ripe grapefruit, and cherry. Overall tasty and refreshing.

White Options

Shiran, Duet in White, Israel, 2017 ($33): This is an appealing blend of roughly 60/40 Chardonnay (from the Sumerian Hills) and Semillon (from the Golan Heights) — Eli Shiran, the winemaker, informs me that there is also an unspecified amount of both Petite Sirah and Peti Verdot blended in, though neither is mentioned on the label. The Semillon seems to drive this wine more than the Chardonnay (though the Chard delivers plenty here), offering lovely notes of saffron, lanolin, mango, yellow peach, and green papaya. This is medium to full in the mouth, waxy, balanced, with a delicious sweet tinge. The slight sweetness makes me think this would be great with Indian or Asian spiced foods, and I easily envision drinking this with a fully loaded schwarma liberally seasoned — according to taste — with both amba and schug/charif.

Tzora Vineyards, Judean Hills Blanc, 2017 ($37): This fabulous and refreshing blend of 75% Chardonnay and 25% Sauvignon Blanc proffers wonderful aromas and rich flavors of tropical fruits, peach, dried apricot, pear tart, and green apple. Plush in the mouth, with nice minerality and vibrant acidity.

Vitkin, Grenache Blanc, 2016 ($40): Made of 90% Upper Galilee Grenache Blanc and 10% Judean Hills Roussanne, this impressive , elegant yet deep and floral beauty has notes of citrus, almonds, under-ripe stone fruit, and a little spice. Finish is lingering, with nice tart fruit and a little citrus pith.

Red Options

Domaine Herzberg, Côteaux de Sitrya, Malbec, Judean Hills, Israel, 2013 ($30): This tasty Malbec—with 15% Cabernet Sauvignon blended in—is punchy, pungent, heady, smoky, and chockablock with aromas and flavors of dark fruits (blackberry, plum, raisin), ripe red fruits (sour cherry, black cherry, raspberry), spice, violets, earth, funk, tobacco leaf, and with an overall more restrained green-astringency than is found in most (kosher) Malbecs. The tannins are palate coating and a little sweet, but kept in balance (the acidity is better than expected). Overall, very enjoyable, especially with barbecue and grilled meats.

Flam Winery, Classico, Judean Hills, Israel, 2016 ($35): This is an enticing blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 8% Syrah, and 6% Petit Verdot, each variety was cultivated in the Mata vineyard in the Judean Mountains. With fresh, bright, and clean aromas and flavors of red fruits, Mediterranean herbs, soft spices (especially clove and black pepper), a slightly green note, and a little dark chocolate. With nice balance between fruits, tannins, and acidity, and a pleasing finish offering more clove and some piquant cranberries. Yummy.

Gito by Malkiel Hadari, Shani, Galilee, Israel, 2014 ($43): an inviting and tasty blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Sangiovese. This is a big wine, but nicely balanced; the bouquet is a rather lovely and enticing mix of red and dark fruits and spice; the Sangiovese seems to lead the slow dance of flavors on the palate, bringing a lively fruity freshness to the spice and fruits. Give it time to breath and really open up. Very enjoyable now, but should also evolve nicely over the next 3-5 years, maybe longer.

Ramot Naftaly Winery, Barbera, Kedesh Valley, Upper Galilee, 2014 ($55): A really lovely and deeply satisfying Israeli Barbera with solid acidity, offering notes of ripe black and red berry fruits, an enchanting hint eucalyptus, an appealing earthy note, a smidge of both anise and bittersweet dark chocolate, and a really alluring gaminess all through. Allow this wonderful wine time to breathe.


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