Galil Mountain Winery in the Upper Galilee region of Israel is making some very food friendly wines. Their wines are as open, welcoming and understatedly as lush as the scenic vistas from the region.
It is cold and blah right now in Chicago, so such a pleasure to think about warmer places. Wine grapes grow between the 30° to 50° latitude. If you look at the wine regions between 30° and 35° latitude north and south across the world, they include: Mendoza/Argentina, Santiago/Chile, Capetown/South Africa , Paso Robles and the AVAs of San Luis Obispo County in California and Giron, Upper Galilee/Israel where Galil Mountain Winery is located. The winery sits in the mountains and the eastern Mediterranean is an hour away by car.
I was first introduced to the wines last June when winemaker Micha Vaadia was at the mediterrean restaurant in Chicago Ema, pouring his wines paired with chef CJ Jacobsen’s bites, like these deconstructed latkes which were really good.
I failed to get a decent picture of Micah, I did take some terrible ones which went right into the delete folder.
Recently, their importer Yarden Wines held a tasting of the entire Yarden portfolio at the beautiful and elegant Naha Restaurant, that had these gorgeous roses at the front entrance. Yet again, I failed to get a picture of the food but included in the offerings was an incredibly delicious chopped liver bite.
Yarden’s portfolio includes the Golan Heights Winery, one of the oldest wineries in Israel. They have a very diverse offering of wines through the Yarden, Gilgal and Herman labels.
The Yarden Blanc de Blancs 2009 was a crowd favorite. Its made in the traditional method and then sur lie aged for a minimum of 4 years.
The wines I was drawn to again were the Galil Mountain blends. Ela, a blend as noted below, of Barbera, Syrah, Petite Syrah and Grenache as well as Alon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc. Both blends are Bordeaux meets the Rhone meets Piemonte. But I think they are the most successful of the wines I tasted. Ela, despite having Barbera as the leading grape, reminded me of Paso Robles Rhone blends. Winemaker Micah Vaddia has a deft touch, dare I call these “Israeli blends“? Speaking to the Yarden folks at the tasting, they said it snows at the winery which is hard to fathom with the desert and Mediterranean so close. The change in temperatures and the soils make for good flavors developed in the grapes. The wines had a definite ripe fruit quality but they weren’t cloying but called out for food.
The vineyards are found at approximately 675m (2,200ft) and the soils are terra rossa, limestone that are rich in iron. Grapes grown in these type of soils produce wines with structure and minerality. (From Divine Vintage, by Butler, Heskett)
Both wines are kosher. However, I think that Yarden and its wines are far beyond the whole notion of a “kosher” section of wine. These are premium fine wines that happen to be kosher.
At a party that included friends from financial days, people brought wines that included some California cabernets, Argentine malbecs and Paso Robles rhone blends. I wish I would have brought a bottle of Ela, I think everyone would have loved it and it would have been a true crowd-pleaser.
As I look at the greys and blacks of the city, I will think sunny thoughts when I sip a winw from Galil Mountain winery.