Israel: Such a small country with so many wine regions

Israel: Such a small country with so many wine regions

Lately, I have seen more press about Israeli wine and cuisine. For the kosher wine fan, this is a real plus.
The Pennsylvania Liquor Quarterly has a four-page article regarding kosher wines. The last issue of Food Arts Magazine, a leading trade magazine for hotels and restaurants, has a three-page article about Israeli cuisine’s move to the forefront.
So I decided to add to this exciting news by writing about the wine regions of Israel. Not surprisingly, there are several:
First, there’s the Carmel Valley: This is where they make Tishbi Merlot. This red, dark-colored, young and fruity wine was blended with 15 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. It is balanced and round and displays fresh raspberry and strawberry flavors, and a hint of spices. It can either age or presently be enjoyed.
We have the Galilee and its numerous subregions: The Golan Heights, Jezrael Valley, Meron, Lake Galil, Naphtali and Gabor. A special wine for this region is the Bazelet Hagolan Cabernet, a full-bodied Cabernet with flavors of blackberry, smoke and a hint of tobacco. Don’t take this wine lightly; it packs a wallop.
We have Negev with two sub regions: Ramat Arad and the Southern Negev. From this region comes Carmel Sauvignon Blanc Ramat Arad. Pale and straw in color, this typical Sauvignon Blanc is well balanced, showing grapefruit and passion fruit on the nose, fresh grassy flavors with a long crisp aftertaste.
Welcome to the Judean Hills with its four subregions: Beth-El, Bethlehem, Hebron and Jerusalem. Here, we find Noah Jerusalem Heights Cabernet/Merlot. Jerusalem Heights is a sophisticated blend of 50 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 50 percent Merlot. The wine features lush flavors of cherry, chocolate and black pepper with a finish of aromatic spices.
There is also the region known as Samaria, or Shomron, with its two subregions: Haifa and Sharon.
Recanati Yasmin White comes from Shomron. When you sniff this delightful vino, the nose offers up aromas of sweet pea, honeysuckle and fresh sliced peaches. Light to medium body and strong crisp acidity lead into a clean, refreshing finish.
The wine region with the most subregions is known as Samson, or Shimshon, with seven subregions: Adulam, Dan, Latourne, Shfela, Ayalon, Gezer and Latrun. A fine wine from this region is Barkan Classic Pinotage — a smoky wine that is the unique cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsault. It is relatively light and easy to drink.
So now that I have broken down the regions of Israel and given you a small sampling from each major region, the next couple of articles I write will discuss each individual region in greater depth (relax, there won’t be a quiz). Many people ask me about tasting these wines and how I am able to judge them. Well, here is a chance for you to taste some wines with me. In the coming weeks, as I taste new and different wines I will be looking for about eight to 10 people to taste and talk about these Israeli wines and regions. If you are interested please e-mail me at the address below. L’Chaim to all.

(Uri Marcovitz, a Downtown Pittsburgh restaurateur and recognized wine expert [who dabbles in beer] can be reached at