Winemaking and viticulture has been recorded in Israel since Biblical times, with wide influence from Morrocco, known for its mastery of French grapes and blends styles. The country's trade was virtually wiped out in the 7th Century before only beginning a return from the late 19th Century with the import of French grape vines and establishment of viticultural education.
One of the first wineries to be created was Carmel Winery in 1882, from which we have their beautiful Selected Mediterranean Blend. They were the first winery to create dry wines (not used for sacramental purposes) and predicated the reveival of the industry across the country which started in the 1980's, surging by the late nineties.
Carmel Mediterranean Blend (14.5%, £14.77) combines Shiraz, Carignan, Peitie Syrah and Viognier for a light ruby, medium bodied wine showing elegance and refreshment. Intense aromas of black cherries, leather and truffles fall on to the palate for a lighter, fruity and semi-dry flavour experience. Perfect with roast lamb and aged hard cheeses.
Today, two other producers are the largest alongside Carmel, including Barkan Wine Cellars from whom we have a unique blend of Merlot and the indigenous Argaman grape which was created as a result of crossing Souzao and Carignan. The grape keeps a bold colour and shows dark fruits and good tannins.
Barkan Classic Argaman-Merlot (12.5% £14.77) is an equal blend creating a dark and robust purple appearance with pronounced fresh fruit aromas. The palate shows depth, body and structured tannins, with wild berry flavours. Excellent with veal shishkebabs, or mixed grill meats.
Dalton Winery was established in 1995 and is nestled in the heart of Galilee, working with local farmers to ensure the best for their grape yields. Their excellent Canaan White wine (12.5% £14.50), a balanced blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Muscat. This pale yellow, semi-dry wine shows smoothness and complexity, with floral aromas giving way to fruity tones and refreshing acidity on the palate. Pair with fish, seafood, chicken or pasta dishes with cream based sauces.