Excellent vintages are showing up all over.
A recent visit to Israel has reaffirmed our enthusiasm for the Holy Land’s developing wine culture. New wineries seem to crop up every week, and there is a palpable sense that enjoying wine is becoming as fundamental to Israelis as their love of coffee.
While wine bars are not yet as numerous as the coffee shops, they’re certainly growing more crowded. Wine lists at restaurants are likewise ever more thoughtful, with an improving range and better alignment with chefs’ cuisine. Even wine selections in supermarkets have grown.
This growing appreciation for wine amongst Israelis has pushed producers towards marketing wines of high quality, and at reasonable prices. Since most commercial wineries are certified kosher, this bodes well for both visitors to Israeli as well as those in the Diaspora who will eventually see some of these wines on local shelves.
One example is the Gamla Syrah 2010 (sold under the Gilgal label in the U.S.) we enjoyed at Kitchen Station, a new Mediterranean restaurant located in Jerusalem’s renovated First Station site. Made by the Golan Heights Winery from regional grapes, it ages in French oak for 12 months and opens with bright red berry and slightly smoky aromas. Medium bodied and fruity but lighter in style and not nearly as complex as many of the more familiar syrahs, it shows good balance, with well-developed blackberry and dark cherry flavors and accents of cedar, spice and earth. It makes a fine accompaniment to summer fare and pizza.