A friend brought this bottle over at the weekend. I was intrigued and, once we tasted it, really impressed. I have not got much experience of Israeli wines but know that they have been picking up international plaudits and awards, including the Decanter best Red Rhone varietal over £10 awarded to Carmel winery from upper Galilee (trumping Guigal et al at their own game).
This bottle, from Galil Mountain Winery, which is also in Upper Galilee, is a blend of 69% Viognier and 31% Chardonnay called Avivim. The bottle describes the area as “a wild mountainous region of forested slopes, gorges, stony ridges and running streams” no doubt appealing to terroiristes with air miles to use. The winery is linked to a Kibbutz so maybe a good one to volunteer for on a gap year.
I find most Viognier over-perfumed, one dimensional and gag inducing, so was intrigued by the potentially moderating influence of the Chardonnay. This was balanced but still retained enough ‘tropicality’ to appeal to Viognier fans with peach, papaya and ‘blah blah blah’ (insert favourite tropical fruit from usual list, melon maybe) with a not unpleasant spicy tang. I have tasted lots of Condrieu at twice the price which was less enjoyable (in my own unique taste world I am never wrong). I don’t give points but this is technically sound, interesting and drinkable stuff.
I was surprised to see it was 15% abv as it did not strike me as overly alcoholic (in tune with good Rhones). Fermented on its lees, 9 months in French oak, a weighty bottle and talk of terroir signals intent. It had a $20.90 price tag, which I guess equates to around £15, and a suggested storage/drinking window from 2010 to 2013. It also states ‘Kosher for Passover’ on the back. I think the stereotype of boiled up Kosher wines is still quite strong and the politics of the region unhelpful to Marketing types. This could be seen as a good recipe for value for money but perhaps the conscientious would feel it also appropriate to make a donation to a worthy cause in the region…