April 14, 2024
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Israeli Wines for Yom Ha’atzmaut

One of the traditions of Yom Ha’atzmaut is the nearly mandatory BBQ, often referred to as the mitzvah of the day by the Israelis. A great BBQ is not complete without all the salads, grilled corn and fresh fruits. And of course, some delicious Israeli wines to pair with the plethora of food!

Having myself lived in Israel for many years, I have made it my personal custom to enjoy on Yom Ha’atzmaut some of the best wines produced by the many and very dynamic Israeli wineries.

Some wineries such as Carmel have played an important role in the history of the State of Israel. The first telephone ever in Israel was installed at Carmel winery even before the State was founded. As well, three former prime ministers have worked at Carmel. Speaking of history, the Carmel Appellation Carignan, a wine made with grapes from 45- to 50-year-old vines, makes for a great match with grilled meats. It is full-bodied and earthy with flavors of dark berries and spices.

Psagot winery is located in the mountains north of Jerusalem. Their best wines mature in oak barrels in an old, natural cave dating back to the time of the Second Temple, more than 2000 years ago. On the bottles, you may find the replica of a coin from those times, which was found in that very same cave.

The new Psagot Rose is a delightful and refreshing wine that is very pleasant on its own as well as as an accompaniment to fresh salads and roasted veggies. It features a salmon color with mouth-watering acidity as well as notes of ripe strawberries, tangerines and papaya.

If you fancy some grilled fish rather than meat, I would then recommend that you check out the bright and buttery Barkan Special Reserve Winemaker’s Choice Chardonnay. Served slightly chilled, with its creamy texture as well as flavors of lemon and almonds, it complements some fresh tuna nicely and with class.

In a few weeks, we will also celebrate Lag Baomer. The custom is to sing and dance around a huge bonfire, often with a BBQ as well. Every year, as part of the celebration, thousands of people visit the sepulture of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai at Mount Meron in the Galilee. That beautiful region in the north of Israel is filled with beautiful vineyards from which some of the best Israel wineries source their grapes. Or Haganuz is one of them, producing distinctive wines from selected plots.

The Horkenus is the new flagship wine of Or Haganuz. It is a Bordeaux blend that matured for 40 months in French oak barrels. The result is a powerful, tannic and bold wine, loaded with bursting aromas of blackberries, currants, toasted oak and dark chocolate. This wine comes in a beautiful wooden box, reflecting its standing. While approachable now and quite adequate with a big steak, it will soften and evolve over the next few years.

Roy Itzhaki is a young entrepreneur who serves as a reservist officer in the IDF’s Air Force. Roy is also the founder and owner of the Tulip winery. Devoted to serve his country both in his personal and professional life, Roy wanted to make great wine while making a difference, in terms of quality, of course, but also for his community. Tulip employs adults with special needs who resides in Kfar Tikva, the Village of Hope, where the winery is located. Roy has achieved success with his wines, some of which having received the highest accolades from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

On a warm afternoon, whether enjoyed as appetizer, dessert or both, there is nothing more refreshing than some cold and juicy watermelon. And it tastes even better with a bottle of Tulip White Franc, a delicious, semi-sweet wine with tropical and citrus fruit flavors.

L’chaim and Chag Atzmaut Sameach!

By Gabriel Geller, Kedem Wines

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