Every time we are presented something from a Kosher winery here in the states, or from Israel, the first thing out of the vender’s mouth is, ‘but don’t make a point of it being kosher’. First off, what’s wrong with it being Kosher? Does that pidgeonhole it for buyers, the practicing kosher ones thinking it is only for holidays and everyone else presuming it tastes like the mass produced, sweet reds whose names you all know.
We have a hard time believing it is that cut and dried for most people. But maybe it is. Still it is our belief that if you have a wine that plays on the ‘celebratory’ table, that will afford it a built-in audience from which you move forward. If it happens to be a well made, dry red, the potential followers pool should be even larger because it should make an interesting proposition for folks who are merely looking for something red and tasty without concern for any holiday/holy day applications. If it happens to sell for a really good price as well, that would appear to be some sort of trifecta. In other words, this is first a candidate for a versatile everyday drinking red. Everything else is a bonus. The Golan Heights Winery Mount Hermon Red Galilee 2016 is such a wine.
Golan Heights Winery/Yarden makes a lot of different bottlings under its various labels. It is easy to get lost in the shuffle. But in a recent tasting we zeroed in on this one simply because it was dark, tasty, and engaging and sold for a song. The 2016 Mount Hermon Red exhibits notes of berries and cherries, along with nuances of Mediterranean herbs, chocolate, earth and a little minerality. Made from all five Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec), with Cabernet as the lead player, the grapes come mainly from the Golan Heights, a raised volcanic plateau going from 1300 to 3900 feet in elevation that is the coolest wine region in Israel. A small portion comes from vineyards in Galilee.
We have tasted examples of this before but this one made an impression. We didn’t have our Israel vintage chart handy but apparently 2016 was a superior vintage in the region (a warm spring and the earliest harvest in nearly a quarter century). Wine Enthusiast noted, “A nose of cassis and vanilla sets the scene for flavors of black cherry, blackberry, butterscotch, juniper and violet. It’s easy on entry, offering smooth tannins that slowly reveal themselves, culminating in a floral and cranberry finish. ..92 points.” Tasty, well-priced and, yes, kosher, but you don’t reason need a ‘reason’ to open this. In the end it’s simply a tasty red.