Recanati Winery have launched a new red wine called Recanati Bittuni 2016 alongside the Recanati Marawi 2016. Two wines from indigenous varieties, something reasonably new in an Israel awash with international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. What is particularly special is that these are both old Holy Land varieties, the grower of both vineyards is the same Palestinian, and the winemaker is Israeli. It sounds like a dream collaboration!
The Bittuni is a 12% alcohol wine which has a red cherry berry nose, notes of raspberries and strawberries and a light easy drinking character, with reasonably refreshing acidity. The grapes were grown on a Hebron Pergola near Hebron. It is a real wine with a beginning and an end. A good surprise. Recanti Winery was the first Israeli winery to go local, when they launched their Marawi 2014. The Marawi 2016 is the third vintage and each is different. The 2014 was broader, the 2015 was more minerally and the 2016 is the more aromatic of the three, with flowery notes and citrus aromas. Marawi is a synonym of Hamdani. It is grown near Bethlehem, also on a Hebron Pergola. The vineyards are over 800 meters above sea level and they use donkeys to work the land, because tractors can't enter the vineyard.
The pioneer of these local varieties is the Cremisan Winery, situated at the Cremisan Monastery in Beit Jalla in the West Bank. They produce three wines. Two are whites, a Dabouki, and a Hamdani Jandali blend and one red, from the Baladi Asmar variety. Other Israeli wineries to go local are Feldstein and Gvaot wineries. Feldstein has produced a second vintage of a Dabouki (to confuse, he spells it Dabuki), and Gvaot has a first vintage of a Jandali. Of course the Gvaot winemaker is Dr. Shibi Drori, responsible for researching all these local indigenous varieties at Ariel University.
PHOTO: David Silverman