At a recent marketing class at Tel Aviv University, my Professor chose to show a speech given by the late Steve Jobs after returning to Apple in 1996. Jobs who Co-Founded Apple was forced to leave the company following a power struggle with his board only to return ten years later and take the company from near bankruptcy to one of the leading brands and companies in the world. This was one of Jobs’ classic public talks; all about marketing, motivating his employees and a vision of changing the world. But how is this connected to Passover wine suggestions you ask? In this speech Jobs introduced what would become Apple’s best marketing campaign themed – Think Different. This encouraged and called Apple consumers and employees to think outside the box, go off the beaten track and experiment.
On this Passover I would also propose that we think different and drink different. For the past thirty years the rejuvenated Israeli wine industry has produced award winning Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay and Bordeaux style blends but recently we are seeing more and more quality vinos produced from grapes that were not very popular or common in the local wine scene. Some call it a search for a Mediterranean character among Israeli wineries with a growing number of wines produces using Carignan, Marselan, Grenache, Petit Sirah, Roussane and other grape varieties to produce wines. Personally, I welcome the trend and think that now, more than ever that is a wide variety of Israeli wines that are not only good, but also unique, interesting and diverse.
Following are several wine suggestions for the upcoming Passover Holiday:
Off-the-beaten-track vinos from known wineries
Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, 2T, 2009 – Golan Heights, Yarden 2T, 2009: Yarden 2T, 2009, is a blend comprising Touriga Nacional and Tinta Cao, both traditional Portuguese grape varieties with relatively low yields. Eighteen months in barriques, it is full bodied; on the nose and palate, layers of tart berry fruits (cherries, strawberries) and purple flowers followed by notes of dark chocolate and warm spices all leading to a long finish.
Teperberg, Terra, Malbec, 2012 – Originally a French grape varietal that is showing excellent results in Argentina, Malbec is considered by many as the national Argentinean grape variety and accounts for many of the big and famous reds of Mendoza. Medium -full bodied, with notes of blue and black berry fruits, pepper, plums and sweet spices all coming together nicely leading to a satisfying finish.
Recanati, Reserve, Petite Sirah, 2012 – allot of interesting wines coming out of the Recanati winery in the past couple of years, this one suggesting tart red fruits, warm spices – cinnamon and cloves come to mind, alongside fresh herbs and toasted oak. Good balancing acidity and a pleasant finish make this an interesting and enjoyable wine.
Tabor, Adama II, Cabernet Sauvignon-Petite Sirah , 2010 – 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 60% Petite Sirah, medium-full bodies the wine suggests juicy aromas and flavors of red berry fruits, cherries and thyme followed by sweet mocha and toasted oak with a slightly bitter aftertaste on the finish.
Carmel Winery, Cabernet Franc, Appellation Series (Ezorit), 2009 – the Cab Franc, Caringan and the Petite Sirah have always been my favorites in Carmel’s Appellation label. The Cabernet Franc 09 is medium bodied suggesting dark berry fruits, dry tea leaves and green pepper followed by subtle notes of oak and a clean finish.
Barkan, Special Reserve, Pinotage, 2010 – One of the few varietal Pinotage wines produced by an Israeli winery. Pinotage, a South African grape variety transplanted to Israel is, in fact, a cross between Pinot noir and Cinsaut developed in the 1920's. Medium to full-bodied with concentrated aromas of ripe red and black berry fruits, roasted coffee beans, slight smokey notes and vanilla leading to a pleasant finish.
Binyamina, Reserve, Roussanne, 2012 –this time a white wine. 90% Roussanne, 5% Marsanne and the balance Viognier come together nicely. Tropical fruit, sweet apricots, lemon zest and flowers on the nose and palate, good texture and a pleasant medium finish.
Tulip Winery, White Franc, 2013 – a semi-dry blend based on 75% Cabernet Franc and the balance Sauvignon Blanc, definitely not something you see every day. Bronze with orange reflections, the wine suggests aromas and flavors of strawberries, raisins, summer fruits and citrus blossom leading to a pleasant finish.
Bravdo, Merlot, 2011 – Situated in the Karmei Yosef moshav, this winery is definitely worth a visit. A beautiful wooden gazebo amidst the vineyards serves as the visitor’s center – feels like you are in Tuscany. 100% Merlot grapes, bright ruby in color the wine suggests layered aromas of ripe dark berry fruits and cherries followed by dry herbs, toasted oak, roasted coffee beans and warm spices leading to a medium-long finish.
Gvaot Winery, Herodion, Vineyards Dance, 2011 – with winemaker Dr. Shivi Drori at the helm, Gvaot produces some excellent wines. Drori’s groundbreaking research on ancient grape varieties at the Ariel University is also worth mentioning and there he produces wines from grape varieties the trace back to the period of the Kings. Comprising 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and the balance Petit Verdot. Deep red in color, with still firm notes of black berry fruits, toasted oak and fresh Mediterranean herbs followed by notes of roasted coffee beans and dark chocolate all coming together nicely on the medium-long finish.
Ramat Negev, Neve Midbar, Red Blend, 2011 – formerly known as the Kadesh Barnea Winery, this was one of the first wineries to prove that quality wines can be produced from the desert. A blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Petit Verdot and the balance Merlot, medium bodied with notes of ripe very fruits, plums, dry flowers and herbs leading to a long finish.
Tanya Winery, Ivri, Red Blend, 2011 – a winery that has always been considered a cult winery, Tanya became popular after winemaker Yoram Cohen appeared on the Israeli Big Brother reality show a couple of years ago. Recently launched, the Ivri is based on 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 15% Shiraz, medium bodied, dark ruby with purple reflections the wine suggests dark berry fruits, plums and purple flowers followed by a touch of anise.