Posts Tagged ‘Golan Heights Winery’

I am bubbling over with pride and for very good reason.  The winery I’ve worked for for two years, the Golan Heights Winery, just won top honors – the best wine producer in the world – at the Vinitaly International Wine Competition in Verona.

This is awesome, such a coup for Israel, for the winery, for a “new world” winery that is so young (founded in 1983), etc.

The award is given to the producer that has the highest points – tallied from those who have won first prize in at least two individual wine categories.  The two wines that swept their category from the Golan Heights were the 2009 Yarden Chardonnay Odem Organic Vineyard and the 2008 Yarden HeightsWine (dessert Gewurtztraminer).

Chardonnay Odem

Golan HeightsWine

The Golan Heights Winery beat over 1,000 other producers from over 30 countries who submitted over 3,000 wines.  This competition is commonly referred to as the “World Cup” of wine, and it means a great deal that Israel has won.  We’re serious players in the wine world, and now the world, all the world, will recognize it.  No more will I wander Europe and have people not know that Israel makes wine at all.

All Vinitaly Award Results

Articles: (I’m sort of shocked there aren’t more in English and French…)

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A day late, but not a dollar short, I’m hoping.  There are a lot of exciting wine happenings going on this weekend.  In short – read on – and whatever you do – if you are drinking wine this weekend (and I hope you are) make sure it’s a good one.


Friday, April 25 – Yarden Single Vineyard tasting at ALL the Derekh HaYain stores.  I will be at the Hashmoniam Street store at 10 am to 3:30 pm tomorrow opening some ridiculously incredible wines including:

2009 Yarden Chardonnay, Odem Organic Single Vineyard
2007 Yarden Merlot
2005 Yarden Merlot, Tel Phares Single Vineyard
2006 Yarden Syrah
2006 Yarden Syrah, Tel Phares Single Vineyard
2007 Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon

Be there or be extremely square.

Saturday, March 26 – 2008 Bourgogne Wine Release Block Party @ Alkalay! From 12 pm to 12 am there will be dozens of the finest Burgundy wines available for half glasses, full glasses, half bottles, and bottles.  That’s right, you too can afford to drink a thousand shekel bottle, or at least a fraction of one.  It’s sickeningly awesome.  Wines included are:

Château de Puligny – Bourgogne Rosé 2009
Ramonet – Bourgogne Aligoté 2009
Jean Durup – Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2008
Deux Montille – Rully 2008
Héritiers du Comte Lafon – Mâcon-Milly-Lamartine 2009
Christian Moreau – Chablis 1er cru Vaillon 2009
Ramonet – Chassagne-Montrachet 2008
Domaine Leroy – Bourgogne Aligoté 2007
Antoine Jobard – Meursault En la Barre 2008
Château de Puligny – Puligny-Montrachet 2008
Roulot – Meursault 2008
Sauzet – Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru La Garenne 2008


Marcel Lapierre – Morgon 2009
Château de Puligny – Monthelie 2008
Vougeraie – Côte de Beaune “Pierres Blanches” 2008
Ramonet – Chassagne-Montrachet 2009
Leroy – Bourgogne 2007
Méo-Camuzet – Fixin 2008
Gouges – Nuits-St-Georges 2008
Denis Mortet – Gevrey-Chambertin 2008
Liger-Belair – Vosne-Romanée 2008
Emmanuel Rouget – Vosne-Romanée 2008
De Montille – Volnay 1er cru Taillepieds 2008
Prieuré Roch – Nuits-St-Georges 1er cru Vielles Vignes 2007

Be there or just be really uncool.

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Welcome to weekly fun stories, facts,and resources about wine – usually gleaned during the past week by me.


Hubert de Montille


Hubert and Etienne de Montille, granddaddy of Domaine De Montille and his son, are in Israel this week.  The wine store where I work carries a large and exceptional array of their family’s wines.  It’s a bizarre honor for us to have him here.  There is an exclusive wine tasting with them on Monday, March 14, at Delal Restaurant (in Neve Tsedek).  Information in Hebrew (google translation into English).  It costs 600 shekels, but if you have the dough, go!

LA MAISON LADURÉE macarons, Paris, brought by the de Montilles. Best I’ve ever had.

Domaine De Montille: Located in Volnay, just south of Beaune, this winery boasts some of the most prized red wine producing vineyards of the Côte de Beaune.  From their holdings in Volnay and Pommard, Hubert and Etienne de Montille (father & son) craft some of the most sought after Pinot Noirs in all of Burgundy.  Their wines can be found on the lists of virtually every three star restraurant in France.

Visit to the Golan Heights Winery

I spent all day yesterday up in Katzrin – through torrents of rain, hail, and the thickest fog I have ever seen.  All this for work, but it was more than worth it.  A long tour, a comparison wine tasting with one of winery’s senior vintners, Tali Sandovsky, viewing the bottling of Golan Cabernet Sauvignon, finished with a lunch at what could only be described as an Israeli-Cowboy-Chalet of a restaurant – it was fantastic.  I managed to pick up an elusive rare bottle of Gamla Nebbiolo.  Here are some snapshots:

Wine tasting in the winery's private tasting room.

Final L'Chaim before bracing the elements once again.


A handy guide to wine-tasting terms.  Fantastic little resource.

There’s a new Israeli website on Bourgogne wines!  And it’s the mecca on this region’s wines, in the Hebrew language that is.  Actually, it’s one of the best I’ve ever seen.  Those of you who struggle with or don’t have any Hebrew, use Google Translate.  A clear, detailed map, concise information on many domaines, descriptions of every vintage in recent memory, and much more.

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Golan Heights Winery's Gamay Nouveau Festival

Worries about finances, men, career, short story writing, reading long classic novels, applications, and the near-to-not-so-near future have not made for an easy couple of weeks.  It’s been a sort of sleepless treading of water.  My schedule has been impossible, and it doesn’t look like it will abate.  I’m not complaining.  I’ve made my bed.  I’m simply hoping that expressing some of this will alleviate some of the pressure, like poking some tiny holes in a balloon to make it leak instead of explode.  Notice how many “some“s I used in the previous sentence.  Oh well.  This isn’t the great American novel.

There are some things to look forward to.  Namely, big time wine events.   If you can make them, do so.

The Sommelier 2010 Wine Expo: November 8 & 9, 12-9pm

Sommelier 2010

This is the largest and most important annual wine show in Israel, and it will be held at Heychal Ha’Tarbut (the cultural center where HaBima Theatre is, at the top of Rothschild).  Some of you may wonder if it’s larger than the IsraWinExpo that happens every two years at the Exhibition Grounds, but it’s not, and I’ll tell you why.   This event is geared towards professionals.  The wineries know that they are dealing with wine store owners, chefs, beverage managers, high-end waiters, and yes, sommeliers, and the wine variety and selection show it.  I won’t divulge what the Golan Heights Winery is presenting yet (secrets, secrets), but I can tell you the lineup is impressive.

The event is open to the general public after 7:30 pm, and I believe it will cost 100 shekels.  It’s not such a steep price when you consider you can drink as much as you want (well, it’s a “tasting” quantity – but with dozens of wineries to visit, it adds up) while learning about the best of the best of the Israeli wine industry.  For those of you with even a remote connection to food and wine on a professional or semi-professional level (food bloggers and cafe waiters listen up) – you can try to register on the Sommelier website, and I’m almost certain you’ll be approved.  Important: you’ve got to write in Hebrew, your name, profession, the works, or the form won’t submit.  Get some help if it’s a problem.  The confirmation will most likely go into spam, and it will be in Hebrew, so also be on the lookout. Print it out and bring it with you if you can.  Today is probably the last day to register, so act now.  It’s free for you!

Israeli “Beaujolais Nouveau” Festival – 19 November, 12-4 pm, “HaTachana” in Neve Tzedek

2009 Gamay - designs by young artist contest winners

I know, I know, I should not use the word Beaujolais.  But I did get your attention, I hope.   The Beaujolais Day in France was a marketing ploy created after WWII, and it was seen as way to clear out the vin ordinaire (ordinary, simple table wine) at the very beginning of the season and make a good profit.  So, on the 3rd Thursday of November, the very first wines of the year (yup, the 2010’s – off the vine as little as 6 weeks ago) open up to the market (this is a legality – French wine rules are strict).  AND wineries compete in a race to get their wines to Paris from Burgundy first.  Lots of media hype over the years has made this race an international phenomenon.

The Golan Heights Winery has followed suit, and on the 3rd Thursday of November, they are releasing their 2010 Gamay Nouveau.  Yes the same varietal as the genuine article.  The method of production is also the same, using a fermentation method called carbonic maceration and preventing an malolactic fermentation from happening.  Basically, the wine is fermented inside the grapes, before pressing, preventing any harsh flavors, no tannins, etc.  It’s a fresh light magenta-pinky-purple wine, and you’ve got to drink it within the first year.  It’s great moderately chilled.

GHW’s Gamay Nouveau Festival (map)

Friday, November 19, 2010

12-4 pm

Building 3

HaTachana (map)

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My apartment is ready for its closeup

It’s been forever. I know.

Since I’ve written I have:

  • Created a wonderful wine tasting for a food bloggers’ dinner
  • Meditated until my butt and thighs and back no longer hurt from the experience
  • Discovered my sister’s grilled cheese sandwich press (sizzling behind me at the moment)
  • Returned to vegetarian tendencies given up ten years ago after being inspired by my Buddhist learning and reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals. Read it, please.
  • Worked worked worked worked for my various clients
  • Been on a few first dates, which says something
  • Witnessed a near suicide bus-bomb in central Tel Aviv
  • Developed a beautiful friendship
  • Been filmed for 4 days for an international television show called House Hunters International (I don’t believe I can speak more about it for contractual reasons – but believe me – it was an incredibly interesting and awesome experience – made even more so by the most chill fab camera/sound/directing crew that ever was)
  • Broken up with my therapist
  • Drunk some really incredible wine (I adore the winery I work for, I really truly do)
  • Watched the entirety of FlashForward in about 5 days and was horrified to learn it was canceled (what is it with crappy TV execs who can the most exciting, thought-provoking shows, e.g. Firefly)
  • Had my poor Fischer cat in the hospital for nearly a week with a blocked up bladder – had to have surgery which turned him into a her – and it cost me a bloody fortune.
  • AND – now I’m flying to the United States for 3+ weeks! AND if you can believe it, I bought the ticket 3 days ago.  One of the most last-minute crazy-ass trips I’ve ever, ever organized (or not organized, as so happens).  Even when I went to India, I got the ticket 2 weeks before I went.  Ah, life

So…getting back into blogging sucks.  When you finally get on a roll, you’re on a roll.  That’s what I’m attempting to do.  I’m going to post some pics, have some laughs, and send me some love in the form of comments, my dears.

My Pretty Apartment

Our Rooftop Garden

I discovered the panorama setting...

And the collage setting...

And the frame setting...of my camera phone...I see fun in my future

Sunset in Jaffa in the Adjami neighborhood

Fischer after the sex change operation

Tons of herbs my sister's friends brought from kibbutz. This is a fraction of what I froze.

Quick vegan attempt at a lasagna type thing - that's a whole "Mangol" Leaf on top (chard?)

Pretty salmon as a mezze at Manta Ray

Antique coffee cup at Basta near the shuk

Amazing Israeli group playing classical Indian music at the close of a 2-day meditation retreat

Very satisfying and affordable grilled cheese at Segafredo on Frishman - ask for tomatoes inside

Best cheeses in Tel Aviv - Hinawi Carlebach

Wearing his heart on his sleeve? Time running out?

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“…good wine is a good familiar creature if it is well used.”

“Give me a bowl of wine. In this I bury all unkindness”
Julius Caesar

“A man cannot make him laugh – but that’s no marvel; he drinks no wine”
Henry IV Part 2

Shakespeare weaves wines wonderfully, doesn’t he?

I’ve had a wine-ful couple of weeks, oh yes, I really have.  The funny thing is, I was so busy, I didn’t even think (or have the energy) to jot down extensive notes.  What you’re going to get here is an enthusiastic summary of some of my adventures, and adventures they always are when you have marathon wine sessions.

IsraWinExpo – an underling’s perspective

Held once every two years, this is undoubtedly the largest and most important wine event held in Israel.  For three days, industry folk, journalists, and important beverage import/export reps from around the world meet Israel’s wineries.  In the evenings, the general public is admitted to this massive dream of a national oenological “fashion show.”

In other words — it’s important, it’s intense, and it’s really fun.

Day 1 – I worked the afternoon-to-night shift at the Galil Mountain Winery “booth,” if you can call it that. Wineries spend a lot of money on their setup design, like a mini movie set or theatre design.  The first day is open to industry only — and I can tell you, it’s a lot more fun to work with this crowd.  No annoying folks with no wine knowledge looking to get drunk (“hey, you got some red wine?”).

We served 11 out of Galil’s 14-wine collection, including the 3 flagship wines – a really wide and generous variety.  The 2006 Yiron, the well-known flagship of flagships, was understandably a favorite.  Every year the winemaker tweaks the percentages – the 2006 is 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, and 5% Syrah – aged 16 months in new French oak barrels.  The newbie of the bunch bunch got rave reviews — the 2006 Meron — 78% Syrah, 11% Cab, 11% Petit Verdot, and also aged 16 months in new French oak.  If people demanded the Yiron, I almost always got them to agree to taste the Meron as well.  I predict that within a year or two it will be as well regarded and popular.

The other Galil wine I’d like to tell you about is the 2009 Rose.  Not many are made in Israel, and of those that are, I think many are semi-dry (at least the ones I’ve fallen upon). Ours is very very dry.  Exceptionally aromatic, flowery, inviting, it’s crisp, fresh, and has a well-balanced acidity.  I’m not a real expert here, but I love that I can identify and enjoy what I sense is a strawberry flavor.   I’m always interested in how wines are made, and granted that making rose is not as clear cut as making a straight white or red wine, a while ago I looked into how this is done.  If memory serves, there are three main rose methods:

  1. The first (and the least legitimate/accepted) is blending a red and white wine together.
  2. When using a red varietal, leaving the skins in for a short while during fermentation (as little as a few hours), then removing them entirely.  You get some rosy color, and then the wine usually continues fermenting/aging in the method of a white wine.
  3. As a byproduct of making a red wine – fermentation of red varietals begins, and a little ways into the process, some of the liquid is drained out, pinkish in color, of course, to be used as rose.  The rest continues normally to create a red wine.

Galil’s Rose is interesting (or maybe not, as I’m not too well-versed in world roses). Made with Sangiovese (the bulk, around two-thirds), Barbera, and Pinot Noir — only the Barbera and Pinot Noir give the wine its color.  The Sangiovese grapes are crushed immediately, separated from the skins, and fermented in the method of a white wine.  The Barbera and Pinot are bled (saignee), and a small bit drained from the bulk of what is destined to become red wine.  The white Sangiovese and the pink Barbera and Pinot are fermented separately.  I’m wondering how common this method is.  Will have to look into it at a later time.  What I do know is that Galil does not put out a Sangiovese.  All they grow must go into the Rose.

The Golan Heights Winery, my other winery, pulled out all the stops.  Such a beautiful display — they mounted dozens of barrels, lay down a granite brick flooring, and hung three antique chandeliers.  I was so busy I didn’t have a lot of time to hang there — but I was smuggled some 2001 Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon and one of my favorites — a 2003 Katzrin Chardonnay.  I do love my oaky buttery barrel aged whites.  The older the better.

Golan Heights Winery booth from behind

Day 2 – I had an even more hectic and more exciting day helping out with private tastings.  The international sales reps and PR folk of Golan Heights Winery and the Galil Moutain Winery (its daughter winery) had round the clock individual meetings with distributors and journalists.  My task was to keep track of more than 20-30 different kinds of wine, make sure they weren’t corked or spoiled, have them at the correct temperatures, and present them in order during the meetings.  This was more than a bit of a roller coaster ride for me.  Highlights/lowlights include:

  • Having less than a half our to chill 5 premium white wines, dessert wines, and our best sparkling wine — including the time it took me to locate ice!
  • Dealing with a couple potentially very very slightly off bottles — had to defer to head vintner to make the decision b/c I was unsure — scary! — but it turned out I was correct, so I don’t feel so bad.
  • Rushing around assisting two different people in simultaneous interviews — one organized and very demanding (12+ wines for a 40 minute session), one very scattered and hence had to try to mind-read.
  • Being flirted with by slightly creepy older American southerners —  heads of beverage companies, mind you — and having to keep a straight and professional and even pleasant demeanor.
  • Getting to taste each and every Galil Yiron from the first vintage to the present.  Getting to taste every wine that I wanted from the dozens I had ready and available, actually.
  • Taking some prominent people through the entire flight during my free time.  Just because.
  • Meeting and speaking with really interesting and accomplished wine writers (!), including Blake Gray, who was really nice and a pleasure to kibbitz with.  We had remembered each other from the day before at the public tastings as we both wear red red glasses.
  • Having 5 bottles stolen from my huge lot of 6+ cases while I was running around — a miracle/disappointment for me that I even noticed, as I had just packed the boxes up at the end of the day, and was hence able to recognize gaps where there were none before.  Felt horrible, but the winery told me it wasn’t my fault, it was a microscopic drop in the bucket, and not to worry about it.  Makes you angry at humanity for a moment, though.
  • Not knowing what to do with the remainder of what I know are exceptionally expensive bottles (for Israel) that were only 15-40% drunk.  I finally told a girl who worked with the sponsoring body — the Israel Export Department (or something) — that there was a whole case of half-drunk bottles, and to please take and distribute to the workers as she wanted.  She thankfully jumped at the opportunity, and hence my heart was happy.

And I think I’ll stop here.  This has turned into a mega-post, and I congratulate all of you who have kept up with me.  I hope you were able to attend the Expo, and for those who didn’t, keep your calendar open for 2012.  It’s such a fun time.  I’d love to hear about your impressions, too, so drop a line.

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The gorgeousness that is sorrel

It looks like spinach but tastes NOTHING like it.  A sour, delicate leaf, perfect in soups and stews as it has a remarkable thickening quality while retaining its vibrant taste.  Spinach cannot compare.  I don’t know why the whole world isn’t cuckoo for sorrel.  In fact, I’m hoping to start a trend here.  People, if you haven’t tried it, take my word for it, you simply must.  Period.  With the scents that were wafting out of the kitchen, we knew we had one legendary meal in the making.

Today, after a rather frustrating morning of heavy work, I boarded the bus to Jerusalem, on a whim.  One of my favorite friends, the lovely queendeb, resides there on the border of Baka and Talpiot (although she only admits to Talpiot). We don’t get together as often as we should, and as two creative food-minded people, we decided on a cooking project.  I brought the sorrel and a bottle of Israeli-Champagne (GHW’s Gamla Brut).  In her quirky kosher kitchen (with her little brother in NYC on video-Skype the entire time), we proceeded in what felt like an adventurous cooking show.  Here’s what became of our evening:

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small celery root, chopped
  • 1 yam, chopped
  • 500 g chicken wings
  • 1 bunch sorrel, 1/2 chopped, 1/2 left whole
  • handful of cilantro stems, chopped
  • 3-4 small celery stalks with leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 white cabbage, cut into large in-tact wedges
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 lemon, 1/2 finely chopped, 1/2 in strips
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbs yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 shot Laphroaig Whisky
  • chipotle pepper to taste
  • pepper, garlic powder, chili, etc to taste
  1. In a large soup pot over high heat, drizzle olive oil, then brown the chicken wings.  Remove.
  2. Whisk together the mustard and soy sauce.
  3. With the fat of the chicken left behind, add the onion, garlic, celery root, and yams (in that order – waiting a minute between additions).  Cook at medium heat until sweating/softened.  Add mustard/soy sauce.
  4. Layer the chicken wings evenly over the vegetables.  Then sprinkle the chopped sorrel, chopped celery & celery leaves, and cilantro stems evenly over the chicken.
  5. Sprinkle chipotle pepper over the surface.
  6. Create a layer with the whole sorrel leaves spread flat.  Place the cabbage wedges over the sorrel evenly.
  7. Pour the whisky over the contents of the entire pot.  Allow to cook for a few minutes to let the alcohol evaporate.
  8. Sprinkle all the lemon zest, and pour lemon juice over the contents of the pot.
  9. Without stirring, slowly and carefully pour two glasses of water into the pot.
  10. Bring to a boil, reduce flame to lowest possible, cover and let simmer for 30-60 minutes.  Do not stir, but checking to ensure the bottom layer isn’t burning is fine.  Add pepper, spices, etc at the end, to taste.
  11. Serve over couscous or rice.

The resulting stew-y casserole was pure heaven.  Rich, smoky, sour, spiced.  The smoky qualities of both the Laphroaig and the chipotle pepper, combined with the tartness of the sorrel and the lemon components, were so complementary, it was wild!  All the veg fell apart, becoming almost caramel-like.  The sorrel indeed thickened things up, and oh me, oh my, the lemon zest was a joy in and of itself!  The layering method came about organically, in that we thought it would be interesting to allow the leafier veg to steam in the lovely saucy broth of the layers beneath it.  And what can I say of the chicken?  It fell off the bone.  So tender.  So moist.  So perfect.

The best part was, even though we didn’t know where we’d end up, we always knew we could do it.  Two savvy seasoned cooks with random well-loved ingredients having a ball.  The bubbly went great with the meal, and I’m so glad we drank it.  This meal was a shining beacon in the middle of a drab work week.  So, it’s a yes to letting loose!  A yes to drinking your best wine for no reason but to enjoy it in the here and now!  And a resounding yes to sorrel! To single malt scotches everywhere! To lemon rinds!  To chipotle! L’chaim, l’chaim to life!

And I’ve driven myself into the cheesy corner.  But it really felt like that.  A meal as a celebration.  Even with just a couple lonesome American-Israeli friends.  Especially because.

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