I haven’t had a wine from Israel for many years so it was a pleasant surprise to have the opportunity to try some sparkling wine from Israel. I wasn’t aware they even made sparkling wine until I was offered some samples from the Golan Heights Winery.
Golan Heights Winery History
The first vineyards in the Golan Heights were planted in 1976 and Golan Heights Winery was founded in 1983 by a group of communities or cooperatives. Their first vintage was the 1983 Yarden Sauvignon Blanc.
The Winery Today
Today there are 28 vineyards under cultivation growing 20 different varieties, 13 red and 7 white, with 1500 acres under cultivation. Some of the vineyards are organic and sustainability is a big part of their philosophy.
Being a cooperative model means there are many growers, 16 to be exact, and there are also 6 winemakers, 2 women and 4 men. The winery employs about 80 people and has been winning awards around the world.
Spread along a strip of land 40 miles long and 12 miles wide with the elevation varying between 1300 feet to 3900 feet they have the ability to match each grape variety to the best growing area for that variety. They also have 14 meteorological stations spread across the area and fed to a central site to help make decisions during the growing season and at harvest time.
2009 Yarden Blanc de Blancs — pale yellow in the glass with generous, fine and persistent bubbles. Fresh lemony aromas are generous and follow in to the flavors, which are a bit toasty as well. Bubbles are pin-point fine and mouth filling. This sparkler is bright and lively. If you prefer a wine with plenty of acidity, you will love this one.
The 2009 Yarden Blanc de Blancs is 100% Chardonnay and was made in the traditional method with the grapes whole cluster pressed and aged on the tirage yeasts for 5 years before disgorgement.
2011 Yarden Rosé — pale blush in the glass with generous, fine and persistent bubbles. Aromas of blackberries follow into the flavors along with citrusy notes and a hint of toast. Bubbles are pin-point fine and mouth filling. This sparkling wine is so sippable and refreshing.
The 2011 Yarden Rosé is comprised of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir also with whole cluster pressing and made in the traditional method. Disgorgment was done after 5 years of secondary fermentation in the bottle.
Both of these wines are bight and refreshing. They finish clean with plenty of acidity and are so sippable. Both will pair well with anything from appetizers to creamy pasta, chicken or salads.
The Golan Heights Winery has a very informative web site and I recommend you check it out for more information. There is information on each vineyard and also all their initiatives for sustainability.