Monday, November 3, 2008

2005 Somek Chardonnay

Recently, I told you about a fascinating book on the Israeli wine industry, The Wine Route of Israel. Though you can and should read all about Israeli wine, the most important thing you should do is taste it. Take a chance, find a bottle of quality Israeli wine and savor its contents. I bet you will enjoy it. Let me give you one recommendation.

Somek Winery is a family owned winery, located in Zichron Ya'akov, that was founded in 2000 by Hila Ben Gera and Barak Dahan. Barak's family has lived at this location since 1882 when they moved from Romania, heeding the call of Baron Rothschild. Hila is an Australian-trained winemaker. This boutique winery only produces about 5,000 bottles annually, a tiny production.

The vines are planted on the hills of Zikhron Ya'akovs, which has a medium, rich soil and there are western sea breezes that help to cool the grapes during the hot summer. They ensure they have low crops, use controlled irrigation and special growing methods to produce the quality of grapes they desire. The vineyards contain grapes such as Chardonnay, Merlot, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah.

I recently shared a bottle of their 2005 Somek Chardonnay ($25) with some members of the Boston Wine Writer's Group at a recent meeting. I found this wine to have a bright golden color with an intriguing nose of apricot and a touch of honey. It was a medium-bodied wine that clearly did not have too much oak. The fruit flavors dominated, including some citrus and apricot but with traces of nutty flavors. It is a crisp wine that only has 12.4% alcohol and a moderately long finish. It was a very enjoyable wine, definitely the type of Chardonnay I prefer. It is welcome alternative to those over-oaked California Chardonnays which all seem so similar. Everyone else who tasted the wine liked it as well.

I should mention that I have had another Somek wine, the 2004 Somek B'Kat Hanadiv, which impressed me. So if you want to try some Israeli wines, seek out those of Somek Winery.

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