As the temperatures grow colder around these parts and we start to look towards the holidays, many of us find our thoughts headed towards home. That place where it's always warm and cozy and things are just as you like them- maybe its loud and crazy, or quiet and peaceful.
Over the last couple of months I've had the opportunity to peek into the culture of Israel and the piece that as struck me is how much "home" is apart of their way of life. Unsurprisingly, my view into the country came through its wines. As you may know, Israeli wines haven't had the best reputation over the past few decades, often being very sweet. Today, however, they're working to bring the focus back on terroir. The wines are becoming a wonderful representative of the beauty and culture of the land, like a greeting card from home.
I had the opportunity to taste several different offerings from the country and was astounded by their variety and depth of flavor. The Golan Heights Winery- Yarden Blanc de Blanc vintage 2011 is incredibly refined- utilizing the same practices as the vintners of Champagne the wine has a deep yeast driven nose with flavors of grapefruit and green apple on the palette. The mousse is extremely fine and the bubbles are as well. I would be proud to serve this at any celebration.
The wine that impressed me the most though, out of the dozen or so sampled, was the Kishore Winery Viognier vintage 2016. While we all know and love the Viognier as it hails from France, Israel put its own spin on it with naturally more body, but flavors ranging from minerals to lemon, lime and green apple. This was what I loved the most about Israeli wines- many varietals are familiar but the terroir of the country screams through and it's so very clear that these well loved grapes will soon be enjoyed in an entirely new way.
To me, this is the greatest appreciation of home. Allowing the terroir of the country be obvious- not cajoling the wine into being something its not, not mimicking the influence of a different country or area, but creating something beautiful from what you are given. It's similar to bringing home your new partner for the first time and giving your family a list of instructions on how to behave, or allowing them to be their own zany selves. Wine has to be able to be itself, stand on its own, and tell you its story- it has to be authentic.
So kudos to the winemakers of Israel, and to those of us heading home soon- are we brave enough to do the same? After all, the authenticity of your home is what makes you love it, crave it, miss it and eventually drive you crazy- isn't that the basis of love?
No matter what "home" means to you, I hope you enjoy its warmth in the upcoming weeks!