Sunday, February 20, 2011

Israeli Pinot

Much to Boo's dismay, I can amuse myself for long spells wandering wine shops. It's not the actual "window shopping" that bothers him; it's more that, too often, the urge to grab something new takes over and compels me to pull out the wallet. This bottle was a case in point; however, in my defence I grabbed two bottles - one for ourselves and one to give to the neighbours as a Hanukkah gift.

730. 2006 Galil Mountain Pinot Noir (Israel)

I had actually tried a couple Galil Mountain wines at last year's Vancouver Playhouse Wine Festival. So, I recalled that they had some merit to them and wasn't buying them completely untried and on a whim (as is often the case).

Wine has been produced in the lands of Israel since biblical times and there are more than 150 wineries currently making wine there and, as is happening the world over, the quality of production has been increasing by leaps and bounds over the last couple of decades. That doesn't necessarily mean that we see many Israeli wines in the Vancouver market though.

Having planted their first vineyards with international varietals in 1997, Galil Mountain started production in 2000 in the Upper Galilee as a joint venture between the locally established Kibbutz Yiron and Golan Heights Winery, the latter having been one of the wineries that helped put Israel in the wine world spotlight. The mountains of Upper Galilee are among the highest in Israel and the winery's six vineyards are planted at elevations ranging between 420 and 700 metres above sea level. The winery relies on the higher altitudes to temper the growing conditions and offer a range of varietal characteristics.

Pinot Noir might not have been my first choice of their wines to try. Even at altitude, my first thought would be that the growing conditions must be hot for Pinot, but the wine was much lighter in body than expected. Our neighbours actually drank their bottle before us and they reported that they didn't think much of it - "thanks for the gift, eh" - so, Boo and I weren't expecting to discover a new killer wine. We were surprised at first though as we thought it paired rather nicely with the merguez sausage; however, we had to agree that, once the food was gone, the overall profile of the wine wasn't nearly as enjoyable.

I think I might need to look for a couple more tastes at the Playhouse (should the winery show up again) before I grab another bottle.

In the mean time, I get to add Israel to the list of countries that I've wandered through on this little Odyssey of mine. I figure that's definitely worth a bottle of wine.

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