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Carignan is an ancient blue-skinned grape varietal, thought to be indigenous to the Aragon region of Spain. However, today it is most commonly associated with the fine wines of southern France, and has been grown in many countries around the world which have the warm and dry conditions it requires to thrive. Carignan is recognized as being quite a sensitive vine, highly susceptible to all kinds of rot and mildew, although producing excellent results when given the right conditions and handled correctly. Its high tannin levels and acidity make the Carignan grapes very astringent, and as such, they are often used as a blending grape to give body to other, lesser bodied varietals. Despite this, with careful treatment, Carignan can produce superb single varietal wines packed full of character and unique attributes.
The Israeli wine region of Galilee is perhaps best known for the most famous wine story of them all - the wedding of Cana, at which Jesus is said to have miraculously transformed water into wine. Today, wine still flows freely from this fascinating corner of the Mediterranean, and modern techniques and rapid expansion is catapulting Galilee wines into the twenty-first century at an impressive speed. The region itself is split into three unofficial sub-regions - Upper Galilee, which features a remarkable array of different soil types and microclimates, Golan Heights, and the smaller Lower Galilee which is typified by the red, iron-rich soils around the base of Mount Tabor.
The viticultural traditions of Galilee are mostly influenced by France, which sets it quite far apart from neighboring Lebanon. When one considers the terroirs of Galilee, however, it all starts to make sense - the soil type and drainage of the majority of the region is highly similar to the Loire Valley and Burgundy. Today, Galilee winemakers are tending to focus on big-name, bestselling grape varietals like Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, although many wineries continue to produce less well-known varietals such as Muscat of Alexandria, which have a more established history in Israel.
Since biblical times, Israel has been an important production center for wine, and continues to be so to this day. All over Israel, the Mediterranean climate the country enjoys ensures that grapes grow to full ripeness, and the vineyards are helped considerably by the mineral rich limestone soils which typify the geology of the wine regions. Interestingly, in Israel, up to fifteen percent of all wine production today is used for sacramental purposes, and the vast majority of the wines produced there are made in accordance to Jewish kosher laws. Israel is split into five major wine producing regions; Galil, The Judean Hills, Shimshon, The Negev, and the Sharon Plain, and in recent years the wine industry of Israel has brought over twenty five million dollars per annum to the Israeli economy.