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Of all the white wine grape varietals, surely the one which has spread the furthest and is most widely appreciated is the Chardonnay. This green skinned grape is now grown all over the Old and New Worlds, from New Zealand to the Americas, from England to Chile, and is one of the first varietals people think of when considering white wine grapes. Perhaps this is because of its huge popularity which reached a peak in the 1990s, thanks to new technologies combining with traditional methods to bring the very best features out of the Chardonnay grape, and allow its unique qualities to shine through. Most fine Chardonnay wines use a process known as malolactic fermentation, wherein the malic acids in the grape juice are converted to lactic acids, allowing a creamier, buttery nature to come forward in the wine. No grape varietal is better suited to this process than Chardonnay, which manages to balance these silky, creamy notes with fresh white fruit flavors beautifully.
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.