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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.
The purple Malbec variety grapes which now grow all over the Old and New Worlds had their origins in France, where they are one of the few grape varieties allowed to be used in the highly esteemed blended wines of Bordeaux. However, it is perhaps the New World Malbec wines which have attracted the most attention in recent years, as they thrive in hot southern climates in ways they cannot in their native country, where the damp conditions leave them highly vulnerable to rot. Malbec grapes are renowned for their high tannin content, resulting in full-bodied red wines packed with ripe, plummy flavors and held in their characteristically dark, garnet colored liquid. In many countries, Malbec is still used primarily as a varietal for blending, as it adds a great level of richness and density to other, lighter and thinner varietals. However, single variety Malbec wines have been greatly on the rise in recent years, with some fantastic results and big, juicy flavors marking them out as a great wine for matching with a wide range of foods.