I’ve long been a fan of Recanati wines. Based in Israel’s Emek Hever (Hefer Valley), about 28 miles north of Tel Aviv, the Recanati Winery was established in 2000 by Lenny Recanati and a small group of investors.
Today it is Israel’s sixth largest winery, and it has received wide international critical acclaim.
The winery made a terrific initial splash onto the Israeli wine scene under the talented chef-turned-winemaker Lewis Pasco, and continues to soar to new heights under the current head winemaker Gil Shatzberg and a second winemaker, Ido Lewinsohn. The associate winemaker, Kobi Arviv, is slowly making a name for himself as well.
Recanati consistently produces good-to outstanding wines at various price points.
One of Recanati’s newest entries is a white wine made from a grape they call Marawi, known as Hamdani around Bethlehem and Jerusalem. It is believed to be an ancient indigenous grape varietal, one kept alive through the centuries of Arab and Muslim rule because it has been grown for eating rather than for wine production.
They sourced these grapes from a vineyard near Bethlehem, grown by a Palestinian Muslim — whose identity is kept secret, according to the New York Times account, to protect him from reprisals from fellow Palestinians for collaboration with Israelis. Recanati plans to plant its own Marawi vineyards and cultivate them expressly for wine production to improve and better control the quality.
The first vintage of Recanati’s Marawi was 2014. It attracted significant international attention as it was thought to be the sort of wine that King David or Jesus might have drunk. It was widely considered more significant for its provenance than its taste, but received positive reviews.
A few current Recanati selections:
Recanati, Yasmin White, 2015 (Suggested retail pricing, or SRP, $12; mevusahl): a refreshing, simple and enjoyable 60/40 blend of chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, with pleasant fruit and floral notes. An easy, very quaffable, everyday wine.
Recanati, Marawi, Judean Hills, Israel, 2015 (SRP $35): Fresh and bright, it leads with a pleasant and engaging whiff of chenin blanc-like wet wool, behind which are aromas, and then concomitant flavors on the palate of ripe honeydew melon, grapefruit, apricot, pear, jasmine and guava. Light and charming; vibrant acidity, with a rich mouthfeel, and a lengthy, slightly citrusy finish. Delightful.
Recanati, Yasmin Red, Galilee, Israel, 2015 (SRP $12; mevushal): This enjoyable if simple blend of 80 percent cabernet sauvignon and 20 percent merlot delivers berry fruit aromas and flavors with some appealing herbal notes, and a touch of smoke on the finish. An easy, everyday wine.
Recanati, Merlot, Galilee, Israel, 2014 (SRP $17): This appealing, balanced, robust if straightforward wine offers aromas and flavors of black cherry, raspberry, some intense coffee bean, light vanilla and cloves with some lovely minty notes, especially on the finish.
Recanati, Wild Carignan Reserve, Judean Hills, Israel, 2014 (SRP $50): Still settling down, but wonderfully complex and coming into balance, this medium-bodied red has initial smoke that clears soon enough to offer aromas and flavors of red currants, slightly peppery raspberry, cherry, blackberry fig and a touch of eucalyptus, and all with a subtle earthy undercurrent. The tannins are still quite strong, but the brightness, purity and fruit shine through; the finish is lengthy and very appealing. L’Chaim!