Wine from the Maccabees’ home turf


The world of the Maccabees — the world of Chanukah, which continues until sundown, Dec. 10 — was Judaea, part of what is also referred to as the West Bank. This was the heart of the Jewish world and the Jewish rebellion against the Seleucids, the Hellenistic empire with its capital in Damascus.

To focus our holiday thoughts, here are some wines from that same area, plus others from Galilee.

Rosé options

Tabor, Adama, Barbera Rosé, Lower Galilee, Israel, 2017 ($20): Bright, crisp and refreshing with notes of strawberry, watermelon, raspberry, bramble, cherry and citrus. Mouth watering and flavorful.

Carmel Winery, Appellation Rosé, Judean Hills, 2017 ($20): This enjoyable off-dry 70/30 blend of grenache and tempranillo offers aromas and flavors of strawberry, raspberry, ripe grapefruit and cherry. Overall tasty and refreshing.

White options

Tzora Vineyards, Judean Hills Blanc, 2017 ($37): This fabulous and refreshing blend of 75 percent chardonnay and 25 percent sauvignon blanc proffers
wonderful aromas and rich flavors of tropical fruits, peach, dried apricot, pear tart and green apple. Nice minerality and vibrant acidity.

Vitkin, Grenache Blanc, 2016 ($40): Made of 90 percent Upper Galilee grenache blanc and 10 percent Judean Hills Roussanne, this impressive, elegant yet deep and floral beauty has notes of citrus, almonds, under-ripe stone fruit and a little spice. Finish is lingering, with nice tart fruit and a little citrus pith.

Red options

Domaine Herzberg, Côteaux de Sitrya, Malbec, Judean Hills, 2013 ($30; available from This tasty malbec — with 15 percent cabernet sauvignon blended in — is punchy, pungent, heady, smoky, and chockablock with aromas and flavors of dark fruits, ripe red fruits, spice, violets, earth, funk and tobacco leaf. Overall, very enjoyable — especially with barbecue and grilled meats.

Flam Winery, Classico, Judean Hills, 2016 ($35): This is an enticing blend of 52 percent cabernet sauvignon, 24 percent merlot, 10 percent cabernet franc, 8 percent Syrah and 6 percent petit verdot. With fresh aromas and flavors of red fruits, Mediterranean herbs, soft spices (especially clove and black pepper), a slightly green note and a little
dark chocolate.

Gito by Malkiel Hadari, Shani, Galilee, Israel, 2014 ($43; available from An inviting and tasty blend of cabernet sauvignon, syrah and sangiovese, this is a big wine, but
nicely balanced.

The bouquet is an enticing mix of red and dark fruits, and spice. Give it time to breathe and really open up. Very enjoyable now, but should also evolve nicely over the next 3-5 years, maybe longer.

Ramot Naftaly Winery, Barbera, Kedesh Valley, Upper Galilee, 2014 ($55): A satisfying Israeli barbera with solid acidity, offering notes of ripe black and red berry fruits, a hint of eucalyptus, an earthy note, a smidge of anise and bittersweet dark chocolate, and a really alluring gaminess all through.

Allow this wonderful wine time to breathe. L’chaim!

Send your wine and spirits questions to Joshua E. London at [email protected].

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