Israel, the wine basket of the biblical world is still producing wine and some pretty impressive wines at that.

The source of its grapes is Galilee in northern Israel and more specifically, the area around the much fought over Golan Heights where there have been vineyards for thousands of years.

Scholars are not certain what grape varieties were used to make the wines of ancient times or even if they still exist but it is the flavor characteristics imparted by their location that made their ancient wines as well as their modern wines so special.

Another point to consider is that Aug. 29 will be National Cabernet Sauvignon Day and Israel does produce some very nice and affordable Cabs that might not be identical to the wines written about in the bible or served at the last supper, but are well made, readily available and an excellent opportunity to get acquainted with them now as the price of the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in the United States are on a steadily increasing curve.

 Mount Hermon 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon ($12.99). What can be more biblical than a wine named for Mount Hermon; after all, the name is often mentioned in “the book.” This is crisp wine features cherry, berry, and plum characters combined with hints of black pepper, herbs and spice. There is also the telltale phenol aroma that is a calling card of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape but is presented in modest amounts that help add an extra layer of complexity to the wine. The flavor is fruity without being overly obvious and the finish is long and luscious. Here is a Cabernet Sauvignon that you could be proud to serve you friends and guests.

Galil 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon ($17.99). This is a Cabernet Sauvignon that reaches deep into the heart of the grape and draws out all of the flavors and aromas that have made the variety the worlds favorite red wine. The deep garnet color announces the cassis and berry character of the wine and the telltale under flavor of mint, which reveals its Golan Heights origins. While the wine has all of the true Cabernet Sauvignon flavors and aromas, the tannin, that astringent element found in many red wines, is held in check so that the wine may be enjoyed now or can be set down for further bottle aging. This is a very delightful wine that can beautifully enhance and compliment any of the hearty red meat dishes.

Gilgal 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon ($17.99). This is a perfect example of the Israeli Cabernet Sauvignon style of wine and winemaking and an excellent and affordable introduction to them. The Gilgal 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon accent the rich fruit flavor of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape and presents all of its qualities right up front. The aroma is big and fruity with a well defined cherry and red berry component. The flavor presents raisins, currants, and blackberries with a hint of fresh herbs and cocoa that trail off to a very nice and long lasting fruit filled finish. This wine this wine is a perfect representative for the Israeli Golan heights wines.

Yarden 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon ($35.99). This wine takes on all of the nuances of a classical French château Bordeaux style while maintaining all the charm of a modern, full fruit flavor wine plus that trademark Israeli touch. The 2016 growing season was kind to the deep red varietals in the Galilee, the Cabernet Sauvignon in particular. The resultant wine has a deep rich red-purple color and a sparkling clarity. The aromas are equally as impressive featuring summer berries along with tobacco, wild herbs and oak. Much of these aromas carry over to the flavor along with an earthy component rarely found in most other cabs. The tannins are there, as would be expected, but they are not fierce or over accentuated. The wine is drinkable now or can develop more complexity with a little extra bottle aging. This is a very impressive wine.

Bennet Bodenstein is a wine enthusiast and book author whose column appears in publications throughout the country.

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