Yarden Mount Hermon Red 2010, Israel

Cost: $11-13

W ine is produced nearly everywhere on earth, so there is no reason to get stuck in the rut of the old familiar producers every time you open a bottle. I like to find wines I haven’t had before and this was a very nice find.

Yarden Mount Hermon Red is produced by the Golan Heights Winery in the Golan Heights region of Israel. It’s a beautiful blend of traditional Bordeaux grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.

The pleasant, robust aroma opens up to a smooth, silky wine, full of fruit flavors with mild tannins. There are tastes of cherry and raspberry with a hint of spice. It’s not an overpowering wine. It’s a straight-forward, well-made wine that is perfect for sipping alone or with any number of simple meals.

The winery says it cal be cellared for about three years, but I would drink it young to enjoy the lively fresh flavors.

The wine is Kosher, so it is suitable for a Passover meal. I would serve it slightly chilled.

Winery: Founded in 1983, the Golan Heights Winery is based in the small town of Katzrin. It is owned by eight Israeli settlements and overseen by chief winemaker Victor Schoenfeld. The winery is known for its use of technology and practices designed to realize the full potential of the region.

The winery produces many premium varietals, proprietary blends and traditional method sparkling wines, marketed under the labels Yarden, Gamla and Golan.

The weather in the Golan Heights is ideal for growing wine grapes with warm, dry summers and cold, snowy winters. The area is at the same latitude as San Diego, which should give the grapes a Mediterranean climate. But because many of the vineyards are planted at a high altitude

Five different subtypes of volcanic soil as well as vineyards at elevations ranging from 1,300 feet to 3,900 feet allow a wide range of quality winemaking styles. The vineyards rise from near the Sea of Galilee to the foot of the snow-capped Mount Hermon.

The winery is recognized as Israel’s first world-class wine producer. It was the first Israeli winery to win a major award in an international competition (1987) and placed a wine on the Wine Spectator Top 100 list in 2008.

Goes with: Though the pairing wasn’t recommended by the winery, I served the wine with grilled pork chops. There’s something about serving Kosher wine with pork chops that appealed to me.

It was a great pairing, with the barbecue sauce and juicy pork nicely balancing the fresh fruit of the wine. Teri and I also had some fresh pineapple that tasted even better after a sip of the wine.

The wine also would taste great with hamburgers, pizza or buffalo wings. It’s a great food-pairing wine.

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