The Jezreel Valley in Israel has been inhabited continuously since about 4,500 BC. It is a land rich in Biblical history, being the site where the Israelites under the leadership of Gideon defeated armies of enemy nations. Jezebel met her death in the city of Jezreel and Christians believe that Armageddon, the battle between good and evil, will be fought in the valley.
Today, the valley is a green fertile plain where oranges, cotton, sunflowers and corn grow. Multitudes of sheep and cattle graze contentedly. It's also the home to Jezreel Valley Winery, dedicated to crafting boutique Israeli wine.
We recently tasted two blends from Jezreel Valley Winery, the white 2016 Levanim and the red 2014 Adumim. As with other recent Israeli wines we have sampled, the flavors were fresh and enjoyable and the style modern. All Jezreel Valley Winery wines are Kosher.
Feasting With White And Red
To properly savor the wines, the Green Dragon (my wife) artfully prepared a meal of Mediterranean Skirt Steak with tri-color couscous and grilled mushrooms. We started with a beet salad with goat cheese.
Levanim means "whites" in Hebrew and the wine is a mix of Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer and French Colombard. Green Dragon doesn't care for overly floral wines and can be turned off by Gewurztraminer -- but it was love at first sip with Levanim. The grapes are gently pressed and undergo cold fermentation.
The wine retains its fresh flavors and beautiful aroma. This is a dry wine but with nice fruit notes. Although the website notes it's perfect for the hot Israeli climate, it is certain to be welcome this summer on your patio, too.
Reviving A Rare Grape
To accompany our skirt steak, we opened the Adumim. Adumim means "red" and this bottle is a blend of Syrah, Carignan, and Argaman.
Argaman is an Israeli grape that is a cross between Souzão, a Portuguese grape, and Carignan. It had a reputation as being used for jug wines, but Jezreel Valley Winery is leading the charge in Argaman's resurgence. They bottle a single varietal Argaman that is complex and spicy.
Adumim is a deep, delicious red. Each of the three varieties is aged separately for 20 months in oak barrels. The grapes harmonize perfectly in a dark ruby wine with an aroma of black cherry. On the palate there are flavors of plum, chocolate and smoke. The tannins are sleek and smooth, leading to an extended finish.
We enjoyed both wines greatly. They paired nicely with our meal, but could be enjoyed on their own. The Levanim retails for about $23 and Adumim runs about $29. These are great values.
Adumim and Levanim represent something new from an ancient valley. Uncork and discover the modern style of Israeli wine.