A Possible Israeli Native?

For years rumor held it that modern Chardonnay was actually native to the middle east, brought back to France by crusading knights that wanted to bring a piece of the Holy Land with them.  Legend has it that the grape was named sha’har adonai in Hebrew (i.e., “gate of God”).  Well, unfortunately no evidence has been found that this is true.  However, it is a nice story!  What is undisputable is the fact that Chardonnay is generally excellent in Israel, combining bright stone fruit flavors with the elegance and superb food parings that are the hallmarks of this intensely popular varietal.

An Exceptional Terroir

Israeli boasts a variety of excellent soil types that lend themselves to superb Chardonnay as well as the cool nights that allow this varietal to excel.  An exceptional mix of limestone, volcanic, clay and dolomite soils all lead to different expressions of this noble varietal and allow enough variety to be able to accommodate any particular taste.

Chardonnay is easily the finest white wine varietal in Israel.  Warm days, cool nights and a variety of different friendly soil types lend this grape a fantastic expression which can be amongst the finest of in the world.  

A rich white wine that interweaves scents of wood and vanilla-nut with outstanding citrus fruit aromas.
A big fat chardonnay with a spicy top note and a clean honey finish
Produced from 100% Chardonnay grapes
Very Nice Wine


Chardonnay originated in France’s Burgundy region but has evolved to become the world’s most widely planted white grape varietal, grown across the world.  One of Chardonnay’s primary characteristics is its flavor neutrality, allowing it to assume hugely varying profiles based on the terroir in which it is grown, the oak in which it is fermented and/or aged and the winemaking techniques utilized to vinify it.  This attribute is behind the mass number of different styles of Chardonnay produced across the word from the crisp and mineral laced wines of Chablis to the buttery wines of California laced with gobs of tropical fruit.  That said, Chardonnay certainly seems to be at its best when grown in chalk and limestone, which grant it a mineral attribute that counters the fruit and can be incredibly refreshing while potentially remaining quite complex.

As Chardonnay ripens it rapidly loses its acidity, which is one of the reasons that Israel’s Chardonnay (which grows in a relatively hot climate) is somewhat lackluster, especially with respect to the crisp acidity typically required to counter the lush fruit, oak and buttery notes from undergoing malolactic fermentation (a second fermentation in which tart malic acid (the acid found in green apples) is converted to creamier lactic acid (the acid found in milk)).  Wines which have undergone malolactic fermentation tend to be rounder with creamier texture but somewhat lower acidity levels.  While most Chardonnay grown in Israel and California is subjected to barrel aging (and many of the French versions are oak-free), there are exceptions to every rule with Binyamina's unoaked Chardonnay being a successful version of this philosophy. 

Given Chardonnay’s pliability, there are a number of factors which contribute heavily to the resulting style of wine.  In addition to the terroir, utilization of oak and malolactic fermentation mentioned above, whether fermentation temperature, the wine undergoes [initial] fermentation in oak barrels or stainless steel tanks and whether the wine “ages on the lees".  These tools have contributed to one of Chardonnay’s monikers – the “Winemaker’s Grape”.  Other aspects include the type of yeast used, harvesting time and other common factors in winemakers, all of which have a substantial impact on a grape as malleable as Chardonnay.  It is Chardonnay’s malleability that results in a lack of varietal characteristic, akin to Gewürztraminer’s spicy and lychees notes, Sauvignon Blanc’s cut-grass characteristics or Viognier’s aromatic nose.

Chardonnay was first planted in Israel in the 1980s with both Carmel and the Golan Heights Winery releasing Israel’s first quality varietal Chardonnay wines for the 1987 vintage.  While Sauvignon Blanc is more widely planted than Chardonnay, Chardonnay is still a very popular grape in Israel, although both take a major backseat to Cabernet Sauvignon and other red varietals.  Despite Israel’s location in the relatively hot Mediterranean Basin, perfectly suited for the constant consumption of crisply refreshing white wines, it is only in the last few years that Israelis have started to enjoy and consume white wines en masse, resulting in a ascertainable qualitative increase which bodes well for future releases.  That said, Israel has been producing a few top-tier Chardonnay wines for many years including the “C” from Domaine du Castel and two wines from the Golan Heights Winery’s Yarden Series – the Single Vineyard Organic Odem Chardonnay and the impeccable Blanc de Blanc, certainly Israel’s finest sparkling wine.

wine 101: essential terms that will have you speaking like a wine pro!

We believe that wine is meant to be enjoyed, no matter your level of wine expertise. So, if you like a $10 bottle of Merlot, that makes you no less of a wine lover than someone who enjoys an $85 bottle of Pinot Noir. It’s all about finding what you love and enjoying every last drop.

But, by learning a few key wine terms, you can understand wine like an expert, building a stronger appreciation for the art of wine making (and drinking), helping you choose wines that better suit your taste (and of course really impress your friends). So read on, you wine lover, and we'll have you sounding like a sommelier.

Acidity: Used to describe tartness of wine. Most often used in describing white wines.

Aeration: Exposing wine to oxygen allows it to mix with the air and "breathe" which helps to open up the wine's aromas.

Alcohol by volume (ABV): Every wine bottle is required by law to include the ABV. Interesting note: French and Italian wines usually have a lower ABV than their American counterparts.

Appellation: The geographic region where a wine comes from.

Blend: Wines made from more than one grape variety.

Bouquet: The fragrance that come from aging wines.

Complexity: Complex wines are those which feature a combination of richness, depth, flavor intensity, focus, balance, harmony and finesse.

Corked: Caused when the cork inside the bottle is tainted, resulting in a musty, moldy aroma and taste.

Dry: Having no obvious sugar taste. Sugar levels are usually tasted beginning at 0.5 percent.

Earthy: Most red wines are described as either earthy or fruity. Earthy wines exhibit a taste or smell related to earth, such as soil or a forest.

Finish: Describes how long a wine's flavor lingers in your mouth after swallowing. Wine's can either have a short or long finish.

Fruity: A commonly used descriptor for wines that have notes of (you guessed it) fruit like plums, berries, or other fruits. While white wines can be fruity, this term is more commonly used with reds.

Jammy: When red wines exhibit a cooked fruit flavor.

Legs: The droplets of wine that ease down the sides of the glass when wine is swirled

Minerality: Most often used to describe white wines, it refers to the flavor of stones, rather than the “soil” flavor of earthy wines.

Oaky: Wines matured in oak barrels (or with oak chips), sometimes described as having notes of vanilla, cloves, butter, or caramel.

Oxidized: What happens when wine is overexposed to oxygen, resulting in a loss of brightness in both color and flavor.

Sediment: Gritty particles that settle in the bottom of a bottle of wine. It is a sign of a minimally processed wine.

Tannins: Bitter compounds in the skin and seeds of grapes that give red wine its structure.

Terroir: Describes how a growing region affects the flavor of the wine

Varietal: A single variety of grape, for example: Merlot and Chardonnay are grape varieties.

Vintage: Wine made from grapes that were all (or mostly) produced in a single year. A non-vintage wine is made from grapes harvested over two or more years 

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